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A few weeks ago, I saw a bicycle advertised for sale on a popular New Zealand auction website. I was tempted to bid because it was priced very reasonably, and I remembered seeing this particular model when it first came out, and thinking that it looked pretty good. It’s a Trek Belleville. Cyco on Ponsonby Rd used to sell them.

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But then an associate of mine bid on it, and I also remembered that I already have a million bikes. So I didn’t. He duly won the auction and asked me to pick it up for him. So I did, and took the liberty of going for a couple of rides to see what I had missed out on.

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I think it was the first practical bike that I ever saw for sale in New Zealand. It also stood out from the other bikes in the shop, by being really nice looking. Partly it was the retro look, and partly it was the way all those useful extras like the mudguards, chain guard and racks, looked so much better because they were designed to go with it.

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The extent of my “testing” was to ride it home from the pickup, which was about 10k. And taking it to work one day, which was another 9km or so. And… I liked it. The 3-speed transmission was very nice (I do love a 3-speeder). The racks & mudguards were very solid & didn’t rattle. The front light, with the hub dynamo worked pretty well – not amazingly bright, but good enough for the city. Also, people I met said nice things about it. It was fun to ride.

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I do have some criticisms – the hand grips and the saddle were horrible, but no big deal to replace. And I didn’t really understand the front rack. Because it didn’t have a rail on the front, you can’t just dump things in there like you can with a basket. It needs something like a cargo-net or bungy cord to hold them in place. In fact the previous owner had by-passed the rack and just put a basket on the front (I took it off for the pictures, but you can see the plastic bracket on the handlebars). There are a couple of slots in the middle of the rack – perhaps there was some helpful accessory that went there? I don’t know. Also, the brakes were pretty average, but that might be fixed with a decent set of pads.

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On the whole though, it’s a very attractive and useful bike.