Civia Hyland Review—1 stop commuting machine

Civia HylandThe Civia Hyland is the perfect bike for someone who wants a bike to get where they’re going in a one-stop, high performance package, provided you’ve got the cash to back your desires. Civia’s paid meticulous attention to a huge number of details to get things just right – the frame, the ride, the look, and the componentry. The Hyland’s not without any flaws of course, but for those looking to drive a luxury ride off the lot tonite this might just be the ticket. See our previous coverage here, and here. Check inside for more details and photos via the Bikehugger urban bike pool. Note: We’ve recieved some feedback asking for a more forthcoming review, so I’ve added in a few additional notes, leaving the original text in place.

Civia HylandI’ve seen all kinds of tube shapes over the years, but the recessed cable routing channels are a first for me. The channels help keep the bike very clean looking – both because the cables are out of view and because you can move the cables aside to wipe down the frame when it gets dirty. Keeping the cables out of view gets you a long way towards a simple appearance – not quite a singlespeed, but not far from it. The rest of the frame gets high marks: great looking welds on the 7000 series aluminium tubing, clearance for wide tires (up to 35 mm!), post mounts for disc brakes.

Civia HylandAlso: the incredible sliding dropouts. A typical vertical dropout can accommodate a derailleur setup but won’t let you set up for internally geared hubs without a chain tensioner. The Hyland’s sliding dropouts let the builder choose traditional derailleur, Shimano Alfine internally geared hub, or the Rolls Royce of internally geared hubs: the 14 speed Rholoff. Such flexibility is hard to find in frame designs, and accommodating IG hubs can often mean expensive detours such as eccentric bottom brackets.

The frame’s very stiff and solid, and when I put my foot down this ride goes – no lag, just go. Low lateral flex plays a big part I’m sure, and the overbuilt frame pays off well here. The handling’s predictable and stable. The ride is solid as well but the carbon forks and wide tires help take the edge off. Even with this help the Hyland rides pretty rough, with a bit more ‘road feel’ that seems really necessary.

Civia HylandIt’s clear from the first glance that Civia put a lot of thought into the appearance of the bike. The clean cable routing is just one aspect. The paint’s pretty incredible – the matt, dark colors are very attractive (almost velvety) without calling too much attention to itself, maybe making it just a bit safer when locked up on the street corner. The matching fenders are a very nice touch. The drive train on the Alfine equipped bike I rode has all the simplicity and visual elegance of singlespeed drive trains. The swept back flat bars are a bit unfortunate here – there are lots of very attractive alternatives on the market right now and the flat bars say ‘hybrid’ as loudly as the Honda Insight.

The componentry on these bikes is top notch. My only componetry complaint is with the hubs and wheels. I was hoping the Alfine hub would be free of some of the quirks that my nexus equiped bike shows, but I still get the ‘spinning up’ feeling on my first pedal stroke and of course the entirely different set of noises that an IG hub provides as opposed to your regular old freehub. The wheels I rode seemed like they were still tension-releasing during my short time, which can be a scary sound if you’re not used to it. On the other hand the Alfine group I rode was very nice. Hydraulic stoppers that never quit stopping; the internally geared hub shifts very well – even compared to other IG hubs. But the goodness doesn’t stop there – nice wide 28mm Panaracer T-servs with a nice reflective stripe and a built in flat protection belt, a custom rack with a spot for a tail light, a very good saddle, very nice Thompson machined stem, ODI grips, and my favorite component of all – generator driven front light, with plenty of light for night riding.

Here’s where Civia plays it’s hand: the Hyland’s the get me where I’m going bike that comes with (almost) everything you need. This stuff isn’t impossible to get, you can get it on any bike you like provided you’re willing to wait out the delivery or piece it together yourself as time permits. At almost $2k you’re paying a premium price for a premium bike, but as gasoline goes up the cost of a get me around the city day or night, rain or shine bike seems more and more reasonable. This bike targets the luxury car crowd who can drop a couple of Gs on the best bike. If this is you, I can’t wait for you to get the Hyland (and quit riding my tail in your Lexus).

What would I change? A stand light included on the front – it’s critical that riders be seen when stopped. Get yourself a backup front light until Civia adds one in. Also, I’m surprised Civia didn’t include a rear light, generator driven or not. A bell or a honka hoota would be a nice touch too, but I can imagine everybody will want to pick their own. I wasn’t thrilled with the flat, back-swept bars, I’m more of a riser bar guy myself. One last note – check to ensure your feet clear the fenders when turning, especially on the smaller sizes. I had a bit of toe-strike on the 52, I hear it’s not a problem on larger models.

All in all I expect to see quite a few Hyland’s on the road in the near future. A friend of mine spent most of the winter waiting to start bike commuting while the Local Bike Store got her outfitted with what she needed. The Civia’s 95% ready to ride on a rainy winter night, and the other 5% you can get where you get your bike. The $2k price tag on the Alfine equipped ride would be pretty steep for a feature-free hybrid bike, but it looks cheaper every time I ride past the gas station. I think bikes like this will give folks the peace of mind they’ll need to take the plunge into bicycle commuting.



13 Comments

Or just buy a Novara Fusion for $750.

I don’t think I have read a review on this site that wasn’t for going out and buying the bike.  Hard to trust… I’m just sayin…

Andrew above is a Bike Hugger blogger who think it’s price is “out there.” In Mark’s earlier review, he complained about the margins, and while I understand what Civia is doing, the marketing will tell, and of course if they sell.

I don’t disagree with you and I’ve read cycling reviews that rave about a pair of socks, but Dave put time and thought into the review and Bike Hugger is about being positive, so it’s unlikely we’ll post a “this sucks” review of product. We did mock the new [even bigger wheels](http://bikehugger.com/2008/03/your_29er_is_now_hopelessly_in.htm) (I don’t get 29ers at all, btw) and I thought the NAHBS was provincial and in love with itself (wood-lined baskets)—the fawning over an art bike wasn’t our gig.

The industry is it’s own worst enemy at times and we don’t think it helps anyone to just rip on a bike and there are reviews we’ve written and didn’t post because we didn’t like the bike at all and weren’t objective enough.

Regarding the Civia, I compared it to the [Batavus Lighting](http://bikehugger.com/2007/10/batavus_midnight.htm), which I reviewed as an outstanding bike, last you for life, and costs 1K less.

To their credit, QBP is pushing brand with the Civia and are after an entirely different customer than the bargain bikes.

Good catch Andrew, the Fusion’s got all the bells and whistles (pun intended) but maybe not all of the refinement.

The Civia’s are not for everybody, personally I’m a tinkerer, and I’d rather buy a frame and put my own bars on—so chances are I’d pass on the Hyland (not just because I don’t have room for another bike!).

On the other hand, two of my friends have recently converted to bike commuting and guiding them to a bike that gives them the utility of a car can be a bit of a challenge. The Hyland’s a great choice for those who are looking for a refined commuting bike.

I’m going to do a post of the bike stuff I’ve bought/used that sucks.  Soon!

Batman - I’m with you.  I take nothing said on PezCyclingNews as truth because no matter what - every thing they test is the best cycling product ever created.

Yeah - we like bikes here, and most of the stuff we review is stuff we personally bought, so chances are we aren’t reviewing stuff that sucks :)

I think we do a decent job of pointing out the shortcomings of items too.  I just posted a review on my Saris rack and Byron pointed out some of the issues with the Redline 925.

Thanks DL and andrew.

I’m relatively new (2 years) to commuting and in the experimental stage. I’m looking for some input on bikes and accessories.

“Bike Hugger is about being positive” and “The industry is it’s own worst enemy at times” makes me think that this is not the place to find an unbiased review.

andrew… looking forward to reading about the stuff that sucks! I’ve acquired a pretty good list myself.

Batman,

Sounds like you’re looking for a buyer’s guide and I wrote one for [Men.style.com](http://bikehugger.com/2007/11/an_upgraders_guide.htm) last year and contributed to the [Urban Bike report](http://bikehugger.com/2007/10/dwell_magazine_report_on_urban.htm) in Dwell. —those should help.

Back to the Civia…

When I gave one a [brief] test ride I really liked it, but couldn’t put my finger on what it was that was so nice.

It’s partly the rock-solid frame, it’s partly the integrated fenders/rack/lighting, and it’s partly the aesthetics.

All I can say is that as I rode it in small circles at the bike expo testing corral, it brought a smile to my face. I’m still not going to buy one at $2k though.

It’s the road bike feel; Civia built the bike as a road bike with commuter options.

As a Dutch biker, I must say I’m impressed by the Civia Hyland, and at the same time a bit surprised by many of the reactions to it (on this site and elsewhere). The Hyland looks like a well thought out machine, oozing with quality. I really like the custom frame details, and the color schemes. Of course, you can always buy something a little bit lower quality, for a little less money…

To put the bike in perspective; I’m currently looking for a new bike in this segment, and my current shortlist consists of the Koga Miyata Infinity and the Cannondale Vintage Ultra 8. Both outstanding allround bikes. Both more expensive than the Hyland…

My only complaint is that the Civia Hyland won’t be available in Europe, at least initially :-(

I was shopping around for a new bike on the internet this summer while in the hospital recovering from being broadsided by a speeding motorcycle on my bicycle commute home.

I wanted to replace my destroyed Specialized IG8 with something better - disk brakes, better components.  I looked at custom bikes but wanted to get back to riding ASAP.  I am not a tinkerer and wanted to get something that would be low maintenance, reliable and ready for immediate use.

The Civia Hyland had what I wanted and was well reviewed on the internet.  I decided to spoil myself and get the Rohloff build.  I have no regrets.

The bike rides like a dream.  It makes daily commuting a pleasure in all weather conditions. It rides smoothly on my commute which is a combination of roads and gravel trials.  The gearing of the Rohloff is well suited for the terrain and my physical abilities.

My wife accompanied me when I went to pick up my bike.  She tried the floor model and was so impressed that she got one too.  We took our bikes on a recent vacation and are making plans for future trips.

Pricy?  Sure it is.  But as a daily commuter I could not be more satisfied with my investment.

Thanks Randall and agreed—it’s a sweet bike. We love it here.

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