Beautiful Bicycles: Civia Loring

Chances are good that you’ve already heard of Civia Cycles, the relatively new company in Minnesota making beautiful utilitarian bikes. Civia’s motto is: Life’s better by bike. We agree!

I recently test rode the Civia Loring. The Loring is the most relaxed of the company’s five models. Civia markets the Loring for “tooling around town, cruising campus, or pedaling to the grocer.” This seems to limit the Loring more than necessary, as it is a sturdy utility bike and they make it sound like a cruiser.

The steel frame and sprung Brooks saddle make for a smooth ride, almost like my Dutch bike, but not quite as smooth. The pace of the ride is also similar to my Dutch bike. I had expected the Loring to be a little more peppy, but the bike demands smooth, steady and slower pedaling action. The swept-back handlebars are comfortable and allow for a somewhat upright riding position. The position is similar to that of my Rivendell Betty Foy.

Civia Loring in all her glory

The Loring has the unique combination (at least unique for city bikes) of an internally geared hub and disc brakes. Both of these components are excellent for riding in rain and snow. I rode the 3-speed version (there is also a 9-speed version). The first gear was useless during my test ride in flat Chicago, but could come in handy for people with hills or carrying heavy loads. Second and third gears felt good. Braking at normal speeds and in normal conditions felt no different than braking with the roller brakes on my Dutch bike.

Rear wheel with disc brakes

Front view of Civia Loring

Carrying capacity is outstanding, with integrated front and rear aluminum racks with bamboo slats. A spring prevents the front from swinging around when loaded. The fenders are also bamboo and work to keep you clean and dry in the wet weather. Other stand-outs are the chain guard to keep your pants and long skirts from getting greasy and mangled, and the two-footed kickstand to keep your bike sturdy and upright. Minus a couple of points for the lack of an integrated lighting system.

Integrated front rack with wood slats

Integrated rear rack with wood slat

Wood fenders and 26" wheels

Civia Loring

The Civia Loring is a high-quality and well-thought-out bike. If you are interested in a beautiful and dependable bike to get you and your stuff around town, you may want to add the Loring to your list of bikes to consider. As always, I recommend trying to test-ride as many different bikes as possible, before deciding which bike is best for you.

For other Civia Loring reviews, check out Ecovelo’s and Fortworthology’s great write-ups.

{As always, we at LGRAB receive nothing for our reviews except the joy of spreading beautiful bike love.}

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50 thoughts on “Beautiful Bicycles: Civia Loring

  1. dukiebiddle says:

    I’m really a huge fan of the Civia Loring, and modeled the cargo capacity, seat and handlebar position of my everyday bike on it (…well, the Civia Loring and the Swobo Baxter). My only issue with the bike is the purdy wooden fenders. For such a function over form philosophy bike I thought it was contradictory to use such a prettified item that offers limited coverage when compared to normal fenders. I could also do without the wooden inlays on the front rack, but I have an aversion to decoration an that’s just me). I think relevant to point out that Civia, Surly and Salsa are owned by the same parent company, QBP. Such a great company that puts quality first and marketing second. I actually hate Surly’s marketing, but underneath the childish skater-punk decals there’s always a sturdy, practically designed bicycle that’s built to last.

    • neighbourtease says:

      I agree w you about the bamboo elements. It’s kind of like someone is building a brand new sustainable floor right on your bike.

      These are obviously great bikes, though.

      • dukiebiddle says:

        I’m just a bit of a stickler for function over form. I’m all for handsome and attractive elements that can be reasonably justified as being superior functionally to other materials. But if other materials such as aluminum plating, or stainless steel or basket wire are more practical for the respective purposes on the rear rack, fenders and front rack framing, the bamboo just feels like jewelry or accessorizing to me.

        • neighbourtease says:

          I know what you mean. I just got a Retrovelo and it came with cruiser bars that I don’t really like the look of. I thought I would immediately swap them out but I really like the way they feel and perform so I haven’t. I also like how they make the bike look kind of weird and a little cheaper, which makes me feel like I can leave it locked up for a few mins on an NYC street.

          • dukiebiddle says:

            OMG, I have the biggest man crush on the Retrovelo Paul/Klaus. That’s my very favorite bike out there.

          • neighbourtease says:

            I love it so, so much. My husband is similarly entranced by the Paul (black with black wheel set). I keep catching him reading about it online. They are remarkable bicycles.

          • Dottie says:

            Man crush – lol. I have a girl crush on the Paula, specifically the pale rose with cream tires. Want!

  2. Ben says:

    I love that bike! Been eyeing it for a long time now. I wish there was a shop in my city that carried Civia so I could test ride it.

  3. Mr colostomy says:

    Impressive bike, although I think the disc brakes may be overkill. I think a nice pair of Sturmey drum brake hubs, with a dynamo in the front would have been ideal, both functionally (adding potential for integrated lighting, or even phone charging) and aesthetically. The hockey-stick chainguard is a nice compromise between usefulness everyday and easily removing the wheel.

    • Sungsu says:

      Anyone know how good disc brakes are in the rain and mud compared to drum brakes?

      • dukiebiddle says:

        Disk and drum are comparable in wet, muddy and icy conditions. I certainly wouldn’t agree that disc brakes are overkill, as they’re typically cheaper and less complicated than drum brakes. Many don’t care for the look of disc brakes, but aesthetics aside they’re really practical.

      • Mr colostomy says:

        Discs are a bit better overall in wet or dry. I use an Avid Juicy 5 on my cargo bike and I wouldn’t want to be without it. I think they look good on that kind of bike, but not my city bike. On my city bike I use drums because they are more than sufficient and offer consistent braking, plus a dynamo hub option which doesn’t require me to use Shimano’s centrelock. They were also cheaper than discs when comparing the cost of an Avid BB5 brake plus disc wheel to a Sturmey X-FD built into a wheel (this might not work out cheaper in the US). The other advantage is that they work with any old fork, unlike disks.

      • bongobike says:

        What puzzles me is the position of the brake levers. They should be rotated down, not out to the sides like that.

        • Dottie says:

          Hm, I hadn’t noticed that before, but I see what you’re talking about. Must have felt perfectly fine and natural – otherwise I definitely would have noticed.

          • bongobike says:

            Dottie, rotate them down and compare. I think you’ll notice they feel more comfortable to operate, since your fingers are naturally pointing down. You will be able to grab the levers more quickly and comfortably. I see you have them down on your Betty Foy. Don’t they feel more comfortable?

  4. bongobike says:

    Agree with dukie on the fenders. I would rather put a stainless steel pair on it. Also they could have finished the job and wrapped the chainguard all the way around to the back, since the lower rung of the chain can also get your pants cuffs dirty. Finally, a dynamo hub on the front would have completed this very nice town bike.

    • Dottie says:

      I agree with all of those points. James, below, has a Loring and notes that the fenders work great, though, so maybe I would keep the bamboo fenders ’cause they’re so pretty.

  5. Nicola says:

    I like the look of the bamboo touches a lot.

  6. [...] What’s more, my friend Dottie up in Chicago, one of the pair of ladies who runs the fantastic Let’s Go Ride a Bike blog, has coincidentally put up her very own review of the Loring today.  Go check it out, too! [...]

  7. Great review, Dottie. And a great coincidence, since we have a Civia Loring review up today as well. I’ve had the photos for a few weeks and kept forgetting to write it up, and figured Friday would be a good day for it. Great minds think alike, and all that. :)

    I love the Loring – it’s such a beautiful piece of design, and it’s got great practicality with those racks and such. I also love the details, like the spring that stabilizes the front wheel.

    http://fortworthology.com/2010/07/16/city-bike-review-civia-loring/

    • Dottie says:

      Yes, great minds think alike! Pretty cool that we had a lot of the same thoughts about the bike. Excellent review! I like the Loring a lot, too, and the more I think about it and look at it, the more I like it :)

  8. Stephen says:

    Handsome bike. No, the flat bamboo fenders probably won’t catch all the spray a hollow fender would (but I could be wrong–has anyone tested this?), but against the black frame, leather accouterments, and silver components, struts, and fasteners, it’s simply stunning. I’d keep it in my apartment or house just to look at it.

    • dukiebiddle says:

      I’ve read many reviews of bamboo fenders. Flat fenders don’t work as well as fenders with a concave shape. Much of the water and mud that typically flushes out the bottom of the fender rolls right out the sides

  9. I like the bamboo-slatted racks and the fenders (though as other has pointed out, I am skeptical of the latter’s effectiveness). The bicycle as a whole I can’t really see myself on, though your photos do make it look nice. A good utility bike, I am sure, but for the price I am not sure it’s the nicest option out there.

    • Dottie says:

      I’m interested to hear which new bikes you would put above the Loring in its price catagory. I was trying to think of some while I was test-riding it, but for the quality, utility and uniqueness, the ~$1,000 price tag is really good. That’s $500 less than my Oma and a few hundred less than a Pashley, a Velorbis Studine and all those other European bikes. The 3-speed Breezer Uptown is substantially less and has integrated lights, but the frame is aluminum.

      • The Civia Loring prices actually go up to $1400 depending on how many speeds you get. That’s *more* expensive than a Pashley (especially considering that the Civia does not include lighting, whereas the Pashley does), and for that price I would indeed get a Pash and slap some extra racks and crates on it. The Surley Long Haul Trucker is a tried-and-tested legendary option for $1000. And an even more affordable version is the Batavus Personal Delivery.

        I don’t know. Your photos make this bicycle look beautiful, but in person I was less than impressed – both with the looks and with the construction. When I see a Surley, my response is “Well, it’s not my style, but I can tell it is a quality machine.” I do not have the same response to the Loring.

      • Richard says:

        I’d put the Specialized Globe Live 2 at least in the same place as the Loring, even with the aluminum frame, and with no lights. Much lighter and sportier feel, while still supremely comfortable in my view.

  10. margonaute says:

    There’s something very eco-steampunk about this bicycle… Very quirky and charming in its own particular way. I’m happy to see new bicycles like this.

  11. welshcyclist says:

    Can’t say I’m fond of the bike, but purple is definitely the colour foy you, gorgeous as always.

  12. James says:

    I bought a Loring from Roscoe Village Bikes and I love it. It is my daily rider and provides a great ride from Roscoe Village to the Loop and back! I have the XL 9-spd and it runs like a champ on Chicago’s flat terrain. Thanks for the cool review!

    • Dottie says:

      Cool! I saw the RVB has the Hyland, but I didn’t know they also carried the Loring. They’re one of my favorite bike shops, but I haven’t had a need to go in a while.

  13. James says:

    Oh, and the fenders work just fine. I adjusted them to be a bit closer to the wheels and they haven’t failed my in the 3 rain rides I have taken it on.

  14. Sigrid says:

    way to go home team! btw Loring Park is a great treasure of this city. this bicycle is a lovely addition to a fleet of ever growing choices ~ I just think of my options 3 years ago compared to today and I am so happy the world is opening up! kudos to anyone out there contributing to another form of bicycle beauty.

    • Dottie says:

      I like how they named this bike after a local park. I agree about all the great options out there. This bike did not exist when I was first shopping.

      • Joe Kostansek says:

        I live in Gainesville, FL and had the opportunity to test ride one of the 3-speed Lorings. Mind you it was the small (I need a large) and it was not the mens frame. When they brought it out, my wife later told me that both her and the sales guy said that I would not like it as I was riding away. My initial thoughts were my dislike for the 26″ wheels and the “cool factor.” As a roadie, I went in looking for something closer to what my road bike represents, but for dedicated commuting. I got to say, I had a serious change of heart after riding it for awhile. I loved it. I got off several times, and just stepped back and looked at it. By the time I got back, I wanted one. It was very nice riding, nice looking and quite practical. So now my questions:

        My daily commute is 9-10 miles each way. Will this be a good option for me? Will the bike accept non-Civia branded fenders? We get alot of rain and I am looking for a fender option that is not flat. I had the black bike ordered so I am thinking that a black polycarbonate fender would look pretty sharp. Still on the fence about the racks.

        Any advice would be appreciated and welcome. Thanks.

        Joe K.

  15. jores says:

    Nice review. I’ve seen some Civia bikes around town.

    Your external link to the Civia page is missing the “h” in “http”.

  16. Karen says:

    Very smart looking bike. I wish it had a skirt guard and an integrated lighting system though.

  17. [...] Cycles, a Minnesota-based new comer. You can read Dottie’s review about the Civia Loring on Let’s Go Ride a Bike, a blog run by two girls.  Trisha in Nashville and Dottie in Chicago provide a women prospective [...]

  18. Brooke says:

    I was looking at the Betty Foy last spring but bought the Civia Loring 9 speed, apple green (a lot better than the black in my opinion), instead. I love love love my Civia. I get looks and comments every time I ride it. Once I passed a dad & 2 kids (all on bikes), then a few minutes later the dad came up beside me to compliment my Civia. As they pulled ahead of me his daughter looked and me, rolled her eyes, and said, “My dad’s kind of a bike geek.” It was awesome. Another time I passed a jogger in the street and heard him yell, “Nice fenders!” as I sped ahead of him. It was a totally innocent compliment, but of course I got a good laugh because it sounds like it should be innappropriate.

    Civia bikes are available through QBP, which is a huge distributer. Any bike shop that orders Salsa or Surley bikes can order a Civia bike too. That’s what I did – went to my local bike shop and just asked them to order it for me. PJ and the guys at Civia are fantastic and I’m happy to support a small bike manufacturer.

    As an aside… they don’t make “girl’s” bikes with disc brakes. I searched high and low and was told that “manufacturers don’t think girls need disc brakes, and girls aren’t serious bike buyers and don’t want them anyway.” I was desperately trying to find a bike with a short standover height that had disc brakes. This is the only mixte-style bike I found with disc brakes. Salsas and Surleys are awesome… but I’m too short to stand over their straight top tubes!

    As for the fenders and bamboo… I consider this my “convertible” (i.e. the super nice car you keep in the garage when the weather is crappy) and don’t take it out in downpours. If I get caught in one, though, I’d rather have the fenders than none at all, and the Loring IS made to handle bad weather with the fender/internal hub/disc brake combo. Also, the fenders prevent splash from random patches of water and stones. The front basket is super functional, whatever your feeling about the bamboo “floor.” It’s a porter-style rack, not a wire basket. The porter rack also has an integrated u-lock rest on one side and an integrated mount underneath for mounting a light – so that whatever’s in the rack won’t interfere with the beam of light. The rear rack is also designed with multiple anchor points for tiedowns or bungee cords.

    I realize some people may not see the value in something when all know are pictures, but I use this bike several times a week for commuting to work (12 miles round trip), errands, grocery shopping, and just to ride for fun. It’s incredibly well designed, THOUGHTFULLY designed, and I see the value in the design choices – it’s a bike where stylish design is the result of usefulness and purpose. It’s stylish in spite of being a super functional, purpose-driven bike. I love it!

    Sorry for the super long post!

  19. Great review and wonderful comments! I’m going check one out.

    As a Minneapolite, I’m overjoyed to see bikes with the names of parks, streets and neighborhoods of my city. Now, when I ride through Loring Park, which I do very often, I’ll think of the cute little bike named after it.

    BTW~ they have a cool t-shirt with the Loring bike packed with stuff. I haven’t seen another bike T like that.

  20. I must have this bike! I especially like the handlebar basket.

  21. [...] Christiaan is into his Civia Loring, an upright city bike with a big porteur rack. “I have two drink holders on my bike so I can [...]

  22. i woul prever wire basket over plastic baskets coz they are more sturdy“’

  23. [...] is one of Outside Magazine’s “Best Utility Bikes” of 2012. A Chicago blog called Let’s Go Ride a Bike wrote this righteous and upstanding review, along with some really nice photos. Thanks to them for the photo above! We’ll post our own [...]

  24. [...] Beautiful Bicycles: Civia Loring « Let’s Go Ride a Bike – life on two wheels: simple. styli…. [...]

  25. [...] Christiaan is into his Civia Loring, an upright city bike with a big porteur rack. “I have two drink holders on my bike so I can [...]

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