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Olga and I wanted to thank you for the pair of W2 Adventure UTB bicycles that you made for us last year. The bikes are great, and are absolutely perfect for our needs. Since we've had a few months to try out the bikes, now, I thought I'd give you some feedback on our experience with the shop and the bikes.
When I first contacted you in mid-2008, I had done a bunch of research on the internet about touring bikes. I had a good general idea of what I was looking for, but still had plenty of questions about the specifics. Olga and I already had a matching pair of Gary Fisher Tassajara mountain bikes, and I had a Bianchi Giro road bike. However, none of our three bikes was comfortable for rides of more than about 30km, which didn't suit our riding style of longer, moderately-paced rides. In addition, we had rented bikes for a couple of days in Nepal and had taken a cycling tour to Scotland, but weren't at all happy with the quality of the bikes that were available for rent. Sure, the bikes would "get you there," but they weren't particularly inspiring to ride, nor were they terribly comfortable. Lastly, we needed bikes that would survive Moscow's harsh winters and less-than-bike-friendly roads, trails, and sidewalks. So, we were looking for a pair of very versatile bikes that would do it all, from daily riding in Moscow (in all conditions... sun, rain, slush, snow, and ice), to centuries and other organized rides, to light and fully-loaded touring in foreign countries. It was a tall order, and I'm happy to say that the W2 Adventure UTBs do it all... and with style!
I looked long and hard at the various alternatives such as the Surly Long Haul Trucker, REI Novara Randonee, Co-Motion Americano, Bruce Gordon, Fuji World, Trek 520, Kona World, and even some of the folding bikes like the Bike Friday and the Airnimal. Any of them, I'm sure, would have been a quality bicycle, but we ultimately decided that the R&E W2 Adventure UTBs had the best combination of design, frame materials, hand-built construction, fitting options, component options, and some unique "special touches" available in a single package. The bike simply seemed to be made to order for our needs. You'll probably recall the volumes of email that I sent asking you about various component options, wheel options, gearing choices, and accessories, and I very much appreciated the time and effort you spent responding to me on everything. Now that I've had a chance to tear down and rebuild the bikes a few times for travel, I can really appreciate the amount of thought and effort that has gone into making these bikes live up to their name as "Ultimate Travel Bikes." Small things like the cable de-couplers, removable master chain link, quick-release button on the Campagnolo shifters, seat post guide clamp, and self-removing crank bolts make this more than just a touring bike with S&S couplers. They're not "fold and go", but they certainly are designed to be packed for travel and re-built with a minimum of hassle. On my wish list for the future would be some kind of quick-install, full-sized fenders, as fenders seem to be a real hassle to remove and install. Let me know if there is such a thing... I'll buy them!
Since we picked the bikes up in August, 2008, I've put a bit more than 1,300 km on mine (much of which was done while I was in limbo in Tacoma waiting for my Russian visa to get approved), and Olga has ridden hers some 300+ km. So, we've had plenty of time to get used to them, and have ridden them in all kinds of conditions: sun, rain, slush, snow, and ice. We've ridden them on paved roads, dedicated bicycle paths, dirt and gravel fire trails, and even a couple of times on some very demanding "roots, rocks, and ruts" single track (although the latter was probably a bit much for what is primarily a road bike). Riding in Moscow also provides the additional joys of frequent curb-hopping, riding or
carrying the bikes up and down stairs and through pedestrian underpasses, riding through mud, snow, and slush, on ice, over broken bottles, along cracked sidewalks, and along rough, partially-paved paths near rivers and through parks, not to mention risking your neck when trying to ride on the street with traffic (there's a reason that there are few cyclists in Moscow, and of those that do cycle, only the bravest of the brave ride road bikes). The W2 Adventure UTBs are pretty well bomb-proof, and have handled it all.
These bikes are, without a doubt, the most comfortable bikes either of us has ever ridden. The fit and setup is fantastic, and has completely eliminated problems that both of us were having with wrist, elbow, lower back, and saddle soreness. We can ride the UTBs for hours at a time without any discomfort at all. They are a dream to ride, and we truly look forward to cycling each time we go out. The UTBs are an excellent blend of responsiveness on the roads and sturdiness on trails and under loads. The more we ride them, the more we appreciate the ride qualities.
I also wanted to mention that it was a pleasure working with you and your staff. I especially appreciated the time you spent with me via email to answer all of my questions about the bikes, and the time you spent to give me a full tour of the shop after building up my bike for the first time. I very much enjoyed seeing the shop floor where the bikes are built and painted. The fitting process was mostly completed by the time we picked up the bikes, but it was nice to check to make sure the assumptions we made were correct. Please give our special thanks to Amber, Ross, Scott, and Smiley. They were quite helpful in ordering accessories, answering questions about fitting, and teaching us how to pack/unpack the bikes.
Attached are some photos of us in Moscow with the bikes. We're currently planning to take the bikes with us to Rome in February, and are very much looking forward to our first international vacation with our new bikes!
Best wishes to all,
Brian & Olga