Review: Faraday Bicycle

Today, let's talk about a major game changer in my life: my Faraday Porteur S.

I have been an avid lifelong cyclist, and have dabbled in different types of riding over the years.  At points I have been a long haul touring cyclist, a road cyclist, an urban commuter, and a triathlete. It all kind of came to a screeching halt (bicycle pun intended) when my first child was born.  The pain! The exhaustion! The complete and utter lack of free time!

Slowly, I crept back toward very casual recreational riding. Cruiser ride to the neighborhood park on a Sunday? Sure! 

But at the honest core, I really missed serious cycling. Anyone who lives in the San Francisco bay area knows that scoring a home on the Peninsula is no small feat for two public school employees. So my husband and I patiently bided our time across the bay in a very modest condo in a neighborhood too far to bike to work (think: 20+ miles either direction including an ocean bridge crossing...and don't forget about the kids) and in a neighborhood that was itself not very bike friendly.  But we loved our bikes.  We could not bear to sell them.  We put them in storage and sadly thought of them often.

Fast forward to three years ago when our magical real estate agent negotiated us the best deal on a little house in our favorite part of the Peninsula. And here we are, just a few miles from work.

But with kids, it gets so complicated. How do you do ALL THE THINGS? Nevertheless, I fearlessly committed to re-entering the world of daily bicycle commuters in what we public school employees call "the start of the year," which is actually August.

Here are my bicycling variables:

I do management-level work in energy conservation and I need to look put together at work. Pre-kids, I would do a quick clothes change upon arrival.  If you think I have that kind of time for additional organizational elements in my morning routine any more, you haven't met my kids! I also have to make two stops at separate kid drop off locations before heading to my office.  In total, although I live a mere four miles from my office, I put in fifteen miles every morning before I start working.  Plus I visit school sites all day long. And then I need to get home. 

I had always believed electric bicycles were at worst, for "cheaters," and at best, dorky. However, as I faced my mountain of variables when I made my personal commitment to get back to bicycle commuting, I broke down and decided to at least do a little research.

My research led me to The New Wheel, an incredible little electric bicycle shop in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. Upon arrival, I was immediately drawn to the aesthetic of the Faraday Porteur S. What a gorgeous bicycle! At the risk of sounding terribly vain, my heart soared when I realized I wouldn't have to compromise on my preferred "look;" I could be the elegant environmentalist I had always wanted to be. The Faraday Porteur S is an absolutely gorgeous bicycle. The details are simply lovely. I get nonstop compliments when I ride this bicycle. One gentlemen rode up beside me at a stop light and exclaimed, "Oh my goodness, your bike is electric! My wife would love that bicycle! It is so good looking!" And repeat, pretty much every time I'm on it.

As you can see, I have added a few details (basket, bell, and that little black pouch where I store my charger) to my Faraday.  I actually think the front rack that Faraday makes is lovelier than the basket I have added; however, I carry a lot to work and felt more comfortable having a deeper carrying space for everything.  This basket basically ends up taking on the role that the trunk of my car previously held.

There aren't a lot of hills in my neighborhood. However, I couldn't pedal fifteen miles towing children the majority of the way and show up to work with energy and in a reasonable amount of time on a regular bicycle.  I tried, and it wasn't fun. Currently, I am able to pull two our of my three children on my Faraday.  When the back rack becomes available again, I plan to add it and put a Yepp junior seat on top so that I can also tow my stepdaughter, who, at nearly 8 is the oldest child, on the days she is with us. I have some concerns that I'll have to ride the last leg of the morning without electric assist once I add the extra weight of an additional child to my load, and my biggest wish is that Faraday would come out with a battery solution with a little more power. I would gladly upgrade! 

Currently, the younger two ride in the Burley d'Lite trailer, which is Burley's most luxurious offering and is a significant step up from the big-box store Schwinn trailer we used to pull them around in.

There are so many ways to bring children along on your bike ride, but the Burley d'Lite is hands down my preferred method (just ask the kids...I crashed with both the WeeHoo and the Bobike seat...not my proudest moments in cycling OR parenting). I feel so much more stable with a two-wheeled trailer.  I'm 5'3" after all, and I am towing my own weight over again in children! Burley does make less expensive trailers.  However, the Faraday Porteur S is a fast ride and the shocks on the D'Lite make for an incredibly comfy experience for the kids.  Mine fall asleep regularly, or just chill out and get in some good thinking time (and yeah, in the mornings, we rock out to tunes while we ride).

One of my concerns about the Porteur S, silly as it may sound, was whether the white model would get terribly dirty with even casual riding.  It does not! Ironically, however, after years of serious drought, California is on the verge of el Nino, and we all got caught in some rain recently. The day my husband took these photos, my son Romeo and I were actually out in the driveway to give the bicycle its first bath (hence the soapy trails in some of the pictures).

Romeo was quite excited about giving the bicycle a bath, as this last set of pictures indicates.

Once he got started, he couldn't stop! He washed his bike and his sisters' bikes too.

And he "helped" his dad by washing his car.

Which leads me to my final point. I ride my Faraday Porteur S every single day that it is realistically possible, which is nearly every day. It has a major "whee!" factor that I cannot get enough of, and I am able to model for my children that bicycling is an important way of life. About a month after purchasing my Faraday, we were able to sell one of our cars; this bicycle is truly a car replacement.  I get around with much the same ease as I did in my car, and I enjoy myself infinitely more. I can't wait for the next ride!

Update: Check out this great Glamorous Environmentalist customer spotlight on the Faraday Bikes blog! Don't wait - the Porteur S is on sale until 2016!