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Newly-minted, Toronto, ON-based, Simcoe Bicycles gave themselves one mandate according to co-founder Eric Kamphof: to “design the best city bike for North America.”
Newly-minted, Toronto, ON-based, Simcoe Bicycles gave themselves one mandate according to co-founder Eric Kamphof: to “design the best city bike for North America.” Standing up to this challenge has taken years of effort and experience in the city bike business before the first models were ready to roll.
Kamphof and the team at Simcoe Bicycles, Steve Tam, Michael Bennington, and Dustin McMurphy, have worked to promote city bike culture in North America for years by importing stylish and functional bicycles from countries such as Italy and the Netherlands through Fourth Floor Distribution. Partly as a result of their initial efforts, an emerging, style-conscious culture has taken hold and a growing number of urbanites are interested in a functional and stylish bike.
According to Kamphof, the more the Fourth Floor team traveled and imported, the more they began to realize that between California and Europe they could not find an ideal bike for the urban cyclist. Taking the next, rather giant, leap the team created Simcoe Bicycles.
“It was terrifying, but we had to do it in the name of customer service,” explained Kamphof. And so began a four-year odyssey to craft Simcoe’s first line of bikes, which includes step-through and roadster models with three or seven speeds, each available with three different options ranging in price from $699 to $1,100. Simcoe Bicycles’ Taiwan-made rides are finely crafted with charming finishing touches – from top tubes emblazoned with the slogan “rough this ride, freedom” to leather washers that minimize fender rattle.
Simcoe Bicycles are as functional as they are beautiful, and are akin to a greatest hits of European city bike features pulled together to tackle the harsh weather and pavement conditions faced by riders in many North American cities, but primarily the salt-and-slush-infused terrain of the northeast.
Starting from the ground up in creating Simcoe’s versatile ride, the team enlisted the help of former Cervélo R&D guru, Dave Anthony, who spent the better part of a year working on finding the right geometry for the bike’s chromoly steel frame. “In the city, it is 90 percent corners, you’re in and out of track, you need to feel stable,” Kamphof explained. “And the best way to do that is through the geometry. And we had the best in the world on our side.”
Kamphof said that the ride found its “sweet spot” with a wheelbase consistent to that of a hybrid bike to provide a combination of maneuverability, stability, and safety with an upright rider position.
Simcoe Bicycles powder coat their bikes as opposed to the industry-standard wet paint that makes them even more scratch and rust-proof. Colors available in the semigloss matte finish include black, burgundy, bone, yellow, red, green, blue, and grey.
“I rode mine here today,” said Kamphof as we spoke a few days after a massive ice storm hit Toronto. “I’m not cleaning it at all, on purpose, and it’s just covered with salt, but it is looking fine.”
To keep salt, dirt, and assorted bits of nastiness from ruining your new prized possession, Simcoe Bicycles offer full fenders and a nearly full-coverage chainguard. Each bike also comes equipped with a rear rack strong enough to carry your date on the back, Amsterdam style. Standard on the bikes are Brooks England B68 saddles with leather lacing that matches the Pantone color of the bicycle.
Beyond saddles and chainguards, Simcoe Bicycles were planned to such an astounding level of detail that there was even consideration given to products that might be added by riders such as rear wheel locks and a rear lighting system. Rear wheel locks are standard in many European locales and provide short-term security for quick trips to the corner store or other short errands. Simcoe Bicycle frames are designed to accommodate such devices currently available at function-forward bike shops.
Simcoe Bicycles will be available at a number of city bike outlets throughout the United States and Canada including Curbside Cycle in Toronto, ON, Adeline Adeline in New York, NY, and many more.
Ron Johnson a Toronto-based writer, editor, and cycling aficionado. Currently, the editor of Post City Magazines, he writes on a wide variety of topics from theater and music to environmental issues and, of course, bicycles. @TheRonJohnson