Nine months ago when the kid was born I immediately started looking forward to the day that we could go for a bike ride together. I love biking, and sharing it with the kid is something I've looked forward to.
Jumping into research mode, I decided that I really wanted to get a front-mounted carrier for the kid. A trailer, while debatably the safest, is so disconnected you may as well be hauling a sack of potatoes. A back carrier is huge and I can't imagine very fun for the kid; staring at my rear can only be fun for 15 min or so max. Front carriers are interactive: you can see what the kid is doing, hear him, reassure him and BIKE with him. So a front carrier it is.
There's a catch though – front carriers require a very specific type of stem (the piece that connects your handlebars to your bike). 20 years ago, there was only one type of stem, known as a quill stem. These days, >90% of bikes come with a new type called a threadless stem. All the front-mounted bike seats require quill stems, and my two bikes are both threadless. So, an excuse for a new bike.
There are tons of great options for somewhat reasonable bikes with a quill stem out there, starting for just a few hundred dollars. But of course, once I started to look, I quickly realized all these things I HAD to have. I HAD to have at least 8 gears since I'll be dragging the kid around and that's a lot of extra weight. Shimano has the nexus line, but the alfine is more durable in extreme conditions. I should go with that since I'm going to have this bike for a while. As long as I'm getting the Alfine, I should look into that the Alfine 11. That nice huge range will come in handy for the flat land around my house. And I can't get by with just a coaster brake, that's really not enough stopping power and wouldn't be safe at all. If I'm going to be a responsible parent, the bike has to have decent brakes. These days, I'd really be endangering my kid if they aren't disc brakes. Those are the only good ones out there. (Rationalization is an amazing thing.)
I decided on the Retrovelo Alfons. Retrovelo is a German bike company, with a whopping four stores carrying them in the US. With the help of an amazing new bike shop in Palo Alto I ordered the Alfons – a model that no one in the US seems to actually carry. Based on the one-page catalog and picture it seemed like a great choice. What could possibly go wrong?
Bit over a month later the bike arrived. It's BEAUTIFUL. Rides like a cloud. Everything I could have ever asked for. The workmanship and attention to detail is incredible. The lugs are amazing to behold, the way the bike comes together and rides is a joy.
Oh yeah, except I can't mount that front bike seat. Apparently they switched over to a threadless stem sometime recently since they printed up the catalog.
So now I've got 3 bikes on which I can't mount my kid's seat.