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Zooo ‘n jaar wordt ‘t

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Nieuwjaarswens 2010

Roughly: “It’s gonna be such a year!”

Thanks to our super photographer Martin van Welzen for the New Year’s card.

And thanks to all of you for making 2009 such a year!


Good Stuff from Switzerland

Monday, November 30th, 2009


The Swiss are known for making and liking “good stuff” thus it makes me proud when Sjoerd at Swiss WorkCycles dealer DoubleDutch sends along these great photos showing how happy he is with our Fr8 bikes. Sjoerd also does a fun blog called Bakfiets Totaal. There you’ll find nice workbike photos and great ideas.

The photo above illustrates how stable your bike will stand with our special, extra wide version of the Hebie 2-leg centerstand. The Hebie is currently the only really solid and reliable centerstand on the market, and we’ve tested them all. Our stand simply has legs with a different bend to make it a few centimeters wider… and thus (even) more stable. Sjoerd was apparently so convinced of the stability that he put his lovely Rega amplifier in the crate, as evidenced below. Now that does seem a strange thing to do but I don’t presume to understand other cultures, and it makes for a nice photo anyway.


Looking at this picture reminds me of our quest for nice, suitable crates to mount on bikes. At WorkCycles we fit hundreds of tough plastic crates to the front carriers of bikes. They work just fine and are relatively cheap. The Dutch milk crate below is a good example; It’s utterly indestructible and a handy size… but pretty it ain’t.


Customers sometimes find charming, old, wooden crates formerly used by beer, wine or produce companies. These look great on the bikes and are just about as handy as the modern plastic crates, if somewhat heavier. We’d love to have a collection of these at the WorkCycles shops for customers to choose from… but where to find a stock of them? Ideas?

Sinterklaas Intocht 2009

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Sint Intocht 2009, originally uploaded by Tom Resink Photography.

Sorry for the lack of new posts in the last two weeks. I’ve been traveling in Japan with my family. We’re visiting family and friends and talking about cycling wherever possible. I’ve also been taking lots and lots of photos. Check them out here in my Flickr Japan set

I’ve got lots to show and write about but frankly, being in a place is more interesting and productive than writing about it. So the blog posts about Japan will come in due time.

In the meanwhile here’s a little tidbit about WorkCycles happenings in Amsterdam: Once again Sinterklaas (the skinnier, less politically correct, Dutch version of Santa Claus) rode into Amsterdam from Spain accompanied by a bevy of Zwarte Pieten on WorkCycles bikes. It’s become their preferred mode of transportation, probably for their reliability, classic looks and ability to carry tons of sweets for both the kids and horses.

Tom Resink, WorkCycles mechanic and damn good photographer took the pics that you can check out in Tom’s Flickr photo set

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?”

    Oktoberfietsfeest 2009: Sunday 25 Oktober

    Friday, October 16th, 2009

    simsa wins custom workcycles bike.jpg

    It’s our sixth annual, world-famous WorkCycles Oktoberfietsfeest (“october bike, beer and BBQ party”). As usual we’ll have live music, tasty food, plentiful drink, balloon animal making, generous lottery/raffle, child friendliness, and a general relaxed atmosphere.

    The important questions:

  • What? Party with BBQ, food and drinks
  • When? Sunday 25 October, from 15.00 until we kick you out
  • Where? WorkCycles Jordaan, Lijnbaansgracht 32B, at Goudbloemstraat (near Westerstraat)
  • Who? You, friends, customers, colleagues, neighbors, family, kids, neighbors…
  • Why? Celebrating another successful year of business and growing (up). Thanking our customers and colleagues for their support. Because we enjoy throwing a good party!
  • How much does it cost? Nothing! It’s FREE, GRATIS!
  • What can you win? A custom WorkCycles bike, sweatshirts, T-shirts, shop/kitchen aprons, parts, accessories…
  • Check out the previous two Oktoberfietsfeesten:
    WorkCycles Oktoberfietsfeest 2008: Photo journal
    A shiny day for Workcycles Oktoberfietsfeest

    – Henry, Chris, Richard, Tom, Eric, Thomas, Heimo & Alexis


    Best of Craigslist > New York…

    Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

    Cadillac Escalade

    You’re the Hasidic Jew who tried to kill me. I’m the girl on the bike. – w4m
    Date: 2009-07-29, 7:01PM EDT

    Dear Sir.

    We had our encounter on Bedford Avenue this afternoon, just south of Division. I was the petite brunette in a white sundress, riding a red road bike in the rain; you were the Hasidic gentleman (and I use the term loosely) in a blue SUV who came up on my back wheel, honking, and attempted to run me out of the bike lane before swerving directly in front of me and pulling up to the curb ahead.

    You refused to roll down your window and talk to me after this incident, leaving me to shout, “That’s against the law” at the rain-streaked glass and then continue home. And while it *is* against the law — both the laws that govern New York City drivers, and also those that govern general human decency — what I really wanted to say to you was simultaneously less accusatory and more important. This is it.

    I know that the bike lanes aren’t great. You may not believe it, but cyclists don’t like riding next to you anymore than you like sharing the road with us. Given the choice between inhaling your exhaust and pedaling blithely down a forested greenway, I’d always take the latter.

    I also know that presence of cyclists on busy streets can make driving in the city even more nerve-wracking than usual, and that some of us antagonize the shit out of drivers by disobeying traffic laws, failing to signal, and generally acting like we own the road (I am not one of these, but that is beside the point). And I completely understand if, at this point, you start hyperventilating at the mere sight of a bike with which you have to share the road. I empathize; I have a car, too. It sucks. I know.

    Nevertheless, we can’t all live in Amsterdam, and the frustrations of sharing the road with me do not change the facts: You are in a car, and I am not. You are protected from collisions by airbags, fenders, and a steel cage; I’m not. You are piloting a one-ton pile of steel; I am piloting something that weighs as much as a dog. (Not even a big dog — we’re talking Welsh Corgi, here.)

    And if your frustrations at sharing the road get the better of you, and you want to get in a fight with me, sir, there is no doubt whatsoever that you will win.

    You’ll win… and, in all likelihood, I’ll be dead.

    This is what I wanted to say to you: You may not like cyclists, and that’s fine. But you have a responsibility to the human race, and I don’t cease to exist the second I step off my bike. I am someone’s wife. I am someone’s sister. I am someone’s daughter.

    And if you have any of those things — a spouse, a sibling, a child — do me this favor.

    Picture them.

    Imagine yourself on your way to meet your wife for lunch; imagine yourself waiting for your daughter to come home from school.

    Now, imagine getting a phone call, hearing the voice on the other end telling you that that person — the person you love — is dead, because some asshole in an Audi thought her life was less important than waiting another five seconds to park his car.

    This has been a public service announcement from the U.S. Department of Please Don’t Kill Other Human Beings.

  • Location: south williamsburg
  • it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
  • PostingID: 1295924472

    See the original ad here on Craigslist.

    Thanks to Caroline S. at Transportation Alternatives in New York for spotting this on Craigslist.

    orthodox bakfiets family

    Thanks to Steve Pinkus for the above photo.

    André Gorz, “The Social Ideology of the Motorcar”

    Thursday, October 1st, 2009

    Alexis, of Buckingham Palace fame sent me this link to a brilliant essay by Social Philosopher André Gorz. It was originally published in the September-October 1973 edition of “Le Sauvage”. It’s worth noting that this is the same period when some more enlightened cities in the Netherlands began realizing that the automobile-based urban development was a dead-end street and thus began planning and building for a bicycle, pedestrian and public transport future. That is why the compact cities of the Netherlands most closely resemble the future (which was sadly also the past) where people…

    …feel at home in their neighbourhoods, their community. their human-sized cities, and they will take pleasure in walking from work to home-on foot, or if need be by bicycle. No means of fast transportation and escape will ever compensate for the vexation of living in an uninhabitable city in which no one feels at home or the irritation of only going into the city to work or, on the other hand, to be alone and sleep.

    But that’s nearly the conclusion of Gorz’s article. Here below is the beginning plus a link to where you can read the remainder. It’s well worth your time, profoundly and beautifully written.

    The worst thing about cars is that they are like castles or villas by the sea: luxury goods invented for the exclusive pleasure of a very rich minority, and which in conception and nature were never intended for the people. Unlike the vacuum cleaner, the radio, or the bicycle, which retain their use value when everyone has one, the car, like a villa by the sea, is only desirable and useful insofar as the masses don’t have one. That is how in both conception and original purpose the car is a luxury good. And the essence of luxury is that it cannot be democratised. If everyone can have luxury, no one gets any advantages from it. On the contrary, everyone diddles, cheats, and frustrates everyone else, and is diddled, cheated, and frustrated in return. This is pretty much common knowledge in the case of the seaside villas. No politico has yet dared to claim that to democratise the right to vacation would mean a villa with private beach for every family. Everyone understands that if each of 13 or 14 million families were to use only 10 meters of the coast, it would take 140,000km of beach in order for all of them to have their share! To give everyone his or her share would be to cut up the beaches in such little strips — or to squeeze the villas so tightly together — that their use value would be nil and their advantage over a hotel complex would disappear. In short, democratisation of access to the beaches point to only one solution — the collectivist one. And this solution is necessarily at war with the luxury of the private beach, which is a privilege that a small minority takes as their right at the expense of all.

    Now, why is it that what is perfectly obvious in the case of the beaches is not generally acknowledged to be the case for transportation? Like the beach house, doesn’t a car occupy scarce space? Doesn’t it deprive the
    others who use the roads (pedestrians, cyclists, streetcar and bus drivers)?

    You can read the rest of Gorz’s article here.

    WorkCycles Fr8’s invade London

    Wednesday, September 9th, 2009


    All sorts of people ride WorkCycles bikes: Moms, dads, steelworkers, delivery girls, photographers, teachers, IT guys, cops, punk rockers and even royalty. A few weeks ago we received a call from a distinguished sounding gentleman with a +44 country code telephone number. Thank god for caller ID. The conversation went something like this:

    Us: “Goedemiddag, WorkCycles. Je spreekt met (insert WorkCycles employee name).”

    Caller: “Please excuse me but do you speak English?”

    Us: “Ya. Dat can. How can I be of service?”

    Caller: “Pardon me. Would you happen to have any Grey Poupon? Ha ha just a little English humour… No, actually I am interested in your WorkCycles F-R-8 bicycle. It looks like a most dignified bicycle yet refreshingly modern and versatile. Would you recommend it for an individual for whom it is important to look, well, dignified?”

    Us: “What’s Grey Poupon?”

    Caller: “It’s mustard but never mind that. I’m intereste…”

    Us: “Mosterd? We have not mosterd here. We make only de bicycles.”

    Caller: “Yes, sorry for the confusion. I’m interested in the F-R-8 bicycle.”

    Us: “Oh, you mean de WorkCycles Freight bicycle? You speak it out not as F-R-8 but freight. It is a great bike and it can carry very much freight, such as 3 children and groceries or 150kg of tools. What must you carry and where will you ride de bicycle?”

    Caller: “Well I’m not really at liberty to discuss the situation in detail but suffice it to say that it must be possible to carry a five year old child in a dignified manner and ummm… a crown.”

    Us: “A crown? How do you mean?”

    Caller: “Yes, a crown; like with velvet and silver and jewels and well, you know… a crown. I’m sorry but I’m just not at liberty to explain.”

    Us: “Dat is OK. English clients have always strange requests. What is de diameter of de crown?”

    Caller: “Almost 8 inches”

    Us: “Dat is not a problem. We have a strong plastic crate in order to carry de crown. Dere is enough room to put the groceries next de crown. Do you need an elastic to prevent de crown from bouncing out?”

    Caller: No I don’t think that will be necessary. The bicycle will only be ridden slowly.”

    So to make a long story short the gentleman purchased the Fr8 and requested that it be personally delivered to Buckingham Palace, insisting that no further address info was necessary. The guards would be expecting the delivery but kindly do not disturb them during the changing of the guard. That would be most inconvenient.

    Anyhow, being an American I don’t know much about these English things but I googled Buckingham Palace and found that at least part of the Royal Family lives there. By golly; that’s what the guy meant by the crown! But I couldn’t find any information about a five year old child in the English Royal Family. Do I smell a scandal brewing here?

    New Amsterdam Bike Slam: This week in NYC

    Tuesday, September 8th, 2009


    I can’t describe this event any better than the description on the New Amsterdam Bike Slam website:

    Four hundred years after Henry Hudson’s arrival in Manhattan, two teams of Dutch and American planners & designers face off in a battle for the future of New York City transportation. Their challenge: find ways to bring NYC cycling up to the level of the Netherlands, the only country with more bikes than people.

    Spread over four days, the New Amsterdam Bike Slam is a live design battle, a dance party, a world-class transportation summit, a bridge across the Atlantic, and a path forward.

    New Amsterdam Bike Slam is an initiative of Amsterdam Cycling to Sustainability, produced by Vélo Mondial and Transportation Alternatives, with funding from Transumo and the City of Amsterdam.

    Party favors provided by New Amsterdam Records.

    And some more text blatantly copied from the NABS site:

    Inspired by poetry slams, reality television competitions, and celebrity death matches, the New Amsterdam Bike Slam is a unique battle for the future of New York City transportation.

    On the evening of Saturday, September 12th, after three days of intense preparation, two teams of accomplished Dutch and American planners & designers will face off in a live competition, part performance art and part debate. Combining insights from marketing, urban planning, and design, each team will present its most creative, compelling vision to increase bicycling in lower Manhattan and the New York Harbor District.

    Over three challenging rounds, each team will defend its proposals in front of a panel of expert judges and a live audience. At the end of the evening, the judges will declare a winner, with the most innovative and practical plan for making New York, and New Yorkers, more bicycle-friendly.

    The next morning at Battery Park, Mr. Job Cohen, Mayor of Amsterdam – one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world – will convey the prize to the winning team: free Dutch bicycles, courtesy of WORKCYCLES.

    I’ll add that, though not noted on the NABS website, those WORKCYCLES bike prizes are being donated in part by Dutch Bike Co, who’ll be opening their Dutch Bike New York City shop in early 2010.

    The activities and festivities begin on Friday, 11 September and continue through Sunday 13 september. Check it out at New Amsterdam Bike Slam.