This past week Richard and I made our annual mandatory pilgrimage to zeppelin land Friedrichshafen, Germany for the gargantuan European bicycle industry orgy known as Eurobike. It’s probably the thousandth such bike expo I’ve attended thus my lack of enthusiasm and low expectations. I’ve simply come to learn that it’s pretty much all been done before and for the most part all that changes are the fashion materials (titanium is out, boron is nowhere to be found and carbon nanotubes are in) and attempts to cash in on current trends and themes. More about these later. In any case 99.9999999% of the displays focus on racing bikes, mountain bikes BMX bikes and other sporting goods which, while fun to look at, are irrelevant to this blog and to WorkCycles. As expected I’ll show you some stuff you won’t find in the glossy rags.
Upon arriving at the fairground shuttle bus stop we were greeted by a motley pack of WOOF bikes from Amsterdam via China. These one-trick dogs were introduced with massive press attention a few months ago and have already become the scourge of Amsterdam. You can hardly throw a rock with hitting a fashion victim riding one. Sorry but I just fail to see the attraction to this cheaply made bike missing most of what makes a Dutch bike great, and the feeble output of the built-in LED lights doesn’t do much to sweeten the deal.
Cheaply made you say? How’s this for attention to detail?… Coaster brake only combined with forward entry fork ends, no axle/chain tensioners and not even hard serrated washers to hold the axle in place: Good luck keeping that rear wheel in place and better luck stopping when your wheel slips forward dropping the chain. At least you won’t break the headlamp when you crash.
But that wasn’t the last we saw of WOOF. Again and again they reared their ugly headlamps.
And just when we thought it was safe sailing we found that the WOOF had won (or perhaps purchased) a Eurobike award. The nature of the award I didn’t see nor care. We did note though that the bike displayed on the award stand was completely different from the nasty production models.
If you’re going to make something pointless, please at least do it with a sense of humor such as these grips from OGK in Japan. For those unfamiliar with (or too young to remember) OGK, they’ve been around forever. Back in the day when yours truly rode a BMX bike, OGK made lots of BMX grips as well as helmets and other molded plastic goods.
We’ve got Sumo wrestlers, geisha girls, bacteria and German flags.
Of course OGK didn’t only bring grips to Eurobike. They also displayed the basket type child seats found on Japanese “Mama Chari” bikes. These fully enveloping seats for kids up to about three years old sit within a special handlebar, above a small front wheel. The mass of the child is thus low and roughly centered over the steering axis, making these bikes very easy to handle.
OK, they’re not especially sexy but such child seats offer a lot of advantages:
This concept of “moment of inertia” is one that the designers of the latest crop of fashion “townie” and “porteur” bikes with long, fork mounted front carriers would do well to learn; A load that steers with the handlebar and front wheel influences the steering quite seriously and the further the mass gets from the steering axis the worse the effect. With that simple fact of physics in mind let’s have a look at some bikes I saw at Eurobike:
Nice colors. Bad carriers.
Yes, you faithfully copied what you saw at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show last year. Too bad it’ll ride like crap and won’t stand upright with even a moderate load in there. Bike will fall over many times, damaging pretty paint.
I guess this one doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s sort of a mongrel BMX / folding / delivery bike and it’s been said a million times that mongrels make the best dogs. The handlebar integrated basket appeared at numerous stands but this iteration certainly deserves some style points.
Here’s another handlebar / carrier, smaller than granny’s little wicker basket. Even this fake little houseplant feels claustrophobic in there.
In any case carrying stuff on bicycles was generally a 2009 Eurobike theme, even if it was often executed in a somewhat clumsy or clueless manner. Note that actually riding bicycles for transportation and knowing other people who also do so is very helpful for conceiving and designing utility bicycles and accessories. I realize it sounds crazy but it’s true.
This teeeny, one-rollerblade-wheeled trailer actually folded out of a rear carrier with no less than three hinges. I suppose it probably does what it’s supposed to but that still begs the question: Why bother? Isn’t it simpler to just carry that occasional load, as demonstrated in Holland every day:
This great photo by Flickr user “Kraskland” Thanks!
But wait, there’s more… Such as this special mountain bike specifically developed to haul half pies of frozen pizza:
At least the pizza box is carbon fiber to make it easy to clean if the pizza defrosts before it’s delivered. It wasn’t specified whether there were any carbon nanotube molecules used in the construction.
Considerably less conceptual and more stylish were these lovely matched sets of leather saddles, grips and bags from Selle Monte Grappa in Italy.
Only in Italy.
Not your color theme? How about this chromed Italian city bike outfitted with white everything including tires and probably the most adorable panniers I’ve ever seen. Check out the handlebar stem mounted newspaper holder. Rumor has it that the guy who put the grey kiddie seat on there has already been excommunicated from the Roman Cathocyclic Church.
Only in Italy can one ride such a bike without looking like a pretentious wanker.
Speaking of bicycle child seats, there were lots of new ones to be seen at Eurobike. Those familiar with the exciting world of bike child seats knows that the current options can basically be divided into four categories:
But now Dutch child seat giant Bobike is going where no man has gone before with specially themed seats. This first series is apparently the Star Wars series, featuring the Imperial Storm Trooper and the Darth Vader.
The Storm Trooper model has a particularly ingenious built in ash-tray, perhaps in keeping with the recent Dutch obsession with smoking and the “Asbakfiets”
Just outside was the perfect vehicle for Darth Vader, whom I really can’t picture on any regular bike:
This beast has LED lighting in the handlebar ends, a hubless front wheel to avoid catching long robes (fenders are still in the works), and electric drive to avoid undignified pedaling motions. A perfect way to glide around the Death Star.
It even folds compactly to fit into Lord Vader’s X-Wing fighter.
This is apparently the Storm Trooper version which also offers a pedal mode. Speaking of Vader I hope you’ve seen this Lego animation.
I’ll be back with more great Eurobike finds ASAP.