Archive for the ‘Workbike / Transportfiets’ Category

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!

Fietsfabriek Colleagues Bankrupt

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Last Week of May
Photo by Marc of Amsterdamize

Some industry insiders, myself included, were at least suspecting things weren’t going smoothly at Amsterdam’s populair transport bike producer De Fietsfabriek. Yesterday their filing for bankruptcy got leaked and now the press is all over it like flies on poop. That’s not really surprising considering the uncanny knack those guys had for keeping the media’s attention. It is (or was) indeed a very charismatic story about a temperamental and driven Kurdish immigrant’s success with that most Dutch of products; the bicycle. I have to admit that it sounds far more exciting than “Highly educated industrial designer and ex bike industry guy from New York makes conservative, high quality bikes in Holland”. But I suppose the downside of celebrity status is that you’re even more newsworthy when things go wrong.

The Mother of all Centerstands

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

monark-centerstand-workcycles-gr8 1

It’s ironic that some humble, dirty parts such as a parking stand actually have far more influence on your cycling experience than a beautiful frame or fancy, name-brand components. A stable, smooth working parking stand enables you (for example) to safely load up the kids and groceries, plop the bike onto the ground and cycle away uneventfully… just how you want it to be. But few people pay attention to such mundane things in the showroom so this is exactly where most manufacturers save a few bucks or euros. WorkCycles isn’t “most manufacturers” because we actually ride our bikes every day, carry our kids on/in them, move our stock between two shops on them… and listen to our customers who do the same.

Finding decent parking stands has been one of our most vexing challenges. During our quest for the perfect parking stand we’ve tried dozens. Most are so crappy that they don’t even deserve mention: All those Hebie copies from Taiwan and China fit poorly and then either bend under the weight of a loaded bike, quickly get scarily sloppy and break, or seize up from corrosion. The more sophisticated folding stands from Humpert and Spanninga (Sparta) have also failed our durability tests miserably. The cast aluminium Pletschers are light and pretty but not strong enough for bikes with child seats and heavy bags.

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

    WorkCycles Fr8 at the Scandic Sanadome

    Monday, August 3rd, 2009


    Wally at the very posh spa hotel Scandic Sanadome in Nijmegen, Netherlands sent this promo photo of his WorkCycles Fr8 Delivery with Massive Rack along. He’s added some nice details including the perfect fitting old wooden crate and an extended rear fender. Very pretty for a workhorse.

    Thanks Wally and Scandic Sanadome!

    My Introduction to the Long John Transportfiets

    Wednesday, June 17th, 2009


    Before I moved to the Netherlands in 2000 I was hardly aware of carrier bikes, especially anything more exotic than a Schwinn Cycle Truck or Worksman hot dog cart. Even in cycling capital of the world Groningen where I first lived here transport bikes were very uncommon. The streets were swarming seas of cyclists but everybody just rode normal Dutch bikes. The only unmotorized bakfiets I recall was a loaner at a second hand shop called Mamamini. It was big, old fashioned bakfiets just we sell at WorkCycles. Mamamini even shows the bakfietsen in front of their stores on their website. But somehow that trike didn’t interest me. Maybe it just seemed too absurd, as if it were just a prop. In reality these bikes are actually quite easy to ride as long as the terrain is flat.

    But in Groningen I met Marjette, crazy about bikes, probably ten centimeters taller than me and fond of riding her bike in absurdly short skirts. Marjette had (and still has) a hand-built carrier bike of a type I’d never seen before (not that that was a challenge). It’s a Long John type bike cobbled together from an old city bike, a folding bike, an upright from a heavy duty shelving system and random scrapyard bits. Most importantly it has a big rack in the middle to carry stuff: a couple crates of beer, a fridge or a chest of drawers etc. It might be crude but it is strong. The steering system was very cranky making the bike difficult to ride but after tweaking it here and there and lubricating the pivot points it was much more manageable. In any case that relationship didn’t last long but the obsession with transportfietsen stuck with me.

    How Marjette got this bike is a good story in itself. It was made by the neighbor of an acquaintance who lived on a boat in the Oostelijk Eilanden (eastern islands) area of Amsterdam. This is the 19th century docklands area where WorkCycles Veemart shop is also located. Like a handful of the area residents this guy had a yard full of rusty, old stuff. Marjette brought him 20 liters of paint from a Groningen paint factory where you could get “seconds” paint for free. As payment Marjette could choose something from the scrap pile. She chose the Long John bike and believes the guy was very happy she didn’t go for the motorcycle next to it.

    70cm WorkCycles Transport on Smart car

    Saturday, June 13th, 2009

    70cm WorkCycles Transport on smart car, originally uploaded by henry in a’dam.

    I’m surprised this little Smart car doesn’t tip over backwards when driving with this huge (70cm frame) WorkCycles Transport Double-Tube. But apparently a man of 200cm (6′ 6″) fits in a Smart.

    Photo by Doede van der Linden.

    Bike on a Bike, Fr8 style

    Wednesday, May 20th, 2009


    The WorkCycles Fr8’s “Massive Rack” front carrier easily has room for a second child with their own “loopfiets”.

    Trivia: This is one of two galvanized Fr8’s. What seemed a cool idea turned out to be a nightmare to manufacture. The “twin” of this bike is on display at WorkCycles Lijnbaansgracht shop, and not for sale… unless somebody really wants to lay down some serious cash for it.

    Thanks for the photo Eddy!

    le Fromage-fiets

    Sunday, May 10th, 2009

    Just finished a special bike for Fromagerie Abraham Kef who’s shop is nearby in the Jordaan. Kef specializes in French cheeses they import (though they also have cheeses from elsewhere in Europe) and sells them both retail and wholesale to fine restaurants. Yes, despite their reputation for marginal food there’s good eating to be done in the Netherlands.

    Because the soft cheeses must be kept consistently cold, it’s necessary to use highly efficient insulated transport boxes. That’s the blue ones, of which the bike can carry four at a time. Unfortunately the standard Bakfiets Cargobike chassis isn’t quite long enough to carry two of these next to each other. Thus we performed surgery: the frame was cut in two and another section of tubing was added in the middle. The frame was then reinforced with a rib, as found on the older Cargobike frames. Note that this is a Cargobike 2.0 with the 60mm tube plus the reinforcement rib.

    In addition to the four insulated boxes we included a bog 80 x 60cm uninsulated crate for general transport. It’s not actually intended to ride with all five boxes stacked up, though we did prove it’s possible (and scary since you can barely see ahead).

    Azor’s bakfiets factory video from de Volkskrant

    Thursday, March 12th, 2009

    Here’s a nice little video interview of Jan Rijkeboer, founder of Azor Bike where they make, Onderwater and some WorkCycles bicycles. Jan proudly gives a tour of their factory in Hoogeveen… far from Amsterdam where their bikes are most popular. He describes how most of the parts come from the various factories in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe, and how people with various disabilities (or do I need to say challenges this year?) perform some of the functions in the assembly process. It’s in Dutch but you’ll still find it fun to watch even if you can’t understand this strange noise we call a language.