Simcoe bikes: a city bike designed in Toronto

Simcoe step through bike

Not since the halcyon days of CCM have everyday bikes been created in Toronto (excluding high end Cervelo road bikes and the custom-built Mariposa bikes). Fourth Floor, local bicycle distributor and spin-off of bike store, Curbside Cycles, has gotten into building their own city bike. The bikes are actually built in Taiwan (like most bikes) but they were designed in Toronto for Toronto-like conditions. This could be an interesting start to more home-grown options for people who bike everyday (keep an eye on Toronto's Gallant Bikes as well)

Fourth Floor's Simcoe Bicycles evoke classic European 3 speeds but created with modern parts. At first glance they are like classic Italian bikes such as Bella Ciao (German-owned company with Italian made frames) or Abici. Fourth Floor built something that is better built than the popular Linus or Public bikes - better components, tough powder-coated frame, fuller chainguard - but isn't as expensive as bikes imported from Europe by avoiding all the import costs of complete bikes. I took a couple of the prototypes for a spin recently. I only got to try them out for a short time but I liked them. The feel and geometry of the Roadster was much like my everyday bike, which was converted from an old Norco mountain bike. Simcoe's designs were in fact inspired as well by 80s mountain bike geometry.

David Anthony of Octto and Cycle Mondo consulted on design and networked with Taiwan factory to get everything just so, including hard-to-find powder coating. Anthony, prior to stepping out on his own, worked as a R&D manager for Cervelo. A bit unusual to have a guy that designed carbon fibre road racing bikes, design city bikes, but the result seems to be pleasing.

The Simcoe bike will be starting in the range of $750 and up, where a typical Linus ranges from $500 to $900.

The Simcoe has a number of subtle touches that make it stand out for a mass-production bike. It has nice-looking lugs on the fork and head tube but is otherwise welded much like most other bikes in its category. It has a quill stem that fits well with the classic look and provides for more height adjustments than threadless stems.

The chain rings could be steel instead of aluminium for greater durability but that isn't unusual for most bikes now.

The bike will be powder coated which will really help with chipping and rust. Not as good as the high level of protection most Dutch bikes have (such as on the WorkCycles) but much better than the standard "wet" paint on most low-end bikes that easily chip.

I know what I like and have tried out many different types of bikes. I like the idea of a new Toronto-centric city bike and the Simcoe bike matches my own preferences in a bike for everyday use. For other perspectives others have previewed the bikes Lovely Bikes and OSC Cross (winterwear company).

Brushed metal headbadge. I like the look, though I keep thinking it's upside down.

Full chainguards are really under-appreciated. Most city bikes now have fenders but this is the first line I've seen with a full chainguard on the pants-facing side. The chain may still get dirty and rusty but at least pants are saved.

The geometry is similar to my converted Norco Mountaineer MTB. Notice my chainguard from Velo Orange (worth every penny).

The Step Through model comes with a parallelogram that Fourth Floor is hoping appeals to all genders. The line starts with calliper brakes and 3 speeds and goes up to 8 (or was it 7?).

The grey Simcoes in Step Through and Roadster will include drum brakes for the front and back and higher speeds. Drum brakes can be more dependable than calliper, particularly in wet weather, and require less maintenance. If you've got lots of hills with heavy loads, drum brakes might not work as well as disc brakes. If you're looking for performance, this is the wrong bike.

The racks work well with my Ortlieb bag. The racks in the prototypes are higher than the final product.

Single kickstand. I'd upgrade this to a double kickstand since they're so much more convenient when loading groceries onto a bike. And the bike is less likely to be blown over by the wind.

Front hub with drum brakes on the grey Roadster. The bikes have double-walled aluminum wheels with quality Schwalbe tires. Wheel size, if I recall correctly, is 26 x 1 3/8, which is the size of many older 3 speeds from the last century (not to be confused with the 26" of mountain bikes which are slightly smaller).

Classic-looking metal fenders with some nice touches.

Panda portrait FTW


You forgot about Beater Bikes. Also designed in Toronto, and cheaper than Simcoe.

Although Simcoe comes with upgrades like drum brakes and Schwalbe tires. You get what you pay for.

Kevin Love

Great article - more writing like this please!

Beater bikes are only available in the United States. :(

I like coaster brakes - is that an option on these?

The Shimano Roller Brake is the worst example of a drum brake on a bicycle. Too much fade.

The external clickbox for the 3-speed hub may not last long on Toronto's streets, especially when parked alongside other bikes at post and rings.

The Shimano Roller Brake is the worst example of a drum brake on a bicycle. Too much fade.

The external clickbox for the 3-speed hub may not last long on Toronto's streets, especially when parked alongside other bikes at post and rings.

I think they do have a coaster brake option. The prototypes I tried didn't have them.

Beater Bikes are indeed designed in Toronto. Oops. Hopefully they'll sell them again here too once they've taken over the US.

Can't say I've tried all drum brakes but Shimano has a range of models with increasing quality. I think they work well enough on the BIXI bikes for all but the most extreme situations.

Also, there are already a lot of bikes in Toronto with 3 speed gears. I don't think they're in any more danger of being wrecked than external derailleurs or disc brakes.

Linus bikes still blow these away - people sometimes forget how important price is.

Urbanites are also designed in Toronto (and made in Taiwan.)

I chose an Urbanite over a Trek or Cannondale chiefly because I could select the components (gearing range, shifter style, brakes, tires, saddle, etc) a la czrte and have the bike built by the shop (Urbane Cyclist.)

I use it for commuting, groceries, and I take a 1 week tour with it every summer too.

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Good point Brian. Urbane has their own frames to choose from as well. I even built a touring bike out of an older frame of theirs that fits 26" wheels. I think I forgot about them since they only do a small production run and they build them up in house as needed (except for their shopper bike I think).

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