Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Winter 2016-17: Reinventing WorkCycles

Monday, November 28th, 2016


This is WorkCycles’ improvised “photo studio” and a good example of how things look behind the scenes here. We’re a small and flexible firm, and everybody who works here (all seven of us!) has to wear various hats. I’m the director but can sometimes be found in the workshop wrenching bikes though more often I’m “testing products” by riding around the city with kids and cargo. Everybody here is obsessed with bikes and cycling. We get around town by bike, obsessively design bikes, tour on bikes, race bikes, collect old bikes, build cool bikes, Facebook and blog about bikes.

Our love of all things bicycle led WorkCycles to spread its efforts over a broad range of activities, far too broad really. Of course we design, build and sell WorkCycles bikes both via our dealers and directly to customers worldwide. But also we’ve… run two (well-loved) shops, rented bikes and bakfietsen (cargo bikes), repaired most any bike or trike that rolled into our shops, sold Frog kids bikes, Micro run-bikes and scooters, kids helmets and all sorts of accessories. Parts for Dutch (cargo) bikes are difficult to find elsewhere so we’ve been shipping them to customers worldwide. Then there’s also the weird stuff like building special heavy-duty wheels for most of the bicycle taxi firms in Amsterdam, repairing nice old ladies’ old E-bikes that nobody else dares to touch, or building special touring bikes for a family that cycled around the world with kids 8, 9, and 10 all on their own bicycles.

Slowly over the past couple years we’ve been focussing our efforts. First we stopped renting bikes and bakfietsen. Of course we still have a small fleet of demo WorkCycles for customers to borrow and test for a few days. Gone is the time and attention consumed by setting up groups of tourists with bikes, getting calls that they lost the keys, got a flat tire, students bickering about the prices, whatever. It was fun when there were just a half dozen bike rental shops in Amsterdam and those who rented bikes tended to be interested in cycling. Now there are hundreds of bike rental places here (even the cigar shop around the corner!) and riding a bike in Amsterdam is just a must-do item on every tourist’s bucket list.

In 2015 we closed our Veemarkt shop in Amsterdam Oost. We’d been considering this step for several years but it was where I started WorkCycles in 2003 so I couldn’t let go of it. Eventually there was just no escaping the fact that our sales were increasingly outside the Netherlands both via the dealers and end-user direct. Currently more than 75% of WorkCycles’ bikes leave the country so running multiple shops in Amsterdam made no sense, neither economically nor organizationally. It was just unfortunate to leave our many customers in the eastern part of Amsterdam without a good local shop for maintenance.

More recently we’ve been turning away most non-WorkCycles bikes from our workshop. There’s less delay for our regular customers and we can maintain a better stock of the parts needed for our own bikes, instead of for every bike in the city. Maintaining WorkCycles bikes is of course also much more predictable for us which enables the workshop to plan more accurately, making everybody happier.

The more we focus the more smoothly our business runs. Each time we forecast that the turnover will suffer but the cost reduction should compensate. In fact the turnover invariably remains constant or even increases. Why? Probably because we have more time and attention to focus on our core business activities.

What’s next? Big changes are ahead but I’ll let you extrapolate and guess for now. There are a few more minor activities to trim away but we’re also going to make some fairly serious changes to how we do business both locally and abroad. Keep posted for more news.

WorkCycles Hoodies Again!

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

WorkCycles Crossframe hoodie 2

UPDATE 2015-11-30:
OK, it’s finally time to get this back-burner project rolling! We’re sorting out the orders and will have MoreColor print the clothes. Due to popular demand T-shirts and more kids hoodie options have been added. Below I’ve added the full list with prices. Just send a mail with your requests.

Back when WorkCycles was about as much hobby as business I snapped a few photos of a cool bike I’d built for a customer, played around with some Photoshop filters and made a ghostlike image that looked like it’d be cool on a t-shirt or hoodie. My friend Stella (who also created the current WorkCycles logo and graphic style in 2007) cleaned up my amateurish Photochopping and passed it on More Color, our neighbors in the Veemarkt who do really fine, durable silkscreening. They were very popular; For several years we’d have More Color make a fresh batch each autumn. Here below is the original WorkCycles Kruisframe hoodie, modelled by my lovely wife Kyoko.

workcycles-hoodie-sweatshirt 2

Eventually we got a little tired of always making hoodies, T-shirts and shop aprons with the same design. Along came Zeptonn, über hip illustrator and new papa. We wanted some new designs and Zeptonn really needed a WorkCycles bike to carry his freshly delivered, precious cargo around Groningen, bicycle capital of the world. Done deal. We like bartering here at WorkCycles!

workcycles-worm-t-shirts 6

We were super psyched about our funny new hoodies and T-shirts with our very own family of Amsterdammetjes characters. We had LOTS of them made in anticipation of great demand. We wore them proudly. Our kids wore them proudly. Our customers?… Meh. “Do you have any more of the other kind?” they asked, “You know, the ones with the pastoorsfiets, the bike that seems to hover on your chest?” We still dig the Zeptonn kit and we did eventually sell all of them, but man, it took years to do so.

workcycles-tandem-hoodie-kids 5
Is that not just too cute or what?

OK, fine, we’re bike builders not fashion designers. We’re good at designing bikes you love, buy, ride and rave about. Less so when it comes to clothes. I guess I got lucky once.

So now after a couple years’ hiatus it’s high time for more WorkCycles hoodies and aprons. We’ve unfortunately learned that Zeptonn’s worms are just too darn hip for our customers, yet we cannot bear to make more of the originals that everybody keeps asking for. Did I mention yet today how badly we suck at marketing? Probably we could sell the old Kruisframe accessories until the cockroaches take over the earth yet we refuse to do so. Solution to our own self-inflicted problem? Months of fettling and internal strife to create WorkCycles Crossframe Hoodie 2.0!

WorkCycles Fr8 Crossframe hoodie design 2

Introducing our new design. It’s just like the original… only better. Look carefully and you’ll see that the old one was a WorkCycles classic Kruisframe. The new one is a WorkCycles Fr8 Crossframe. Even the graphic design has been refined to help this one to really pop like a sort of neo-retro hologram in your chest.

Above the apron, though of course the new ones will have the new design.

Here’s the thing though; WorkCycles is a little bike company, not a fashion house. We’re just not into maintaining an inventory of clothes in a range of styles, sizes and colors. Displaying them, keeping them clean, folded and organized, helping customers decide which color and size is best… I guess our eyes just glaze over while we stress about the all the bikes to build and ship.

We’re keeping it simple this time. We’ll do a run of hoodie sweatshirts for adults and kids, T-shirts and shop/kitchen aprons. As always the stuff will be nice, heavy, long wearing cotton. Our previous tries with organic cotton have been disappointing; They just weren’t of the same quality as the evil cotton versions. The kids’ hoodies were a hit last time so we’ll do those again too, sizes TBD. The aprons will be, as always, long and heavy-duty, equally handy for protecting your clothes in the workshop, kitchen or behind the summer BBQ. Color options? Everything in black, black or black baby! OK, except for the kiddie hoodies which come in some colors, because they have to.

Most of the run will be sold on a pre-order basis. We’ll print a handful more for stock but if you want one I really recommend the preorder. Once these are sold out I have absolutely no idea when we’ll have more made.

Prices (all Ex VAT):
– Hoodies S-XXL, black, black or black €40
– Kids’ Hoodies size 2-3, navy blue or pink €30
– Kids’ Hoodies size 4-5, black or pink €35
– Kids’ Hoodies size 6-7, black or pink €35
– T-Shirts S-XXL, black, black or black €20
– Aprons, heavy duty black €25

How to Order:
Send a mail to peopleatworkcyclesdotcom. Please include…
– Your name
– Address, City, Postal code, Country
– Phone number (we need it for shipping)
– What you’d like to order in which sizes

Payment can be by PayPal, credit card or bank but please don’t mail any payment info. We’ll reply with the options and a secure link.

We’re happy to ship them anywhere in the world but unfortunately shipping small items outside Europe tends to be too expensive. Maybe you want to purchase a new WorkCycles bike have the hoodie shipped along with it?

Overhaul time: Why is My Bike Soooo Sloooow?

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Almost done; Just a little more Dremel action to make room in the chaincase for the Nuvinci hub’s large shifter unit.

Here is a techie tale of real world, long term product testing and what an enormous influence bike maintenance can have on your cycling pleasure. You may recall that I use my own bike to test components and accessories, usually for a couple years unless something just sucks. Then I just remove it as quickly as possible. If I really like something I just call it “mine” and leave it in place until I have a reason to do otherwise.

About a year ago during a several week cold spell I decided that my own Fr8 was deadly, painfully slow compared to others. But I hate repairing my own bikes so I just kept on riding it through the winter, spring, summer, fall and some more winter until a couple days ago. Nothing was really broken nor made even an annoying peep; I just had the feeling I was pedaling pretty hard while grandmas with flowers in their hands and moms on bakfietsen loaded with four kids glided on past. Was I just a little tired… for an entire year? Cycling on this bike just wasn’t as much fun as our others but usually I wouldn’t notice it and if I did notice I’d forget about it shortly after locking up (or not!) and walking inside.

This is exactly why we exhort you to regularly service your bike, unlike yours truly. A well maintained bike is just nice to ride and a crappy running bike is less so, even if you don’t actually notice it. Why sweat more than you need to? Why feel that click, clack or sloppy drivetrain when you can daily enjoy the pleasure of pedaling along silently and effortlessly. This must be one of the world’s cheapest pleasures.

I assumed the abundant friction in my bike had something to do with the NuVinci N360 infinitely variable hub since that’s its most unusual feature. With the bike in the lift the rear wheel required a good tug to turn and it didn’t spin at all. I was totally wrong about the hub but will get to that later. We’ve discussed the Nuvinci friction thing ad infinitum on the @Workcycles Facebook group. Unfortunately a Facebook group can’t be searched so finding those discussions again would mean hours of scrolling. No doubt Mr. Zuckerberg is snickering this very moment while he employs his own powerful FB search engine to scan the Groups for info about Nuvinci hubs and Workcycles Fr8’s.

I spoke to the folks at Fallbrook/Nuvinci. They assured us that that the cold should have little influence on the hub’s efficiency so there must be something wrong with my hub. A replacement hub was quickly dispatched. It then waited patiently for a half year, for the day that I have both the time and willpower to pull my Fr8 apart, build a new wheel and put it back together. The other day the temperature dropped well below freezing and my rear brake and shifter cables froze. After spinning madly to school and work for a few days in the tiny ratio it was stuck in I declared my bike officially “broken”. The operation could commence. I gathered several other new parts to try and stripped my bike.

With the wheel out of the bike and the rollerbrake removed I clamped the axle in the vise and spun. It spun rather well I must say. I mean this ain’t my track bike whose unsealed, oiled bearing wheels will spin for several minutes before gradually stopping, but the Nuvinci wheel did spin almost as well as most other multigear hubs do. Further, spinning axles with my fingers, I couldn’t detect any difference between the 18 month old, ridden daily and stored outdoors Nuvinci and the brand new one. As far as I can tell this hub is as good as new.

monark-centerstand-workcycles-gr8 1
A fresh, clean Monark centerstand, aka “The Mother of All Centerstands” on the same bike when it sported skinnier tires and a single gear.

What then is dragging my ass down? Could it be the Hebie Chainglider, which “glides” along the chain instead of being attached to the frame? It and the chain running through it were both filled with a gritty, slimy paste of oil and dirt. It was vaguely audible while riding and sounds take energy to create. I decided: Away with Chainglider! I only put it on this bike because I was too lazy to cut up a real Hesling chaincase to fit around the Nuvinci’s shifter interface and the Monark “Mother of All Centerstands”. Actually I’m still kinda lazy; I removed the Monark centerstand and installed another Ursus Jumbo. I’d previously tested and broken one of these but it’s apparently been improved since then. Time to try it again, and very convenient that it just barely fits together with the chaincase.

Fr8 Henry 2012
My bike in the spring with the sludgy Hebie Chainglider still installed. I’m very happy to have a real, silent, frictionless Dutch chain case on my bike again.

Still, I couldn’t believe that either the Chainglider or the filthy (but almost new) chain were really causing so much friction. Spinning the crank backwards the friction was negligible, despite the scraping noises. So the Chainglider wasn’t helping the bike’s efficiency but it also couldn’t have been the root of the problem. Nonetheless a real Dutch chaincase is always better if it fits. After half an hour of Dremel grinding and careful adjustments to the brackets the chain ran through the Hesling case silently and with no friction whatsoever.

Eurobike 2009 14
Shimano Rollerbrakes exposed; The IM80 rollerbrake has a much bigger, sturdier brake unit.

Next stop: Rollerbrakes. The Shimano IM80 rollerbrakes on this bike have performed admirably since I installed them. They stop the bike with authority and have good lever feel too. The braking power was confidence inspiring even while cycling in the steep hills of Brussels with two kids and baggage aboard.

Orange Bike Days-2011 14

Little did I realize, however, that my powerful rollerbrakes were braking ALL the time. Once the rear brake was in my hands it was obvious who the real culprit was; A fine paste of Shimano’s sacred, expensive rollerbrake grease and road dirt filled the brake unit requiring serious hand force to rotate it. The front brake was better but not much. Did I screw them up myself by putting too much grease in them? I don’t remember.

With copious quantities of brake cleaning fluid and compressed air I removed every trace of everything from the brake units. Wonder of wonders they spun almost freely now, rather like the name “Rollerbrake” would imply. No way I’m going to sludge these babies up with that stupid grease again! What else could I put in there to keep them from rusting and lubricate the innards? After a quick inventory of the dozens of little bottles and cans on the Workcycles shelves we decided that a thick, clingy OIL ought to work, even if it violates all instructions, death-warnings and warranties. After all these brakes are fairly well enclosed and don’t see any substantial heat here in cool, mostly flat Amsterdam. The most likely problem I anticipate is that they’ll have to be oiled periodically but whether that means monthly or half yearly remains to be seen. Even generously lubed with oil the rollerbrakes spun quite freely. Back in the bike the rear wheel and brake now spun totally normally.

While I was at it I adjusted the front (dynamo) hub cones: They were waaaay too tight, as delivered from the factory. Now my front wheel spins and spins as if it weren’t filled with magnets and coils. Take that, hub dynamo haters!


Of course I also had to fix the problem that pushed me to tear the bike down in the first place: All four cables were removed and given the super special Workcycles anti-freezing treatment. That was when I discovered that the Nuvinci shifter’s adjustment barrels had rusted solid. I just replaced the whole shifter, noting that the new one came with smoother, drawn cables. This is then the only problem the Nuvinci hub has had thus far, an excellent record for a first generation product.

The last update for the day was swapping the older 44T steel crank for the new Sugino 38T forged aluminium crank we’ve begun using. The 44/20 gearing had always seemed a little on the tall side so I figured 38/20 should be about right. Like the Shimano Nexus 8sp hub we fit thousands of, the Nuvinci’s 1:1 ratio is in the upper middle of the range. That is, these hubs have somewhat more undergearing than overgearing, generally quite handy for heavy duty bikes with full sized wheels.

Everything back in place, grips securely glued to the handlebars… and let’s see how it rides. I rolled out the door, pedaled along and Lijnbaansgracht and immediately found myself spinning out in the highest ratio? Huh? I did lower the gearing but not by so much and it was too high to begin with. It was dinner time so I just continued my spinning session for the kilometer home to deal with the gearing later.

That little silver thing next to the chain is the shifter interface and has to rotate most of the way around the axle – thus the cutaway.

The following morning I hung the bike up again and pulled the wheel to check that the shifter was installed correctly and reaching the full range of ratios. It was. Then I swapped the 20T cog for an 18T making the gearing almost the same as the old (too tall) 44/20. That was a considerable improvement but bizarrely the gearing is still much too low. Once up to speed on any flat road I just twist it into the highest ratio. Even the steepest bridges require shifting down to only about halfway through the range. So I’ll try 17T and 16T when I find them.

The upshot is that I’ve basically been dragging a plow around behind my bike for at least a year. Fixing the brakes, chaincase and front hub wasn’t just a “marginal gain”. It has improved the bike’s efficiency by so much that it can be ridden much faster with the same effort. I can’t be bothered to do the math but it really must be at least a 25-30% speed difference. That’s huge. Faster is funner and easier is nicer… so maintain your bikes folks! It really matters.

Damn Near Lost My Fr8 Bike

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Reenactment of the scene of the crime that could have but didn’t happen… except that P1 is happy in this photo instead of P2 going full-on tantrum boneless.

To cut to the chase I allllmost lost our beloved Workcycles Fr8 bike. In most every other alternate universe it would have been stolen.

Monday morning I couldn’t find the Fr8’s keys. I never, ever lose keys, so of course I assumed it must have been the fault of “she who misplaces keys”. We checked all the likely jacket pockets but with four year old already ambivalent about going out to play and quickly losing patience I just grabbed the Cargobike keys instead. But just before heading downstairs I looked outside to see who rode the Fr8 last. We park it in one of several racks in front of our house, usually where it is in the photo below.

bike racks outside our home in amsterdam.
Two of the five bike racks in front of our home. Fr8 is in the upper left of the image (with light blue carriers).

But wait, I could see from the window that the saddle was adjusted for me, not for “she who sometimes misplaces keys”. I was thus the last one to ride the bike so its keys are wherever I put/left them a few days ago when the Fr8 was last ridden a few days ago. The plot thickens. P1 and I go the three flights downstairs to the outside world and before unlocking the bakfiets we check the Fr8. Could he who never, ever loses keys actually have left the keys in the bike? Yep, there they were just hanging in the rear wheel lock. The (very protective when actually locked) Abus Granit City Chain was still wrapped in its bundle around the child saddle frame. It’s the perfect place to keep your chain lock by the way. So there it is: I left the keys in my €1500 bike for several days in the middle of Amsterdam, one of the bike theft capitals of the world… and nobody took it. I’m guessing nobody noticed it.

How could I pull such a boneheaded move? Well, firstly I’m just a bonehead sometimes. Just ask the trainer at our Wednesday evening track racing classes. But also anybody with young kids understands the general scenario: You’ve just arrived home with 2 year old daughter who you picked up at daycare after work. It’s the Friday before the Christmas vacation so the kids are partied and danced out. On the way home we stop at the grocery store to pick up some needed items. Maybe papa refuses to buy some strategically placed holiday item that little girl wants, or perhaps little girl is just hungry and tired. In any case little girl does just what any self respecting two year old does when they don’t get their way: Tantrum! Turn instantly into a desperate, crying, writhing, wriggling invertebrate creature. After succeeding in wrestling the writhing, now screaming invertebrate two year old into her bike seat you ride the couple minutes home in the driving rain hoping she won’t somehow manage to Houdini her way out of the five point harness. Needless to say the child saddle behind the handlebar is NOT appropriate under such conditions.

Upon arriving home you find an empty spot in the bike racks, carefully release the now frantic storm of a child from her seat, holding her securely around the middle. You grab your bag and the groceries from the bike’s bin and dash inside, out of the rain, of course carefully picking your way across the bike path thick with the evening’s bike and scooter traffic. You get inside warm home, remove wet clothes and shoes and two year old usually snaps seamlessly back into normal child mode. Family sits down for dinner and all is fine. Except that your bike is unlocked outside with the keys hanging in the lock.

I assume this sounds familiar to most every parent because I hear it all the time at Workcycles, usually while discussing the details for a new bike to replace the stolen one. People say “It was my own fault; I left the keys in the bike.” No, that’s total BS. Keys in the bike or not it was stolen. Yes, you made the job much easier but the asshole who took your bike is still a thief. An honest person would leave it alone. A good Samaritan would find a way to help you, perhaps locking the bike and leaving a note with their phone number or email.

Anyhow I’m tremendously relieved that we still have our Fr8.

Racing Bikes at Workcycles? Really?!

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Baan wielrennen 2012-14
The Workcycles crew, plus and minus some at the Amsterdam Velodrome. Is it still there Johan?

Yeah really, seriously. A point I’ve been repeatedly hammering home over the years is that, in typical Dutch style, we just dig cycling in all it’s many flavors. Just because one gets around by bicycle doesn’t mean they can’t also get a kick out of cycling just for the fun of it. I write periodically (as periodically as I can manage at least) about bike touring with my family, bike racing, my weekly training at the velodrome and this is totally typical of the Workcycles crew and the Dutch in general. Amongst us we’ve one ex trackie/roadie, a couple globetrotting bike tourists, several vintage bike nuts and the tiniest, cutest little BMXer you’ve ever seen. And you can’t work here unless the bike is your daily transportation. Show up for your job interview on a scooter, no job dude. After all, how can you be an expert in bikes if you don’t ride one? All in all there’s a whole lotta bike love going on here. A bit of scooter dissing too, but for good reason. Not only do we ride all kinds of bikes, we also build, repair and restore them… more about that below.

Amsterdam’s First Holiday Sale… @Workcycles!

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

We always joke about how the Christmas sales and decorations and all that stuff come earlier every year. But now that I think about it I’ve been hearing this since my childhood so it can’t really be true. Even if the commercial exploitation of the holidays have been beginning just two days earlier each year the lights and fake snow would be going up just about as the kids head back to school, still brown from the summer holidays. So I guess it’s just one of those things we just think and talk about even though it’s total BS.

Here in the Netherlands the crass commercialization of Christmas isn’t nearly as crass and ridiculous as I remember it being in the US, partially because Sinterklaas (Santa’s grittier, politically incorrect, arguably racist Euro cousin) banished Santa long ago to the US and the North Pole. We don’t even have a Grinch here! Actually Dr. Seuss, the bestest kids’ books in the whole wide world are almost unknown here. Unfortnately for the Dutch, some things just don’t translate well.

Regardless of what and when the rest of the world is selling for Christmas we at Workcycles are having a really cool sale, starting now and running through the holidays. It’s really cool because it’s a great offer, because discounts on Workcycles bikes are as common as jet powered reindeer, and because Workcycles bikes are just plain old cool. At least we think so, even if we also crassly exploit the holidays commercially.

Here’s the deal:
Purchase a new bike from Workcycles in November or December and get up to 15%* of the value of the bike in gifts**!

You can choose gifts such as:
Crate, basket, saddle cover, kick scooter, runbike, panniers, gift certificate, maintenance, repairs, child seat, canopy, windscreen, box cover, book, LED light, helmet, special options and adaptations such as winter tires, another bike… basically, pretty much everything that’s not bolted to the bike.

* The 15% offer is valid for city bikes, Fr8’s, Gr8’s and kids’ bikes. For two-wheeled cargo bikes and three-wheeled cargo trikes (bakfietsen) 10% applies.

** Exceptions are: the bike and its components, such as front and rear carrier, the Fr8 child saddle, bike insurance and basic options such as gearing and brakes.

Here’s an example, just to be 100% clear about how the deal works:
Jan-Kees has done his research and has been plotting for a while how he can justify the purchase of a Workcycles Fr8 cross-frame with City front carrier and child saddle for his daughter (€1239 with VAT). She who wears the pants (or “trousers” for those in the UK!) in the family is skeptical. Wisely and magnanimously Jan-Kees takes (for FREE!) a pink Micro Mini scooter as Sietske’s x-mas gift, and… he secretly brings girlfriend Femke’s bike into Workcycles for a set of fresh tires, a sturdy 2-leg parking stand and a new saddle to replace the one that’s spilling its gel guts out. Jan-Kees, you see, is a romantic guy just like me! The women are happy and so is smart Jan-Kees ’cause he’s riding in style on his dream Fr8 with Sietske between his arms. We call that a win-win situation.

You can visit to buy the bike or you can order by email, by phone, or perhaps even try your luck ordering by Twitter or Facebook. We’re happy to ship just about anywhere the brown truck goes. Or visit Amsterdam for the holidays and bring a bike home…

Tell your friends and family. Get them cycling around town too and maybe some of those freebies will even find their way back to you as holiday gifts. What would we call that anyhow? “Meta-gifting?” “Me-gifting?” “Gift inducing?”

Workcycles bikes; The bike that keeps on giving! Or something like that.

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.

Sometimes Retail Sucks

Saturday, November 12th, 2011


Last Saturday morning two masked men ran into our Veemarkt shop, put a gun to my head, waved a knife in my face, and moments later ran off with a few hundred euro in cash. I was alone since Wesley had just ridden a bakfiets full of trash off to the recycling center down the road. There wasn’t much I could do aside from stand still and subtly try to stay away from the knife the punk repeatedly threatened to slash me with without provoking him to actually do so. Several times he screamed at me “Where’s the cash?! Where’s the register?!” but it was obvious that his pistol wielding buddy had already cased the joint. He ran right upstairs to the correct drawer in the correct desk before I said a word.

Workcycles E-Fr8’s? Really?

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Electrische Fr8's-2
This is how stable a Workcycles Fr8 stands on the Massive Rack. Photo by Tom Resink, who also built these bikes.

UPDATE Fall 2015:
Over the last few years we’ve built hundreds of bikes with electric assist, mostly Fr8’s and Kr8’s, also a few Gr8’s and classic city bikes. We’ve tried different components and developed a reliable, effective system that we now sell worldwide. These bikes are still individually built and tested in our Amsterdam workshop, thus not yet factory options that can be purchased via WorkCycles dealers. We now ship our E-bikes all over the world though. The development is ongoing and we expect to replace the current front hub motor with a mid motor in early 2016.

About the current electric assist system:
The front hub motor is 36V x 225W with 30Nm torque. It is powerful enough to easily ride into Dutch winds and up moderate hills. This system would not be suitable for cranking, for example, a heavily loaded Kr8 up San Francisco hills.

The rear hub gearing with Shimano Nexus 8sp or NuVinci remains unaffected. The brakes are replaced by powerful and reliable Magura hydraulic rim brakes front and rear. The excellent standard B&M LED headlamp and taillights are powered by the motor battery.

Our system is not as sophisticated as the Bosch but it’s effective, smooth, durable and reliable, and (unlike the Bosch) it’s quite “future proof”. Parts can be replaced individually if needed and it won’t be obsoleted and unsupported in a couple years either.

The 13Ah battery is under the bench in the box. Though slightly less convenient than the battery in the rear carrier it makes the “E” part of the bike almost invisible and the battery is kept warm in the winter by young occupants. A passenger can sit on the rear as well.

The 13Ah battery is custom built into a sturdy wooden crate on the front carrier making the entire system almost invisible. The rear carrier retains its full functionality.

Original artikle, as posted in 2011:
Yes, we are asked constantly whether we’ll build a Fr8 or other Workcycles bike with electric assist. The answer is basically yes and no. By no means are we philosophically opposed to the idea of adding a motor to our bikes. We are however very much aware of the many downsides so we generally advise against it unless the need is clear.

For handyman firm Buurtklusser in hilly Nijmegen the need for some help was very obvious. This particular Fr8 will have its Massive Rack frequently loaded up with 100+ kg of cargo and the giant newspaper panniers filled with packages. How would you like to pedal uphill with a total weight of 250kg? In case you’re curious check out their blog at (“Pedal Power”)

Further these bikes will be operated by professionals so we’ve a pretty good chance they’ll be used appropriately and maintained properly. That’s very different from sending special bikes out into the wild with customers who may not have the skills for (or interest in) maintaining them, nor a suitable workshop in the area to turn to when necessary.

Workcycles Oktoberfietsfeest* (Party!) 2011: Sunday 30 Oktober

Friday, October 14th, 2011

simsa wins custom workcycles bike.jpg

It’s our seventh annual, world-famous WorkCycles Oktoberfietsfeest* (“october bike, beer and BBQ party”). As usual we’ll have live music, yummy food, plentiful drink, balloon animal making, absurdly generous lottery/raffle, child friendliness, and a general relaxed atmosphere. Yep, we missed last year but we promise to make up for it this time!

*”Oktoberfietsfeest” translates approximately to “Traditional, Bavarian inspired, beer and wine soaked, sausage devouring, autumnal bicycle party”. We take full credit for inventing it and imitators will be mercilessly ridiculed for their lack of creativity.