When I moved house and realised that what lay between home and work was one of the best bike commute paths in town, I knew I had to get myself something other than the time trial I already had.
Looking back, the problem was that I romanticised the whole notion of the commute. I pictured myself on some big, old-looking retro wonder, cruising into town and back on my trusty stead and in my work gear.
The problems have been plenty.
First - I forgot I live up a flight of stairs, so I didn’t factor in bike weight.
Second - I forgot I live in a city apartment versus a sprawling house that belongs in a design magazine (err, that was just in my fantasy). So I didn’t factor in the extra wide handlebars all all-round cumbersome width of my cool machine.
Third - I never for a minute thought that my commute would ever involve challenging riding. European alps - tough. Victorian alps - tough. 15 km of coastal bay riding a day - surely not tough? So I didn’t factor in gearing all that much.
Wow - I reckon I have learned more about what not to buy in a bike from my fairly short commuting experience than I have in years of road and tri riding. So when I got hold of the Reid Wayfarer I thought; I am going to have a pretty good idea of whether or not this commuter passes muster. Unlike the earlier me, I am going to be all over this.
So I’ve already established from the above that I am a sucker for bike aesthetics (well - actually it looks like back when I got my commuter, I had tunnel vision). The Wayfarer does sum up the vision I would have of a retro-styling, vintage bike. It’s a single speed and is all simple, cool lines and understated elegant graphics and paintwork. Reid has made an effort to give this bike an echo of vintage - instead of standard handles and saddles, for example, it’s imitation leather. There’s a pretty smart looking vintage steel logo on the head tube, too. OK - if you’re after the real deal then faux finishes won’t be your thing, but you’ll need to look well outside this price bracket to get them.
I really liked the curved handlebars, they’re shaped a little like an inwards racing boomerang and they give the bike quite a graceful look. Because I was using this as a commuter and was therefore in my work gear, I would have found it easier to get on and off a bike without a top tube.
The bell is surprisingly not all that loud. I am not sure if this is a good or a bad thing, as I am probably not a massive fan of bells. That said, they’ve come in handy especially when riding through some of the waterside suburbs full of sun-blissed-out locals and locals unsure about where to walk.
I asked Reid if they could put the basket onto the bike I was going to trial, just so I could legitimately use it each day to commute with my work bag, lunch and occasionally my notebook. I do like their metal ‘porteur rack kits’; they’re compact, cool, and clean looking; not at all romantically daggy like the cane one I have on my bike. The folk at Reid said a basket wouldn’t be a problem, but to just be mindful of the bike’s steering given this new addition. I didn't find that to be an issue. On the contrary I busted a few doughnuts just to give it a good nudge, and it was fine.
However, the dish is not all that deep so if you’re going over dodgy terrain and the bike jumps - and you already have a full basket - you might find some things drop out. Having said that, I didn’t encounter this problem. On the contrary my path takes me over eroding asphalt, a few boat ramp tracks (not unlike tram tracks), potholes and what not. I have to say the Wayfarer took them all in her stride - it was a smooth, easy ride even with a single speed.
As luck had it (for me and for the Wayfarer) I never dealt with a full-on head wind when I was testing this bike. That’s quite unusual for my route, so it made the travel pretty quick and very easy. It got me thinking - is it ever easy on my bike, or does it always feel like I am pushing a tractor? Is the Wayfarer feeling this effortless because I’m just not contending with the winds that usually whip me, especially coming home? Don’t know - all I can say is the Wayfarer was easy and smooth riding.
It doesn’t weigh like a tractor, either. It’s 11.77kg which I realise for a road rider is the equivalent of a tractor, but given I’ve been lugging a MUCH heavier bike up and down stairs, this has been a seriously welcome relief.
If it were my bike I’d probably change the pedals - they’re just a little too clunky looking for me. But for a bike at this price point, and with the 2-year warranty on parts and lifetime warranty on frame and fork, it’s a good (looking) deal. The Wayfarer’s your ticket to ride if you want style without spending the serious dollars.