By Henry Bisset
Sizes: XS S M L
Size Tested: L
As a college student moving between digs and lectures and the cafes, I found the Foffa Dandy a joy to ride: it’s affordable for a start, sturdy enough to carry me and my overloaded bags, and it’s pretty nifty around town thanks to the lightweight alloy frame and wheels.
The wide bolt-on alloy wheels and slick-shifting 8 speed Shimano gears made mincemeat of the short steep hills that also frequent my commute. The handlebar width was perfect for around town: narrow enough to allow me to dart between gaps when required, but also wide enough to help keep control of the Dandy when balancing.
At first glance the frame of the Dandy looks like it’s made from steel, but it’s not. The frame is alloy and I’m happy to say it’s surprisingly light for a highbred bike. The welds at the frame joints are nicely done too, the whole bike looks sharp thanks to the internal cabling.
I was really glad of the mudguards of late. The recent downpours would normally have me running for the bus, but the sturdy plastic mudguards are full length and offer plenty of protection from water and crud alike.
The brakes took a little while to get used to, they are smooth in action but took a while to bed in. After a few hours of commuting in the wet the interaction between the rubber pads and alloy rims soon warmed up and started biting nicely. One or two fingers on the short levers were enough to keep the Dandy under control even in the wet.
The the 32mm Kenda K-Shield tyres were great in the wet too, they also never punctured once, even with my lack of skill when it comes to clearing kerbs and small steps. I did keep an eye on the tyre pressures to escape pinch-flats, but I really liked the width and tread of the tyres, this definitely adds to the overall comfort level on the Dandy – it really is superb!
The saddle was just like the rest of the Foffa Dandy, retro in styling but modern in its approach. I don’t wear cycle shorts to college, but this didn’t affect my ride at all. The matching leather-looking handlebar grips gives the Dandy an air of sophistication and remained grip-like during the wet weather.
It was nice that I didn’t have to change gear on the front, its single chainring only on the Dandy, but there is a chain guard to save my jeans. The kickstand is easy to locate with your foot and came in very handy while loading myself with books up in the mornings for college.
The alloy wheels are both secured by bolts which makes them much less nickable – not that anyone would do that of course! But I was glad of the extra security they afforded.
The gearing is supplied by a very reliable and user-friendly rapid shifter up on the handlebars and a Shimano Altus 8 speed cassette and mech down at the rear wheel. Shifting was slick and offered up no surprises, while the gear ratios were more than enough to cope with any short hills and gentle inclines.
In summary: it was a pleasure to ride the Foffa Dandy. It's a very stylish and comfortable city cum highbrid bike that's easy to navigate through traffic and tough enough for cinder or gravel tow paths. The colour of our test bike is fabulous and really tough too. For a student on a tight budget the cost of the Dandy is probably within reach (with a little help from the bank of mum and dad) and is due out in March 2016.
Better add it to my student loan!