Coco’s Ride

I rode Coco to work Monday, before Tuesday’s snowfall sent me back to Oma and her studded tires.  I was so giddy to have a new bike, I decided to take Coco on a spin to the lakefront during lunch with my camera and a roll of film.

I haven’t ridden Coco enough yet to provide in-depth opinions on how she performs, but I’ll offer some initial thoughts.  She feels great!  The ride is similar to Oma’s and nothing like Betty Foy’s.  She weighs a bit less than Oma and is a bit more sprightly, but speed (or lack of it) and comfort are on pretty much par.

There are some notable differences.  First, Coco’s balloon tires are super cushy and help me laugh in the face of Chicago’s potholes and train tracks (one of my biggest fears).  Second, Coco has only three gears.  I ended up using all three gears during my ride, depending on incline (ramps in and out of the Lakefront Trail) and wind direction, and the range felt spot on.  Third, Coco’s geometry is almost straight up and down, but a tiny bit bent forward to reach the handlebars, whereas Oma’s geometry is a tiny bit leaned back with legs pushing a tiny bit forward.  I thought this would make riding Coco feel substantially different after a few miles, but my body felt the same while pedaling and once I arrived at work, no more or less fatigued or energized.

I probably don’t even need to mention looks.  She’s a beauty that I love to gaze at.  Beauty should not be underestimated when choosing a bike.  If you’re going to ride a bike every day, it should call out to you.  Coco certainly accomplishes that!

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27 thoughts on “Coco’s Ride

  1. Carolyn I. says:

    I like the name! Totally suits her…

  2. JTuttle says:

    Coco works! I really like the photo of you and coco together at the lakefront. Does your film camera have a timer?

  3. I think the name is spot on!

    I agree with you about the speed and pedaling position – In my experience, bikes in this category (Pashley, Retrovelo, Velorbis), are not considerably faster or sportier than Dutch bikes.

    How much lighter would you say she is than your Oma?

    (Oh and the colour looks beautiful with the seascape!)

  4. cloudsofviolet says:

    I’m on the lookout for a new bike and CoCo looks really nice! how would you compare the handling and speed to Oma and Betty Foy? (I used to ride a mixte) Also, what brand is this bike? the color and tires are amazing.

    • Dottie says:

      Coco is a Velorbis Studine Balloon. Her handling and speed are pretty similar to Oma’s. Oma is more solid, heavier and better for carrying loads. Coco is a bit more carefree and bouncy on her tires. They are both slower, super comfortable, totally upright city bikes. Betty Foy’s handling is much different – more like a regular hybrid-style bike or old vintage Schwinn (but much nicer). Betty Foy is way faster than both Oma and Coco, but more leaned forward and not as heavy duty.

      Let me know if you have any more questions about Coco or about bike hunting in general.

      • Dottie says:

        I rode Coco this morning and I have to amend this response a bit. Coco can be noticeably faster than Oma, but she’s still a “slow” bike, not nearly as fast as Betty Foy. I think the Fat Frank tires help with the swiftness. Also, they’re soooo cushy over potholes.

  5. nicolas says:

    Coco it is, awesome! Creamy white frame like coconut, and red tires like a certain talk show host’s hair. Always makes me think of the first Supergrass record, too.

  6. Hi Dottie I love the name. Coco is just perfect. I know exactly how you feel about the joys and benefits of your bike being beautiful – Queenie my Workcycles Secret Service gal positively sings to me from the shed and I can’t go a day without riding her somewhere, which can be tricky when you work from home…..

    Happy cycling you poor things up there in the northern hemisphere.

  7. neighbourtease says:

    Yay to Coco! She is so cute.

  8. Nuresma says:

    Like the name!
    And like so much the bike!!

  9. dukiebiddle says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that balloons are the perfect city tires. Each pothole is different, but more often than not I just chose to roll over them. Cobblestones, train tracks, debris in the bicycle lane, they’re even pretty good in the snow as long as it has had a few hours to settle. I can ride right up onto most curbs without really even pulling up on the handlebars. Balloon tires solved many of my street woes.

    • neighbourtease says:

      I agree. They’re so awesome. People have been yelling “hey you gotcha snow tires on” lately.

    • Scott says:

      The balloon tires are great in Chicago. I was running them at too high psi at first, but now they are like pillows.

      The only think I don’t like is that they are too wide for the coat guard. Not usually a problem except on really sloppy days.

  10. SM says:

    Coco is a perfect name. It’s funny that you mention how Coco’s geometry is straight up and down and a bit forward compared to your Oma. I was trying to figure out what it was about this bike that’s so pleasing to the eye. There’s an elegance about this frame. I also love the basket. The size and color is perfect. I’ve always felt that if I were to ever go with the Pashley sonnet bliss, the only thing I’m not crazy about is the size of the front basket, which comes with it. Something about it just does not appeal to me.

  11. Zweiradler says:

    I like your name choice, too.


  12. Thom says:

    Beautiful – but all that frozen water…brrrrrrrrrr!
    And Coco’s tires, are they 26″? And maybe 2″ wide?
    I agree about the appearance thing. I think the way the bike looks is as important as the way it rides. I become infatuated easily and can’t abide the idea of selling one of my lovelies as you’d sell an old toaster. Having multiple bikes
    is my vice. Choosing which to ride is my pleasure.

    • Joseph E says:

      The Velorbis has Fat Frank tires, made by Schwalbe, which are listed as 26″ x 2.35″, or 65 mm wide. They fit bikes with standard mountain bike or cruiser bike size wheels, but only if there is plenty of room for such wide tires to fit in the fork and fenders. They may be a little too wide for most city bikes, if the bike was not designed with “balloon” tires in mind.

  13. Lynnety says:

    I find the Retrovelo to be a speedy bicycle. I rode cycle support for a marathon last weekend and not only beat my road bike riding friends up the toughest hill, I left them in the dust. I could not see them when I got to the top. I’m having no trouble keeping up with them on rides.

    I wonder if the Velorbis has sufficiently different geometry that it is not as speedy as the Retrovelo?

    Who cares though? It’s beautiful. You are right — don’t discount beauty.

    • Dottie says:

      After riding Coco to work this morning, I have to amend my opinion: she is speedier than Oma. Her cushy tires definitely help in that department. When I test rode the Retrovelo (granted it was 2 years ago) I remember thinking that it was not nearly as speedy as I thought it would be. Perhaps it’s me, not the various bikes, who’s the slow one. :)

      • Lynnety says:

        Maybe I’m slower than I think! I don’t have much interest in riding fast. I’m building up an early 80s Raleigh Super Course mixte for some longer rides at a slightly faster pace. But that’s about as “road bike” as I can stand.

  14. Maureen says:

    So glad you are loving her! I love the contrast of the coco color with the vivid blue sky, and the white snow!

  15. emily says:

    Coco is such a fantastically beautiful bike! Your photos are gorgeous, too.

    Thanks again for contributing to my post on commuter cycling. You can find it here:

  16. philippe says:

    I understand how one would own several similar bikes (I do) and that’s perfectly fine with me, but I wonder : Would you say that your Workcycle and the Velorbis are really different bikes or do they basically overlap, utility wise ? I can see how your Rivendell fill a different niche in your stable, but not so much with the Velorbis.

    (I’m asking this, because Mme Philippe owns a Toer Populair, and a sportier “mixte” bike too…)

  17. Nicola says:

    I’m getting more and more jealous with every picture!

    (On a more serious note, I’m glad that you’re getting a return on the time that you spend on this blog. I’m sure that you put an awful lot of time into it, and you deserve some recompense for the entertainment and information you provide for your readers. Also, selfishly, I’m glad that this return is in the form of a bike rather than boring old money – this way your blog readers get to benefit from seeing this super snazzy new bike!)

  18. Cherilyn says:

    Congrats on the new bike! Absolutely beautiful, and it sounds like the two of you are getting along well. A friend recently reminded me that the proper number of bikes is n+1, so have fun browsing for the next one!

  19. Nice bike. Really nice. Congrats on it.

  20. Emma says:

    Oh, I think I’m in love! She’s a thing of real beauty isn’t she?

    I’m on the lookout for a new bike – I’ve had my Marin mountain bike since I was 14 (I’m now, ahem, 32… eek!) Bless him, he’s served me well and is still going strong but now I would like something beautiful and practical (for cargo puproses) and am now torn between the Studine Balloon, the Velorbis Dannebrog and a Pashley Princess (and if I’m to be totally honest, I’m in love with your girls, Betty and Oma)

    I imagine Coco to be swifter than the Dannebrog with the help of the Fat Frank tyres and lighter frame. As for riding positions, is there much to compare with these bikes?

    Much to the annoyance of my other half I’ve tried getting his opinion on all three bikes, sending him links to the respective websites. He in turn emailed me back with three links to HiFi equipment. Grrr. So, as somebody that has had the chance to experience riding all three bikes I’d love to have your opinion on how they compare with each other and which (if any) would come out on top (I know it all comes down to personal preference but I’d love to hear your views)

    Thanks, Emma x

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