Archive for the ‘Bikes in use’ Category

Cargobike (almost) in the Canal

Monday, November 15th, 2010

cargobike almost in canal 2

One morning about a week ago I walked outside with the kids on the way to their daycare to discover that our beloved bakfiets had disappeared. A number of Workcycles customer bikes have been stolen recently so theft was our first thought. Nonetheless I walked across the street for a closer look and found the bike hanging from its front wheel. The second lock, which I usually leave behind on that rail, wasn’t connected to the frame. I’m really careful about locking so this all seemed very strange.

A neighbor, headed to unlock his own bike, commented that he’d just seen some guys busy here. Probably they’d tossed the bakfiets over as a joke. He was kind enough to help me pull the 40kg bike back onto land and I continued on to the daycare and work. Aside from some scratches on the box and canopy there was no visible damage.

The bike had been sitting in the water past the rear hub so I asked our shop guys to open the hub, clean the taillamp and chain etc. They found surprisingly just a few drops of water in the hub but that’s still too much. Cleaned and re-lubricated, back in the bike, and the hub now actually feels much better than before. This hub, not uncommon for early Shimano Nexus 8 speeds, was noticeably rough in the fourth gear. Freshly lubed and adjusted, this has all but disappeared.

cargobike almost in canal 1

Fast forward a few days to Friday morning. A storm was passing through (as it often is) and the wind was blowing like mad last night. Bikes, scooters, branches, motorcycles are all over the streets and pavements. Kyoko looks outside and yep, the bakfiets has disappeared into the canal again. From our third floor (fourth to those counting American style) dining room perspective we can just barely see the bottom of the box and a parking stand leg poking into the air. As sentient beings we put 2 + 2 + 2 together and realize that it was, in all likelihood, the wind that tossed the bakfiets off the pavement and not some local, malcontent youths.

But why, all of sudden, does the bike get knocked over by the wind twice in a week when it’s never happened before in the last two years of parking it in the very same spot? Our new habit must be to blame: About a week ago we began leaving the canopy on the bike instead of bringing it inside every evening. It seemed more convenient… and I suppose it would be
if we didn’t park the bike in such an exposed location. Thus a word of warning: Don’t leave your kids in a bakfiets with canopy up in a windstorm next to a canal.

staten island criterium 1982
Staten Island Criterium 1982, I’m the kid with orange helmet, blue jersey, red arm pieces.

Speaking of windstorms my old bike racing buddy Chris sent me this photo from our bike racing days as young teens. It was March 1982 and I’d just moved up to the Junior category (ages 15-18) as District Champion in the Intermediate category (ages 12-14). The race was a criterium on a highly exposed course along the beach in Staten Island, NY. We did thousands of such, little races but I remember this one vividly because it was freezing cold and the wind was absolutely howling. Only those with glasses wore eye protection in those days and clouds of sand kicked up from the beach got in our eyes. Lots of it. At least half the field called it quits after it was too painful to continue. The wind and resulting echelons sliced up what remained of the field and finally only a handful of us finished. Our home was just a short drive away and my dad had lived on Staten Island so my folks came along to watch. Even given the awful conditions in such a meaningless race, quitting was not an option today. Instead I won a meal at a local Italian restaurant (or something like that) and washed sand out of my eyes for days. Those were the days.

How to Carry a Tree by Bike: Established vs. Emerging Cycling Cultures

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

How to carry a tree on a bike

Much of the world is now (re)discovering the joy and practicality of cycling for transportation, often blissfully unaware of how it’s been done elsewhere for a century. So, to use an obvious expression, they’re reinventing the wheel with, as a few examples…

Shopping Bike and Kid Stuff

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

shopping cart bike

Well, it’s at least thought provoking… especially if you can ignore such details as the radial spoked front wheel with disk brake and the lack of several important, practical details. Most notably, where’s the little fold down seat for a toddler?

From here on Designboom

Thanks to Sjoerd of Double Dutch in Switzerland.

Apologies for the lack of blogging action here at BeM. We’re just super busy with “business as usual” at Workcycles and taking turns going on holiday after lots of busy business as usual for many months.

What’s new? Well, speaking of toddlers, lots of things though the most recent proud papa moment was 26 month old Pascal suddenly deciding that the balance bike (loopfiets) is cool after all. So he just got on and pushed off. A week later he’s tearing around like he was born on the thing. It’s quite surreal to see a two year old riding a bike. I haven’t had a chance to snap any photos yet so here are a couple just a week earlier of P1 demonstrating his mad scooter skills. He’s been riding this little Micro Mini scooter (€70 at Workcycles!) for 8 months already so the balance thing is already second nature; riding the bike was just a matter of doing the same on a different shaped vehicle. Actually he pedals a tricycle around at the daycare so, in principle, he could already put the two skills together and ride a pedal powered bike already… except that I don’t think there are any bikes small enough for such young kids. It’s doubtful he could reliably operate either a handbrake or coaster brake, so this little bike would probably have to be a fixed gear like the antique Dutch kids bikes we’ve restored. I have to admit liking the idea of building a teeny-weeny fixie, complete with mismatched wheels, top tube pad and a couple Knog lights but really, riding a balance bike until he’s three won’t exactly stunt his development.

p1-p2-h-10-10-10 6

Sometimes he goes a bit overboard and takes a spill but thus far he’s never hurt himself. Mostly he laughs and just jumps right back on. I imagine it helps to have begun developing these skills at such a young age but anyhow, I suppose a toddler who’s trying to ride skateboards he makes from Lego blocks and wheels needs a little space.

p1-p2-h-10-10-10 9

I first wrote about P1’s little scooter, balance bike and baby bakfiets half a year ago: Pascal has a bakfiets too.

More importantly, what’s keeping us busy and me in a steady stream of proud papa moments is that we’re now a family of four. P1 is now Pia’s (P2) big brother.

snug as bug in rugs cargobike canopy

Here they are, snug as bugs in rugs, in the family Truckster (a.k.a. Bakfiets Cargobike). Pia’s napping in the Maxi-Cosi while Pascal no longer needs (nor wants) his toddler support seat (a Bobike Mini with its mounting equipment removed). Here they demonstrate that kid(s) can sit on the bench together with baby in Maxi-Cosi, all weather protected by the canopy. As far as I’m aware Workcycles’ Maxi-Cosi carrier is the only way to do this.

Some Loads Just Fit Better on a Bakfiets Than in a Car

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Yes, though the photo doesn’t show it the bike was actually ridden with the crib like this.

A family in our neighborhood sent this photo to me today nicely illustrating something most people in the Netherlands take for granted: A bike is simply an amazingly convenient way to move stuff around the city. A bakfiets makes it safer and easier, and increases the load capacity but isn’t really necessary. Watch the cyclists ride by for a couple minutes (especially on a Saturday) and you’ll see somebody ride by carrying something unusual. it might be secured into a “bak” but then it might also just be balanced on their rear carrier and steadied by a hand, propped onto the handlebars or in one hand. Below some more examples, mostly from Marc at Amsterdamize

Sleeping in the Bakfiets (#3)

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

asleep in bakfiets

A Workcycles customer in Frankfurt, Germany sent this photo along; one more handy advantage of a bakfiets.

See also:
Slapen in de bak
Sleeping on het bakfietsbankje

Workcycles Cover Boys

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010


The latest issue of the Vogelvrije Fietser, the magazine of the Dutch cyclists’ union features workbikes, which basically means it features WorkCycles. Those are WorkCycles Fr8’s in use by customer Eurotank on the cover as well as in the two page spread that begins the article.

To translate the first part of the article:

“Everything you dare transport”

Somewhere in Azerbijan on the terrain of a cement factory ride bikes from WorkCycles, a bike builder from Amsterdam. Also in Latvia, Nigeria, Serbia and Finland they do their duties in factory halls.

Where the tough transport bikes land and at which companies, Henry Cutler of Workcycles often doesn’t know. “Purchasing organizations order the bikes from us. Sometimes that organization belongs to a concern and sometimes they’re hired in to purchase stuff.” In any case businesses that need tough bikes know where to find him. Cutler is from the US and nourishes the Dutch bicycle culture and history. So has he put the wind back in the sails of the old fashioned, indestructible bakfiets in Amsterdam. “I’m an American who maintains a Dutch tradition. For the Dutch is the bicycle apparently not so interesting. The bicycle is something to use, such as a pair of shoes or a refrigerator.”

Sure Signs of Progress

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010


Julie of Adeline Adeline, our brand-new dealer in Manhattan passed this photo along this evening. Not just one Bakfiets Cargobike in New York… but two Cargobike owners who don’t even know each other. Sure, there are a dozen Cargobikes in front of every day-care and nursery school school in Old Amsterdam… but in New Amsterdam, who’d a thunk? It’s about as statistically likely as having two grandmothers named “Adeline”.

Whose Bike Is This?

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

whose bike IS this?

A few days ago I found this bike parked in one of the racks outside our home. Usually these stickers get stuck by customers and friends on wrecked, orphaned bikes around the city, thus several of the ironic statements on them. Thus to find one on a new-ish bike is unexpected, especially when its a rather chic but not exactly hip aluminium Batavus with suspension front fork and seat post. Eight of them is even stranger and I assume that’s the owner’s joke. Regardless of the intention I certainly appreciate the promotion. Thanks whoever you are!

The various stickers say…


Stretch Limo Bakfiets Ride

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

pascal rides in the big bakfiets
Pascal the little prince in his cool ride.

Last night I loaded our freshly refinished (in RAL 2004 “pure orange”) dinner table into one of our big, classic rental bakfietsen in order to bring it home. This morning I was then faced with the dilemma of how to both return the bakfiets to the shop AND bring Pascal to his “creche” (daycare center), both about a kilometer or two from home. Do I dare let an almost two year old sit in the 190 x 85cm box untethered, unhelmeted, unpadded, unrollcaged…? After some deliberation with Mama-en-meer we decided that it should be OK, particularly since Pascal has logged enough thousands of cycling kilometers to not have much urge to do anything stupid and terrible-twos-toddler-like. Besides, we figured, the bakfiets has a top speed of about 10km/hr and everybody (even taxis!) gives it a nice, wiiiiiiide berth.

Big Blue Bike

Monday, July 19th, 2010

While much of Workcycles’ business is B2B we rarely get photos of our bikes in action. They disappear into factory halls, paper mills and oil refineries, roam foreign parks, deliver sandwiches and sell coffee in far-flung cities. The industrial bikes are often purchased through supplier organizations who aren’t even sure where the bikes are headed or how they’ll be used. There are a bunch of Workcycles bikes being used around several cement factories in Kyrgistan; we guess it’s related to building oil pipelines.

Thus we cherish the rare photos we have and it’s great when a customer sends his own pictures and a description of what he’s up to. Ben Allen in Cardiff, UK passed along the photo above and the following description of his new courier business:

New bicycle courier business launches in Cardiff.

A new environmentally friendly business launches in Cardiff today. Big Blue Bike uses pedal power alone to courier business items up to 100kg in weight across the city using specially designed cargo bicycles.
Ben Allen (of Roath, 26) started Big Blue Bike after a trip to Denmark revealed how even large loads can be carried safely and securely on bicycles, usually much quicker than using vans or cars.

A passionate cyclist, Ben, knows that as a result of the recession and the current traffic disruption in Cardiff, businesses will focus on the time and money saved by using his service.

Allen adds: “With petrol prices soaring and traffic on our city streets at a standstill it makes sense to switch to a zero emission and congestion easing delivery method”.

Big Blue Bike,
44 Princes Street,
Roath, CF24 3SL
02920 405668

Mobile – 07817466462
Email – [email protected]

Ben’s big blue bike of choice is of course a Workcycles Fr8 with Massive Rack and integrated parking stand. With the (big) locking aluminium chest he can keep your goods dry and safe. A smart addition is the large advertising boards on each side of the bike that can be rented, hopefully providing Ben with a second revenue stream. We wish Ben success in his new venture!