The Last Bike I Shall Ever Own. Probably.

Here is a sign. A beautiful sign. But I wonder what treats lie inside?

Yes, it’s Amsterdammers located under Brighton railway station! The magnetic pull of their range of second hand and new Dutch bikes proved irresistable. The shop is run by the very knowledgeable (and tall) Stefan Petursson who shares my bemusement at the very British obsession of playing ‘Let’s See How Many Cars We Can Cram Into A Town Centre Thereby Ruining It For Everyone Including The Motorists’.

Anyway, here it is, the Batavus Old Dutch. It’s an older model, just like its new owner, and it is probably the smallest frame size because the new owner is of,  what you might call, ‘lilliputian stature’.

This new acquisition has an incredibly reasonable price tag, 3 hub gears, hub brakes, built in robust lock, mudguards, comfy saddle, chainguard, reflectors in the right places to meet legal requirements and is bombproof. It can carry stupid weights at the rear and has an upright position to stop me crippling my back as the years progress. It also encourages me to slow down and enjoy my cycling again instead of turning up at work looking like I’ve just taken a short cut through a car wash. Oh, and I was able to test ride it in walking boots with not a quibble. When the Netherlands were considering a Space Programme to the moon, they were going to use a Dutch Bike instead of a lunar rover. OK, I made that last one up, but that’s what I would have taken.

I will be posting a full review after Christmas when the commuting regime starts in earnest but the best part is that it won’t be just about the commuting. It will be about the shopping and pubbing and librarying and carting The Boy..er..ing. All the things I should do by bicycle but don’t as the bikes that I own (with the exception of the Brompton) compel me to ‘dress like a cyclist’ and ‘be a cyclist’ as opposed to a ‘person on a bike’. It’s not that I’m against other types of bike, I adore and respect all types of bike (and cyclist for that matter). I just need one that for the rest of my life facilitiates practical cycling – ‘Citizen Cycling’ to coin a Copenhagenize phrase. Each to their own.

I am selling my KHS Alite 3000 mountain bike to cover the cost (2010 barely used model if you’re interested. It got rave reviews in What Mountain Bike but with a 7 month old son, I probably bought it 13 years too early). I was expecting to commute along the South Downs Way from time to time with wild abandon but the sleepless mights and ever changing and demanding schedules that enthuiastic fatherhood brings knocks that into a cocked hat.

It’s time to slow down and go Old Dutch.

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14 responses to “The Last Bike I Shall Ever Own. Probably.

  1. Looks lovely. Is that a dynamo lamp I see there on the front too? In addition to the features listed, having permanent dynamo lights really adds to that “get on and go,” aspect of these bikes. I’m currently waiting on a dynamo rear light from Hembrow’s store, when that comes my roadster will be fully dynamo powered, with front and rear lights coming on automatically when it gets dark.

  2. Very nice, indeed, but some of us ride farther than is practical on such a bike. My 44 year old Bottecchia Professional–yes, a retired pro road racing bike of the past!–cost me all of $80 (frame & fork) and is set up as a fixie with fenders, lights, and rack. In this configuration it weighs 21 pounds. The position is moderately aggressive–everyone’s different, and sit-up bikes hurt MY back.

    It carries stuff–I once had two rolls of wool gabardine totaling around 70 pounds on the rack–and, wonder of wonders, I can ride it fast and far or slow and local.

    I’ve tried real Dutch bikes, including bakfietsen, and a variety of others over my half century of riding. They have their place, but that’s not everyplace.

    Oh, yeah, I NEVER wear Lycra! Despite putting in around 600 miles a month over Los Angeles sprawl. (That’s mostly commuting, shopping, dining, etc, no hammer miles for me.)

    So much Dutch bike evangelism going around! I find it tiring. There is no “One True Bike.”

    My baby, in case anyone’s interested: http://flic.kr/p/5Wg6vB

    • I think the main reason that there’s so much ‘Dutch Bike evangelism’ going about as you say, particuarly in the UK, is because they’ve been around for decades and yet never really appeared over here despite the Netherlands being just an hour away across the North Sea. My test ride on the Old Dutch was a bit like when I first rode a fixie – it was like learning to ride a bike again.

      Thanks to the internet, we [in the UK] can now see what other countries are doing in terms of infrastructure and types of cycling and we’re wondering why we haven’t followed suit – and starting to get angry as a result.

      In the meantime, you are right in that there is no ‘one true bike’ otherwise for ease of storage and medium range fun, I’d have stopped at my Brompton. But this new bicycle for me is not a million miles away at all.

      Keep the faith and happy cycling

      • Well, their design is British in the first place. The “Dutch Bike” as we now call it was originally known as the English Roadster. There used to be loads of them over here but somehow we lost our way.

        There is no “one true bike,” but I do often cover 30-40 miles on my roadster in a day at a reasonable pace and in comfort.

      • “they’ve been around for decades and yet never really appeared ”

        I have to concur with Mr. Colostomy. The “Dutch” bike arrived in The Netherlands from Devon. The Batavus Old Dutch began life as a Raleigh DL-1 knockoff.

        Instead of “Going Dutch,” why not relearn and reclaim British? They’re doing it in Boston and Minneapolis. Shame if England got left out of the celebrations.

        They don’t have to appear, they’ve never left. Just drag them out into the light and start demanding new “Olde English” from the suppliers.

  3. Congrats! Did Stefan show you the range of Dutch panniers too? I ended up with a set of black canvas incredibly utilitaran things – I think they hold 40 litres on each side (OK here’s the “oh so middle class” bit) each pannier holds a full Waitrose hemp shopping bag with a bit of room to spare for essentials like wine and beer. They are basically box shaped with a lid and those fastners with a male and female part that click together!

  4. Nice looking bike! I am a recent convert to Dutch bikes, having purchased a WorkCycles Oma earlier this fall. It will probably be the last bike I ever purchase as well – my trusty mountain bike should last another 20 years (already 2o years old) and that will take me on rides that are not really Oma’s style. I am in love with these bikes and think they are awesome! That is, they are awesome for people in relatively flat urban areas who need to carry loads and ride less than 15 miles or so each way. I realize that they are not going to work for folks who live in many North America cities sprawled out, with little or no bike infrastructure , or will a lot of hills. The popularity of Dutch-style bikes though is bringing more attention to bikes-as-transportation and there are now a lot of other bikes out there suited for commuter and everyday riding than I’ve seen in years.

    Enjoy your new Opafiets!

  5. 20 years seems a good lifespan for a bike – it’s how long my old hybrid lasted, and I’m hoping my tourer (already a 20 year old frame) will do me another 20 years. But don’t underestimate how long a regular cyclist lasts – there are some up here in SW Scotland already in their 70s who seem to have every intention of cycling on and on for ever.

    I too cycle in my regular clothes (‘chic’ would be overstating it) on a non-Dutch bike. But then all my trousers have frayed patches on the inside right cuff… and round our way, wellies make great waterproof cycling shoes that double as cycle clips. Of course none of this stops me craving a Dutch bike too, and a brompton, and a… damn it, I’m jealous now. Enjoy your bike.

  6. A lovely bicycle Jim. Fatbob is spot on with his Dutch pannier comment, they are great and really transform the shopping experience…I hardly use my trailer since getting a pair. If you have the Brompton/Roadster combination you should be well set for all your everyday cycling needs.

    BTW Have any tweed to go with your new bicycle? It really is a most practical everyday fabric and really cuts a dash on the fietspad!

    • I now have Dutch panniers for the Old Dutch as the heavy duty rack wouldn’t take my Ortliebs. It’s a bit weird leaving them on all the time but this new style of riding has been taking me to all sorts of new places recently.

      With regards tweed, I wouldn’t know where to start looking for reasonably priced tweed for cycling. I would like to get some plus fours or plus twos as I’d like to participate in the 2011 Tweed Run – it’s far more civilised and less testosterone charged than a sportive and supplies for a Gin and Tonic can be stored easily in the new panniers. If you have any thoughts on obtaining tweed please let me know your thoughts (and I don’t mean the wallet destroying ‘HOW MUCH??!!’ cycle specific stuff that London cycle boutiques seem to be stocking at the moment)

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