Wednesday, November 16, 2016

First Impressions: Woom 3

It was inevitable: Bowen outgrew his Woom 2, and we had to buy him a bigger bicycle. The Woom 3 was the natural choice: I briefly did some research, and confirmed that nobody else made anything better, placed an order, and waited a month because Bowen's favorite color (red) was back-ordered.

The box arrived, and I immediately put it together and was amazed by the improvements Woom has made in the bike over a year:

  • The bike was now 3 pounds lighter than the Woom 2, despite being a bigger frame with bigger wheels! The weight savings were done by substituting an aluminum fork for a steel fork, and by reducing the size of the tubes used in the bike.
  • Assembly is also dramatically improved. The Woom 2 came with V-brakes that were mal-adjusted, and Pardo and I had to adjust them quite a bit from the "out of the box" condition. If you've ever adjusted V-brakes you know that's a pain because they have too many degrees of freedom. Well, this year, the Woom 3 came with brakes that were adjusted correctly!
  • No more coaster brake option! All Woom bikes now come with 2 hand brakes and a freewheel! This is so obviously the correct design that you would think the bicycle industry would adopt it as standard. But that would be way too sensible, like building a waterproof phone or something, so practically nobody does it. It also means that if Amazon is your preferred vendor, you can buy it from Amazon as there's no need to order a separate freewheel rear wheel, etc.
  • Bikes now come with a kickstand and bell. The kickstand is dramatically improved from the 2015 version, and Bowen can now actuate and de-activate it at will.
Well, nobody's perfect. There's one obvious defect in the new design:
The rear dropout faces backwards. This is poor design because when you get a rear flat, how the heck are you going to remove the rear wheel? The older Woom 2 had forward facing dropouts like an old-style track racing bike. That's correct, because when you have a flat, you'd undo the nuts (still no quick release, but that's CPSC's fault), push the wheel forward, and the rear cog would disengage from the chain and now you can remove the wheel. If a flat occurs on the Woom 3, you'd have no choice but to get out the chain tool to break the chain so you could remove the wheel in order to fix that flat. Bad design, and a head-scratching one because they did it correctly last year!!

Bowen took a day or so to get used to the bike but now he loves it. It's obviously well done, and he likes it. (He put 100+ miles on the Woom 2, and it'll obviously go for another 100+ miles when his brother learns to ride) As long as he doesn't get any flats on the rear wheel, I'll like it too.
Highly recommended, and kudos to Woom for actually listening to customers and improving their product!
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