Archive for the ‘Bicycles and Art / Fiets and Kunst’ Category

Beldoppen: Why Only Some People Can Be Artists

Monday, November 21st, 2016


Pete Jordan invited me for coffee a couple days ago. Pete is perhaps best known for his 1990’s zine Dishwasher Pete but I know him as another bicycling obsessed Amsterdammer and author of the very thoroughly researched book “In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist“. It’s an absolute must-read for anybody with an interest in the history of urban cycling.


Pete showed me a project he’s been working on for several years and quite frankly I feel a bit stupid for never noticing this phenomenon. It seems there are bicycle bell tops (“beldoppen” in Dutch) pressed into the streets all over the city. Rattling over cobblestones and tram tracks unscrews them from their bells and eventually flings them to the ground. Most beldoppen probably end up in the gutter and get swept up by the street cleaners but some get squished into the asphalt or between cobbles where they remain as part of the road surface. There they remain, sometimes for years, getting driven over by thousands of cars, trucks and motorcycles. Eventually the road gets resurfaced and the beldoppen disappear.


Few people would ever even see the beldoppen. Even fewer, or perhaps precisely ONE person would meticulously record their locations (many hundreds of them) and vital statistics in a database and re-photograph them each year during late May and June. Why May and June you wonder? Well, that’s the only time it’s light early enough to photograph these busy, inner-city locations in daylight but without traffic.


Some beldoppen remain in place so long that the passing traffic eventually wears them down to bell fossils. Only the center, circumference and vague pattern remain. Who would even realize what they were looking at if they spotted one of those?



Pete’s beldoppen project deserves a more public exhibition space though. It’s currently displayed on the walls of his WC. Any gallery curators in the market for a fascinating piece of urban archaeology art?

One Day Without Shoes

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

one day without shoes

One Day Without Shoes

Thanks to Odin Heyligen for the photo.

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.

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”.

Flattery in the Flesh

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Tattoo studio House of Tattoos a few blocks from WorkCycles in the Amsterdam Jordaan did this tattoo. Though it is one of our bikes (in mirror image) it’s not gracing one of our bodies; Tom found it while searching for tattoo artists. You can see more of Emilia’s work here. The bike isn’t really typical of her work. Most is of very finely drawn human and animal subjects.

I really appreciate the permanence and commitment of tattoos and some are really beautiful… but I can’t think of anything I want drawn on my body.

FERDINAND GT3 RS – The World`s slowest Porsche

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Sorry loyal readers. Between high season business and a new addition to the family (Pia, born 28 May 2010) there just hasn’t been much time for blogging. Here’s some fun stuff to tide you over:

Yeah, it’s been done before, but not so well.

And while we’re talking about motor vehicles wrap your head around this one…


The Croquette Bakfiets of Tilmann Meyer-Faje

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010


I saw this nearly perfect kroket on three wheels a couple years ago while visiting an art exhibition at Museum de Paviloens in Almere with Kyoko. I didn’t realize then it was actually a fully functional croquette (“kroket” in Dutch) frying and vending vehicle. I just figured it was just a humorous art piece. I suppose that’s also the case judging from some of Tilmann’s other projects which include a fake Segway tour of a mental institution, a mall kiosk that made and sold concrete clogs, and a one man university. But we talked with Tilmann at another exhibition last week and he filled me in on the whole scoop. He’s German though and explains it all with a straight face so I’m still not 100% sure about the humor part. I might just be inadvertently insulting an artist here, something I’ve already demonstrated an aptitude for amongst righteous cyclists.

“Bicycle Mania”… Great book about Dutch cycling

Monday, January 18th, 2010


Every fan and promoter of urban cycling simply needs a copy of Shirley Agudo’s “Bicycle Mania”. You can regard it as a photo book, with probably the best collection of Dutch cycling photos ever assembled. Even as an Amsterdam resident and amateur(ish) photographer I marvel at the shots in these pages. Have a peek at a few examples here at the Eduard Planting gallery.

Ryan Doyle @ Art Basel Miami Beach

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009


Nope, I’m entirely unclear on what Ryan Doyle’s creation, dubbed the “Hell-a-Copter” is and does. I see something that looks like a giant, donut shaped, glazed balloon with lights, a frame suspended below, a hipster Pabst Blue Ribbon drinker and his legs spinning what seems to be a sort of horizontal propeller. It’s got pedals and art so it earns a mention on B.E.M. It’s intriguing though doesn’t seem nearly as hellish as another Doyle creation called “The Regurgitator”. Wanna get spun around faster than the feet of a Goldsprint competitor? Then you’d better hook up with Doyle and his cronies. Have a look below. Just thinking about it makes me wanna toss my cookies.

In any case you can go check all of this out… and RIDE them too during Doyle’s three part exhibition at Art Basel Miami Beach, December 3-6 2009. The details:

Squishy Universe Gallery
150 NW 24th Street
Miami, FL 33127

ps: I think I might have seen Doyle in Amsterdam years ago when they did the “Tall Bike Jousting World Championships” here. Here are a couple pics, somewhat more interesting than the event actually was.

tall bike jousting amsterdam 2

tall bike jousting amsterdam 1

Burning Man 2009: Chaise Cruiser

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

38 (more): Chaise Cruiser, originally uploaded by theglife.

Check out this awesome Long John desert rig with 36″ wheels, xtracycle rear end and a cargo bed of at least 150cm. Sort of part WorkCycles Cargobike Extra Long and part Mad Max, all on steroids. Then again I suppose half of the creations at Burning Man have a Mad Max Look… “Speed is only a matter of money. How fast can you afford to go?”