Saturday, September 12, 2009

Seeing Dutch

It's probably just that phenomena, where you start seeing all the bikes that look like yours, but in the last week, I've being seeing Dutch bikes everywhere. And not just plain old ones like my Frankie. Exciting ones in fun colors and configurations. Here are the ones where I was quick enough with the camera.

Where'd the kid go?

Just a guess, but there is a bike shop up the street from here. Maybe he's test driving it? Like to see the kid on it.

Sorry, but they remind of tweedle dee and tweedle dum.

I saw these guys, while I was going for a walk around Lake of the Isles. They zipped by so fast that I didn't get my camera out quick enough to shoot them close up. But I did manage to get this shot, from across the lake. The Double Dutch was a happy sight.

Frankie makes nice with the lady in Red.

This bright bike stopped me in my tracks. It's the same brand as mine and comes from the Dutch Bike Co, too. I wonder if I saw this exact bike, when I was buying Frankie down in Chi-Town? With kiddy trailer on the back, and the Xtra-Cycle bicycle next to it, this couple can do some serious hauling.

I'm glad to see the bike terrain changing, here in Mpls. It's been great to see these versatile bikes, sprouting up around town. Maybe there will be a day when these wonderful bikes are a common site. Especially if people are getting more than one. Why buy one, when two will be twice the fun? Here's to that!

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.

Friday, September 4, 2009

San Diego's a Different Bike World

Surf shop bikes near Cardiff by the Sea.

Got to spend last week in San Diego on a "business then pleasure" trip. They said it was hot(102F one day) but coming from the land of humid summers, it felt more comfortable than an 85F day, back home. Unfortunately, none of my free time was spent on a bicycle. Surfing won out over biking. The waves were just too perfect. But I did plenty of bike watching. There appear to be mostly two types of bikes in San Diego, with two different functions. They are either like the bikes above, used for cruising the beach or sporty bikes that give a good workout, while covering a lot of distance. Not many bikes with racks for carrying things, which would be good for commuting. Though, it was cool to see beach cruisers go by with a surf board attached to the side.