Review: Tout Terrain Metropolitan Feat. Gates Carbon Belt Drive

Recently, the good folks at Gates Carbon Drive Systems offered up some bikes to us to test, and I had only one request; something with an internally geared hub. My commute is too long to comfortably ride a single speed on a regular basis, and so they told me they’d find something and let me know.

A short time later, the Tout Terrain Metropolitan showed up at the shop. Tout Terrain is French German company who is breaking into the US market thanks to the good folks at Peter White Cycles in New Hampshire. Although it isn’t quite what I had in mind, the Metropolitan is a truly unique bike. Check out what I thought plus more pics after the jump…

There’s a lot of similarities between the bicycle and automotive industries. Some bikes are like sports cars, some like luxury sedans, some like SUVs and some just fall in between all off them. But the Tout Terrain Metropolitan is like that bullet-proof Mercedes SUV that the Pope rolls in.

From the first unboxing, there are a few things about this bike that are obvious. First, it is really heavy at approximately 36 pounds. Second, they’ve gone to a lot of trouble to make sure the details are there to make a truly great commuting bike. Assembling the bike was like a little treasure hunt. Oh, it’s got the Rohloff 14 speed internal hub, and a dynamo front hub that powers front AND rear lights… Full fenders?! A built in rear rack, welded to the frame and painted to match… A custom steering stop and a two-legged kickstand to keep the bike upright when loaded.  Mmmmm, Brooks saddle.

I knew it was coming, so I had some SPD pedals and one of my pannier bags ready for the ride home that night. As I’ve been commuting by either road bike or cyclocross bike, both more hunched and fast, I can say that the ride home was surprisingly pleasant. I had some errands to do, which I couldn’t have done on my road bike and were all neatly packed away in my pannier. I was also able to take in a lot more of my ride that night. It’s amazing how much more we see on a route by bike vs. car, and then the same for road bike vs. commuter bike.

How does it ride? This bike is a machine and will roll over or through pretty much anything you point it at. The 14 speeds cover most of the range you’d need for an average city ride (my commute covers approximately 500 feet of elevation), and are flawless via Rohloff’s dual cable shifter (shifting in both directions relies on a separate cable, rather than the typical cable one way and spring the other). The hydraulic disc brakes stop predictably each time, and the cockpit and saddle provide comfort right out of the box. The one thing that is most prevalent is how quiet and smooth the whole thing is; easily attributed to the belt drive and larger tires, and a major factor in ride enjoyment.

For the next two weeks, I rode this bike to and from work three days a week, approximately 36 miles round trip. At about the two week mark, I left it at the shop for local errands. Two weeks after that, I reluctantly sent it back. During the entire time I had this bike, I never adjusted anything, never lubricated it, and never didn’t ride it because of the weather or darkness or what I had to take home or what I was wearing or anything. This is a bike that can truly be ridden almost anytime, anywhere. As someone who believes each bike has a purpose and each purpose has a bike, I could see this bike filling all the gaps in that philosophy and be a great add to a bike geek’s stable. You won’t want to ride it all the time, but you’ll certainly grab it when you don’t want to ride anything else.

I spoke to Peter White regarding my experience, and he a lot to say about the Metropolitan and its many pros and cons, but it can be summed up perfectly in his final thought. “The Metropolitan weighs over 30 lbs. It’s built to last, and to take a great deal of abuse. Your racing bike isn’t built to last. It’s built only to get you from point A to point B as fast as possible, and only if the road surface is in good condition. On a nice sunny day with smooth roads, your racing bike will always get you there faster than the Metropolitan would. But on those other days, and at night, the Metropolitan will get you places that the racing bike can’t go to at all.”

 

Comments

Valen - 11/16/11 - 6:16pm

Tout Terrain is a German company.

emp? - 11/16/11 - 7:14pm

front disc rotor on backwards?

Superstantial - 11/16/11 - 8:17pm

Interesting bike.

By ‘French company’, you mean ‘German company with a French name’, though, right?

AnonymousChris - 11/16/11 - 8:22pm

Whoops! Not sure where I got French from… been corrected.

Db - 11/16/11 - 10:38pm

Can you give more info on the lightIng?

mkrs - 11/17/11 - 3:47am

wow, nice bike. I especially like the rack – seems to have a lot of setback which I really like (and need…). The price, however, must be sick – I’d rather get a bike specced with cheaper parts. After all, it’s just a commuter, right?!

Tripelt - 11/17/11 - 8:56am

What’s the deal with the roller that rides on the rear cog/belt? Is that meant to prevent it from jumping teeth?

Jake - 11/17/11 - 9:27am

The “Mercedes SUV” is pretty much on target with this bike. TT makes one of if not the best touring bike. Only other bike I think that would compare is the Koga-Miyata Traveler line of bikes.

Love this bike.

Editz - 11/17/11 - 12:29pm

From Peter White’s site:

“Complete bicycle with lights can cost from $3300 to $5500, depending on your choice of components.”

Also, what is the price difference between the regular Gates drive and the new Centertrack tech? I’m surprised we’re still seeing bikes equipped with the former.

Jason - 11/17/11 - 12:37pm

How do you adjust belt tension on TT bikes?

Get Belted - 11/17/11 - 1:12pm

Tout Terrain has two more belted models coming for 2012 that would be lighter, more nimble commuter bikes, the Amber Road and Chiyoda. Check em out at the links here:

http://www.en.tout-terrain.de/bicycles/chiyoda/

http://www.en.tout-terrain.de/bicycles/amber-road/

dimples - 11/17/11 - 1:13pm

Jason, TT uses an Eccentric BB.

Db, That bike runs a Schmidt Edelux off a Schmidt Son 28 hub. I run the same setup, but a different B&M tail light and the light is fantastic. Check Peter White Website for beam comparisons.

Editz - 11/17/11 - 3:15pm

Front rotor IS on backwards when compared to pics on Tout’s website.

Bob Fairlane - 11/18/11 - 1:24am

Many people would be shocked at the price, but I think it’s more shocking that someone will pay $3000 for a couch and $3000 for a TV, then 100,000 on surgery for their fat aching body.

Peter White - 11/18/11 - 4:40pm

Just a couple of comments. The tested bike is rather expensive. Much of that is the Rohloff 14 speed hub which sells for $1600 with cables and shifter. You can also use one of the Shimano Alfine hubs. They have 8 speed and 11 speed versions. The more expensive 11 speed Alfine saves you about $900 on the price compared with the Rohloff. Gates has announced their new Centertrack system, but it isn’t readily available yet. When it is available, I’m not sure we’ll be using it on a regular basis, since it is more expensive and for a commuting application probably doesn’t add anything to the party. We’ll see how it works out. But I think the advantage to the new system will mostly be for singletrack riders, but I should defer to the folks at Gates about that before making a complete fool of myself. Yup, the front rotor is backwards. Not sure how that happened. Fools do foolish things. ;-)

Lynn Kehler - 11/25/11 - 1:02pm

Nice writeup and some good pics. Can’t wait to spin some pedals on one of these…

Eldon E. - 12/23/13 - 10:15pm

Dec.2013. Bathurst,NB. A powered scooter is only about $ 3000. But insurance, license etc is extra. I like pedaling out but get tired on the hills and coming back home. Batteries are expensive. I want an extremely quiet gas engine, disguised and hidden with electric starter and pull cord starter running a small generator to power the electric motors in both wheels. I want a big comfortable seat and some suspension on front and rear, disc brakes, fenders and lights and fat tires. Thirty years ago I sold French Motobecane mopeds (price was only about $ 600. Canadian ). Pipe frames are nice but to save money pressed steel welded frames are probably much cheaper. Do not use a powder coated paint. Some of these things can be options so long as they are designed so the customer can add them later. Don’t advertise that you have two wheel drive or the little gas engine. Some overzealous police will try to charge you for driving a moter vehicle without paying the proper tax and license. Thanks, I’m waiting and might even restart my business to sell them. ( should be under $2000.)

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.