The roots of this bicycle design harken back to a bicycle I fell in love with in the deserts of Nevada. There I test rode a Burley team racing bicycle built from steel that I had requested to look at more closely for review. Bottom line Burley stopped making bicycles altogether around 4 weeks later. Years passed and I found myself at one of the corner booths in the back of the Handmade Bicycle Show in Portland, Oregon. There amidst some of the fanciest paint jobs in the bicycle universe was a series of steel framed, modestly painted utility bicycles, hand built by Proletariat Bicycle Company. I looked at their road offering and something reached out to me. The elegantly direct statement, "I am a road bike, try me." called out from the elegantly simple and direct frame. I spoke with Todd Gardener about his company, their price point, his philosophy about bicycle building and the meaning of life. After that I decided that we needed to look further into the Proletariat line. Todd would build me up a custom bike suited for commuting.
The result is a remarkable, fully equipped, steel touring frame built as a "Sport Road" design. This bike weighs in at 16-19 pounds and is custom built to my long torso with short (relatively) legged measurements. It may be the most comfortable ride I have come across. The steel frame smoothes out all but the serious lumps and bumps, with virtually no road buzz. The 700x28C tires with which it is equipped also contribute to the buttery ride. Yet the handling is nimble without skittishness.
Switching back and forth between the dedicated road race SIX13 carbon fiber and the Proletariat Steel commuter does reveal a quickness deficit on the Proletariat, but in all other realms this is the bike I want for commuting. It hauls the trailer beautifully, it handles bad roads very well, it is comfortable on long rides. I rode it for the 275 mile Braking the Cycle ride which was a multi-day event under some truly rugged conditions.
Equipped with Shimano running gear, Cane Creek steering, and Easton wheels this bike will give long and comfortable service life for my commute for many years. I love the thing.
The only down side seems to be the durability of the finish with the powder coat paint. The Tyvek label actually dulled the finish of the top tube over the course of the ride, although some Bike Lust helped restore it to a large degree. But this is a very small price to pay for an infinitely friendlier to the environment painting method.