My Santos experience
A bit of background: To give some context to my story I am 38 and have been living in Australia since 2002. Growing up in Texas I was the odd one out being interested in road riding and mountain biking rather than Friday night football. I started using bikes for commuting early on and found it enjoyable but challenging in the states being stuck using roads, always over long distances and never with the right kind of bike.
Over the years I have always done my own bike maintenance which is the best way to learn about the quality and reliability of bikes and parts. To wrap this part up I have been in Melbourne and commuting along the beach to work for 5 years which has proven to be rough on bikes. Starting with a 10km commute in which you can handle almost any weather right through to my current commute which is 40km round trip and without a quality bike made for commuting it can be a very uncomfortable experience and requires regular maintenance. This commute works through a drive train, brake pads and full bearing rebuild every 6 months due to the salt, sand and rain along the way right through to new rims every couple of years.
My introduction to Santos:
After Dutch Cargo bike introduced me to the brand Santos I began doing some research on the bikes and was certainly sold on the vision of the company and their desire to make light maintenance free bikes made for a life time. The bikes come with fenders, kick stands, headset stoppers and panniers which I used to think where simply not cool and now know I suffered for years over that mistake. To help sell me on the bikes Dutch Cargo Bike lent me a trekking lite for a few weeks which was more than enough to sell me on all aspects of Santos bikes and specifically the trekking lite.
The fun of selecting your custom bike:
After deciding you want one the hard part starts as you can choose your colour, size, parts, text, style and so many other small details. Ultimately the trekking lite seemed the right approach for commuting, quick trips, and rail trails around Victoria. Rohloff was an easy decision as you move to draining the oil annually from managing the drive train every other day due to our rough winter conditions. Couple this with the gates belt system and all you need to do is hose the bike down and park it in the garage to maintan your quiet efficient drive train. Also found it interesting that gates have been moving to the centre track which might be easier for the average user as the setup does not have to be perfect but Santos have tested and found considerable more life from the original (Trusting Santos on this one).
It was harder deciding on the brakes but after understanding why they use magura rim brakes it made good sense. They are low maintenance, don’t squeal like disc brakes and have the power to stop even in the wet. I choose the lighter HS33 version simply because the brake leavers looked cool and it shaves a bit of weight. The only disadvantage of rims brakes is you wear through rims and Santos even have an answer for this with rims that have been impregnated with carbide to make them supper hard wearing. Santos supply SON lights which are an incredible product and for shorter commutes it would be perfect but I decided to save the weight and go with a brighter external light as my normal commute is not well lit.
Other than that you just have to choose your colours which was not easy with so many options but it’s great knowing you will have a one of a kind bike which is not your normal bike experience. The only hard part is hitting the send button on your custom request knowing how much you just spent (invested). Luckily this quickly turns to excitement as your new bike is underway and you can be assured it will last a life time and provide the best maintenance free cycling that money can buy. It’s also clear it will cost less over time than using the many average commuters on the market today and why not have a bike that turns heads and creates conversation.
The Santos experience:
The anticipation of receiving your fully custom bike and hoping your colour choice works is hard to describe. The best bit is that you don’t have to wait to see it as the bike comes fully assembled in a huge box so you can pull it right out and be off and riding after only minor adjustments. The quality of the bike is hard to describe and as a mechanical engineer I truly appreciate all of the thought that has gone into the build quality and frame design. The bike feels like you’re on a racer even with the 31mm tyres as the marathon racers can be pumped to 95psi and offer low rolling resistance. With a 63cm frame it is huge and even with racks, fenders and kick stand it is still incredibly light.
I choose the metropolitan handle bars of which after you try them you will wonder why everyone is not using them as they are supper comfortable for the long commute, exceptional for out of the saddle climbing and fun in the corners. The frames are as stiff as I have ever ridden so the power goes straight to the wheels making it a fast and responsive bike while the 700c wheels keep the ride soft. Certainly very happy with my choice to go Santos and look forward to seeing just how long everything lasts and how it performs throughout it’s first winter. Thanks Dutch Cargo Bike for bringing Santos to Australia and providing me such as awesome big blue trekking lite that has brought new joy to my love of bikes and is well suited to this great city with it’s many rail trails and bike paths.