Sunday, September 6, 2009

One Month Dutch Bike Review

Who says it can't make sharp turns?

It's been a little over a month since I bought my Dutch Azor Transport bike. It seems like much longer than a month, but I have put a lot of time on Frankie, as he likes to be called. It's been a real pleasure getting to know him. For the first two and half weeks, he was my only means of transportation. The car was forgotten. My other bikes must be a little jealous because Frankie is the only bike I've ridden all month. That was intentional, because I wanted to really get the full Dutch City-Bike experience.

How's it going after all those miles? I can't really complain about much. The ride is very comfortable. My wrists really appreciate the upright position, because the handle bars are now mostly for balance and steering, not holding my shoulders up. The smoother ride is easy on the body. Since it is a heavier bike, my legs have had to toughen up some, but if I'm feeling too much strain, I just shift down. No rush on this bike. I was a little worried about how much extra time Frankie would add to my 13 mile commute, but besides one windy day, it hasn't taken much longer.

The days are getting shorter. Pretty soon, my morning commute will be in the dark, with the evening one, soon to follow. While the bike is painted black, I feel that, for a variety of reasons, this bike is plenty visible at night. The hub generated front and rear lights are big enough that they almost look like scooter lights. The upright position also adds to your visibility, because there is more to see.

Getting noticed really hasn't been a problem with Frankie. It's an unusual and elegant bike, so I get lot's of looks and comments. Last week, I was walking out to my bike on the street, and I saw this bright red city bike coming up the street. I say "nice bike!" as he passes me. Then he does a double take when he passes my bike. He said something like "what??". I was happy to see his surprise. We ended up chatting about city bikes for a few minutes. His bike was the Swedish bike Kronan. It had the front carrier like mine. I was thinking that maybe I should have bought one of those instead, to support my ancestral homeland, but then I remembered that I've got some Dutch, so it's been taken care of. My one regret is I didn't get a picture of him on his bike, but I was running late. Next time! He shouldn't be too hard to spot a bright red city bike.

One thing about Frankie that has allowed me to ignore the car, is it the fact that it can haul some serious goods. I have a pannier that fits on the back rack. They can fit bag of groceries on each side, plus some extras. Once they're full, I can put the rest on the front carrier, strapping it down with an old inner tube. When I've had it fully loaded, it feels more stable than before and isn't that much harder to peddle. I think I'm going keep working on improving my ability carry more delicate things. Maybe a milk crate that could attach to the front or rear rack? We'll see.


Dottie said...

I love the pictures and the name Frankie :) Glad to hear you're enjoying the Dutch bike experience. Like you, I had to build up more leg strength and get used to life in the slow lane, but it was so worth it. Get used to the comments and double looks - they'll never stop!

Sigrid said...

Nice! Glad you are liking the Azor. I rode a Kronan in Sweden last year. I had a lot of fun on it, but I think you made a better choice.

I actually do not get too many comments on the Pash, but I did get one from people who pulled up alongside me in a rickety old camper this weekend. I thought "oh no...what are they saying to me?!" But you know what, they said "I think you might be exceeding the speed limit" :). It was in good fun because I had just finished going down a big hill and must have had a big smile on my face that made them smile too. We used to get fun comments on our Tandem in CA all the time; of course I enjoy the positive comments as opposed to the other ones... :)

Happy riding...

Filigree said...

Good to hear that you are so comfortable on this bike; I hope that you are very happy together for many years! My Pashley also feels very stable and natural with heavy loads, both on the rear rack and in the front basket.

spiderleggreen said...

I spoke too soon on dutch bike rarity in Mpls., because I saw two dutchie's riding together around Lake of the Isles. I'm not as surprised to see them on this lake, because it has an "old money" reputation. I'll have make some more trips around it.

cycler said...

Very nice!

It's so much fun to be able to recognize the kindred spirits out on their bikes out there!
People are always amazed at how much I can carry on my bike, and it doesn't even have the super heavy duty front rack. The main thing is that the bike is carrying the weight, not me.
Two six packs in the basket, a pannier full of groceries, a roll of drawings, making my way slowly down the street....

For the front, think about one of the David Hembrow butcher's baskets. A basket is so much more convenient than a pannier while in motion, and one of the big square ones won't look out of place or girlie on a big bike like Frankie