Biomega Copenhagen pictures and hands-on

Biomega offers bikes with a difference. They aren't the normal run-of-mill bicycles assembled to offer you the cheapest ride around. Instead they see the humble bike with loftier aims: it's a piece of luxury design and we have to say the attention to detail is impressive. 

Although the fundamentals of an urban commuter bike are fairly well defined, Biomega have made a significant change: they've removed the chain. As such, Biomega tell us it's the first internationally available shaft-driven bicycle.

That means that transferring the energy from the pedals to the back wheel doesn't involve a huge chain ring and a chain. There is no mess, nothing to clean, nothing to catch the trouser leg of your suit on.

In action it feels much like a conventional chain driven bike. That's good because it doesn't throw up any surprises: you pedal, it goes. There doesn't appear to be any slop in mechanics either, so it feels fast and direct.

The noticeable difference from a chain bike is how quiet it is. Although a well lubricated and clean chain will run very quietly, you sill get noise from bounce when you go over a bump or change gear.

There is no need for a traditional derailleur or gear block here, instead you'll find an internal hub, so you get an 8-speed bike for your money. It weighs approx 14kg, so this is an obvious downside: a conventional hybrid probably weights around 10kg. 

It's a Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub and although we don't now exactly how the gearing works out in conventional numbering, there is quite a wide range so there is some scope for slogging up hills and racing back down them again. This is controlled by a Revo grip shifter, with an indicator window to tell you what gear you're in. 

Of course, being a sealed drive train means that it keeps itself and you clean, which is a bonus for those who regularly commute and are constantly having to clean their bike, or scrub the chain print off their leg. It also doesn't matter if your foot twists into the bike, because you won't scrub the leather off your heel with a fast moving chain.

The idea is that the Biomega Copenhagen doesn't need to be serviced in the same way a "normal" bike would. You won't have to replace parts, clean or re-lube, which makes this hassle free for commuters. If you are concerned about servicing, you'll find that Biomega supply servicing instructions on their website.

Without any form of suspension, this bike isn't designed to run on the rough. We took it along some unsurfaced Thames Path, which it coped will well enough, the gearing providing enough at both ends to keep you running smoothly along. 

Where the Copenhagan feels most at home, however, is on the road. The hub gears bring the advantage of being able to change gears when stationary: you can bring yourself to a rapid halt at the lights thanks to the sharp roller and disc brake arrangement and change down once you've stopped.

The attention to detail on the Copenhagen will also turn heads. The silver finish we tested is simple and elegant; it isn't adored with stickers or logos, even the stamped Biomega name on the down tube manages to be subtle, but effortlessly cool.

We love the design of the stem and the wheel nuts, which bring a degree of individuality to the bicycle that's often lacking from so many bikes that are assembled from stock parts.

And you'd expect that attention to detail too, because this is a commuter bike that will cost you £1290. Whichever way you look it it, that's quite a lot of money for an aluminium-framed bike, but for those that want the freedom of the road, without the bother of the maintenance, the Copenhagen is well worth a look.

Please note that we looked at the Lady version of the Copenhagen - there is a conventional "male" version where the top tube is horizontal.

Thanks to Bike Republic for the loan of the Biomega Copenhagen.