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Belt-Drive ‘City Bike’ With Retro Racing Aesthetic, Modern Tech

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[leadin]When I first laid eyes on the green and yellow bike with downturned mustache handlebars, it was lust at first sight; I couldn’t wait to swing a leg over the top bar and test it on the road.[/leadin]

Designed with the retro styling of a 1960s Lotus race car — and named after an iconic street in Spot Brand’s hometown of Denver — the bike exudes cool in a way that seems rare among steel-frame commuters.

It’s not that the Wazee is particularly light or fast, but it just looks so sweet and I think it knows. If I told it “I love you,” I’d expect the response to be a very Han Solo-esque “I know.”

The Wazee and the street it’s named after; all photos by Sean McCoy

But does it actually ride well? From my month or so of testing around the city streets of Denver, including its namesake Wazee Street (the company calls it “one of Denver’s most storied thoroughfares, the epicenter of LoDo and the beating heart of Mile-High commerce and culture), the answer is a definitive yes.

Designed as a commuter that is still fun for long rides on the weekend, the bike seems well equipped for the job but with a few caveats: It’s expensive, at $2,350 (would you really want to leave it locked outside all day while working?), it doesn’t come with fenders, and it’s heavy, at 27.2 pounds.

Personally, I found the classic stiff and responsive ride of steel a joy on short commutes or longer day trips. I gave the bike lots of short tests of 5-10 miles and a few in the 20-30 mile range.

They were all fast, fun and comfortable. Most notably, the bike is very smooth and, due to the Shimano Alfine 11-speed internally geared hub driven by a Gates CenterTrack belt drive system, darned near silent.

Even with the handlebars turned down (they can flip up, too) I found the position comfortable and upright. The only negative I found with the ride is that the company’s “Urban RocketSled Geometry” puts the hands right over the front hub and big bumps translate into a quick jab to the upper body — in my opinion a small price to pay for the sporty feel of the bike.

The Avid Elixir 1 disc brakes provide plenty of easily controlled stopping power, but be careful with that front brake; grabbing it hard could easily put the rider over the bars, especially with the bike’s upright, forward leaning design.

One very unique design aspect worth mentioning: Spot designed its own dropout that allows the rear wheel to be removed and re-installed without re-tensioning the belt. This cool design will save time and frustration versus other belt-drive bikes if you need to fix a flat on the way to work.

A clever design allows removal of rear wheel without re-tensioning belt

The Wazee is a solid bike from this small Colorado company. For those who ride lots of miles commuting and want a bike that is reliable and plenty of fun for days off, this could be the one.

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