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Budnitz Alpha makes swoopy, belt-drive city bike affordable in aluminum

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Just about every bike we’ve seen from Paul Budnitz over the years has featured an expertly crafted, US-made titanium frame with swoopy lines. But that kind of thing doesn’t come cheap. So Budnitz boiled it down to the essentials for the more attainable Alpha. Swooping cantilever tubes, disc brakes, belt-drive, now with a light aluminum frame and stock build kit and a much more affordable pricetag….

Budnitz Alpha preconfigured aluminum everyday bike

courtesy Budnitz Bicycles

While Budnitz’s titanium city bikes are all made to order, beautifully crafted & ooze quality, with pricing starting at about $5500 they are simply out of reach of most cyclists. Paul brought the cost of entry down with a steel version several years ago, but with a lot of customization, that bike still wasn’t cheap. Now the new aluminum Alpha brings a Budnitz bike more within reach thanks to stock geometry, a single paint color, and a standard  complete bike spec based on creating a light, quick, and long-lasting city bike.

Tech details

The ‘FlyLite’ aluminum frame is the core of the affordable, ready-made build of the new Alpha. It uses an alloy tubeset, custom extruded & hydroformed for Budnitz with 3D machined dropouts to create a lightweight, quick bike that retains his distinct styling. Of course a lot of that comes down to the double, curved toptubes that arc into seatstays for a more forgiving ride, even in aluminum. But it’s also the use of an internally geared hub, spun by a belt-drive and combined with a flat bar setup.

Keeping things simple is how costs are kept in check. While Budnitz’s other bikes are a custom configuration free for all, the Alpha is 100% pre-configured. Available in any color you want, as long as it is (matte) black! The bike is available in three stock sizes (S, M & L) with quick city riding geometry based on the ti Model Three.

The frame features semi-internal cable routing in the downtube & fork, full coverage fender mounts front & rear, and braze-ons for a rear rack. Of course it is also belt-drive friendly with a split driveside seatstay & sliding closed dropouts (for the bolt-on rear wheel), and it is fitted with post mount disc brakes.

Complete bike build spec

The bike build doesn’t skimp though. Budnitz says he actually put together a complete bike spec from the most commonly requested options from his custom bike configuration tool.

The Alpha gets a full carbon thru-axle, flat mount disc fork, a Shimano Alfine 8-speed internally geared hub, a Gates Carbon Drive belt, and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes. Cockpit & finishing components are for the most part no-name kit, but it all seems to be pretty standard house brand quality, light alloy fare.

Put simply, for $1490  you get a lot of value out of the alloy Alpha. It shares the performance and quality aspects of Budnitz’s more by sticking with a tried-and-true pre-configured build.

The Alpha is available now for pre-order from Budnitz, with global delivery of the first bikes slated for April 2018. Quantities in that first batch are limited, so order soon or feel free to hit up Gregg at Budnitz directly via Facebook to confirm individual delivery timeline estimates.

BudnitzBicycles.com

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Robo
Robo
4 years ago

I’ve been lusting for a simple set up like this, but I still think the price point is too high. Does city riding really require a carbon fork and hydro brakes? The higher volume tires will do the work of the carbon, and mechanical discs would be simpler from a maintenance perspective. And both would be cheaper, making it more accessible for the masses.

Seraph
Seraph
4 years ago
Reply to  Robo

I would argue that mechanical brakes are actually more prone to failure than hydraulic and thus require more maintenance in the long run.

Jason
Jason
4 years ago
Reply to  Seraph

Mechanical brakes are more than sufficient for this type of riding. The main advantage hydraulic offers at this price point is ease of assembly for the mechanics whose job is to just put the bike on the floor. Mechanical brakes are a little harder to setup and fine tune, but once setup work great. I’ve running TRP spyres (the road mechanical) on my Jones Plus and my Surly Pugsley. Both of these are on 160mm rotors and will stop me just fine while towing my daughter in my modified trailer on singletrack with ease.

My vote is for a well setup mechanical.

arp
arp
4 years ago
Reply to  Seraph

+1 for hydraulics, having ridden both. Even though this is the budget Budnitz, it isn’t meant to be a cheap offering. Mechanicals would be out of place…and I would instantly swap them out. Seriously tempted by this bike.

Old Man Krupper
Old Man Krupper
4 years ago
Reply to  arp

Haha I don’t think disc brakes are needed at all for urban riding! So there! Back to sexy v’s!

i
i
4 years ago
Reply to  Seraph

I will never understand people that think cable brakes are ever worthwhile. There is no valid reason I can think of for them to exist any more.

Even cable advocates admit they require more adjustment than hydros, anyone who’s done it before can bleed a modern hydro brake faster than you can replace a brake housing, and the interval between bleeds is much longer.

Even cost is no longer a valid point. Shimano M396s are better in every way to any cable disk ever made, and cost a whopping $35/wheel – less than any cable I know of if you include the price of the levers.

Sure, if you’re willing to spend a lot of time fiddling you might be able to get Spires to work *as well* as the least expensive Shimano. Personally, I’ll spend half as much and enjoy brakes that go 3-4 years of commuting without needing any maintenance at all.

iiwas
4 years ago
Reply to  Robo

Having ridden bikes with aluminium forks in the city, the answer is yes, this bike requires a carbon fork.

Dolan Halbrook
Dolan Halbrook
4 years ago
Reply to  Robo

Carbon fork… unnecessary. However, the self adjusting nature of hydro discs are a huge advantage for commuting. The last thing you want to do before heading to work is fiddle with your brakes, and hydros require virtually zero maintenance except for new pads — in my experience, far less than cheap mechanical calipers. Besides, hydros have come way down in price recently.

TheKaiser
TheKaiser
4 years ago
Reply to  Dolan Halbrook

That is a good point about price. You can get rock solid Deore hydraulics that, depending on where you source them, cost less than TRP spyres. Avid BB7s miiigt be a few dollars less, but then you have a single sided design and need to keep adjusting your pads and getting brake dust on your fingers. Normally I’d say BFD, but for a commuter bike where you might be wearing nice clothes, that actually could be a concern.

dontcoast
dontcoast
4 years ago

Interestingly this is the least ridiculous bike in their lineup.

Drop 200-300 off MSRP and it might actually be worth a look.

blankityblankblank
blankityblankblank
4 years ago

Budnitz bikes are not made in the USA. Designed, sure. Made, no.

Donald P
Donald P
4 years ago

True. The Internet has an interesting story regarding the first Budnitz frame made by James at Black Sheep

King County
King County
4 years ago

Cool bike from them. I would even like a derailleur / 1x / chain version, but this spec is nice. I understand the mech disc brake argument.

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