Designed to look elegant as you ride along an English country road or into town, the Bella Beg Classic from Beg Bicycles is hand-made in Belgium in a classic Dutch design.
Combining high quality parts with retro styling, the Bella has some nifty tricks to make it stand out from the sit up and beg crowd.
Although it weighs in at a hefty 19kg, if you are looking for panache rather than performance then the Bella may be the bicycle for you. Colour and styling can be key to choosing a recreational bike such as this. The salmon pink, chalk or linen green colourways are teamed with the honey tan Brooks leather saddle and matching handle covers to create a beautiful vintage-esque feel.
The Bella comes in two frame sizes, 50 and 53cm. At 5’6” and liking my handlebars high there was still a good deal of room on the 50cm bicycle for raising the seat if needed. Shimano Nexus 3-speed revoshift gears were more than adequate for cycling in hill-free Cambridge and central London. I just used the first two gears and didn’t find I needed the third at all. When enquiring as to its use, I was informed it was for when one wants to go faster. I decided to stick to my two-speed approach. For the more adventurous, an 8-speed upgrade is also available although the bike isn’t suited to tackling more than subtle inclines. There are roller brakes, which are very efficient; a necessary feature when bearing the weight of the bike in mind.
I found the bike a little unwieldy to manage as the handlebars are very wide and I had rather overfilled the generous basket, which didn’t add to my stability. It didn’t help that I have little natural balance and actually managed to fall over on the bike when stationary (note to self, don’t try and ride and take photographs at the same time). In heavy traffic the manageability of the bike could pose a problem and the bicycle is probably more suited to use on town cycleways and country roads.
The Bella has been designed with ease of use in mind. She has cream Schwalbe Delta Cruiser tyres with puncture prevention technology and side-wall reflectors, although luckily I didn’t have cause to put the puncture prevention to the test. The front light is in retro chrome and both the front and the tail light are powered by a dynamo in the hub. This is very useful for people like me who forget to check batteries as they will always be ready to work. The tail light also has a safe-stop function which means that when you stop at a junction the light continues to shine.
There is an integrated double stand, which is important to keep such a sturdy bike standing up on its own, and there is also an Axa Defender integrated wheel and frame lock. This means that you can lock off the back wheel so that if you are just popping away from your bike for a moment it can’t easily be wheeled away. The chain is fully enclosed, which means that if I had a long boho skirt (always makes me look dumpy, so I avoid) it wouldn’t get caught up and covered in oil. Different baskets are available at an additional; I used a willow handlebar basket (£45) that was very roomy.
Bella is perfect for a genteel ride around town or into the country. She is sturdy enough to carry a picnic basket or panniers and you wouldn’t want to be rushing anywhere whilst riding her. The weight and size of the bike does make it more difficult to store and transport the Bella than similar bicycles of this class.
– Comfortable upright position
– Nifty features such as an integrated lock
– Very heavy, don’t overload the generous basket even with the steering stabiliser.
– A very large bicycle to store and transport. Not one to be left in the hallway.
Weight: 19 kg
More information: Beg Bicycles
What Beg says about Bella
Our Dutch bicycle; Bella makes a perfect cycling companion. One’s upright riding position on a Bella is nothing but genteel, graceful and comfortable, enabling you take in the scenery as you glide on by. Bella’s beautiful hand built detailing is matched with highest quality bicycle components, including Shimano Nexus 3-speed internal hub gears, a built-in dynamo with a gorgeous retro chrome headlamp, integrated lock and a sturdy stand and stabiliser meaning Bella wont topple, even with all those shopping bags!