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Why Pure City?

Why Pure City?

Posted on 14 March 2016

Pure City began in Madison Wisconsin by three college friends who one day, when out bike shopping, couldn't find what they were looking for - a good-looking, minimalist bike that didn't break the bank. They couldn't find it. 

Alas, the same would probably be true today. Our colleagues in other bike stores don't really seem to understand city-bikes, fixed-gear bikes, cargo bikes, folding bikes or the people who buy them. This whole riding in-the-city thing feels a bit beyond them. 

Nonetheless, this gave the young guys at Pure City a problem and an opportunity. They knew there were millions of customers out there who were excited about city bikes but they also knew the traditional bike industry wasn't necessarily the best way to reach them. Luckily, the bicycle industry isn't the gatekeeper to city cyclists. Pure City started by selling in their own bricks-and-mortar store in Burbank, to innovative stores like our own and online.



Riding three seasons is a reasonable reason

Pure City

Pure City grew as a response to the first wave of city bikes in North America, a wave that we at Curbside helped start when we first imported Dutch bikes. Dutch bikes made a ton of sense for a city like Toronto; they were weather-resistant and low-maintenance but they were also heavy and expensive. They made sense if you were an existing city cyclist who had a clear sense of their needs but they weren't the first thing you'd consider as a new city cyclist, mostly due to the cost. Pure City is a next-generation city bike that is highly accessible, great quality and tuned specifically to the North American city cyclists. 

Pure City emerged out of California, a place where the North American bicycle industry is largely based, partly due to the high population of California and partly due to the active lifestyles of that state. It began roughly the same time as its main competitor Linus, and both of them have been duking it out at the top of the entry-level city bike market. However, Linus opted to use wholesalers which raised their prices almost 30% higher than Pure City, whereas Pure City went direct to consumer (and retailer) keeping prices much lower despite being almost exactly the same bike (in fact, we can't tell the difference apart from colour). 



Taking as much from the Dutch

What companies like Linus and Pure City accomplished was a lighter version of the Dutch bike that was contemporary in colours, significantly less money, but shared a lot of the same low maintenance parts, especially the use of internally geared hubs. They call them "Dutchi" bikes, Dutch in style but not quite the robust tool that you see all over the Netherlands. But, in the same way a Dutch bike betrays its Dutch origins in its heavy weight and cost, brands like Pure City and Linus betray their California roots with their lower quality finishes. These bikes weren't designed for the four-season salt and rust of a Dutch or Ontario winter. So, if you're a Spring and Summer rider and store your bike inside overnight it's the perfect bike. You just have to choose your colour!

As a store keen to attract more and more city cyclists, we like how Pure City feels accessible through great colours, quality and price-point. And, as a company that got its start in the fix-gear market, we like how Pure City  is an interesting syntax between European elegance and California fixed-gear styling. Not too many bikes have the swooped top-tube of a Dutch bike mated with celeste coloured rims and nice little touches like one colourful spoke in each wheel. They really taking the market a step forward and creating (along with brands like Simcoe) a North American vernacular for bikes that were once exclusively European. 



Rides as good as it looks

Ride quality is good but not anything like the higher-end European bikes we import. You might say most lower-priced brands tend to make slightly twitchy bikes. This is because most of the designers aren't really asking questions around bicycle geometry or the mathematics that make up stability and handling.  Brands like Simcoe, Pelago and Fahrradmanufaktur are good example of brands who have focussed on maximizing stability with handling, but they can cost significantly more (these brands also tend to be better four-season bikes). 

In sum, Pure City is a great bike for the Spring and Summer rider, a rider who stores their bike inside, wants a nice comfortable ride and enjoys the presence of a rack, chainguard, and kickstand. It by no means has the durability of a Simcoe or a Dutch bike, but with good care it will last a good long time. The colours are great, it's a smooth and delightful ride, and people seem to smile at you a lot when they see you on the street.  You sits gloriously upright and you feel a little bit like a supermodel. In a good way!

Want to compare city bikes? Read our City Bike Face-off!

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