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Gravity SaltyDog Review

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Gravity SaltyDog Review

Old 12-06-19, 07:15 PM
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Gravity SaltyDog Review

I recently noticed a major problem with my fleet of bicycles--it didn't include a cruiser. I have vintage steel road bikes, a modern aluminum road bike, a carbon fiber road bike, a mountain bike and, of all things, a recumbent trike. But no cruiser to be found anywhere. Ignoring the fact that I haven't ridden a coaster brake cruiser type bicycle in 60 years, I decided to fill this gap in my bike collection last week. After considering many choices, new and used, I decided to order a $200 bike online from Bikesdirect. I have purchased two other bikes from Bikesdirect and with a little effort on my part they have served me well.

I ended up with a matte black SaltyDog by Gravity Bikes:


Here are my impressions after assembling the bike and doing a 15 mile shakedown ride.

The Good:

This bike is lighter than I expected. It has an aluminum frame with a steel fork and it weighs 29.4 lbs. as pictured above. I was expecting something like 35 - 40 lbs.

The bike arrived in great shape, well packed and no dings or scratches anywhere.

The workmanship on this Chinese frame seems to be pretty good. The welds in particular look good.

The bike took less than an hour to assemble including unpacking and unwrapping the frame and parts.

The Bad:

Like any Chinese bike purchased on line, the bearings (wheel bearings in particular) were adjusted way to tight. What appeared to be a thin layer of petroleum jelly was used to "grease" the bearings, cups and cones.

The Bikesdirect online specs are very general and light on detail. For example, the photos on their website show what appear to be mounts for a water bottle cage on the seat tube but nothing is mentioned in the specs. My bike arrived without these mounts so out came my trusty right angle drill and a couple of rivnuts. Problem solved. The handlebars on my bike also differ from the ones pictured but that was not a big deal to me. In fact, after cutting 3 inches off each of the bar ends I kind of like these bars.

The Ride:

Simply put, this bike is slow but comfy. I live in a rural area with chip and seal roads. The slightly stretched out aluminum frame, steel fork with a slight rake, and the Seyoun 65psi tires smoothed the ride out very nicely. There was no road buzz transmitted to my hands and the massive, plush saddle was like sitting in an EasyBoy recliner. For longer rides, I will want to use my new Selle Anatomica R2 saddle.

Before my ride, I installed a front brake as a safety backup but my intention was to use it only if necessary. During my ride I stopped many more times than necessary just to get the feel of the coaster brake and practice stopping and restarting smoothly. I never felt the need to even think about using the front brake. It came off as soon as I got home.

Hills and riding into the wind are a little tedious but not difficult at all. During the bottom bracket service I swapped out the factory 44t chainring with a 38t chainring. The lower gearing was perfect for my aging knees.

Conclusions:

If you have average wrenching skills and a little patience the Gravity SaltyDog can be a pretty good option for someone looking for an entry level cruiser that won't break the bank or weigh a ton. For me, this will be a fun bike to ride when I don't need to be anywhere in a hurry.
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Old 12-07-19, 09:09 AM
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Adult coaster brake bikes are plenty of fun. Drop that tire pressure from 65 psi to something like 45 psi rear / 40 psi front for a true cruiser ride.
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Old 12-07-19, 10:45 AM
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Oops! My first cruiser newbie mistake! Thanks for the tip. I'll have to add the 40psi trick to the list of how to inflict pain on myself.
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Old 12-08-19, 10:41 PM
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Keep the Selle Anatomica on the road bikes, get yourself a cup holder and Brooks like this...


and enjoy the ride. You're not going anywhere fast so you might as well get comfortable.
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Old 12-08-19, 10:59 PM
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^Whoa! That's a whole lotta hardware there! You think the delivery guy would help me carry it into my garage and lift it up onto the seatpost?

I do have a couple of B17's that I really like. I may seriously consider one of their wider options for upright riding.
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Old 12-09-19, 03:29 AM
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What is the distance between the seat post and handle bar stem?
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Old 12-09-19, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by flatrockmobile View Post
What is the distance between the seat post and handle bar stem?
22 inches or 55.88 centimeters

Hope this helps.
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Old 12-09-19, 07:58 PM
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Talking

Originally Posted by GeezyRider View Post
^Whoa! That's a whole lotta hardware there! You think the delivery guy would help me carry it into my garage and lift it up onto the seatpost?

I do have a couple of B17's that I really like. I may seriously consider one of their wider options for upright riding.
Thats why I got it, Once the bike hits 40lbs whats a few more. Am I right? I sold off my other bikes because my Cruiser needed a few Gears and I couldn't handle the lean over on my Moto that had a few gears. I loved the look of the Brooks but the B17 I had was torturous and this has more springs than my first car. They even have a wider B190 for larger riders. Well worth the weight penalty.
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Old 12-10-19, 08:49 AM
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Agree about BD quality/price ratio. Also, consider their adjunct company, Bike Island. Procured a three-speed cruiser (Shimano Nexus) for my daughter for < $200. It had no front fork or wheel, but that was okay since it was getting a fork with front studs (Amazon $35) and being electrified. She loves it.
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Old 12-10-19, 08:56 AM
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I agree there are bargains to be found at Bike Island. I purchased a couple of wheelsets from them that are decent quality for great prices. I'm also considering one of their SS framesets.
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Old 12-10-19, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by 2old View Post
Agree about BD quality/price ratio. Also, consider their adjunct company, Bike Island. Procured a three-speed cruiser (Shimano Nexus) for my daughter for < $200. It had no front fork or wheel, but that was okay since it was getting a fork with front studs (Amazon $35) and being electrified. She loves it.

What are the specs on the electric cost - Price? Power? top speed ect?
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Old 12-10-19, 11:30 PM
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It's a Dillenger 36V, geared front hub motor kit about 4 - 5 years old (with a new battery). Price was $699, but now less expensive. Top speed 20 mph. ebikeling has a similar front hub kit for about $225 while a battery ranges from $200 - 400; recently I purchased (ebay) a 36V, 10 a/h battery and charger for $184 delivered from Unit Pack Power, a Chinese company, so a risky venture. Haven't had a chance to test it yet.
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Old 12-12-19, 10:17 PM
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Another from Bike Island - $175 with no front wheel (not needed). Three-speed Nexus rear hub. Bike was modified with 48V, 1200w front hub motor @ 52V; 30+ mph. Horror of horrors (according to a poster on the e-bike forum), only a coaster brake. Rode it without activating the motor at times and found the three-speed was adequate for most road riding including fairly hilly terrain.

Last edited by 2old; 12-13-19 at 12:42 AM.
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Old 01-08-20, 10:37 PM
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I just found this review. Thanks!

Having been bitten by the cruiser bug last summer, and learning of this model and the BD website, I have a very slight obsession with the idea of getting one of these Salty Dogs.

I would go with matte black like you did. May as well be kinda' bad-boy if on such a chill, dandy-style bike, eh?

A few questions as you have time:

I, too, noticed what looked like a bottle cage bolt in a pic on the website, though it looked like the upper bolt and was oddly low. I will have to look up what a rivnut is (and I didn't know of such a thing as a right-angle drill!) I know this wasn't a question – ha.

The frame looks different, comparing the bike on the website to yours. On yours, the seat post tube (forgetting the proper name for it) is closer to the rear wheel! It looks like what is pictured on the website, currently, is a longer frame than yours.

I guess I have way below average wrenching skills. In terms of bike-specific tools, I assume you just needed some cone wrenches to repack the wheel bearings; but what about the bottom bracket?

Thanks!
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Old 01-09-20, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by thriftyswift3 View Post
I just found this review. Thanks!

Having been bitten by the cruiser bug last summer, and learning of this model and the BD website, I have a very slight obsession with the idea of getting one of these Salty Dogs.

I would go with matte black like you did. May as well be kinda' bad-boy if on such a chill, dandy-style bike, eh?

A few questions as you have time:

I, too, noticed what looked like a bottle cage bolt in a pic on the website, though it looked like the upper bolt and was oddly low. I will have to look up what a rivnut is (and I didn't know of such a thing as a right-angle drill!) I know this wasn't a question – ha.

The video in this link shows how to install rivnuts using a right angle drill and simple hand tools: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q...il&FORM=VIREHT

The frame looks different, comparing the bike on the website to yours. On yours, the seat post tube (forgetting the proper name for it) is closer to the rear wheel! It looks like what is pictured on the website, currently, is a longer frame than yours.

I agree the BD website picture does seem to show a more stretched out version than whet I actually received. I'm not concerned about that because the bike has a long enough wheel base to provide a very comfy ride.

I guess I have way below average wrenching skills. In terms of bike-specific tools, I assume you just needed some cone wrenches to repack the wheel bearings; but what about the bottom bracket?

Yes, 15mm, 16mm cone wrenches and an adjustable wrench for the wheel bearing service. For the bottom bracket, I used a pedal wrench, 36mm spanner and pin spanner but you can get away with an adjustable wrench and a screw driver or pin punch. (I have since replaced the one piece bottom bracket and crank with a bottom bracket adapter, sealed cartridge bottom bracket and square taper crankarms.)

Thanks!
Hope this helps! If you decide to get a new cruiser be sure to share your impressions and some pics.
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Old 01-10-20, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by 2old View Post
Another from Bike Island - $175 with no front wheel (not needed). Three-speed Nexus rear hub. Bike was modified with 48V, 1200w front hub motor @ 52V; 30+ mph. Horror of horrors (according to a poster on the e-bike forum), only a coaster brake. Rode it without activating the motor at times and found the three-speed was adequate for most road riding including fairly hilly terrain.
I really like that green color. Heck, just having “Snake Eyes” factory painted on the frame is worth the cost of the stock bike.

How does the front wheel drive change the handling of the bike? That has to be something funky to get used to. Also, does the extra torque on the headset cause any problems?
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Old 01-10-20, 10:22 AM
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Surprisingly, the heavy front wheel (16 pounds AIR) doesn't change the handling of the bike to a perceptible degree (IMO). Remember it's a cruiser and not made for screaming around corners. Recently I switched the motor to a steel MTB (which I'll take a picture od and submit soon) and "de-electrified" the Snake Eyes with a 29" front MTB wheel and a 2.35" X 26" rear tire. Been a blast to ride semi-MTB (if there is such a thing). Even though the headset is very basic, the extra torque didn't seem to affect it.
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Old 01-12-20, 09:19 AM
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GeezyRider.....I realize the front brake setup doesn't look as clean but I'd put it back on just in case the chain snaps when you need to brake in an emergency.
You could do what Fred Flinstone does but....

Enjoy the bike!
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Old 01-21-20, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by 2old View Post
Another from Bike Island - $175 with no front wheel (not needed). Three-speed Nexus rear hub. Bike was modified with 48V, 1200w front hub motor @ 52V; 30+ mph. Horror of horrors (according to a poster on the e-bike forum), only a coaster brake. Rode it without activating the motor at times and found the three-speed was adequate for most road riding including fairly hilly terrain.
Whoa! Tires look very good
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Old 01-21-20, 09:34 AM
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Thanks; rode and handled well with that system.
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