Archive for the ‘Cool & Interesting bikes’ Category

Time for a Winter Deal: Wicked Special Edition WorkCycles Bikes

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

WorkCycles mechanics hard at work

UPDATE 3 Feb 2016: The WorkCycles Winter Special Edition bikes have been a great success so we’ve decided to continue offering them until the end of February… with some small changes though: The WorkCycles credit offered though January is no longer part of each package. Now it’s just the bikes which are already a great deal as they stand.

For all those patiently waiting for a special deal on a WorkCycles bike we’ve got great news: This winter we’re building supercool, “Special Edition” bikes and selling them for fantastic prices. WorkCycles very rarely has sales or special offers so this is a big deal. Our last special offer was two or three years ago.

Typical WorkCycles though, we’re doing it in our own, slightly twisted way. You wanna deal? Well, then you’ll have to buy one of these Special Edition WorkCycles models. You’ll pay considerably less for the bike than the specifications would normally cost and get a really unique WorkCycles bike.

The colors? Black and bright, froggy green! We think they look awesome and hope you do too. We haven’t actually built all of these bikes yet so for now you’ll have to work with these workshop photos of the Fr8 Straight and your vivid imagination.

You can choose from the following Special Edition Fr8, Gr8 and Kr8 models. All prices are listed with VAT so if you’re ordering from outside the EU you can deduct the VAT (Ex VAT price = price/1.21).

Special Edition WorkCycles Fr8 models
We’re building four different special versions of the heavy duty Fr8 bike this winter, from basic to over the top. Check 0our product pages for much more basic info about the WorkCycles Fr8 series:
Fr8 as City Bike
Fr8 Crossframe as City Bike
Fr8 as Family Bike
Fr8 Crossframe as Dad Bike

…and WorkCycles Fr8 overview page

Fr8 Straight
This is a very cool variant on our most popular Fr8 build: an NN8D (8 speed with hand brakes) Fr8 with City front carrier and Fr8 long rear carrier. It’s satin black with bright, froggy green rims, fork, Escape Hatch and pedals. This setup would normally set you back €1699 but right now you pay €1549… for you, my friend, special, today!

Fr8 Uber Deluxe
Eight gears just not enough for you? You want pavement shredding braking power and a really, really special Fr8? Not content with a Fr8 like your neighbor’s? The Uber Deluxe is the machine for you! Shimano Alfine 11 speed gear hub and Magura hydraulic brakes both reduce friction and provide more range both up- and downhill. City front carrier and Fr8 Long rear carrier. Extra upgrades include a black Brooks B67 saddle, powerful B&M Eyc headlamp with standlight, B&M taillamp with brake light function and Schwalbe AlMotion tires. The Uber Deluxe is also black and green but in a slightly different combination: Fenders, Escape Hatch, fork and pedals are green. Normally all this specialness would cost €2349 but for now it’s just €2099!

Fr8 El Cheapo
Your heart is set on a Fr8 but your budget somewhat limited? There’s really nothing “Cheap” about this bike at all; The quality is exactly the same as other WorkCycles. It’s a Fr8 NR3D (3 speed with hand and coaster brake) with City front and Fr8 long rear carrier. Color combo is the same as Fr8 Straight: satin black with bright, froggy green rims, fork, Escape Hatch and pedals. This setup would normally cost €1449 but right now you pay €1299.

Alotta Fr8
Just in case a regular Fr8 with Massive Rack isn’t Heavy Duty enough for you… Alotta Fr8 has special HD rims, Marathon Plus tires, big BMX pedals and a custom fitted wooden crate. It’s also satin black and bright green but more extroverted. The front and rear carriers, rear fender, Escape Hatch and pedals are green. Equipped as NR8D with the tough and handy 8 speed coaster brake hub this happy tank of a bike would normally cost you €1854 but it’s now €1699.

Here’s more info about the Fr8 Delivery with Massive Rack

WorkCycles Fr8 Straight 2015

Special Edition WorkCycles Gr8 models
We’ve three flavors of Gr8 on the menu: basic, straightforward and no holds barred. More info on the Gr8 can be found here:
WorkCycles Gr8 City Bike
WorkCycles Fr8 and Gr8… What’s the difference?

Gr8 Straight
Kind of like the Fr8 Straight, only more compact, lighter and well, a Gr8 instead of a Fr8. Thus it’s an NN8D (8 speed with hand brakes), City front carrier and Gr8 rear carrier. It’s satin black with bright, froggy green rims, fork, Escape Hatch and pedals. This bike would normally cost €1674 to build but for now you pay €1525.

Gr8 Uber Deluxe
The best just ain’t good enough for you so we’ve devised the Uber Deluxe. Like it’s Fr8 big sister this one has the smooth running and wide range Alfine 11 speed hub. Braking is by powerful Magura hydraulics. City front carrier and Gr8 rear carrier. Extra upgrades include a black Brooks B67 saddle, powerful B&M Eyc headlamp with standlight, and B&M taillamp with brake light function. The Uber Deluxe is also black with the fenders, Escape Hatch, fork and pedals in green. Normally all this specialness would cost you €2224 but for now it’s just €1999.

Gr8 El Cheapo
Champagne tastes on a (quality) beer budget? No problem! Quality wise this bike is missing nothing; It’s just a simpler NR3D build with 3 speed and coaster rear brake, City front carrier and Gr8 rear carrier. Color combo is the same as Fr8 Straight: satin black with bright, froggy green rims, fork, Escape Hatch and pedals. This setup would normally cost €1424 but right now you pay €1275.

WorkCycles Fr8 Straight 2015

The Special Edition WorkCycles Kr8 models
We’re offering two different Special Edition versions of the Kr8 bakfiets; with and without electric assist. Each comes equipped with a set of special, color-matched accessories. Check these pages for more detailed information about the Kr8:

WorkCycles Kr8 Bakfiets Overview
WorkCycles Kr8 product page

Kr8 Straight
Our most popular Kr8 bakfiets family setup in a one-stop-shopping package and some wicked colors. This is an NN8D Kr8 in satin black with bright green fenders, fork, Escape Hatch and cable tunnel along the steering tube. The box panels are black and the big BMX pedals bright green. The package includes a bright green box cover and a custom black canopy with green rear wall. As if that wasn’t enough we’re adding our super new Ventisit bench cushion for kiddie comfort. This kit would normally have a price tag of €2664 but it’s now €2399.

Kr8 V-8
This Special Edition Kr8 marks the official introduction of midmotor electric assist at WorkCycles. We’ve been building WorkCycles with hub motors for several years and tested various midmotors during 2015. Our choice: The Schachner system from Austria. It’s powerful, smooth and reliable. It reacts very naturally to your pedal input, simply making you feel bizarrely strong. Cheap it is not.

A Shimano 8sp gear hub is not at all happy behind this brute so we’ll be building all Schachner equipped WorkCycles with the infinitely variable NuVinci hub. The combination is uncannily smooth and the NuVinci is very reliable. What goes up must also come down thus the Magura hydraulic rim brakes.

Kr8 V-8 comes in the same color combination and with the same accessory set as Kr8 Straight. All this bakfiets goodness would normally cost (ouch!) €4714. Order it now and get it for €4449.

More info about the Special Edition Sale
The prices are valid from 1 January through 31 January 2016 and subject to change if needed. We’ll paint and build these bikes in batches this winter so some patience will be needed; Expect a couple months lead time.

Maybe want the deal but none of the above models fits your needs? Some small exceptions are possible. If you really can’t handle the froggy green we’ll build the bike all black (for the same price), but not another color. A slightly different specification or choice of carriers should be possible (price adjusted as needed). Some changes simply won’t fit our production. Just ask!

The extras: This is WorkCycles credit to be used pretty much as you wish. You can purchase accessories together with the bike, save it to pay for maintenance, give it to somebody as gift certificates or even apply it toward the purchase of another bike. You could even buy several bikes and get one more for free!

How to order
If you’re local, just come visit us in Amsterdam. The Special Edition bikes will also be available via stocking WorkCycles dealers. Otherwise it’s the standard WorkCycles procedure: You can contact us via the Purchase Information link in the relevant bike page in the WorkCycles website or just email us the following info:

– Full name
– Business name if relevant
– Address
– City, Post code, State or Province if needed
– Country
– Phone number
– Email
– Bike you’re interested in and any specific questions or requests

The Winter Special bikes are available to stocking WorkCycles dealers as well but several important rules apply. Please contact us to discuss.

WorkCycles 2014: Good Stuff Coming!

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

happynewyear-2014 (1)
That’s my family and I; a “selfie” in Lego if you will

Each first of January I wish everybody a happy, healthy and productive New Year though I have to come clean that this is my least favorite holidays. To begin with it’s on the wrong day of the year. The Gregorian calendar, and the Julian calendar that preceded it, are based on the relationship of earth and sun, the year changing with the winter solstice. Being here in dark Northern Europe I’m all for celebrating the days getting longer. The solstice, however, is on December 21 ten days before New Years Eve. The day we call December 31 is nothing special. Talk about getting off to a bad start! I also have other, more practical reasons, to dislike New Years but I’ll quit whining for a moment and talk about good stuff.

WorkCycles had a great 2013 and 2014 promises be even better. For the past few years we’ve been busy restructuring to run more efficiently, help our customers better, and just have more fun doing what we do. It was a lot of work but there comes a point in the growth of many firms when the management recognizes that disruptive changes are necessary to iron out quirks that hinder the business. These quirks get built in by the founder (yes that’s me), often an expert in his field but not in running a business (that’s me too). More strangeness gets added organically through the years by the staff the founder assembles. The trick to such a process is not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Many a firm becomes generic and ultimately irrelevant at this stage, after they strip out exactly what made them unique. We’ve been extra vigilant to avoid this because, frankly, I would have stuck with my corporate career had I wanted an easy, boring way to earn a living.

Meanwhile we’re launching not one but THREE really cool new bikes in 2014.The long awaited Workcycles Kr8 cargobike and trike represent big evolutionary leaps for the family utility vehicle (FUV?) world. Hey, FUV, I just made that up and I like it! Anyhow these bikes build on the success of the popular Fr8 and Gr8. The big Vrachtfiets cargo quad marks the start of a new partnership. More about these below but first more boring business lessons since you might not read it if the fun stuff came first.

Prinsengracht one fall morning 1
A random pretty picture I took a few weeks ago. Much nicer to look at than business stuff.

It isn’t sexy marketing to tell the world how you’ve thoroughly analyzed your business and then custom built a Enterprise Resource Planning system to help manage practically every aspect of it. Handy it is though for working faster and more accurately, for streamlining the order process, communication, work flow and bookkeeping, to help employees know what we have, what it costs and where it comes from. We looked at dozens of packages but none fit Workcycles strange needs. We’re a small firm yet we do many different things: R&D, import, export, consumer, B2B and dealer sales, assembly, repair, rentals, even occasionally consulting. Several ERP suppliers politely said “No, we can’t do that.” Mega huge SAP told us “Yes, we can do that!”… but at a price more appropriate for a firm twenty times as big as Workcycles. Once satisfied that we’d figured out what we did and didn’t need we set out to build our own system, based on a time-tested database platform. We were willing to make compromises and reconsider how we do some things but changing the nature of WorkCycles was out of the question; We enjoy doing what we do. Though it’s far from easy, it is unique and has earned us a loyal customer base.

This transformation process has been several years in the making and our home-brewed ERP system is only a part of it. Some changes were less fun. Take, for example, dumping the accountant who’d made a mess of our administration, tediously working with our new accounting firm to reorganize and re-file several years of corporate bookkeeping. As if that wasn’t enough of a time waster the Dutch tax service hassled us every step of the way because they now owed us a huge tax refund. They repeatedly demanded the most bizarre evidence to back up the reinstated administration… nonsensical wild goose chases such as all of the purchase invoices above €500 from this and this and this quarter, but only for these and these types of goods. Each time we dutifully supplied the requested hundreds of pages of info they came back with new demands, making it obvious the tax inspector knew and cared nothing about actually running a business. After half a year of this our case got passed to another inspector who looked it over, approved it and got us paid in short order. What a pain in the ass that was. But we got our money back and together with our new accountants and ERP we’ve completely streamlined our administration process. Word of advice for those starting a business: Learn enough about corporate finance and bookkeeping to structure your company appropriately from the beginning. Choose your accounting firm carefully. Yeah, I see your eyes glazing over, that you just want to make bikes or software or do whatever it is you dig doing. Really though, it’ll eventually mean the difference between running a successful business, plodding along between crises and frustration, and going bankrupt.

Dylan "acting" for TV show 5
Here’s Dylan doing business as usual, trying to ignore the attention.

Meanwhile I think we did a pretty good job of keeping these distractions from disturbing our daily business. There wasn’t much time or energy for developing new products in 2011 and 2012 but our sales remained steady and we kept building our bikes as carefully as ever. Our ever improving organization is not only better internally; it’s reflected in how we treat our customers and ultimately that’s the point. There’s much more to come. Amongst many other functions we’re working on keeping the service histories of customers’ bikes in order to signal certain types of maintenance, to keep track of issues, to see problem patterns and so on.

street of banger waste
I dug this old, badly scanned photo of New Year’s residue in the Amsterdam Jordaan streets to show what goes on here. Imagine an entire city setting off so much fireworks that it looks like this everywhere.

That’s enough boring business stuff. Here’s another reason I dislike New Year’s: Spending an entire day hopelessly attempting to calm a crying three year old freaked out by the fireworks. You haven’t experienced New Years in Amsterdam or another European city? The cracking, booming, flashing fireworks begins a day or two early and builds to a deafening war zone in the evening. This is not the organized, pretty fireworks of the American 4th of July. No, this is populist anarchy in explosions being set off everywhere simultaneously. At midnight all hell breaks loose for an hour or so and then it finally begins to subside.

Now that you’ve successfully waded though my holiday rant and exciting tale of business management I can give you the juicy news… New WorkCycles bikes are coming!

vrachtfiets on roof
One of the first Vrachtfiets Cargos at work delivering groceries in Brussels, BE.

First up is the Vrachtfiets, a really big, heavy-duty cargo hauler on four wheels that can do things pretty much no other bike can. It’s tough like a traditional Dutch bakfiets yet thoroughly modern with an ingenious suspension system and industrial strength electric assist. It’s a robust, highly engineered workhorse that can carry a two cubic meter load. That’s a bigger load than many small delivery vans. Thus the name “Vrachtfiets, Dutch for “Freight Bike”.

At WorkCycles we’d long been considering the possibilities for a big transport bike for businesses and municipalities. The Vrachtfiets guys needed a partner with bike expertise and a way to promote and sell their bike. Add a super efficient, Dutch metalworking firm to build them and the partnership is complete. The first series of production Vrachtfietsen will be available in early 2014 and will be sold in the Amsterdam region in order to follow them closely. Ideally the first bikes will land in the hands of customers who can provide handy feedback and we’ll offer perks in exchange. Later they’ll be sold worldwide.

The Vrachtfiets’ electric assist enormously extends the range and capabilities of a bakfiets. It can climb hills and has hydraulic disk brakes on all four wheels to safely descend them too. Four wheels with suspension make Vrachtfiets super stable and easy to ride.

Vrachtfiets-pickup-multi
Vrachtfiets open Pick-Up version.

The Vrachtfiets carries its load behind the rider so it’s much less limited in volume than a classic bakfiets. The standard load platform is a full 200cm long and 100cm wide and low to the ground. Tall loads won’t impair the rider’s vision and the platform remains fixed when turning. We’ll begin with two basic load platforms: the Pick Up (open) and the Cargo (box). Accessories such as a windscreen and a range of modular box options will be added as needed. Like other Workcycles bikes customization is always an option. How can you put Vrachtfietsen to work?

Stay tuned. We’ll be putting up more Vrachtfiets info here and on the WorkCycles site in the coming weeks.

sinterklaas-intocht-amsterdam-on-workcycles-bakfietsen 2
I’ve no good photos of finished Kr8’s yet so here’s are some of our R&D staff in action testing a prototype Kr8’s fun factor.

But wait, there’s more! After three years in the works the WorkCycles Kr8 bakfietsen are finally coming! There are actually two Kr8’s:
1. A highly evolved two wheeled version of the Cargobike/Long John type with a box the same length as our current Cargobike Long.
2. A linkage steered three-wheeler (wheels turn, box doesn’t) with really easy, stable handling. It’s a trike that’s actually pleasant to ride.

Typical WorkCycles, the frames and parts are modular. Both models use the same rear end. It’s borrowed from the Fr8 & Gr8, complete with Adaptive Seat Tube (great ergonomics for everybody) and Escape Hatch (easy tire change). Two-part frames mean that Kr8’s can be packed and shipped more cheaply and with less chance of damage.

The front frames, boxes and parking stands are all new. The boxes are unique, combining a tubular aluminium frame with lightweight wooden panels. They look great, are tough and repairable, and even flat-pack for shipping.

The Kr8 two-wheeler is all done and the first examples will be delivered in February. The three-wheeler will follow a few months later. They retain all the goodness of our current Cargobike yet with improvements throughout:

– The Kr8’s are remarkably light. The two-wheeler is almost 20% lighter than our current Cargobike. The trike is only a little heavier – very light for a three-wheeler.
– The sitting ergonomics, steering geometry and very low center of gravity make them easy and sporty to ride.
– Kr8 two-wheeler can be boxed for transport throughout the world. Soon the trike will be as well.
– They look great and can be readily customized with special colors and features.

Needless to say we’re really proud of our new babies. They’re each a couple solid evolutionary steps beyond anything else on the market and suitable for a broader range of situations than our current bikes.

Oh wait, I almost forgot that stupid thing about New Year’s “resolutions”. Which genius came up with the idea that suddenly, ten days after the winter solstice, you’re supposed to start doing something you didn’t previously do? My humble opinion: If it’s worth doing wouldn’t you already be doing it already?

My Wicked New ANT “Road Bike”

Monday, July 30th, 2012

henry's ANT road bike on amstel

In and of itself me getting a new bike shouldn’t be all that interesting to you. This particular story though has connections that make it worth telling. There’s the story of why Mike Flanigan of ANT built me a bike. There’s the story of how the plan for a family touring bike became a road/time-trial race bike which later became a more versatile all-around road bike. Then there’s the bike itself which is a sort of Workcycles of the road bike world.
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Workcycles E-Fr8’s? Really?

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Electrische Fr8's-2
This is how stable a Workcycles Fr8 stands on the Massive Rack. Photo by Tom Resink, who also built these bikes.

UPDATE Fall 2015:
Over the last few years we’ve built hundreds of bikes with electric assist, mostly Fr8’s and Kr8’s, also a few Gr8’s and classic city bikes. We’ve tried different components and developed a reliable, effective system that we now sell worldwide. These bikes are still individually built and tested in our Amsterdam workshop, thus not yet factory options that can be purchased via WorkCycles dealers. We now ship our E-bikes all over the world though. The development is ongoing and we expect to replace the current front hub motor with a mid motor in early 2016.

About the current electric assist system:
The front hub motor is 36V x 225W with 30Nm torque. It is powerful enough to easily ride into Dutch winds and up moderate hills. This system would not be suitable for cranking, for example, a heavily loaded Kr8 up San Francisco hills.

The rear hub gearing with Shimano Nexus 8sp or NuVinci remains unaffected. The brakes are replaced by powerful and reliable Magura hydraulic rim brakes front and rear. The excellent standard B&M LED headlamp and taillights are powered by the motor battery.

Our system is not as sophisticated as the Bosch but it’s effective, smooth, durable and reliable, and (unlike the Bosch) it’s quite “future proof”. Parts can be replaced individually if needed and it won’t be obsoleted and unsupported in a couple years either.

E-Kr8:
The 13Ah battery is under the bench in the box. Though slightly less convenient than the battery in the rear carrier it makes the “E” part of the bike almost invisible and the battery is kept warm in the winter by young occupants. A passenger can sit on the rear as well.

E-Fr8/Gr8:
The 13Ah battery is custom built into a sturdy wooden crate on the front carrier making the entire system almost invisible. The rear carrier retains its full functionality.

Original artikle, as posted in 2011:
Yes, we are asked constantly whether we’ll build a Fr8 or other Workcycles bike with electric assist. The answer is basically yes and no. By no means are we philosophically opposed to the idea of adding a motor to our bikes. We are however very much aware of the many downsides so we generally advise against it unless the need is clear.

For handyman firm Buurtklusser in hilly Nijmegen the need for some help was very obvious. This particular Fr8 will have its Massive Rack frequently loaded up with 100+ kg of cargo and the giant newspaper panniers filled with packages. How would you like to pedal uphill with a total weight of 250kg? In case you’re curious check out their blog at Trapkracht.nl (“Pedal Power”)

Further these bikes will be operated by professionals so we’ve a pretty good chance they’ll be used appropriately and maintained properly. That’s very different from sending special bikes out into the wild with customers who may not have the skills for (or interest in) maintaining them, nor a suitable workshop in the area to turn to when necessary.
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9x8cjs4

Eurobike 2011: Lighter, New Decals & Screw Bikes for Normal Folks

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Eurobike 2011-298
Workcycles’ Tom Resink really does take much better pictures than I can.

Wow, I see it’s been almost three months since my last post here at BEM. I guess time just flies when you’ve two little kids running around, not to mention 15 employees, a few dozen suppliers, several thousand customers and a fleet of your own bikes begging for regular exercise. Somehow my blogging hobby just gets pushed to the back burner. I can’t even blame good weather and fun outdoor activities for my lack of writing activity, since the sun has mostly hidden behind a cold shield of clouds and rain since May. Heck, we had to go to the south of France for three weeks to find some decent weather!

But yes, we did make the annual pilgrimage to Eurobike in the famous Zeppelin City of Friedrichshafen, Germany again. And being approximately my gazillionth trade show visit I wasn’t surprised by much. Finding some cool stuff in the first few trade shows one visits is no great trick. That is, of course, assuming you’re actually at an expo for a topic you care about rather than, say, me going to the Office Furniture Expo. But that would be silly because I’m a bike nerd and not an office furniture geek, and though I have ideas for other businesses none of them have anything to do with office furniture aside from needing a place to sit and put my stuff.

But I digress. We went to Eurobike and despite searching quite thoroughly we didn’t find much that seemed “newsworthy”. In all fairness making headlines isn’t the primary goal of our visit. We go there because suppliers, dealers and other industry insiders from all over the world are also there. You get a better understanding of the people you do business with when you talk face to face. We explained to the owner of the Italian centerstand company that all of their new stands broke and he showed us improvements and asked to get some examples back. We exchanged business cards and then he ignored my emails. Over at Sun Race / Sturmey Archer we politely told them how a certain new shifter they’re selling is absolutely horrible, which we’ve since been in regular contact about and exchanging samples and vintage parts for inspiration. And sometimes your friend at A-Bikes connects you to somebody he knows at B-Bikes who knows a guy at C-Bikes who might be good to make the left-hand threaded, eleven speed spokes you need.
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Fixed Gears at Workcycles?

Monday, April 18th, 2011

leftie

I’ll admit to finding the current worldwide rage for “fixies” rather amusing but then again I was stripping my friends’ and colleagues’ bikes down to minimalist, fixed-wheel, rat bikes fifteen years ago. So I do understand the aesthetic and beauty of simplicity. And I raced on the track for years and still “train” (for what goal I forget) weekly at the indoor Amsterdam Velodrome during the winter.

Besides I’d much rather see a million pretentious or wanna-be fixed-gear bikes than a million horrid, generic, silver hybrids with suspension forks… even last year’s ugly hybrids dressed up this year as considerably cuter “city bikes” with too short, plastic fenders, cosmetic racks and painted some apparently politically correct color like “sand” or teal green. Indeed if that’s the bike industry’s idea of a utilitarian bike I’d rather just ride a flat black, 20 year old steel Bianchi road bike stripped down to one gear and one brake… which in fact was my daily ride for a decade in California. I still have that bike but now it’s an extra bike since we live on the fourth floor, it’s not built for outdoor life and it’s also not a particularly practical way to carry little kids.

But I digress. Though Workcycles’ focus is heavy duty city and transport bicycles our workshops repair and modify all types of bikes. Even fixed gear bikes sometimes, and not just giant Dutch cargo trikes which also happen to have fixed wheels. We weren’t voted “Best Bike Shops in Amsterdam” (out of about 250) for nothin’. This particular fixed-gear modification I found to be interesting in a very typically Dutch (i.e. practical) way.

“Dave” visits us periodically for parts and service, almost always with dog in tow. Last week he came in with a broken chain as a result of his dog’s leash getting caught between chain and chainring. Bummer. We discussed the repair and Dave asked whether it would be possible to move the drivetrain over to the left side of the bike since his dog runs on the right side. He’d get more “fred marks” on his left leg but he and dog would be safer. I looked the bike over. It had a proper fixed-gear hub with a reverse thread lockring and a symmetrical bottom bracket axle so sure, it should work just fine assuming he’s not going to be cranking away like a track sprinter. It did turn out that the bottom bracket was trashed and had to be replaced with something shorter than what we normally use on city bikes but we found a perfect fit in my personal collection of random parts. A few hours later Dave was back on the road with a strange looking but more practical bike. I find it a down to earth example in the current rarified a-fixie-nado atmosphere of NJS track parts, collectors item keirin frames, precious colorway coordination curation and stupid wheel combinations.

Thanks for the use of your photo Dave.

Inspirations and Hypocrites

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

the bird machine poster

The other day Tom called me from our Veemarkt shop to ask about paying the import duty for a mysterious package. It was a tube marked from “The Bird Machine” and clearly addressed to Workcycles. I also knew nothing about it so I asked Tom to have the TNT hold it until we could figure out what it was. A quick search found the website of, no great surprise… The Bird Machine. And right there on the home page was the above poster (called “Portable”) of a bakfiets with a tree in the bak. OK, we might not know anything about it but it’s clearly intended for us, and it’s most probably not a letter bomb or anthrax from a Bullitt or Metrofiet owner still angry about Josh’s Guest Post or some of the 154 following comments.
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The Cuddlebike (i.e. Valentine’s Day Special)

Monday, February 14th, 2011

cuddle-bike

A proposal for this bike design showed up in my email a while back and I let it hang around, figuring it’d somehow fit into a post, eventually. Just to be clear I periodically receive concepts and proposals for all sorts of bike-related stuff. Actually I get proposals for other things too but I won’t bore you with the details of how I’m going to get rich by helping out the heir of a certain deceased African despot.

Some of the bike proposals that have landed in my mail:

  • alternative drive systems since we all know how awful pedaling is
  • systems to charge all of one’s mobile devices by bike on the way to the office since electrical plugs can be so scarce at the workplace
  • Chinese made bakfietsen sold by the container-load, flatpacked. They cost about $100/bakfiets in case you’re wondering.
  • But after seeing the “Cuddlebike” a few times the idea began to grow on me. Admittedly one does have to first be able to look past the miniature size and crude construction of the yellow prototype. Wouldn’t that actually be fun to ride though (in a normal size of course)? With a long enough seat and treadles perhaps three of four people could ride it together. Perhaps it would be handy for blind or mobility challenged riders.

    Then I found the little mpeg video in the mail showing a much more developed looking version of the Cuddlebike. Kinda neat.

    cuddle-bike-2

    Interested? Then contact its inventor who claims, incidentally, that the Cuddlebike is patented. He’s looking for a manufacturer to take the product further.

    Kristian Brömme
    ak [DOT] broemme [AT ]hotmail [DOT] com

    Guest Post: Cargo Bikes and the Information Revolution.

    Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

    five kids on a long john bike

    An introduction to the introduction from editor Henry:

    About a week has passed since this post first went online and as of this moment there are 109 comments, quite a few of them rather extensive, a couple mildly angry or at least indignant. A few people have expressed dismay that I would publish such a piece, even if I didn’t write it myself. Another has requested that I add something to the introduction to further qualify the post below. That last request seems the most appropriate approach and what I’ll try to do now.

    Interestingly though the post is widely criticized and has even apparently sparked offline discussions in coffee shops (both flattering and a little scary) nobody has suggested that I remove it. This is good since that would be quite a disappointment to all those who’ve invested time in writing, editing, commenting, discussing and even writing their own blog posts about this post. So now I have to actually figure out what it is that really needs to be said to further qualify this post.

    That the post is, in retrospect, a grand faux pas is an understatement. But every now and then I just do that: I make a weird misjudgment and stick my foot deeply in my mouth. As one miffed commenter noted it doesn’t matter so much that it’s a guest post; It is my blog and I determine its content. Fair enough.

    But what is exactly the problem? I’ve reread the post and slogged through the comments several times. I see two basic issues:

    1. Several commenters dispute Josh’s experiences and opinions about two of the bikes discussed: the Bullitt and the Metrofiets. The Metrofiets I’ve only seen in photos so for the sake of discussing the post I’ll focus on the Bullitt which I’m familiar with.

    Concerning the Bullitt I had already added from the beginning an editor’s comment that Josh’s opinion about aluminium being an unsuitable frame material was unsubstantiated and probably unjustified. Nonetheless a discussion raged about whether aluminium is a suitable material for such a bike, something I found rather silly.

    Yet for all the defense it’s received here the Bullitt IS, in all fairness, a quirky bike. I’ve ridden several of them, loaded and unloaded (as well as being a noted bike designer who’s ridden a LOT of bikes) so I’m not in the dark here. Aside from the still underground CETMA the Bullitt really has no competitors in the world of light, sporty Long John type bikes. Structurally and conceptually it’s brilliant: light and apparently quite tough. But come on folks, please accept that it’s got its quirks too: The steering geometry is far from ideal and the ergonomics are strange. By no means is either factor a deal killer; After a little while you get used to the handing and forget it was ever a problem. You either adapt to the bike’s sitting position or swap out a few parts to make it fit better. My own bike designs have their own quirks and I really don’t mind hearing about them either.

    I suspect that any criticism of a bike with such a cult following as the Bullitt will deliver some angry fans to your doorstep but Josh unfortunately digressed too far into opinion instead of more objectively addressing the bike’s virtues, faults and eccentricities. Interestingly, Josh’s Metrofiets critique stuck more closely to his own experiences but was also met with resistance.

    2. Interesting material but in the wrong place: I believe the crux of the issue is that posting critical reviews on the forum of a person or company playing in that very field is just tricky business. It isn’t impossible: I do it regularly and somehow seem to find shelter in a steadily more developed mix of obvious irony, humor, absurdity, self-reflection and hard-core objective criticism that’s just difficult to argue with honestly. And, yep, sometimes I just plain old shoot myself in the foot. That I accept as a necessary consequence of keeping Bakfiets en Meer, and by extension Workcycles honest and real. There’s no fluff here folks and I’m not a professional writer.

    But that’s all much more difficult to keep straight in a guest post. Josh has a lot of experience and insights and a lot to say. I was game to let him take a crack at a post and I take full responsibility for the results. But then as he notes in one of the now 110 comments below, he’s more comfortable working with metal than with words. And I have only so many hours for blogging. I do also run a company, have a wife and two little kids and like to ride my racing bike fast with my friends when possible.

    We’ve discussed this experience offline and Josh seems game for another try… ahem yes, with a somewhat different approach. We’ll see how it goes.

    Regards,
    Henry

    An introduction from editor Henry (the original introduction that is):

    Over the years I’ve offered several colleagues the opportunity to do a “guest post” but maybe only once before has somebody gone for it. I’ll begin this one with an introduction and preface:

    I didn’t write the post below nor do I necessarily even agree with some of the things Josh wrote. It’s an opinion piece. Nonetheless I found it an interesting and discussion provoking read and after somewhat too many hours editing chose to publish it. Even though it’s written by somebody completely independent of Workcycles, I founded Workcycles and this is my blog. So no, I can’t really avoid taking some heat for the criticism of colleagues’ bikes but I can live with that.

    I’ve known Josh Boisclair for six or seven years now. He’s worked for two of our dealers, visited us in Amsterdam a couple times and spent a week or two “learning” in the Workcycles workshops. Realistically he was learning much more about Dutch culture and cycling than about building Dutch bikes because he’s one of those few, gifted mechanic types who doesn’t really need to be shown how something as simple as a bike works. With a couple hints about what to be looking for he’ll figure out the rest. Josh has spotted and solved a couple of our production irregularities from afar.

    Such characters don’t generally come without their eccentricities and Josh is no exception. Perhaps Josh’s tick is that he’s brutally, sometimes painfully honest. If he sees that something’s been poorly designed or made… he’ll say it regardless of the political ramifications. If he digs something you’ll hear that too. He doesn’t kiss ass and that makes a great barometer for the thick-skinned. And I suppose that’s why you get to enjoy Josh’s take on cargo bikes ca. 2011; If he didn’t like my own bikes he’d have explained exactly why and then there wouldn’t really be any point in me publishing such unflattering stuff on my own blog.

    The other tick is a rather humorous tendency toward conspiracy theory or at least a belief rooted in the misconception that everybody has innate technical understanding. Thus one who sells something that’s less than “as good as they can be reasonably expected to produce” is quickly categorized as dishonest, rather than possibly naive or disinterested.

    So my dear colleagues apologies in advance for any bruised egos that result from the report below. I didn’t write it but I do trust both the technical understanding and honesty of its source. Put your hardhats on and have a fun ride!

    Regards,
    Henry

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    The Latest Dutch Bike Innovations

    Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

    A couple weeks ago I wrote about a pedal powered snow plow from the USA. Now I’ll make it clear that, as stodgy as they can be, the Dutch will not be outdone in the area of bike innovation.

    Let’s begin with the Monsterfiets. That’s “Monsterbike” for those of you who haven’t yet noticed that “fiets” = “bike” in Dutch and that the Dutch have absolutely no problem with appropriating words from other languages, especially mighty, media-friendly Engels.

    Now I’ll be the first to admit that every Burning Man and Kinetic Sculpture race features two dozen “bikes” more amazing than this one. However the Monsterfiets seems to have piqued the interest of the Dutch and the above YouTube video has been watched almost a million times. I suppose, a la South Park, builder Wouter van den Bosch must be headed to Canada to collect his You Tube popularity paycheck.

    I suppose the most remarkable thing about the video is that nobody seems to find the Monsterbike remarkable. “Sure, whatever. I see a billion bikes every day. So what if yours looks like a kid’s tricycle with a bigger front wheel.” I guess we call that “nonplussed”.
    (more…)