Archive for the ‘Practical cycling’ Category

Japan: Runbike Racing & Other Underground Stuff

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Mitsugi runbike race 3 yrs final start
Start of the race finale. My boy P1 is number 14.

I’ve been in Japan with the family for the past couple weeks. We come here to visit family and friends, talk bikes, and help the kids practice their Japanese. Most of our time is spent around Hiroshima, Osaka and Kyoto and then during each trip we do some traveling to other regions. This is my fourth visit of three to four weeks each so I’ve now seen quite a bit of Japan. I enjoy my time here but don’t claim to understand much at all of what’s going on around me. It’s not just the language barrier; Japanese society is just enormously different from anything else I’m familiar with. It’s also quite private and discrete making it even harder to learn about why people do things the ways they do and why the country is put together the way it is.

Winter Service Special @ Workcycles!

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

winteraanbieding 1

To be straightforward marketing just isn’t our specialty here at Workcycles. We’re great at developing lovely, handy, durable bikes, adapting them to your needs and keeping them running nicely for as long as possible. Marketing campaigns? Well, we tend to be full of great ideas that never get off the ground because we’re too busy building and selling bikes. Thus, with that as background… we introduce our winter special in the second week of February.

Actually it’s almost just in time considering that the temperature here in Amsterdam hardly dipped below freezing until last week. Then winter appeared with a vengeance bringing record low temperatures and a little snow that’s stuck around for a while already. Saturday morning we got up early with the kids to be amongst the first to enjoy sledding the fresh powder on the steep slopes of the Westerpark and try out some skating on the frozen canals! Yayyy!

Winter does make getting around by bike a little harder, thus our Winter Service Special. In particular water (even just a tiny bit) in the brake and gear cables tends to freeze, locking it in whatever position it was in while parked. You can read all about freezing cables and how to fix them here. Both our Fr8 and Cargobike have been fixed in one gear for a week and the Fr8’s rear brake is frozen solid as well. I’ve no time to fuss with my own bikes but fortunately you needn’t suffer the same inconvenience. Call us to make an appointment and we’ll give your bike a thorough winterizing.

Veemarkt: 020-689-7879
Lijnbaansgracht: 020-522-6001

While we’re at it we realized that we’ve accumulated a rather absurd inventory of tires, so they’re all 50% off (as long as we’re installing them). We’ve got possibly the best selection of city bike, transport bike and bakfiets tires on the planet so it’s a killer opportunity to put fresh rubber on your bike too.

In the same spirit we’ve been building nonstandard frames and parts into a collection of cool but somewhat quirky special bikes. Ride home with a great new bike for a great price and help us make space for other stuff. We’ll take photos and put more information online but here are a few examples below:

Bakfiets Touring with Baby and Toddler

Monday, April 11th, 2011

bakfiets-tour-lage vuursche-nl 28

There are few things more fun than cycling with your kids, especially when they’re in front of you so you can talk as you ride. A baby giggles, gurgles and squeals at all of the sights and probably the dynamics of cycling as well. With a toddler the communication is obviously more intellectually stimulating. P1 (2.5 yrs old): “Papa, papa… Taxi, blue Land Rover jeep winch, two motorcycle! Thaaaat’s funny. No helmet racing bicycle! Playground! Slide. Go to plaaaayyyyy ground!!! Plaaaaaayyyyy ground!!!!” Still, nowhere is P1 more motivated to articulate complete concepts than on the bike. I expect the same will be true for P2, except probably with girl topics instead of our current mini gearhead talk.

Snow, Amsterdam Style

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

amsterdam snow 5
Note the controlled slide with one foot as outrigger, as well as the smile and look that says “What’s the big deal?”. Dutch folks know how to ride bikes.

The coastal climate keeps it from snowing in Amsterdam as much as you’d figure for a place quite far north and with a reputation for considerable rainfall. Some winters it hardly snows at all while some winters it begins in November and snows regularly until spring. Still it almost never snows more than perhaps ten centimeters and then it usually warms up a couple days later, making a slushy, dirty mess and gradually disappearing.

This winter, however, it’s already snowed more in November and the first half of December than we usually see all year. No matter; we have our bikes to get around and today’s snowfall was just what I needed to remember that. This morning I had a plan to train at the Velodrome with my friend Toon. Yes, I still do that sort of thing and no, there is no conflict between being a cyclist for both transportation and fun/fitness. The Amsterdam Velodrome is great way to stay fit when it’s like this outside. It’s just warm enough to wear shorts and even in a snowstorm there are 30 or 40 riders in a training session paceline.

Frozen Cable Time (Again)

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Workcycles bikes demonstrating that they’re not spring flowers. They’re built to live like this.

This is a slightly updated repost: Winter is upon us somewhat early this year and this is highly relevant info for anybody who cycles through the winter, especially if your bike is stored outdoors.

By far the most common problem that the cyclist encounters with winter cycling is the brake or gear cables freezing. This is generally the result of water condensing or dripping into the cable housing and then freezing, effectively bonding the inner cable to the housing. It only takes a tiny bit of water to do this but we fortunately have a solution. Read below for an explanation.

We arrived at work yesterday figuring that the sub-zero cold, wind and snow would keep most of the customers away, leaving us with time to work on some projects. The highest priority is reconfiguring our workshop after building a massive, floor-anchored, steel frame to hang our electric bike lifts from. It’s a great improvement but not entirely our own initiative. The lifts, you see, were bolted into the 150 or 200 year old wooden beams of our ceiling… and thus the floor of the neighbors upstairs. Though the lifts are nearly new and operate very quietly they do make some vibration. Standing on the concrete (over sand) floor we never noticed this vibration but it drove the lady upstairs crazy. Actually she’s complained very vocally and angrily about a lot of things, apparently calling and writing every possible authority on a regular basis. Most of her complaints have nothing to do with our activities (there’s another bike workshop next door and several apartments have been renovated), but the vibration was a legitimate issue according to the various city inspectors who visited to investigate.

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…

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!

How the Amsterdam Papa Rolls

Monday, July 12th, 2010

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!

A Trip to Limburg

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Hoeve de Schoor in Baexem, Netherlands

This past weekend we took our first little holiday as a family of four. We loaded the kids into their safety certified car seats in a rental Renault and headed south. Despite the documented danger of driving automobiles we chose not to wear helmets. First stop was our friends’ wedding party at a tranquil old (“old” as in dating to at least the mid 1300’s) farm complex in Leudal township in Limburg, the southernmost province of the Netherlands. The farm, called Hoeve de Schoor, was very similar in format to some old farms I know in France; a continuous ring of buildings forming a sort of walled complex with an inner courtyard. One or more of the buildings are residences for the family, workers and guests and the others are for the farm: barns, storage areas, workshop and so forth. As is typical with these places the encroaching nature combined with the “patina” of curvy thatched roofs, wood- and stonework rounded and polished by hundreds of years of feet and hands is utterly charming and relaxing.

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.