For the last week I have been getting used to the Tout Terrain Metropolitan which I have got from Bikefix. I got the bike as part of my search for the ultimate commuter – by which I mean a bike I can ride 52 weeks a year when I am doing my short commute. [My short commute is 8 miles daily using bike-train-bike] The bike has a number of features which lend it regular commuting:
- An internal hub gear – in this case an Alfine 11 speed
- A hub dynamo
- Hydraulic disc brakes
- Fitted mudguards and plenty of clearance
However the two features which specifically attracted me to the Metropolitan are an integrated rear rack and even more importantly, a Gates carbon belt drive.
I have made a number of immediate modifications to the bike. I am unlikely to use the integrated stand so I removed it, together with the Tubus Racktime clamps as I already had an Altura rack. That saved a grams. I then swapped out the rather broad Selle Royal saddle for a Selle Italia C2 and put some Time ATAC pedals on. Bikefix had already taken about 50mm off the handlebars and fitted some Ergon grips for me.
So after about 40 miles riding, how is it feeling? Well the first thing is that the bike just works and is very quiet – the lights come on when they are needed, there is no front wheel toe overlap, nothing rattles. Despite being no lightweight, the gear range is easily adequate for Sheffield hills and with the 700c wheels and Marathon Racer tyres the bike is easy to keep up to speed after a slightly slower acceleration than I am used to. The disc brakes are massively effective (with a 180mm rotor on the front and 160mm on the back) but modulate well. As you can see from the photos the frame finish and powercoat are first rate. I’m getting to to love the bike and there’s nothing I actively dislike, but there are a couple of things I hadn’t thought about in advance. Firstly, the bike is available in 26 inch and 700c wheel versions from Bikefix, but it is the same frame which means the bottom bracket is noticeably higher on the 700c version.
It is a good job I have big feet, but even then I am straining to stay in the saddle and get a foot to the ground. The next thing is that although the Alfine hub has a long service interval, an oil change every two years, the first oil change is due after 1000 kilometres. It will not take me long to do that distance and the oil change kit is not cheap (£45-£50 without the oil). The final niggle is the belt drive itself – or rather the instructions – which come in German. Gates make the point that getting the claimed life for the belt requires keeping it at the correct tension, but this does not seem to feature in the instructions (at least as far as I can see – I am hoping to remember to scan them and send them to a German friend to check this bit out).
All this said, I think the bike will be the business and am considering getting some Schwalbe studded tyres for the really bad days ahead.