Archive for the ‘About WorkCycles’ Category

A Couple Early WorkCycles Pics

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

veemarkt construction

Just browsing through the old photos here, and I came across some nice oldies: January 2004, WorkCycles‘ first shop in the Veemarkt in Amsterdam under construction. We’d cleaned it up from it’s former (extremely dirty) life as a truck garage and installed the platform that’s still in place.

The large beams were purchased new but the rest of the wood was second hand. I bought an entire truckload of used “betonplex” which is an extremely tough and water resistant coated plywood. It’s a very expensive material and I scored it cheaply but… it was covered in concrete molding residue and had thousands of (bend and broken) screws to be removed. It took a friend and I a couple weeks to clean these boards but to this day almost all of the flooring and shelving in the shop is from this purchase.

A few bikes are visible: Gustav Transport trike on the right and on the left a handful of Monarks including a Long John. Except for those big beams, the Gustav transported practically everything needed to build this shop. Sometimes it was loaded with 250+ kg of materials. That bike remained in rental service until 2008 when Melissa Halley purchased it. I’ll tell that story in a following post.

veemarkt early filming

June 2004, WorkCycles Veemarkt shop is open for business. It wasn’t busy yet and here artist friends Sietske Tjallingii and Eric Staller are using it as HQ for a film shoot nearby. I was happy to participate, especially considering the attractive women involved. Kyoko and I didn’t meet until a couple years later.

gustav and conference bike

June 2004, Gustav Transport cargo trike in service as a rolling film platform… for the Conference Bike. That’s me pedaling. They filmed this movie about the CoBi.

A Slice Of Friday

Meeting Henry of Workcycles

Above a couple more recent pics of the WorkCycles Veemarkt shop from Marc of Amsterdamize fame.

Bicyclemark’s new bike

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Secret Service from Amsterdamize on Vimeo.

Why bother advertising when your customers make sweet videos like this with testimonials about your bikes? Thanks very much Mark and Mark and I wish you many years of pleasure from your new WorkCycles Secret Service!

You might be wondering what this plan is that enabled Mark to buy the bike. In the Netherlands there is a tax law (called “fietsenplan” or “bedrijfsfiets”) to promote cycling. An employee can purchase a bike once every three years with pre-tax salary. You thus save 35-50% on the cost of the bike, depending on your tax bracket. The rule is very straightforward and the only real limitation is that the ruling only applies to the first €750 of bicycle price and €250 of accessories though the tax service (“belastingdienst”) doesn’t seem to care how it gets added up. The bike can cost more but you have to pay out of pocket for the portion over €1000. This law applies to all employed people in the country so, as you can imagine, many of the bikes WorkCycles sells locally are purchased under this ruling.

Slices Of Saturday

Our front doors…

Sunday, February 1st, 2009


workcycles-front doors

The strangest thing happened the other day: I arrive at WorkCycles Lijnbaansgracht to open the shop and I find that our front doors have been graffitied, or rather artfully painted actually… with a skeletons and bikes theme. It’s kinda strange and creepy but heck, it’s funny, bicycle related, eye-catching and far better than the stupid tagging we were getting every week!

It says “Posada” in big letters, I assume a reference to the Mexican artist famous for murals in a similar style. It seems unlikely Posada did this one considering that he died in 1913.

In small letters in the lower right it says “Abner” and “Slacker” which I assume to be this guy:


WorkCycles Jordaan vestiging is nu echt open

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Na enkele maanden van verbouwing is onze prachtige 2e vestiging in de gezellige Jordaan (Lijnbaansgracht 32-B) nu open. De originele WorkCycles winkel in de Veemarkt (Oostelijke Eilanden) blift ook open.

In beide winkels kun je fietsen (stadsfietsen, transportfietsen en bakfietsen) bekijken, uitproberen, aanschaffen of huren. Beide locaties zijn tevens volledig uitgerust om u te voorzien van service, en voor het doen van reparaties en aanpassingen aan uw fiets. Weet wel dat Workcycles fietsen bij ons voorrang hebben, echter ook transportfietsen van andere kwaliteitsmerken zijn we bereid te onderhouden. Voor service en verhuur is het verstandig van tevoren even te bellen voor een afspraak.

Bij de nieuwe Lijnbaansgracht vestiging hebben we ongeveer 5 keer zoveel ruimte als in de Veemarkt dus kunnen we een grotere assortiment bakfietsen en transportfietsen in de showroom houden. Meer verhuurbakfietsen zijn ook beschikbaar.

Op de WorkCycles contact pagina kun je een kaart vinden. Let op: De Lijnbaansgracht is een lange straat en we zitten bijna in de noordelijke hoek, vlakbij de Westerstraat en Lindengracht.

De verbouwing van dit oude pand nam heel veel werk, voornamelijk dooor ons uitgevoerd. Ben je nieuwsgierig over hoe beroerd het pand aanvankelijk eruitzag. Kij hier.

Hand-made: 1925 films of the Gazelle bike factory

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

2007: Azor aluminium frames being hand-welded

I recently spotted some bullshit about the difference between “hand-built” and “hand-made” on some site or blog promoting somebody’s bikes, or maybe it was just a blog comment. Huh? I’ve been designing and making (often pretty nice) things with my own hands for many years and have always used “hand-built” and “hand-made” interchangeably. Furthermore when it comes to bicycles, they’re mostly built with quite human labor intensive processes: Steel and aluminium frames are generally soldered, brazed or welded at least partially by hand, finish work is manual, and assembly is mostly performed manually on an production line of some sort. This is true for the bikes of small and large producers.

Certainly all of our (WorkCycles) bikes are made this way. Most of our city bike frames are hand built/made in Belgium. Some are hand built/made in Holland and China. Ironically enough the frames made in China are the most consistently straight and best finished. So much for China bashing.

The notable exception to our “hand-made” (or was it “built”) rule is the Bakfiets Cargobike frame which is built/made by a (very sophisticated) robot in a factory in South Holland province. The robot bends and miters the tubes and then welds them together. All of our bikes are assembled and finished by hand… though the mechanics do utilize machines such as a headset press and seat tube reamer to work more efficiently. Will the manual labor police disqualify them from being called “hand-made” for this?

Anyhow this is all just a long introduction for a fantastic film from 1925 somebody put up on You Tube (in two parts). Its called “De Avonturen van Piet” (The Adventures of Piet) referring to Piet Pelle, a promotional cartoon character of Gazelle. Between Piet’s adventures of taking his Gazelle bike to the North Pole we see a proud overview of the workings of the Gazelle Bicycle Factory. Amongst other processes:

  • how the frames are soldered, aligned, finished and painted
  • how the unitized handlebar/stem are formed from sheet metal
  • how the famous Gazelle chainrings (with jumping gazelles) are formed
  • how the hubs and headsets are turned in the lathe
  • how the parts are nickel plated…
  • The commentary is all in Dutch but you’ll get the idea of what’s going on: they’re hand making bicycles… or are they “building” them. Who cares! Its fun to watch.

    1925: Gazelle frames being hand aligned

    There’s a more complete version of the Gazelle factory video here but it doesn’t seem to have any sound.

    Oh yeah, here’s Piet Pelle of Gazelle:

    WorkCycles Oktoberfietsfeest 2008: Photo journal

    Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

    Despite absolutely horrible weather WorkCycles Oktoberfietsfeest 2008 was a huge success! Thankfully we were able to stay warm and dry in our giant, new shop on the Lijnbaansgracht in the cozy Jordaan historic district. Friends, colleagues, family and neighbors braved the elements to heartily showed their support and hunger. Please forgive me if I can’t remember half your names – its tough being a host!

    Childhood friend, photographer and cyclist Jonathan Barkey of Brooklyn, New York took all of gorgeous photos you see here. Thanks Jon!

    I’ll comment on most of the photos, beginning from above left:

    My parents, Leonard & Betsey Cutler show off a couple new WorkCycles Fr8 bikes… so new they’re not even on our website yet. Henry shows off the latest WorkCycles “H.C. Clothing” to Sean Valerio of Museum Tickets fame. Mmmm, WorkCycles bikes! A cool English dude with accent straight out of “Snatch” checkin’ out the bikes and girls. A last minute rain shelter for the BBQ with Anne Kirchenmann, vegetarian grill virtuoso at work. Wieger from De Redding bakfietsen with Eric Loques of WorkCycles in front of the Great Wall of Panniers. Checkin’ out some (no longer) top secret WorkCycles prototypes. Willem & Dominik of Gitaarduo belting out the tunes. They’ve expanded well beyond bicycle themed songs and brought friends along to do original pieces. MacBike‘s new amphibious, submersible bakfiets. They’ll be using a fleet of these to lead underwater canal tours of Amsterdam. Its a little known fact that much of the most interesting history of Amsterdam is to be found under the murky canal water! Frank of BuroFrank and Stella brought their new prototype mini-bakfiets.

    Here are some of the most notable personalities, at least those whose names I can remember:

    Henry of WorkCycles compliments Rick of Segijn en van Wees on their beautiful bikes with attitude. Stella checkin’ out 8 week old Pascal who’s checkin’ her out too. Wesley Hemelrijk with artist Simsa Cho. More about him later. Marc of Amsterdamize fame, Bruno of Museum Tickets and Chopperdome Rhalf. Chris and Richard, a couple of the brains behind WorkCycles. Anne, veggie meat griller supreme with Milou and Natasja. Ronald Onderwater of the other famous submersible bike with Johan of Azor Bike. David Lee of De Woordensmederij. Eric Loques of WorkCycles with another sketchy English character. Me showing off Pascal Yo. Heng Sie and Aki, Ingeborg & Martijn Samsom, Marlies & friend. Eric Schuijt, world famous bicycle traveler and owner of nearby Vakantiefietser with photographer Martin van Welzen who makes the lovely photos for our site (the good ones that is – I take the amateurish ones). Henry and dad Leonard with Jan Rijkeboer, owner of Azor Bike.

    Nope, I’m not even going to try remembering the names of the kids. Its clear they had a fine time though. A pair of De Redding bakfietsen (also to rent for parties!) made handy jungle-gyms. We grilled up lots of “pannekoeken” (dutch pancakes). Balloons were inflated, exploded, folded, tied, drawn on and fought with. A Xootr made a handy time-trial vehicle as the kids challenged each other to do the fastest lap through the crowd of tipsy adults. Two boxes of street chalk were reduced to mere powder – Note Jonah’s foot “drawing” technique. The kids won prizes in the lottery, here a big box that promises “300 games”.

    And without further ado, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: The Oktoberfietsfeest Lottery (Raffle). The inside joke is of course that everybody wins, but you do have to put a ballot in the box (teaching good voting habits to the youngsters) and you do have to be here for the drawing. Take off for the next party or to visit your dying mother in the hospital… your loss, sucker!

    We gave away tons of WorkCycles hoodie sweatshirts, T-shirts (new) and work/cook aprons (also new). These are all in stock and available to purchase as well. Lots of other schwag including Vredestein baseball caps to Schwalbe courier bags, LED blinking pedals and Axa SL7 locks (don’t actually try to USE these!) was also given away.

    But the grand prize everybody was gunning for was the custom WorkCycles bike, complete with orange tires and matching graphics. Artist Simsa Cho was the lucky man of the day and I can’t think of a more suitable owner for such an extroverted bike.

    Thanks everybody for your support and patronage! It was a pleasure being your hosts and we look forward to seeing you soon.

    Missed the party? You’re still welcome to visit our new shop any time. You can find directions to WorkCycles Lijnbaansgracht here. We’re open for business both at the new location and at the original WorkCycles in the Veemarkt in Zeeburg.

    Here you can see what the WorkCycles Lijnbaansgracht space looked like when we began construction this March.

    WorkCycles huge new Amsterdam utility bike shop: progress report

    Monday, June 9th, 2008

    This is my third update about the beautiful new WorkCycles cargobike/utility bike/child transport bicycle shop we’re building on the Lijnbaansgracht in the historic Amsterdam Jordaan district. That’s right in the city center so its no longer needed to trek that 3 km all the way out to our original location in Zeeburg. I wrote the previous two entries in Dutch so here’s one for the English speaking world.

    We’re doing the construction ourselves and with the help of handy friends because its cheaper and more fun that way, and then in the end everybody can say “hey I built/wired/plumbed etc that place” and I’m still riding the WorkCycles workbike I got for doing it. The plan to open in July remains and you can be sure we’ll announce the opening as soon as a date is fixed.

    Our plans are nothing short of grandiose: This shop will be 350 m2 filled with bakfietsen, city bikes, utility bikes, family transport bikes, cargobikes… you name it. It’ll also be home to our and our friends’ collections of classic (or just old) utility bikes. Its a funky 150 year old building with strange corners and details which gives us endless opportunities for character. It’ll probably take a few years to find a place for everything in the midst of doing “business as usual” in the meanwhile but that’ll just provide you with an excuse to keep visiting.

    You can see photos of our progress a few weeks ago here:

    …and more from a few weeks earlier here:

    Verbouwing WorkCycles Toekomstige Jordaan Vestiging

    Friday, May 9th, 2008

    We zijn nu al een paar weken bezig mee met de verbouwing van het nieuwe WorkCycles (transport-) fietsenwinkel en werkplaats op de hoek van de Lijnbaansgracht en de Goudbloemstraat in de Jordaan buurt van Amsterdam. Er is nog veel te doen maar het ziet er ten minst nu wel belovend uit. Alleen maar enkele weken geleden was het zeer grof, donker en depremerend. Niemand kond geloven dat we van plan waren om een speciale fietswinkel hier te zetten.

    workcycles-jordaan-werkplaats.jpg workcycle-workshop-goudbloemstraat.jpg bakfietswinkel-showroom.jpg
    cargobike-in-workcycles-verbouwing.jpg transportfiets-winkel-amsterdam-jordaan.jpg work-cycles-jordaan-kantoor.jpg

    Nu zijn de houten planken vervangen door ramen en mooie nieuwe dubbeldeuren met grote ruiten: veel breder dan grote ouderwetse bakfietsen. We hebben ook tonnen slechte gips verwijderd (en enorme wolken stof gemaakt) om de warme rode bakstenen te zien. Wat een verbetering! Een WC met ruimte voor een babytafel staat klaar – heel handig als je moederfietsen en bakfietsen voor kindervervoer verkoopt. Veel van de slechtste muren en de plafond zijn nu bekleed. Het basis werk aan het pand schiet dus op. Nog een paar weken totdat alles mooi geschilderd staat.

    Daarna hebben we nog en heleboel werk met electra, licht en IT bekabeling en daarna onze werkplaats, kantoor, loods en verkoop showroom inrichten. Onze plan is om genoeg klaar te hebben om WorkCycles Jordaan begin Juli te openen. Dan kunnen we doorgaan met inrichting en aanpassingen terwijl de winkel al open is. We verwachten niet dat klanten onmiddelijk naar binnen gaan stormen.

    Het is heel leuk dat bewoners uit de buurt regelmatig langskomen om te leren wat het grote pand gaat worden. Ze zijn bijzonder nieuwsgierig omdat het leeg stond en steeds lelijker werd voor enkele jaar nadat de Dirck III drankwinkel vertrok. Totnutoe is iedereen wel enthousiast dat WorkCycles hier gaat zitten, of tenminst blij dat iets hier gaat zitten.

    Maar wat we een klein beetje vervelend vinden is dat iemand blijkbaar had gehoord over een fietsenwinkel die bakfietsen verkoopt en dat in “Fietsfabriek” vertaald. Nou even voor de duidelijkheid: Beide WorkCycles en Fietsfabriek ontwikkelen en verkopen bakfietsen, transportfietsen en stevige stadsfietsen, maar ze zijn twee verschillende, helemaal onafhankelijke bedrijven. Er is, trouwens, ook geen ruzie tussen deze twee bakfiets leverancier collega’s.

    Typical WorkCycles als de nieuwe winkel klaar staat gaan we een feest vieren voor alle onze klanten, vrienden en collega’s. Nog geen datum – midden Juli als we ongelofelijk geluk hebben… anders laat September/begin Oktober voor onze jaarlijks Oktoberfietsfeest.

    WorkCycles Nieuwe Fietswinkel in de Jordaan

    Saturday, March 29th, 2008

    nieuwe workcycles vestiging in amsterdam centrum

    Na vier jaar in onze originele vestiging in de Veemarkt (Zeeburg, Amsterdam Oostelijke Eilanden) heeft WorkCycles echt meer ruimte nodig. Toen ik hier in mijn eentje begon vier jaar geleden had ik nooit kunnen geloven dat we zo snel uit dit pand gingen groeien. We hebben hier bijna iedere centimeter gebruikt: fietsen staan buiten, hangen van de muren en plafond, staan bij de buren en nog meer fietsen wachten bij onze fabrikanten want anders kunnen we ‘s avonds de deuren niet dicht krijgen.

    Na een jaar zoektocht hebben we eindelijk een geschikt pand gevonden voor een tweede fietswinkel, werkplaats en kantoor. Het moest veel groter zijn en in een andere buurt want we gaan de 1e WorkCycles fietsenwinkel open houden. We wilden het liefst in de gezellige Jordaan waar we al vele klanten hebben en geen andere fietswinkels zijn die specialiseren in transportfietsen, bakfietsen en stevige stadsfietsen. Het is ook handig dat ik in de buurt woon.

    Het nieuwe WorkCycles vestiging zal meer dan vier keer zo groot zijn als de winkel/werkplaats in Zeeburg. Yay! Meer ruimte voor een grotere stadsfiets, transportfiets, bakfiets assortiment, een flink werkplaats met meer machines en ook meer huurbakfietsen. In Amsterdam Centrum gaan we zeker veel meer bakfietsverhuur doen. Ook zullen we eindelijk ruimte hebben voor sommige fietsen die gewoon niet pasten onze originele winkeltje: o.a. bakfietsen voor de kinderopvang, grote oudewetse bakfietsen en industriele transportfietsen.

    Waar: Lijnbaansgracht 32 B-C-D-E-F-G en H, hoek van Goedbloemstraat… om de hoek van de Lindengracht en Westerstraat.

    Wanneer: We zijn nu bezig met het pand mee en met geluk kunnen we het in Juli openen.

    Wat: WorkCycles ‘tuurlijk! Dezelfde als onze winkel in de Veemarkt maar dan met meer fietsmodellen. Wel mogelijk dat we ook gaan uitbreiden met andere dingen die we vroeger geen ruimte voor hadden: regenkleding, kinderfietsen, transportfietsmuseum…

    Wat meer: We hebben meer medewerkers nodig! Ben jij een een fietsenmaker (-makster) of verkoper (-ster) en geïnteresseerd in een baan met nieuwe uitdagingen en een prettige, rustige werksfeer neem dan contact op.

    Work-Cycles- oudewetse-fietsenwinkel-in-de-jordaan

    Links: Yep, het is groot… en nog een beetje grof. Een beetje verf en dan zal hij een stuk beter eruitzien.

    Rechts: Tweede entree bij de Goudbloemstraat voor de werkplaats en bakfietsverhuur.

    workcycles-fietsenwinkel-in-amsterdam-jordaan-kinderen bakfiets-transportfiets-oudewetse-fietsen-winkel-amsterdam

    Links: Achter hebben we een leuke ruimte waar de kinderen kunnen spelen.

    Rechts: Het pand wordt toch wel met een toilet afgeleverd! Aardig hé?

    A letter to Jacquie Phelan

    Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

    jacquie phelan, charlie cunningham, gary fisher on mt tamalpais

    Unless you’ve been an avid mountain biker for quite some time you’re probably not familiar with Jacquie Phelan. Please allow me to introduce you; With regard to getting women onto bicycles, the roots of mountain biking, and to those who regard bicycles as far more than fun toys for an occasional spin Jacquie is something of a hero. She’s also an outspokenly extreme character. Not “extreme” in the X-games jumping off burning skyscrapers with seatless unicycles sense, but “extreme” in the way she’s chosen to eschew many of the things most accept as normal and necessary.

    Jacquie has a a blog you can read here.
    Here’s a Wikipedia entry about her.
    Jacquie is also the founder of the Women’s Mountain Bike & Tea Society (WOMBATS)

    …and even a song about Jacquie Phelan.

    I’ve met Jacquie a handful of times over the last 20 years and we occasionally exchange notes. Her recent blog posts have been pondering the all-too-enormous questions of where the world is headed and what we can do to influence that direction. Being the founder of a rather idealistically inspired and directed business I’ve spent many an hour considering these issues as well.

    I began writing the following as an email but then decided it’d be better posted here on the blog… so here it is:

    Hi Jacquie,
    After many years pondering the subject of improving the world I decided that martyrdom (or self-flagellation for that matter) is a dead-end attitude that doesn’t serve anybody well. The vast majority of people do what’s most pleasant, convenient, easy, fun, seductive etc etc. We can hate that or accept that a part of human nature. Perhaps we can even consider it a part of human intelligence

    Yeah, much of what goes on in the world sucks, probably because its easier to package and sell the things that aren’t for the greater good. That’s why Republicans win elections despite their (more) selfish and deceptive plans. Their stated goals are simpler and easier to express, and its far easier for them to get the support of large businesses and (self) interest groups. Its also why the auto and fuel industries are so effective: cars are seductive, lazy-making and fit the system that’s been built around their use.

    I began WorkCycles because I recognized that business interests effectively run the world. They’re more powerful than governments and cross national borders effortlessly. I also saw that the others busy with workbikes were playing the guilt-ridden martyr game. But only select crowds respond to that and one doesn’t want those people as customers, colleagues or suppliers because once one gets caught up in the martyr game, everybody’s sour, nobody’s good enough and nobody has a right to provide an honest service for a fair price. To the contrary everybody is supposed to be martyring themselves for everybody else’s philosophical ideals. Its not fun or honest and it won’t grow to accomplish its ideals.

    Instead of preaching to the choir I decided that WorkCycles would follow the lead of big commercial businesses, except with valuable products that enrich rather than impoverish the world: We simply make attractive products to seduce people into cycling for transportation. Its fun and it works; In the last five years we’ve built up a sizable customer base made up of all types of people and businesses, in many countries. It continues to grow quickly, bringing us further toward our goals.

    Some see this approach as disgustingly “commercial” (when did that become such an evil word anyway?) but we simply regard it as egalitarian professionalism. Whether a customer is a vegan, yuppie, squatter, purchaser for an oil refinery or mom with twin babies they get treated with the same respect. Our interest is simply to get them and their colleagues happily riding bicycles instead of driving cars or trucks. Having them recognize the beautiful win-win minimalism of the bicycle as a philosophy and choose take it further into their lives or organizations is indeed our dream… but largely beyond our means.


    ps: We’re busy upgrading WordPress and it won’t let me upload images today. I’ll add the matching picture ASAP.