Archive for the ‘Cool & Interesting bikes’ Category

Pedal Powered Snow Plow

Friday, December 31st, 2010

While we’re on the topic of snow, here’s a rather nicely executed home-brew snowplow – pedal powered of course. I generally find such inventions rather silly but this one looks semi-useful, even in it’s simple, cobbled together in the garage state. Probably it would have a tough time with very wet snow or certainly a deep pile of any snow but then it could also be developed further. Even this prototype looks pretty good for somebody who regularly has to clear a fairly long driveway of light snowfalls… like most of rural northern Europe.

Maybe the city of Amsterdam should have a bunch made since they really aren’t doing crap to clear the streets, bike roads or sidewalks this year. Many smaller streets are still slowly melting sheets of dirty ice from the snowfall of a couple weeks ago.

Thanks to Todd Edelman for the head’s up on this one.

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.

E-Urobike 2010: Same stuff, new colors?

Friday, September 24th, 2010

E-Urobike 2010-other 3
Richard contemplates the meaning of “tuned compliance concept” in front of a Zeppelin.

A couple weeks ago we made our annual trek to Zeppelin capitol of the world, Friedrichshafen, Germany for the Eurobike trade show. Most bike nuts would wet their pants over the idea of some 15 former zeppelin hangars full of the latest carbon fiber race wheels that weigh less than your toenail clippings, extreme downhill bikes with a meter of suspension travel, our favorite pro racers’ bikes complete with real Roubaix mud still in its nooks and crannies and more buzzwords than you can shake a stick at. I, however, am jaded by 30ish years on and off around the bicycle industry. These days I go not to ogle the latest gear but to talk to suppliers and dealers, shake some hands and meet some new people. I also like to take pictures of the dumbest stuff I see but even that’s getting difficult because it’s mostly the same dumb stuff as the past few years, maybe copied by somebody else.

Espresso en Bakfietsen

Friday, May 14th, 2010

espresso-bakfiets 2 on-your-trike

Coffee is good. Bakfietsen are good. So why not combine them into mobile coffee vending trikes? It’s a business with a very low barrier to entry, catchy and probably fun too. Great idea and though you write us weekly to build such a beast… you’re actually not the first one to think of it. You might have first seen it on TV.

Sailing the Sahara on Bikes

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Last month colleague and friend Jos Louwman (founder of Amsterdam’s famous MacBike) and Fredjan Twigt did just that; They sailed (and pedaled) bicycles from Agadir to Dahkla, about 1100km, in eight days. They carried their camping gear and drank about a gallon of water a day. What a great adventure!

The sail-bike is called a Whike and it’s Fredjan’s brainchild; the result of combining his passions for recumbent bikes and sailing. Of course the basic principle of sailing on land or ice is not new; Ice boats have been used in cold regions for centuries and some race boats can exceed 200km/hr. Yes, it IS possible to travel several times the wind speed with low friction sailing vehicles.

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.

Henry’s Yankee Transportfiets

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

yankee transportfiets 7

I have to admit that I have a lot of bicycles, and I’m referring to bikes that are really just mine and not somehow part of the WorkCycles fleet or inventory. I periodically cull the flock but some have too much sentimental value to sell, even if I almost never ride them. There’s the Daedalus mountain bike from 1990, designed by me and built by Kent Ericksen of Moots in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. There were six made of which I still know the whereabouts of four. I don’t think I could ever see my lovely De Rosa go. I bought it a year or two old from a friend in about 1982 and raced and trained on it for years until breaking one of the silly diamond shaped chainstays. My friend Brian Spitz (who built some of the world’s cleanest race frames for a while) repaired it but then I hung it up and forgot about it for 15 years. A couple years ago I decided I wanted to get back on a racing bike, found it still wrapped in paper and built it up again. Now it gets ridden regularly, much closer to it’s birthplace in Italy. There are many others, in order of how long I’ve owned them:

  • Custom 60’s Schwinn Typhoon cruiser with Sachs 2-speed kickback hub
  • Bianchi Reparto Corsa road bike built (15 years ago) as a road fixie
  • Castle track bike
  • 1973 Libertas racing tandem
  • Snel touring bike, now my “papa bike” for touring with Pascal
  • 1957 Condor Swiss military bike
  • WorkCycles Secret Service city bike (the daily ride)
  • Brompton folding bike with 2 speed shifter and titanium parts
  • Those are all complete, rideable bikes. I also have a number of bikes in various states of incompleteness and a rather absurdly large collection of (mostly old enough to have no monetary value) parts. The semi-complete bikes include:

  • 1950’s Gazelle Opafiets
  • 1970’s Rih light city bike
  • 3x 1930’s Grossman transportfietsen
  • 2x Hopper (English) delivery bikes with cross-frames, perhaps 1930’s
  • 1970’s Gazelle racing bike, converted to randonneur
  • At least all of the old transport and city bikes are destined for the WorkCycles museum and a few are already on display. A few bikes including the city bike, Brompton, papa bike and racing bike are ridden regularly. Some of the others will return to service when the time is right. Amsterdam has, for example, a fantastic indoor velodrome and I’ve been itching to get back on the track, though that might have to wait until Pascal is old enough to ride too.

    Anyhow this is a long intro to noting that I got another bike. This one is a transportfiets (Dutch delivery bike) from the firm “Yankee” in Hoogeveen (where Azor is now and Union once was). I’d never heard of Yankee but that doesn’t mean much; until the 1960’s there were hundreds of small firms building bikes in the Netherlands. Lugs, tubing and components were bought in from various suppliers and the bikes were built from scratch. The quality was typically excellent but the designs were very conservative. Only experts can tell many of the bikes apart and little changed from the 1920’s through the 1960’s or even 1970’s in some cases. A few of the manufacturers were known for particularly high quality (Empo, Fongers, Gazelle, Simplex) and/or unique design (Fongers, Locomotief, Maxwell, Simplex). Yankee though has somehow disappeared into the gorges of history.

    yankee transportfiets 4

    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?”

    What’s really new in bicycle world?

    Thursday, October 1st, 2009

    My friend Will Fleishell sent me a link to the great looking Metz Bicycle Museum in Freehold, NJ (USA). They’ve a broad collection of bikes, tricycles and quadricycles from early bike-dom (the 1860’s) to about 1900. Some look remarkably modern while others are of formats that have long since disappeared. Check out this tandem quadricycle that can be converted into no less than two types of high-wheeler bikes, for example:

    tandem quad

    The first bike that caught my eye though was this 1890 “lamplighter’s bike” from New York City. You see a 250cm bike was the perfect way to reach a flame into hundreds of streetlamps each evening. Just ride along and dab the burning stick into each oil lamp as it comes along.


    But wait a minute, you object, isn’t this just a “tall bike” like those weird anarchist dudes do their jousting on? Yes, exactly… except that they just reinvented it, uglier and worse, 100 years later. And this is exactly my point: Most of the real “invention” and “development” of the bicycle occurred more than 100 years ago, back when the bicycle was one of the pinnacles of technology, and certainly the highest tech thing an ordinary person could get their hands on. As I recall some of the things that were developed for bicycles: steel tubing, ball bearings, pneumatic tires, the tensioned spoke wheel, the roller chain drive and the list goes on. People often poo-poo of the achievements of the Wright Brothers because they were bike makers by trade, but this completely misses the point that the bicycle techies of that day were amongst the best suited to be experimenting with aerodynamics (which nobody understood yet) and lightweight, efficient structures.
    archibald sharp

    In 1896 Archibald Sharp wrote what is probably still the most comprehensive book on bicycle technology “Bicycles and Tricycles, An Elementary Treatise on Their Design and Construction”. It’s 400 pages of detailed analysis of bicycle design. From the MIT Press site (they reprinted it in 1979 and my copy is one of these):

    It begins with a general exposition of mechanical principles: dynamic, static, and straining forces. It then covers successive experiments at bicycle and tricycle design, including several “mechanical monstrosities.”

    With the aid of elegant, sometimes humorous drawings, the book examines various designs for their relative stability, steering advantages, gearing and resistance properties. The final selection discusses the design of individual components in detail, including the frame (from the point of view of stress analysis); wheels; bearings; chains and chain gearing; toothed-wheel gearing; the lever-and-crank gear; tires; pedals, cranks and bottom brackets; springs and saddles; and brakes.

    Even if you couldn’t read English or simply can’t be bothered to follow the scientific explanations the illustrations would be worth looking at. There are images and often scorching analysis of all sorts of bike and component designs that have been unwittingly (or knowingly?) reinvented in the intervening 120 years: disk wheels, belt drives, suspension frames and forks, shaft drive, two-speed epicyclic cranks and many more examples.

    Bicycles & Tricycles

    “Bicycles and Tricycles” is again out of print but it should be possible to find a second-hand copy. ISBN-10: 0-262-69066-7, ISBN-13: 978-0-262-69066-9

    My point isn’t that the bicycle hasn’t evolved in over 100 years; It certainly has but largely in details. The basics elements have long been well understood, and unfortunately seem to get forgotten regularly. Thus simultaneous with the evolution of brakes, gearing and other details is constant de-evolution and re-invention of the basic design. A few examples of how current bikes are often actually worse than their predecessors:

  • The generally too high crank axles that make it difficult for the rider to reach the ground when the saddle is adjusted to a biomechanically suitable height
  • Too wide “tread” (aka Q factor), the distance between the pedals… requiring higher crank axles
  • Inappropriate steering geometry on most city and utility bikes
  • Here is thus where we focus our efforts at WorkCycles; not attempting to reinvent the wheel, but merely refine it. This can require searching back a few steps to see where things went wrong (city bike ergonomics) or developing our own knowledge where there doesn’t seem to be any useful history to rely on (steering geometry for very heavily loaded bikes). All the while the designs remain timeless, but not for the sake of “retro style”. We’re either maintaining highly developed designs that are still fundamentally sound or creating new ones with the recognition that the products of evolution rarely fall far from the apple tree.

    The Dump Tramp

    Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

    A man travels with his home-built home on a bicycle. That’s all I know about this one. Thanks to artist friend Abner Preis for the tip but don’t go searching for his website – it seems to have been hacked into a porno site, I assume NOT Abner’s doing.

    Speaking of houses on bikes I’d forgotten about this fantastic camper bike from Kevin Cyr:


    UPDATE: Jason Moore in the first comment below reminds me of another bicycle camper/motorhome, this one traveled with and lived in full-time by Brian Campbell. His bike, which has gone through several iterations is ingenious. Brian’s situation though isn’t one to be envied; I’m under the impression he doesn’t live in his bicycle entirely by choice. You can read about Brian on Bike Portland, and also the sites of many others who’ve met Brian during his travels. Photos by Jonathan Maus of Bike Portland.

    Brian and his motorhome bike-1

    Brian and his motorhome bike-2

    But then I begin to google camper bikes further and find that a whole new world has opened to me: bicyclists not content to merely travel by bicycle but who also insist upon sleeping in or on their bicycle. Take these Midget Bicycle Campers from Australia for example:

    midget camper

    And then there’s this one by Paul Welkins, as seen on the Design Boom site:

    burning man trailer

    Check out Welkin’s site for an amazing array of self-built, efficient vehicles and other random stuff.

    Even the sober “doe maar normaal” Dutch are at it. Check out “Met een bakfiets op vakantie“.

    camper bakfietsen

    And a family from Zeeland (as in the original Zeeland that New Zealand is the new version of in the same way that New York is the new version of Amsterdam… or something like that) who used to ride their old bakfiets as a camper, kids riding alongside on their own little bikes.


    A few years ago there was an Italian firm called “Tasso Italia” that offered (though probably didn’t ever sell) a copy of the Main Street Pedicabs trike with a pop-out camper tent on the bed but they seem to have disappeared into the ether.

    Of course that’s all good fun but we shouldn’t ignore the countless rickshaw drivers in Indonesia, India and elsewhere who sleep in their bikes out of necessity and not for kicks. It’s about as easy to forget as the fact that a great number (a majority even?) of transportation cyclists in the US are neither “cycle chic” nor “cycling enthusiast”. In fact they’re people who cannot drive; they’ve either lost their licenses or are too poor to own a car, and their accident statistics are so appalling that they skew US bicycling safety stats markedly toward the danger direction.