Is getting really excited about buying a hybrid-style commuter bike kind of like Tweeting you just got a mini van? Does any self-respecting guy Tweet about the new family mini van? What if it is a rare mini van? I know, still lame, right? My failure to keep up with hip-hop (post Chuck D), and my love for this fully loaded gray market hybrid commuter bike, are both clear signs that I have fully embraced middle age.
Oh well, I’m gonna just own it then and say I LOVE this new bike I picked up for a song from DreamBikes in Milwaukee (Thanks R!). The crew from DreamBikes posted this rare 2012 Trek Dublin Midstep commuter bike on Facebook over a month ago. Of course I was immediately drawn to it because it had a Shimano Nexus 7 Internally Geared Hub, roller cam brakes, chain guard, dynamo-powered lighting, fenders AND a frame lock. We used to have a 2012 Trek L300 just like the one pictured below, but sold it to a friend to buy a more expensive real Dutch Omafiets when those became available in the US. Tom Fritz still gets good use out of that bike, but I have always kind of regretted selling our Trek Dutch bike.
Anyway, although I do love Dutch-style bikes, and they are hard to find, I didn’t run down and buy it because the frame wasn’t all that Euro looking. In fact, if you didn’t look close enough to see the Gates Carbon belt drive, IGH, dynamo hub and AXA Defender frame lock, it really just looked like any other aluminum Trek hybrid. Don’t get me wrong, it is a nice bike with all the bells (literally) and whistles. Still even with shiny fenders, a polished chain guard, leather saddle and matching grips, the Trek Dublin is no more a head turner than a fully loaded mini van.
I have been in love with these fietsten since my pilgrimages to Denmark and the Netherlands where the staid, practical rides outnumber mini-vans. Regular readers know that my wife rides a Dutch-made Workcycles Omafiets (translation Grandma Bike). When Oma rolls down the street, with her big front rack, curvy frame and upright posture, she is a real head turner, let me tell you (I mean the bike!). As a poor bicycle advocate with a kid in college, we can’t afford two real Dutch bikes, so using good old Polish ingenuity, I have “Dutchified” various used bikes by outfitting them with fenders, dynamos, big waffle mudflaps, jury-rigged chainguards, double kickstands, upright bars and frame locks.
Earlier this summer I sold a friend the Velveteen Rabbit, my 1986 Trek 620 that I modified with many Euro-features. Sadly I have to report that I also recently lost my Schwinn Dutchie to complications from a poorly maintained IGH (I blame myself, not the bike) and a hard life addicted to road salt. When the hub went bad, I went in to Dreambikes the end of the day last Friday and consulted with Dr. Jobbs about a transplant to rebuild the rear wheel. He didn’t have a hub, but did have donor wheel. But when I thought about the frozen kickstand and all the rust on the Schwinn, I know that adding another used rear wheel was just prolonging the inevitable. It was time to let the old Schwinn go to pasture.
Although I knew I really wanted to buy the Dublin, I had to convince myself because I wasn’t all that jazzed about the frame. So I low-balled Russell a little bit, and because DreamBikes had a good day with a full till, he gave me the I just want this guy out of the shop so I can get back to work discount. I took the Dublin home and spent the evening transferring some of the nicer parts from my Schwinn to the Trek. I replaced the flat, bent stainless fenders for the Velo Orange Zeplin fenders, and swapped out the tiny women’s Brooks B17 S saddle for my VO Model 5 sprung B66 copy, swapped my VO Touring pedals for the MKS pedals with toe clips, and shoed her with Schwalbe Marathon Plus sneakers.
I even moved my nicer front and rear lights to the Dublin, which required quite a bit of fooling around to route the wiring through the frame. I had to remove the crank and bottom bracket and used brazing rod and my pinky finger to fish the wires through the aluminum tubes. Add some Bar Mitts, a Fyxation Leather Coffee Caddy and an inexpensive rear rack from Ben’s Cycle and the organ transplants were complete. She was ready to take out for a test ride by 9 PM!
I was pretty pleased with my work as I carried the new rig up from basement. It is a lot lighter than my wife’s Workcycles Omafiets, that is for sure! While I was happy with my work, I didn’t really fall in love with the Dublin until I rode it around for a while. The new hub and belt drive were butter smooth. The bike is not as easy to get on as the loop-frame step-through Workcycles Omafiets, but even the midstep is nicer than a horizontal top tube for a commuter bike. The bike also felt faster than my Schwinn, but maybe that was just because it wasn’t rattling and creaking over every crack and pot hole in the road. There is something to be said for a production bike! I may not be cool, but I sure like this bike.
While we will still have to rely on our stout Oma for our larger grocery trips, This Trek Dublin sure makes a nice commuter. I do have studded tires to add if winter ever gets here, but maybe I will leave the Trek without studs and just ride my Schlick Northpaw fat bike commuter, which still has studs on from last year. Yeah, I know I am a middle-aged freak with a fietsen fetish, but at least I know it.