Breezer Beltway 11+


Is this the ultimate urban transport bike? Simon Vincett puts it through its paces.

Joe Breeze was one the inventors of the original mountain bike, along with Gary Fisher and friends, and he has never stopped innovating bike design to achieve ultimate performance. His Breezer brand has offered impressive urban transport bikes for many years and the Beltway 11+ is a strong contender for the ultimate expression of this category.

Hallmarks of this type of bike are comprehensive outfitting with dynamo lights, luggage rack, mudguards and stand—almost everything you need to launch straight into your commuting and shopping trips. This is also the style of the European trekking bike, which is popular for long day rides or multi­day rides carrying a small amount of luggage on quality off-­road paths. You could use this bike for camping touring as well, because it has mounts for a front rack and the gears extend low enough for carting quite a heavy load of gear over hilly terrain. I would only prefer a few more hand positions on the handlebars for touring.

However, it’s how the bike rides that is ultimately more important than its accessories and here the Beltway 11+ also impresses. It benefits from years of work by the Breezer brand designing urban commuting bikes and refining its models to a high degree. The riding position is ideally balanced for city riding, being upright enough to scan traffic effectively and forward enough to enable efficient speed. The frame angles create a bike that is stable but responsive. Reassuringly, the fork and frame have a lifetime warranty (for the original owner).

The careful design of the bike accommodates the excellent Gates Carbon Drive belt system, now with CentreTrack to prevent derailling. I had not realised how accustomed I was to chain noise until pedalling a belt—the serene silence is a benefit in itself. But the performance is also a pleasure, being so sure and direct. And the fact that it never needs oiling and will last three to four times as long as a chain makes the belt system very appealing. I would like a chain-guard (beltguard?) on this bike so I didn’t have to bother with trouser clips.

The tyres, Schwalbe Marathon Racer 40mm, are the perfect choice, being fat enough for suspension benefit and confidence over gaps like tram tracks, and having low resistance that makes them fast and a joy to roll along. From riding this bike, these tyres have become my favourite for urban riding.

Managing this easy speed are some very good brakes in the form of Shimano hydraulic disc calipers on 160mm rotors. Breezer list them as T447 Trekking brakes but they seem like Deore-level M446 to me. Either or, they’re the business for this machine.

The Alfine 11 is Shimano’s best hub gear. It’s certainly a step up from the Nexus 8 in shifting performance, and an improvement on the Alfine 8 as well in that the 11 operates in an oil bath. The three extra gears reduce the steps between gears marginally and also add two gears to the top of the range. It’s a bonus to have the dynamo hub at Alfine level as well, providing 15w output to the lights and smooth, durable bearings.

I was pleased at how easy it was both to disengage the hub gear and to remove the wheel from the frame and the belt, and then replace it. My fear of a rear wheel puncture on this bike disappeared after a quick test. The only annoyance is that the Alfine 11 hub gear has a bolted axle rather than a quick release skewer, requiring you to carry a spanner in your repair kit.

I have to get pretty picky to find other things I didn’t like, but the mudguard struts are easily bent and hard to re­set once the guard is rubbing on the tyre, and the rack is too busy with extra clips and attachments which get in the way of simple attachment of panniers. Furthermore, the rack is only rated to 25kg maximum and I regularly load up with more groceries than that!

Overall this bike is a pleasure to ride and ideally suited to the demands of urban transportation. It is well worth the investment for its performance and suite of accessories.

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