How the Amsterdam Papa Rolls

eddy and kids fr8 09-07-10

Long time customer Eddy sent this pic of himself and his kids along. Shall we count the “That’s gotta be Amsterdam” elements?…

1. Workcycles Fr8 Crossframe with Massive Rack front carrier (150kg load capacity). The bike is one of two hot-dip galvanized examples in existence. It was such a pain in the ass to make that it’ll probably also be the last.

2. Child on saddle behind the handlebar with footrests on the downtube. Kids absolutely LOVE sitting here and parents enjoy being able to talk while cycling. The kids just have to be mature enough to stay put, awake and keep their feet on the pegs.

3. Giant lock: 10mm hardened steel chain with disk-type Abus lock (hanging from cross point of the top tubes). Virtually impenetrable unless the thief is bold enough to make a lot of noise and sparks.

4. Baby on the belly. Is it safe? That’s debatable but cycling is, in any case, very safe and one cycles very carefully with a baby like this. This setup is certainly better than carrying the baby with any bike other than a Bakfiets Cargobike with a Maxi-Cosi installed (Eddy’s wife’s bike). See my research on the topic: Carrying a Newborn on a Bike

5. Rider making a Fr8 Crossframe look small. It’s a big truck of a bike meaning that Eddy is a Dutch sized guy.

6. Teddy bear on the best seat in the house.

Perhaps most noteworthy is that this image will hardly turn heads here. Watch parents picking their kids up from an elementary school and you’ll see 20 variations on this theme within five minutes, and not a car in sight.

Thanks for passing the photo along Eddy!

15 Responses to “How the Amsterdam Papa Rolls”

  1. nicolas Says:

    heh, this picture could totally have a lolcat-style caption:

    Looks very Amsterdam, like a Dutch, younger and healthier version of Henry Rollins… anywhere in the world a guy looking like that would probably not get much abuse from motorists either!
    Can you elaborate on the “baby on the belly” safety question ? I’ve always wondered about that – as long as the baby’s light and small enough that you can still balance OK, isn’t it pretty safe?

  2. henry Says:


    To be straightforward there are just no statistics for cycling with baby on chest like this. It’s common in Amsterdam and I haven’t heard of a problem. Does it present a higher risk than walking up and down stairs with a baby like that, hiking, or working around the hous? Probably not. The main danger would be if, in the rare case of a fall, that the baby could get poked with the handlebar or something. Parent actually landing on the baby (as suggested by somebody in the Fickr photo comments seems highly unlikely; One doesn’t tend to land on their belly/face in a fall.

    Of course the assumption is that one cycles very carefully when carrying a child like this, probably not much more than a jogging pace.

    In one respect is carrying a child like this better than other methods: shaking. Carrying the baby on your body reduces potentially damaging shocks to almost nil.

  3. Frits B Says:

    To reassure the safety addicts, I take it that at least Teddy Bear is wearing his seatbelt. And are you sure it’s a bear, not a monkey?

  4. henry Says:

    Frits, It might be a Teddy Monkey – I didn’t really think about it. In any case he or she seems to be well secured. I’ll add that the baby is also rather well secured to the object with by far the greatest mass in this equation.

  5. Feddo Says:

    I still think you need to find a paint scheme that replicates that galvanized look.

    I remember seeing it in prototype phase and it just looks bad-ass. Maybe a metallic powdercoat frame, and just galvanized fenders and fender-struts?

    I would also go for an all Stainless Steel bike, Henry….

  6. henry Says:

    Feddo, Replicating the zinc with paint just wouldn’t do – it’s fake. I’ve toyed with making a series of stainless steel frames for the hardcore fans. They’d be badder than badass but also expensive as heck. The fenders and struts are already stainless (under the powdercoat). Replicating the carriers in stainless would just be going too far though. I’d be happy with a stainless bike with brightly colored carriers though.

  7. Amsterdamize Says:

    turn your head (or ride to Blijburg beach on a Sunday) and you’ll see another one. Oh wait, same guy/family đŸ˜‰

  8. ten Says:

    nice, that’s how I rolled (except the baby was on my back) until my baby got too heavy. tho that shouldn’t be a problem to the man in the picture, he’ll probably still be able to do that when that baby is 25…..

    At about a jogging pace on the sidewalk I felt pretty safe, tho I can see how the front-loader arrangement would be safer in the unlikely fall scenario – I’ll bear that in mind for #2.

  9. Feddo Says:

    Define “expensive”. Just ballpark it for me (and others). Very curious.

    Why powdercoat Stainless? I’m not a techie, just figured Stainless need not be coated. I know that Stainless is not “rust-free”, but a little scouring pad cures that problem.

    @ ten: “At about a jogging pace on the sidewalk (!!!!)”. Where is that? Japan?

  10. henry Says:

    Depending on how faithfully we wanted to replicate the chro-mo design making the frame in stainless steel would add at least couple hundred to the cost. Making it the same weight would cost many hundreds more since it would require working with some very special materials. Doing the carriers and other ancillaries in stainless would get way out of hand since the bending and forming characteristics of stainless are very different.

    Fenders are painted because it generally looks better that way. They come from the manufacturer in Italy polished which looks kind of cheezy. Brushing the stainless does fix that but costs at least as much as powder coating them.

    Ten is indeed in Japan where they ride on the sidewalk.

  11. Feddo Says:

    So, in stainless the FR8 would be heavier unless you resort to special equipment and manufacturing specs? Thinner tubes or such?

    Are we talking WAY heavier? Because weight concerns on a bike like the FR8 seem pretty moot. The phrase “Parels voor de zwijnen werpen” comes to mind.

    It seems to me that paying a couple hundred more for a “limited edition” stainless FR8 is somethin I and many others would seriousy consider.

    I know that you are not in the business of trying to build cult or collectible bikes, but from a marketing perspective they would pay their dividends, and I know you like cool looking or badass bikes.

  12. henry Says:

    All types of steel basically weigh the same amount per cubic unit and they all have the same stiffness. What varies widely are the strength and fatigue characteristics. If the very strong 4130 chrome-moly tubes of the Fr8 frame are replaced by less strong stainless we’ll have to make the walls thicker. The selection of suitable stainless tubes is also much smaller so there won’t be many choices in some of the sizes. How much heavier is dependent on what tubes we can find. A kilo or so sounds like a fair guess.

    Alternatively there are some very special structural stainless steel types but they are extraordinarily expensive and must be very skillfully welded.

    Sure it would be super bitchin’ cool, but it’s just not so simple as telling the framebuilder “please make some Fr8 frames in stainless steel” and I think our time is better spent on several other development projects.

  13. ten Says:


    yep, japan. I recently got tailgated at 25kmh downhill (not with baby, of course), I got the plate number and as a social experiment called into a police office on the way home and asked if there was anything they could do.

    The police officer understood my point, but said unfortunately they can’t do anything unless there is an actual collision (which he conceded was a bit late). He recommended I ride on the sidewalk to avoid these kinds of problems. Go figure.

  14. HeleenH Says:

    Oops, put my comment in the wrong place it is here now :

  15. Nynke Says:

    This is not just how the Amsterdam pappa rolls. It’s how the dutch (grand)parent in general rolls. My son is seven now and too big for the small saddle (he’s in my face/line of sight). I think we’re both equally sad about it. He was devastated when my father took off the saddle last year. It was a bit higher up and the ‘in your face’ stage came a bit earlier.
    Anyway; he’s big enough to ride his own bike (without a helmet) in the city (Groningen). Even the hills in Limburg are no real obstacle anymore, so my bike (Sparta Amazone with front rack and ‘kistje’) can go back to being just a 1-person + goods transporter.


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