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Brooklyn Franklin Bike Review

Looking for a cruiser or commuter bike for urban riding? The Brooklyn Franklin is a great choice thanks to its simple, attractive Dutch-style design, comfortable riding position, and attractive price point.

I’ve been riding the Franklin over the last few months for the majority of my quick neighborhood trips. I’ve taken it to meet my sister for coffee, rolled over to the yoga studio, and countless runs to the grocery store for whatever ingredient I forgot for dinner. In that time, I’ve found it’s an enjoyable and reliable urban commuter (although I still prefer an e-bike for longer trips or routes with lots of hills).

Continue reading to find out why it’s a winner in my book (as well as the few things I would change if I were in charge).

kristen posing with the brooklyn bike

Review In A Nutshell

Pros:

  • Sleek and stylish design
  • Ships to and is assembled by your local bike shop
  • Comes with fenders
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Quill style rather than threadless headset
  • Heavy-ish

Price: $599


Video Review

Ships To Your Local Bike Shop For Assembly

As a professional bike reviewer, you can imagine how many bikes are delivered to our front porch. (And yes, our garages are a disaster!). I’m very accustomed to unboxing and building bikes and am reasonably mechanically competent.

But I certainly did not complain one iota about not having to unbox, build, or dispose of packing with the Brooklyn Franklin. Instead of shipping to my house, Brooklyn sent it to a bike shop down the street from my house. (They managed to find the very closest one)!

I was notified when the bike shipped, when it arrived at the shop, and when it was ready for pickup. Conveniently, the shop is located next to our favorite neighborhood pub, so we walked to Friday dinner, ate, and then I picked up the bike. A few minutes later, I was biking home. The bike was professionally assembled and I didn’t have to deal with any of it.

This business model is particularly attractive to folks who aren’t mechanically inclined, but it’s also great for those of us who are simply short on time. If you’ve ever torn down a bike box, and sorted all the small packaging into trash and recycling, it’s not a quick task.

This service is included in the price of the bike, helps support your local bike shop (they get paid a fee by Brooklyn), and ensures that your bike is safely and correctly assembled.

brooklyn franklin propped against a colorful mural

Sleek Dutch Design

The Brooklyn Franklin impresses with its sleek, elegant design. It follows the style of “Dutch” bikes meaning that it’s simple and functional, but also aesthetically pleasing.

The tubing on the frame is thinner than many cruiser bikes. This not only contributes to a lighter frame but also adds to the bike’s modern, sophisticated look.

Available in several colors, each with a shiny paint job, the Franklin exudes a certain charm that feels both feminine and timeless.

Swooping Top Tube

The Brooklyn Franklin has a downward sloping top tube that provides a low standover. This is often referred to as a step-thru frame.

This design works well for shorter riders and makes mounting and dismounting the bike a breeze. This design choice is also beneficial for riders who prefer wearing skirts or those who have difficulty lifting their leg over a high top tube.

As for me, I enjoyed being able to wear a sun dress on summer days, and not having to worry about flashing anybody.

kristen riding the brooklyn franklin

Fenders Are Included

The Franklin comes with fenders installed. Not all city bikes do, and I love that the Franklin does because (a) it saves you the hassle and expense of adding them later, and (b) the paint perfectly matches the frame.

Why have fenders? Well first off, a fender on the rear wheel helps protect your clothing. If you do choose to wear a skirt, it’s less likely to get caught in the rear wheel if you have a fender. Additionally, it can keep dirt or other debris from flinging up onto you.

If you live somewhere rainy, the fenders are even more important. They help water from soaking you if riding on wet roads.

Comfort and Ride Quality

The Brooklyn Franklin 8-speed is designed with rider comfort in mind. The swept-back handlebars promote an upright riding position, reducing strain on your back and shoulders. This is perfect for leisurely rides around town or your daily commute.

The saddle, too, deserves special mention. Unlike many saddles that come on cruiser bikes, it’s neither excessively wide nor overly soft, striking a good balance that offers comfort without sacrificing support. This was one of the few stock saddles that I’ve enjoyed. It also has a faux leather look, which is far prettier than your typical black saddle.

The grips are also faux leather which look nice and are well cushioned, but aren’t the grippiest grips I’ve ever tried. (If you often ride in the rain, you might want to upgrade those).

A Little Heavy, But Not Sluggish

The Franklin is neither the lightest nor the heaviest cruiser bike around. A beach style cruiser can easily weigh around 40 pounds (that’s HEAVY).

At 32 pounds (on my scale), the Franklin is quite a bit better than a beach cruiser but still a little heavier than I would prefer. The Priority Classic, for comparison, comes in at 26 pounds. A lighter bike will be easier to climb with and to ride longer distances.

To be fair, though, the Franklin feels surprisingly snappy and responsive. I never really noticed the weight, and I had no trouble handling the bike.

If you do want to try to shed a few pounds off the bike, components like the kickstand, reflectors, and chainguard can be removed, and lighter pedals could be installed.

Gearing and Drivetrain

The Franklin comes in both a 3-speed and 8-speed version. (I tested the 8-speed).

In either case, the bike comes with a Microshift grip shifter that is intuitive and easy to operate.  While the shifting is not quite as precise as a trigger shifter, it’s well suited for folks who aren’t as familiar with bikes. The shifter displays gear numbers and has an arrow for up or down. Up front, there is a single front chainring so you don’t have to deal with the complexity of a front derailleur and shifter.

The front chain ring is quite large and the Shimano Altus derailleur and cassette offer plenty of gears, but not a huge range of gears. In other words, the bike is well suited for flat roads, but if you live in a hilly city, you may find yourself over geared. My neighborhood is fairly flat (on these roads the bike soared), but my house is at the top of a steep hill. This hill is always the best test of how well a bike can climb, and I certainly struggled up it on this bike.

Brakes and Wheels

Safety is always a priority, and the Franklin doesn’t disappoint in this regard. The bike comes equipped with Tektro V-brakes, which have consistently performed well in my experience. They offer reliable stopping power, even on steep descents. However, they don’t quite match the performance of disc brakes, particularly in wet conditions or for heavier riders.

The wheels are 27.5 inches, a size I prefer over the more common 26-inch wheels found on many city bikes. This larger size makes it easier to roll over obstacles like potholes and cracks in the pavement. The tires, at 1.5 inches wide, are relatively narrow and slick, providing fast rolling on pavement. However, they may not be the best choice if your route includes unpaved paths or trails.

Mix Of Brand-Name, Mid-Range, And Off-Brand Components

As one should expect at this price point, many of the components on the bike are off-brand or in-house. These cheaper, lower-quality parts are off-set by the odd brand-name or mid-range components where it counts–the Shimano rear derraileur, Jagwire cable, Tektro brakes, and Microshift shifter.

The only part of the build that left me a little disappointed is the quill-style stem. Quill headsets have been largely replaced on modern bikes by threadless headsets. A threadless headset is more durable, is easy to adjust, and simply performs better.

quill style stem

Additional Features

Brooklyn Bicycle Co. has thoughtfully included several practical features with the Franklin. The fenders, as mentioned earlier, are a great addition for rainy days. The bike also has mounts for a rear rack and a water bottle cage, though neither is included. The bottle cage can be a bit tricky to access due to the frame’s design, but it’s manageable.

Both the front and rear wheels feature quick-releases, making it easy to remove them for transport or flat repairs. This is a welcome feature for those who often need to stow their bike in a car or storage area.

It is worth noting that there are no mounts for a front rack. You can always add a handlebar bag, but if you want a rack for adding a basket to carry groceries, for instance, you’re out of luck.

Sizing

The bike comes in two sizes: small/medium (4’11” – 5’5″), and large (5’6″ – 6’3″). While this is certainly better than one size fits all, it may mean that folks on either end of the spectrum may not get the best fit on this bike. As for me, I was smack dab in the middle of the two sizes. At 5’5.5″, I opted for the small/medium.

Real-World Performance

In my time with the Franklin, I found it to be a delightful companion for short trips and errands around the neighborhood. Whether I was pedaling to the local Food Co-Op, enjoying a leisurely ride with my husband, or catching a concert at the park, the Franklin proved to be a reliable and enjoyable ride. For longer commutes, I still prefer my e-bike, but for those quick jaunts that make up the majority of my riding, the Franklin was perfect.

The bike’s aesthetics also garnered plenty of compliments. It’s clear that Brooklyn Bicycle Co. has put a lot of thought into the Franklin’s design, creating a bike that’s as pleasing to look at as it is to ride.

Who I Would Recommend The Franklin To

The Franklin sits in a space somewhere between the whimsical but impractical beach cruiser and more serious, expensive commuter bikes. It’s a perfect bike for short neighborhood trips (somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 miles or less), but less well qualified for long commutes.

It comes without any cargo storage capacity, although it has mounts to add a rear rack after the fact. If you want to carry a bunch of cargo (like your family’s weekly groceries), there are better options.

It is best suited for reasonably smooth paved roads, and because it lacks disc brakes and a true climbing gear, it is ideal for flat roads and less so for cities with lots of big hills.

Finally, the price is quite attractive. The Franklin is a step-up in terms of durability from a budget bike like the Retrospec Beaumont, but far cheaper than a higher-end commuter like the Specialized Sirrus or an electric bike. If you think you will be using the bike a lot, I’d probably opt for a bike with higher end components, like disc brakes, but if you’re looking for bang for your buck, the Franklin will get it done.

Bottom-Line

The Brooklyn Franklin is a charming and practical city bike, perfect for urban riders seeking style and convenience. Its sleek Dutch-inspired design, step-thru frame, and professional assembly through a local bike shop make it an appealing choice, especially for those short on time or mechanical skills. The bike offers a comfortable ride with thoughtful features like included fenders and an upright riding position.

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About The Reviewer

kristen bonkoski

Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.

An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.

Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life.  Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son.  If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.

Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.

IG: @femme_cyclist

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