No matter how old you are, chances are good that the bike you are riding today looks a lot like the bike you had when you were a kid. You may have traded in your banana seat and sissy bars for knobby tires and a few more gears, but the basic mechanics are the same.
The pedals move the crank, which rotates a chain ring, which moves a chain along the teeth of the sprockets, which turns the wheels. When you want to switch gears, a mechanism called a derailleur pushes the chain from one gear to the next. The chain is dirty and oily, and if you maintain your bike properly it needs to be cleaned and inspected regularly. Sometimes it pops off the sprockets, usually at the most inconvenient moment. And if you don’t watch what you wear, your shoelaces or worse, your cuffs, can get caught.
If you are in the market for a new bike, there is, at long last, a new and improved product on the market. And what’s more, it’s a local company. I recently visited their headquarters at 257 Franklin St., in Bristol. In an effort to keep him from watching “Family Guy” reruns, I dragged my son Nick, freshly sprung from school, along for the ride. He was really glad he went, though I am now enduring way too much chatter about a new bike.
Dynamic is tucked away in an unassuming industrial space on Franklin Street east of Buttonwood. There’s no flashy showroom – just a wall with a few examples of their product line. They sell all kinds – from ultra-light road bikes, to hybrids to true mountain bikes.
Company President Patrick Perugini moved his seven-year old company to Bristol just last year, joining forces with marketing professional Devin Kelly. The two Barrington residents begin and end their work days enjoying their product, commuting to and from the office on Dynamic bikes when the weather permits. Their bikes raise eyebrows of observant fellow commuters, not used to seeing a chainless bike. The product is not, to date, routinely seen on the East Bay Bike Path.
“We sell most of our bikes in states with a big bike communing culture,” says Perugini. “States like California and Texas, as well as the Pacific Northwest and across the upper Midwest.” One very key reason chainless technology appeals to commuters, is you can shift gears any time, even at a standstill in traffic. Try that with your chained bike, and you will find yourself blackening your hands in an effort to get your chain back on its sprockets.
The chainless technology involves a shaft drive with an internal rear hub, with machined and cut gears that shift seamlessly, just like the automatic transmission in most cars. The gear hubs are manufactured by Shimano, a name already familiar to bike enthusiasts.
The benefits of the internal gear hub are obvious – the gears stay immaculately clean and maintenance-free. A very light layer of grease is injected into the hub every several hundred miles. “That’s about once every three years for most of our customers,” according to Perugini.
“The shaft drive was invented about twenty years ago, and Shimano introduced the 7-speed hub about 8 years ago. That was really the catalyst that led me to establish the Dynamic brand, to showcase the technology and broaden the horizon of the shaft drive.” Sussex Enterprises, Dynamic’s Taiwan-based production facility, is continually researching and improving shaft drive technology.
Shimano followed its 7-speed hub with an 8-speed hub about 4 years ago, and an 11-speed hub last year. Though that may sound restrictive compared to the nearly 30 possible gear combinations on most higher-end chained bikes, as anyone who has put their bike through its paces knows, there is a lot of redundancy there.
Patrick and Devin kindly offered me (and Nick) a test drive. In one quick pedal around their parking lot I shifted from granny gear all the way up to eleven, and back down again. I was sold. Dynamic bikes are everything they claim to be – and they are good-looking to boot. I was waiting for the catch, and assumed it must be the price. Nope. They are priced right in line with what you would expect to pay for a good-quality chained bicycle – and better, in some cases.
I want one. I really want one – the hybrid, to be specific. My problem is that the other person whose name is on my checking account knows darn well I bought a new bike about 2 years ago. Though I suppose that bike could meet with some sort of unfortunate accident…
While I figure out how to execute that without hurting myself, take a look at Dynamic’s website at www.dynamicbicycles.com. There’s a great animation that explains the technology in detail. To see them for yourself, Patrick and Devin will be more than happy to show you and you can take your own test drive, by appointment. Please call 401-254-1754, or 800-935-9553.