Simplex Bicycles in Indonesia

Simplex kruisframe fiets in indonesië

I can’t read Indonesian so I can only hypothesize about this site about pre-WWII Simplex bicycles in Indonesia. Simplex was an Amsterdam bike maker that made some of the best bikes of this period. That’s significant considering that the Dutch bikes of this era were probably the best city bicycles ever built. Seventy years later here are still quite a few of them on the streets of Amsterdam… and apparently also in Indonesia.

So why would there be so many old Dutch bikes in Indonesia? Simple: Because it was a Dutch colony until the 1945 to 1950 Indonesian war of independence. It seems pretty unlikely that all those pre-war Dutch bikes were imported after the war so I’ll assume they were initially brought there by the pre-war Dutch colonists. Regardless of the history its still strange for an Amsterdammer to see all those lovely old Simplex bikes with palm trees in the background and the details described in a text I can’t understand. Well at least I can understand many of the technical terms because they seem to have adopted the Dutch words for many bicycle parts. A couple examples:

  • priesterrijwiel = priest’s bicycle or cross-frame, since the lower top tube allowed riding in a frock.
  • kruiseframe = same as above
  • rem tromol cycloïde = Simplex’s drum brake hub with special “Cycloïde” bearings
  • lampu = headlamp
  • Historical trivia:

  • The cross-frame (“kruisframe” in Dutch) WorkCycles uses is based on a Simplex design you can see on the Indonesian site.
  • Simplex began in 1887 in Utrecht but moved to Amsterdam in 1896. Their factory was situated on the Overtoom, in the Oud West neighborhood where I live. Our home was built the same year. This was then a new neighborhood in Amsterdam, just past the Jordaan. The Jordaan is now a highly desirable neighborhood of charming old houses, canals and stylish boutiques. Back then it was a mixture of industry, shipping and working class housing.
  • In 1952 Simplex merged with Locomotief, another of my favorite old bicycle makes. Locomotief also made lovely bikes such as their ladies cross-frame which the WorkCycles Kruisframe step-through is based on.
  • The 60’s were tough years for the Dutch bicycle industry. After a number of fusions and changes Simplex and Locomotief were taken over by Gazelle who from then on just used the names for cheaper “B-quality” bikes.
  • 7 Responses to “Simplex Bicycles in Indonesia”

    1. Bambang Suhermadi Says:

      Hello, how I are you today? Well, I am the one who loves Simplex very much, especially Simplex Cycloide with so many specific items. Simplex Cycloide is very rare and only some of my friends have it. You may see some of my collection in Multiply under the name of Bang Madi Site.

    2. henry Says:

      Wow, your bikes are beautiful. Even though your Simplex bikes were made in a factory less than a kilometer from my house we never get to see such perfect original bikes like those. It’s also really fun to see them in photos with tropical backgrounds – such a strange contrast!

      Thanks for the link! I’ll add a link from this blog.

    3. reno andreyant Says:

      wow this bike so his legend. very beautiful

    4. Pieter van der Ham Says:

      I’m writing a book on the whole production of Simplex. It will feature not only the bicycles, but also the motorbicycles, automobiles and railway rolling stock. I have restored a Simplex 1920 railcar and will restore a 1907 one as well. I know that of the automobiles a lot went to Indonesia by the beginning of the 20th century. Untill now not a single Simplex automobile is found anywhere in the world. I expect that somewhere hidden in today’s Indonesia there might be Simplex automobile left? Who has an idea?

    5. Fahmi Saimima Says:

      Dear Pieter van der ham, I am very interested if you really write a book about the simplex, as in Indonesia, thousands of bicycle enthusiasts simplex literacy still short of its history. We just received the bike from the colonial era, but not with education and history. Can you contact me at [email protected]

    6. lucas Says:

      Dag Pieter,
      We hebben er een, hier in Amsterdam. Nog volledig in de staat van zo”n 40/50 jaar geleden, wat roestpitjes op t stuur, maar dat is t. Mocht je m willen zien, kan dat.
      groeten, lucas

    7. Tanto Says:

      Presumably the first bicycle in Indonesia was brought by W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, a famous Dutch landscape and portrait artist who rode his bike around Bali in the early 1900s.

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