Wednesday 21 January 2009

Anatomy of a reliable, everyday bicycle

A few days ago someone who had watched my video of the rush hour in Assen asked me why there were so many similar looking bikes and so few had derailleur gears. This post is an attempt to explain.

The bike in the photo belongs to my wife, Judy. I am sure that some people looking at this picture will think it looks like an "old fashioned" bicycle. It's not. It's just a very practical bicycle. It's the result of many years of evolution of bicycle design for everyday use.

These bicycles are not an anachronism, they are an enabling technology for mass cycling. If you want the entire population to cycle, then this is the sort of bike they need to do it on. This bike has covered thousands of kilometres since we bought it (second hand), but apart from a little splashed mud it is spotless. It keeps itself clean and in good condition, despite no maintenance at all.

I'll explain some of the details of the design below.

The handlebars are relatively high and shaped like this because this leads to a very comfortable ride. This shape is also better suited than dropped or straight handlebars for attaching a basket. Judy's baskets were made in 2004 for her previous bike but they are still good. A bicycle bell is fitted. It's a legal requirement here in the Netherlands, and also just a very good idea.

Chain case. This keeps your clothes clean, and makes it practical to ride in normal clothing. It also keeps the chain spotless, so that less maintenance is required. Chains last for many years when fully enclosed. Riders of bikes like this don't have to clean their chain after riding and while having to clean your chain might seem reasonable to mountain bikers who use their machines only for riding on the weekends, no-one wants this job on a bicycle which they use every day.

A full chain case like this is required to get these benefits. I have just a "hockey stick" shaped chain guard on my older English 3 speed but this does not fully protect the chain so I have had to replace my chain this year and have also had to clean and re-lube the chain. However, a hockey stick style chain case does protect trousers and can be retrofitted to other bikes.

The front light and dynamo (generator). Having lights permanently attached to your bike in this way is far more convenient than having to remove them when you park the bike. Having a dynamo to run the lights means that they are always available. (see our blog post about selecting and setting up dynamo lighting systems)

Batteries go flat - especially if lights are left on. Removable lights can be removed by other people when you park your bike.

The rear wheel lock and the skirt guard.

The lock on its own offers enough security for leaving your bike for a short period of time while shopping. Good quality locks of this type are very secure, and can be used with compatible add-on chains and cables to provide more security when needed. The skirt guard keeps your clothes clean while you cycle, and make riding in normal clothing viable.

Note also the mudguards (fenders). These are steel and made to last. Thermoplastic mudguards also work well, and can be retrofitted to other bikes, but they're not so durable as steel and can crack after a few years use. The mudguards on this bike are adequately long at the front to prevent excess spray on your feet. With shorter mudguards, a mud-flap is very helpful to prevent spray. Note that this bike has a mud-flap at the rear, on what is really too short a mudguard to be entirely successful (even with practical Dutch bikes there is an element of style over substance).

This is the rear hub. This incorporates both the three gears on the bike and the rear brake, operated by a lever on the handlebars.

Enclosing the brake and gears leads to extremely high reliability. Neither the gears nor the brakes have required any maintenance, unlike my bike which has rim brakes and has required new brake pads. Not only rim brakes, but disc brakes also are not really low maintenance components. When used in winter, salt on the road causes the disc to rust, and brake pads need replacing fairly regularly. Drum brakes, or Shimano's roller brakes, are much more reliable than this.

Front wheel hub. The front brake is built into the wheel hub, and operated by the handle on the handlebars. Again, this type of brake is extremely reliable. No adjustment has been required at all in the time we've owned the bike.

Some other features of the bike, all directed towards reliability and convenience, are:

  1. Sturdy steel luggage rack. It's much more pleasant to carry luggage on a rack than in a rucksack. Let the bike do the work. If it's sturdy enough, as this one is, then it can also be used to carry friends.
  2. Puncture proof tyres.
  3. Reflective sidewalls.
  4. Thicker spokes for stronger wheels.
  5. Chrome plated stainless steel rims - which look beautiful and last forever (a good idea with hub brakes as fitted on this bike, not a good idea on a bike with with rim brakes)
  6. A paint finish designed to last 20 years of use outdoors.
  7. A kick stand. That's why the bike can stand up on its own, with no support.
  8. On an upright bicycle, a wider saddle is needed than on a sports bicycle. Read about saddles in another blog post.
This bicycle was made by Azor in a factory just 40 km south of where we live. I took a video in the factory earlier this year.

Looking for parts to make your bicycle more practical ? All the components featured above are available online through our bicycle components webshop.

Unsure about which inner tube or tyre size that you need ? Read our informative blog post which explains all about different bicycle wheel and tyre sizes and how to choose the correct size for your bike. Tyres to fit your bike can be bought online through our bicycle components webshop.

These are a very common type of bicycle in the Netherlands because they are very practical. When taking note of the bikes parked en-masse all around Assen, similar features are seen:

Two interesting bikes. The pink one is a child's bike made just as practical as an adults bike with all the features discussed above. This is needed as virtually all children use their bikes daily to get to school. Note that this bike is parked in the centre of the city. Many Dutch cities have been made safe enough that children can ride their own bicycles right into city centres. The other bike to its right has a low step over frame, which is useful for people with limited ability to lift their legs. e.g. older people, or people with disabilities.

The bike to the left of the child's bike has a fold down child seat on the back.

Two bikes fitted with front child seats and windscreens for the children. These are very common, as otherwise children sitting in front of their parents can get quite cold when being transported by bicycle in winter.

You can buy bicycles (moederfietsen) built specifically to carry two children, one in front and one behind. They come as standard fitted with both child seats and with a windshield like this.

One of the other ways that people use to carry small children is in bike trailers. This bike also has a seat mounted behind the handlebars, but no wind-shield.

This bike is fitted with a "springer" for walking a dog while you cycle. Just one of many ways of cycling with pets. Most people simply hold the dog's lead, which with a well trained dog works well, but the springer does add a degree of safety. It is legal in this country to walk one dog while you cycle (but not two or more dogs).

An extra tall frame bike (the Dutch are now the tallest race in the world) and a bike with a serial number pressed into the frame in a very obvious way - an anti-theft idea that some manufacturers are using, and which makes it very difficult to disguise the serial number of a bicycle.

Bike fitted with a sturdy front rack. These are quite commonly used and work extremely well for carrying large and heavy items. Again an enabling technology to allow people to make journeys by bike for which they might otherwise have used a car. They fit most bikes and you can buy them here.

A traditional looking bike, but actually new. This design is very popular, quite trendy, and many people like them.

As with many of the other bikes shown, this has just a back pedal (coaster) brake. It is legal to have just the back pedal brake in this country, and it's a common arrangement. Coaster brakes are very reliable, so again this is useful for an everyday bike.

Finally a view of people getting on with using their bikes, as they do everyday in the centre of Assen and all across the country...

If you have an existing bike with fewer of these practical components, it is possible to convert it. This website provides components for conversion of mountain bikes or road bikes.

We use similar bikes for our cycling holiday customers.

This blog post also appears on the Dutch Bike Bits blog.


Dave Feucht said...

Nice to know Azor uses Basta sidewall generators for their bikes - ones without dynamo hubs anyway. Electra has just started using Basta generators for the Amsterdams, rather than the unlabeled extremely cheap one that came with mine, which A) wore out the rubber cap in about 3 months and B) I couldn't find replacement rubber caps for.

I saw a photo essay recently of an American tourist who went to Amsterdam and took a bunch of pictures of people on bikes. Someone who commented on his post said something like "I love all the after-market things they add to their bikes so they can ride in regular clothes." I thought that was pretty funny :)

jayjay said...

Thanks for comprehensive blog about the bicycle - I just love your wife's bike, and it is my goal to have one ONE day. Thanks also, for your comment on our blogsite - handlebra easyrider club. Being new to it, it is very encouraging to hear from a pro in the slow cycling brigade. I'll get more movies up when I can of our short trips around Auckland. Might even go to Ellerslie and see what your old cycling route looked like.

2whls3spds said...

Looks like common sense to me! Some of us are attempting to populate the US roads with similar bicycles.

Perhaps one day they will be a common site on US roads.


Anonymous said...

I have been subscribed to this blog for over a week now and I honestly love this blog. While many of the previous posts are quite interesting, this post just took my breathe away.

I live in the Philippines, I'm 19 years old, I am an aspiring cyclist and it has been my dream to see my country or any other country become a cycling country. This blog-- the Netherlands just makes me want to dream even more.

There is something about seeing the anatomy of an "everyday bicycle" that makes my heart pump faster with awe and pump slower with -- I don't even have a word for it. This simple bicycle is a testament to the Netherlands as a cycling country. That simple bicycle is a vision of my dream that everyone can feel the freedom of cycling.


Keep Up the Good Work!

Anonymous said...

I love it but I do wonder about the practicality of just three gears here in Scotland. I know Holland isn't completely flat, and you have to contend with headwinds, but I can't go anywhere from home without tackling several hills, and regularly use all 6 of my gears (and it's a low geared bike as it is). If I still lived in London, though, this would have been perfect.

Are there bikes like this, but with 6 gears? Presumably there are limits to what can be contained in a hub like that

David Hembrow said...

@Melancholic: It is amusing that people often thing there are a lot of aftermarket parts on Dutch bikes. Generally there are none at all. These things come with the bikes.

@2wheels: I certainly hope for that. Of course they did used to be quite normal in the US too.

@jayjay: If you could make a video of the ride from Blanes Road in Weymouth all the way to James Cook High School in Manurewa then I could see my old school run which I've not done since I was 15 :-) (I really don't expect you to do this, but more pictures and videos of cycling in NZ are very welcome).

@Town mouse: There are now hubs with anything up to 14 gears in them. The Rohloff (14 gear hub) is very good quality but also extremely expensive. 8 and 7 speed hubs are relatively economical.

Typically, though, hub gears have a wider range than you might expect. The old traditional Sturmey Archer AW hub has three gears which range in ratio from 0.75 to 1.33. A span of 1.77 from the lowest to the top. A typical low cost derailleur setup has a 14-28 block which gives a total span of 2.0 (the number of gears changing only the number of steps in between).

Also note that the number of gears and the ratios only alter the difference between bottom and top. By choosing a different chainwheel at the front and/or a different sprocket at the back you can adjust the low gear to whatever you want it to be (any half decent bike shop can do this for you).

Many people have ridden over many hills with 3 speed bicycles, but there's more choice these days.

Also note that you can get very similar bikes with derailleurs if you wish. You lose the reliability to some extent, but can then have any gear ratios you desire.

David J said...

Great post. Thanks for the inspiration!
We are starting to get bikes with all those accessories here in Australia too. I don't know how we ended up with such bare bones bikes here. Maybe because cycling became quite a specific, mostly sports market. When BMX became popular back when I was a kid we all started taking the chain and mud guards off our bikes to make them look more sporty... Maybe in doing so we laid the ground for a terrible 20 or was it 30 year trend.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info re hubs. 7 or 8 would do me fine, if I can track one down over here. Unfortunately we're in mountain biking territory here so it's hard enough finding a bike without suspension, let alone a fully loaded dutch-style bike

David Hembrow said...

I think you go back and forth to London, don't you ? If so, drop in on velorution who sell sensible bikes in the Capital, including Azor like the bike in the article, and who also have a very interesting blog.

Kevin Love said...

Dear Town Mouse,

They actually do make real bikes in the UK. I know for sure, because I just bought one, the Pashley Sovereign Roadster.

Its Sturmy Archer five-speed internal hub gearing has a 225% gear range. That should be enough for even the steepest hills here, particularly with the electric assist that I'm having put on it.

It may not even be necessary for you to come here to Toronto to buy a British bike. There's a photo and description of it here:

Rob Ainsley said...

Shame that such eminently sensible bikes are so uncommon in London. Virtually every bike you see at the lights has either 27 gears or just one, when 3-5 is surely the right sort of number in such a non-alpine city.

(BTW David, I've added you to the list of blogs on my blog.)

Anonymous said...

yup - I've got my eye on a Pashley - it's good to know about the gear range. I think I can get one without trugging down to the smoke as well. I did go to Velorution once and found them a little bit intimidating - the bikes they showed me were beautiful but a bit stately and a bit too beautiful, if that makes any sense. I don't want to have to live up to my bike! I just want something to ride on...

David Hembrow said...

I really should have mentioned Pashley. They are an excellent company who along with Brompton are one of only two mass manufacturers of bikes still in the UK (there are several excellent specialist manufacturers too, and this is not "damning by faint praise").

I own a Pashley myself, though a rather different one.

ejg said...

Hi David!

Can you give any prices in euros for this kind of bikes? Also for the children seats etc

David Hembrow said...

@Einar: This is the website of the closest bike shop to our home. Click on Assortiment and you'll see the bikes available. "Stads fietsen" are town bikes, "Moeder fietsen" are the ones which come with child seats etc.

I'm going to do a future blog post on the difference between a moeder fiets and a stadfiets with child seats bolted on. There are a lot of special features on the bikes which are designed for carrying children.

Good quality baskets come from here, of course :-)

@2whls3spds: My town bike is also an old English 3 speed. Very fine machines. I enjoy riding mine a lot.

For practicality the old bikes do suffer a bit in comparison with the Dutch designs. All the details: brakes, gears, skirtguards, chainguards, lights, really strong rack, robust paint etc. which are better on bikes like my wife's.

2whls3spds said...

You won't get any argument from me on the quality and the advances of the newer bikes, especially ones like the Azor's or Gazelles.

People sometimes forget that the old Raleighs (and other all steel British marques) are indicative of technology that is nearly 100 years old! But it is a technology that remains usable even to this day.

I really do appreciate my AXA Defender wheel lock and chain, my B&M Lumotec IQ Fly Senso headlight, along with the roller brakes...modern stuff at it's finest. ;-)


Elle said...

When I moved here, my Cloggie fiance was convinced I would barely use my bike and we opted to get one of the cheapest ones we could find at Halfords. I ride it very often and now that I am getting faster and a bit more fit I am now aiming to cycle to the station each morning on my way to work. I really wish I had bought a better bike now. A lot of people I know here have second hand bikes and have had them for quite a number of years but still look a lot more sturdy and reliable than mine.

Anonymous said...

Cool to see an older Azor. I've had mine for about 4 months and it was very difficult for me to track one down in the States. I love her baskets!

spiderleggreen said...

Thanks for this extensive article. I can't help but laugh at audacity of the Dutch. They'll put anything on a bike, as long as it's something they need. It shows what innovation happens in cycling, when cars aren't the ideal. Thanks for raising the bar.

Anonymous said...

Here, here! Great post. I love this style of bike. It is gaining popularity again after more than a decade of the mountain bike being used for city travel (I admit, I had a Mtn Bike for college life when one of these "reliable" bikes would have been better). I have a bakfiets now and have not looked back. Great blog post, great blog. I found your blog through a Clever Cycles tweet.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the sidewall generator (a) wear down the tire and (b) create a lot of drag, slowing the rider down?

Also, while a singlespeed or three speeds may be OK for a flat-as-a-pancake country like the Netherlands, some of us live in hilly or even mountainous regions.

David Hembrow said...


No, the "sidewall generator" doesn't wear down the tyre. I wouldn't run one on a skinwall tyre, but there are plenty of tyres available with a special track for it to run on.

Also, it creates very little drag, perhaps around 5% of your energy goes into this, reducing your speed by much less than 5% (aerodynamic effects dominate and are a cube law).

If you have hills, buy a bike with a more gears. Identical bikes are available with 8 gear hubs. As I explained in a previous reply, it isn't actually the number of gears that matters so much as how far apart they are.

However, it isn't actually the problem you think it is. I used to live in the UK and quite often rode my 3 speed bike over hills there, sometimes 10% or more, with no problems.

If you went back to 1950 or so, you'd find many people in the UK were quite capable of doing the same thing, on the bikes which are the spiritual ancestors of this one.

Anonymous said...

Interesting with dynamo. Here in Denmark, everyone but everyone is now using Reelights: - a magnet attached to the spokes, the light itself bolted to the axle, all done in 5 minutes and voila you have permanently on, no drag, no batteries lights.

Great invention!


David Hembrow said...

Neil: These types of lights are available here too. Both the originals and identical looking but cheaper chain store branded copies. They don't seem very popular at all.

They've been tested by magazines and generally found to be lacking in both robustness and brightness. They also have the problem that being attached to the rear axle means that they disappear underneath panniers so they're not great on practical bikes.

As for "no drag". It's true that they have little drag, but they do cause some drag. There is no "free lunch". The energy to run the light comes from your pedalling.

The Dutch cycling market is not fickle and not swayed too much by fashion. The Dutch cycle more than people from any other country and they know about bikes. Those things that work best get used most.

Anonymous said...

According to the Wikipidia article on bicycle gearing systems, hub gears are less efficient than derailleurs; they're also heavier. Is this not true?

David Hembrow said...

Anonymous: It's true, but it's a simplification. We're talking about utility bikes here, used everyday, and perhaps kept outdoors. I'd not choose a hub gear for a racing bike, but I have one on my town bike.

A well maintained derailleur gear system is very efficient. However, it is very difficult to fully enclose the chain with a derailleur. So difficult that no production bikes do this. As a result, these bikes quickly become less efficient as the chain gets dirty and rusty. A hub gear with a full chain case is then much more efficient.

Also, some hub gears are actually extremely efficient. The Rohloff hub is generally considered similar in efficiency to a derailleur, and the latest Shimano Alfine is very good too.

Rick @ Bicycle Fixation said...

These bikes are okay in some fairly closely circumscribed situations--I have tested several of them for Bicycle Fixation. However, my everyday riding involves round trips of fifteen to forty miles, and these bikes are emphatically not suitable for that.

I don't mean recreational rides either, but workaday stuff, going to meetings, visiting friends, etc.

It's not a "one size fits all" world. To say that "If you want the entire population to cycle, then this is the sort of bike they need to do it on" is narrowminded and shortsighted both, and would keep people in much of the world off bikes forever.

A fundamentalist attitude about Dutch roadsters will get us nowhere. They have their place, but it is not everywhere.

FWIW, I've been riding for transportation for forty-five years. I've never raced, never gone on a club ride. Presently ride two light , fast fixies with fenders, lights, and racks. For practical riding in my world (and many others), the bikes depicted here are not viable.

Some of my neighbors have different obligations and do use them, but many more (practical riders all) do not.

David Hembrow said...

Rick: You clearly don't follow this blog. There are many different types of bikes, and I use many different types myself. What's more, very many Dutch people do race or go on club rides, and many have more than one bike for this reason.

My own commute is a (just short of) forty mile round trip, and I use something very much faster.

However, the wonderful thing about bikes is that you can have more than one. For town use, I have a bike very similar to that described here. So does nearly everyone in this country. It's simply the most practical means of getting about for shorter distances, and yes, it really is just what most people need if cycling is to become part of life for the majority rather than merely a lifestyle choice for a minority.

Anonymous said...

Well, nice article, I agree with most of the parts in terms of "Anatomy".
Just three things, I think about different:

- "Thicker spokes for stronger wheel":
Common mistake. The weakest point of the spokes is the BENT at the hub. Butted spokes (thinner in the middle) are able to elastically flex and therefore save that bent from destroying forces.
- "Chrome plated steel rims are strong an last forever":
First: Tey'll sadly only last forever if you don't use them. Just a single scratch on it (from a lock, or from changing tires) and bye chome-plating, hello rust.
Second: Steel rims aren't strong. The're just cheap, heavy, soft and never double walled for increased stability. You're better off with some nice fully anodized (in case of Disc or drum-brakes) double-wall aluminum rims. Those are more likely to stay true under heavy (ab)use keep their plating and are WAYS lighter. (Sadly still more expensive)
- Last thing, the generator/dynamo. These sidewall generators do have one mayor drawback, the'll most likely leave you in the dark when it's cold and wet. Ant that's the time you'll need them most. dynamo-hubs are the future, they just work, no matter what.

David Hembrow said...

Anonymous: You've several misconceptions about what is going on with this bike.

1. I've been building wheels for around 20 years and I am quite aware that breakages are almost always at the bend, particularly if the spoke is not adequately bent so that it can bend back and forth as you ride. However, if the metal at the bend if thicker, as it is with these heavier gauge spokes, then the spoke is somewhat stronger. You may have the inconvenience of having to drill out the holes in the hub in order to accommodate thicker spokes for load carrying, but thicker spokes do result in stronger wheels, which is why they are used on all reputable cargo bikes.

2. You missed out a word. These are not the cheap and quickly rusting steel rims that you, as I, may have had on a cheap "racing bike" from the 1970s. They're stainless steel and they do not rust. Ever. And as for strength, again look to what is used on really solid cargo bicycles.

However, you've completely missed the point of why they are used on this bike. They are there not because of their strength, but because of their style. Chromed stainless steel rims look wonderful and stay wonderful. They cost a lot more than aluminium and are found on more expensive and well equipped bikes.

It's not the same market as for light-weight racing bikes, when you will of course only find light-weight rims. However, try leaving a racing bike in the rain for 20 years and see if you can still ride it.

3. Dynamos. Hub dynamos are of course more reliable than bottle/sidewall dynamos. They are also more efficient when generating electricity than a sidewall dynamo. This was also true in the past, even of rather old hub dynamos like those originally made by Sturmey Archer way back in 1936.

However, hub dynamos also have faults. They drag a little when you don't want the light (true even of the SON), they're quite heavy, they're generally somewhat more expensive, and the cheaper modern ones don't necessarily last as long as a normal hub.

Most of the time, in the real world, bottle dynamos are actually pretty reliable. I have one on my town bike because it's a very good compromise and I keep it even though I could quite straightforwardly get myself a wholesale price dynamo hub and build up a wheel with it.

Unknown said...

My wife wanted a step through when we were in Europe years ago. I bought her a Calvin made in Germany from the lbs for about 230 euros 10 years ago. It's still a great ride. The cams on the quick release for the seat and bars are easy and very very strong. You can fit this bike in seconds if you are 4' or 6'6". The back rack has a steel basket that clips in and out so you can take the basket in the store to shop. 1st gear will get you up any hill. Second cruises around 7 to 10 mph depending on how you spin. And if you like to spin and have a little downhill you can approach 20 mph in 3rd, although the bike is not built for that. I have racers and mountains hanging from the ceiling of my garage, but the one my kids pull out when they want a spin through the park while visiting is the Calvin.

Prawsk said...

A plug for the Dutch Bike Company in Littlehampton where I bought my 'Batavus' - the best bike I have ever owned!!

It will take a great shift in UK thinking to ever get around to the modern european idea that urban and commuting cycling is an integral part of life........ not an addition to it.

The rubbish machines that are promoted in this country as urban/commuting machnes is unbelievable - no mudguards, a million eaxpensive gears, no lights, an agressive frame configuration plus a hefty price tag? No thanks

Great site............keep up the good work!

Wurz said...

Thanks for the great post and blog. I lived in Amsterdam for a number of years and 99% of the bikes were like this, albeit the "Oma fiets" style with no gears.

It was hilarious seeing what some of the Dutch managed to carry on their bikes. Large pieces of flat pack furniture from IKEA, or large crates of beer from the supermarket would not pose a problem.

Sometimes you would see cyclists wheeling another bike alongside the one they were pedalling, and nobody would bat an eyelid! Also very common to have an (adult) passenger sat on the rear rack. It's bloody uncomfortable :-)

Oh, and absolutely nobody wore helmets.

What all this adds up to is that the bike was simply a means of getting from A to B with the minimum of fuss. No messing about having to carry lights and helmets, or getting dressed up in ridiculous gear. No need for showers at your destination because nobody cycled fast (these bikes are not built to go fast anyhow). They are ideal for shortish journeys, the likes of which make up a lot of car journeys.

Anonymous said...

Great article. Never heard of Azor but it appears to be typical of the 'Dutch Bike' so beloved by mainland Europeans and often given quizzical looks by the Brits. Both my wife and I own dutch bikes - Batavus Lentos - purchased last year from the Dutch Bike shop in Littlehampton (UK). We absolutely love them and compliment our already burgeoning cycling stable. As has already been commented, these bikes are not only aesthetically pleasing, they are also very reliable and practical workhorses. In addition to the features that the Azor boasts, ours also have suspension seatposts, hub dynamos and automatic lighting which comes on when the light fades - fantastic! The finsih is also superb, and in all honesty knocks spots of any bikes which purport to be townies, commuters etc, and Im afrad I have to include Pashley in that. So, lets raise a decent glass of dutch beer to the dutch bike!

Tallycyclist said...

These bikes are slowly growing more popular in a select few cities in the US. I'm certain many more people would commute around on bikes if they were so maintenance-free. Most people just aren't interested in doing the maintenance themselves, and with the derailleur-type American bikes, you'd have to do a heck of a lot if you don't keep it sheltered and out of the elements.

I'm surprised how in Copenhagen the majority of bikes are way sportier than these traditional style ones. They of course still have internal gears/brakes, racks, fenders, dynamo lights and at least a partial chaincase (full ones are pretty uncommon compared to all the ones you see in the your videos about Holland). When you watch old films about cycling in both Holland and Denmark, it's clear that the Danes have largely moved away from these kind of bikes since the nadir of the 70's. I wonder why the market has shifted towards the sportier bikes since most people still primarily use it for getting around the city.

MonaView said...

Loved your blog. In India too people moved children and groceries and friends using bikes with the features described. Moving to the US, I was surprised to see absolutely no mudguards, enclosed chains and other features that you say are standard in Netherlands. Wish they were in the US as well.

guab said...

omafiets frame step trough is so elegant. all kinds of people mounting and dismounting so fluidly. kinda steping trough the horse paradigm :-]

Andy Beeline said...

So many newer cyclists don't even know what it feels like to ride a steel frame or even what it feels like to take a city bike for a spin to the market. Riding some of my older bikes brings back memories of the first days of riding bikes during the summer break with nothing better to do. It is always a pleasure to see such diversity in the bikes everyone rides. It just demonstrates how each person rides for a different reason.