Today was the first day commuting on the Oma. It was a good first date because I had a number of places to go beyond just riding to work. Here is a list of today’s test rides:
1 Bike to work on City streets (5 miles)
2. Ride to the south side to meet the New Belgium crew. They are biking up from Chicago for the Milwaukee Tour de Fat, led by amiable penny head John Greenfield (about 20 miles)
3. Ride home via Hank Aaron State Trail (7 miles)
4. Ride to Cream City Cycle Club meeting in Greenfield Park to give them an update on the new bike plan (about 14 miles)
My first impression is that the bike really takes the edge off the pot holes compared to my other bikes. It must be the big tires, steering damper and heavy steel frame with relaxed angles. The bike pretty much just glided over the pot holes and other rough pavement. It was super easy to ride one-handed and shoot photos with the other hand. I again attribute this to the steering damper. The damper did make it harder to do really tight turns, like in the parking structure at work. There are a lot of bikes to manuever around in tight quarters, and the damper made it harder to turn the bars all the way.
My second impression was that the bike was slower than my Schwinn Dutch conversion. It felt similar to the ride of the Electra Amsterdam. I attribute this slow ride quality to the relaxed frame geometry and the heavy frame. Now that is fine for distances like I was riding today, but I don’t think I would want to ride this bike to Chicago and back. The relaxed geometry also provides a crank forward design, not unlike the Amsterdam. This makes standing and pedalling uphill a bit harder to do too. I think Oma just wants riders to sit and spin. It also works slightly different muscle groups, so I could feel the rides a bit after, even though they were all pretty short.
The Shimano Nexus 8 worked flawlessly. Shifting was possible under normal pedal loads, but not under heavy loads. It is always best to lighten up pedaling when you plan to shift. The roller cam brakes worked well. There is not as much modulation as with a good disc brake. I had to brake very hard on one downhill and the brakes did complain a little, but nothing like squealing V brakes.
I hauled a couple heavy loads with big planning documents, a full camera bag, tools, etc., and the bike did not ride any differently than when unloaded. I think this is a real strong point in Oma over other bikes. You can haul as much weight as you want and the ride quality remains uncompromised.
I mentioned in the first post about this bike that I would probably swap out the halogen headlamp for a decent LED light. Riding home in the dark from my evening meeting confirmed this. The halogen light was not bright enough to really see very far down the road. And I missed the standlight that keeps the headlight on when you stop for a red light. I think I will order the Lumotec Cyo IQ N Plus. I don’t have one of these lights yet, so that will give me another good light to compare in my upcoming generator headlamp review.
Finally the classy Brooks saddle: the jury is still out on this one. As much as I love the look, my butt has never liked Brooks saddles. I typically had the narrower Brooks saddles on touring bikes in the past and always removed them after while. This saddle feels great for short hops, but not so great for the longer 20 mile ride I did. Brooks saddles often benefit from a break in period, so I am giving it some time.
All in all, I was pretty happy with Oma. Our family stable of bikes are like tools in a tool box. It is best to use the right bike for the right job. Oma fits in well and I see lots of uses for her in the future.