Just the other day I was waxing philosophic about big, old skool, Dutch bakfietsen after a short rant about the theft of the rear wheel of my friend Doede’s bakfiets. Then today this blue beauty came back from Clarijs the “zeilmaker” with her new Bisonyl box cover. They did a great job getting a snug fit over the strange box shape. We’ve saved the pattern and will now offer it as a standard option for the XL Classic Bakfiets.
Why blue? Hey, it was the customer’s choice. We were really skeptical but now that it’s done we see it was a great call. It stands out from the sea of similar bakfietsen on the roads here but is still timeless. Perhaps it’ll help deter scumbag thieves as well.
Here’s a peek at the high-tech, formula one style undercarriage. Actually I’ve never looked at the undercarriage of a formula one car but I assume they’re quite similar: carbon steel multi-leaf springs with floating eyes, H profile axle and steering axis with giant sealed bearings. Unlike modern trikes of the Christiania, ‘t Mannetje, Fietsfabriek, Nihola, Bakfiets.nl persuasion these classic trikes just float along like a magic carpet too heavy to get off the ground.
The hubs feature tapered steel axles and sealed bearing the size of a man’s wrist. There is not one gram of aluminium on the entire trike. Of course there is plenty of carbon though: In fact most of the 185 x 85cm mahogany box is carbon.
At the rear is a similarly sophisticated drivetrain. Inside this steel chain cover a motorcycle chain connects the 1:1 fixed gear ratio. Yes, that’s correct folks: These 130kg bikes with 400kg load capacity are fixies. For 100 years hip couriers, contractors and hippies have been riding them in both skinny and baggy trousers, sometimes displaying manly butt crack as befitting the baker, the plumber and the carpenter. Being a fixie and a tricycle it’s even easy to do some “freestyling” on this baby. backwards riding? No problem. My favorite trick is the “parallel park”.
Note also the 26 x 2.5″ transporter tires, fender stay that doubles as a lifting handle and cottered cranks. We’re not quite ready to trust those new fangled square taper crank axles, and besides, nobody makes one that’d fit anyway.
Moving over to the other side we see that motorcycle chain opposite the giant drum brake. In case you’re thinking it doesn’t look so big just consider it relative to the parts around it: 4mm thick spokes, (twice as thick as “HD” 14 gauge spokes), 14mm hub axle, fat tire, moto chain etc. It’s a big drum and it does a fine job of stopping this bike… unless you load the box up with several hundred kg of stuff and point the rig downhill. Then the drum will only stop the wheel, while your puny, girlie man weight will do little to stop the rear tire from merrily skidding along the pavement while momentum inexorably carries you to your… Actually I don’t really want to worry about that so let’s move on to the brake lever between your legs.
You might be surprised to learn that the current crop of fixed gear hipsters are only the latest fixie riders to have brake levers in strange places. There’s no irony to this foot long steel bar between your legs; It’s your one brake lever and please remember that when bearing down on a group of Italian tourists obliviously arguing over an unfolded map about which way the Anne Frank house is. Above the brake arm is a ratcheting parking lock. Just flip it up while riding and down to park. Pressing the brake handle down pulls the brake rod which in turn pulls the brake actuation arm on the drum itself. There isn’t much to go wrong here, aside from forgetting where it is. This probably explains the frequency of damage on the front of our rental bakfietsen, though we’ve fortunately never had to clean blood off.
We even ride these bakfietsen ourselves. Being “truck-free” we move stuff back and forth between the two WorkCycles locations by bakfiets. Here’s a shot of Renzo moving some random junk over to our Lijnbaansgracht location shortly after we opened. Like Doede, mechanic Tom even has his own old bakfiets. He picked it up in the spring second (or maybe fifth) hand, cleaned it up mechanically and lovingly applied at least 20 coats of boat varnish to the wooden box.
So… do you now want one of these babies? They begin at €3000 including the 19% Dutch VAT and you can check them out on the “Professional 3-wheelers” page on the WorkCycles website. You can even rent a big bakfiets for a big job, a picnic, your wedding or just to ride the family around Amsterdam in.