Category Archives: gear

stuff that’s not a bike

Bike of The Week: Ebikes

Faith is like electricity. You can’t see it, but you can see the light. – Anon.

As an American living in Europe, I carry this mental checklist of things to keep, and things to leave behind when I return home.  In the keep column would be the latest crop of electric bikes (Ebikes) that are sprouting here.

Ebikes are not scooters:  They are mopeds, and only assist the pedals.  The rider must provide some input.  Nor are they as heavy as scooters or mopeds.  Typical Ebikes weigh between 35 and 50 lb.  They are clean and quiet.  Though something of a novelty  in the USA, Ebikes are gaining market share exponentially here in Europe.  From what I’ve seen, it’s mostly elderly, affluent riders who constituted the majority of first-generation Ebike owners, and rightfully so.  These are people who may not be up for hills  or riding for more than five miles, and have $2000 + to spend on an Ebike.

The second wave of newer designs are a little more hip, targeting commuters and those looking for something a little faster than traditional bikes.  We’re not talking you’re mama’s 250W commuter.  No, these are max. legal 1.2kW pavement-rippling tire shredders.  Oh, and if you talk to the right guys, you can get get hi-po chips to SIGNIFICANTLY increase output beyond the legal limit.

How do I get one, you ask!  Well, go to the Great Cathedral in Cologne, then head towards the river.  Along the way, you will find Eco Mobility.  They have been in business for a few months and specialize in custom frames and Ebikes.

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Markward Kayser, the owner of Eco-Mobility.de is catching the next wave.  What we have here folks, are visions of the future.  Some of his bikes are his own custom frames, others represent the cutting edge of Ebike development.  Mark loves to take a customer’s vision and bring it to life in real steel.  He also has a penchant for eye-bulgingly fast machines in search of a new kind of tire, somewhere between bicycle and motorcycle.

More pics after the break. Continue reading

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Tire Valves

Pneumatic tires all have valves to let air in and keep it from leaking out, until such time as you want to deflate the tire. Back in the states, I’ve seen two types of valves over the years: Schrader valves (aka, car valves), and Presta valves (aka, French valves). The floor pump I brought with me from the states handles both types, so I thought nothing about offering to top off the tires of a buddy’s city bike the other day.

Imagine my surprise when, after unintentionally letting the air out of his front tire, I realized that his tires were equipped with a valve I had never seen before.  Worse yet, my floor pump was not set up to work with this valve! Fortunately, he had a pump at home, so we drove to his place to get his pump. While there, I looked at the tires on his wife’s bike and sure enough, they sported these odd valves as well.

A few days later, I stopped by a bike shop and asked the mechanic about this valve. He replied that it is a Dunlop (or Dutch or Woods) valve. Apparently, Dunlop valves are quite common here in Germany and the Netherlands, but pretty much unknown back the states. Though people claim you can inflate a Dunlop valve with a Presta compatible pump, I was not able to get it to work with my particular pump. Now that Karen has a bike of her own, complete with Dunlop valves, I need to get a pump to go with it.

Like so much of life here in Germany, bikes look the same as back in the states but differ in the small details. It’s all good, all part of the European biking experience!

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Bike Of The Week: Dutch Standard

Upon arriving here in Europe, you are amazed by the quantity and variety of bicycles people ride here.  Gradually, patterns begin to emerge. One common pattern is what might be called the Dutch Standard.  Here are several examples, presented for your consideration.  Be sure to click on the images to view them in the original size.

Beater Dutch Standard

This step-through design is very common; you find members of both sexes riding them because of it’s comfort and convenience.  Our first example at left is pretty worn, but exhibits all the basics:  Top tube swooping down to the down tube, ridiculously long steering head, single speed, enclosed chain, rear-mount center stand, and a rack in back.  The owner appears to be very protective, as this example has a cable lock to secure the bike to the lamp post AND a cable lock around the seat post, AND a frame-mounted rear-wheel lock for good measure.  Maybe the owner lost the key to one or more of the unused locks ?  Maybe they really like that seat and don’t want it stolen and all cost?  Or perhaps they just like the idea of having a spare for the spare, like the dual tail lights?!?

Elegant Dutch Standard

This next exhibit is a particularly stylish Dutch Standard, a Union Droodle, complete with tasteful paisley scroll work and a garland of flowers gracing the handlebar.  I wish I had snapped a picture of the (obviously) proud owner astride her bike.  She was as stylish as her ride.

Garlands For The Lady

Beyond the artistic touches, other items of note are the ergo grips and the dual-headlights:  One down low, powered by a generator, the other mounted to the handlebar.  Not sure what the rationale is, except that you can never have too much light in the darkness!

Modern Dutch Standard

The final example is what could be called a modern interpretation of a classic, made by RIH.  In it we see echos of the past, updated with modern touces like internally geared rear hub, front disk brakes, and a center-mount kick stand.  Modern yes, but better?  Depends on where you want to ride.  Still, there is something about the stark simplicity, the uncluttered fusion of form and function that makes the Dutch Standard stand out in a crowd, and our bike of the week.

Oh, one other thing.  Look closely at the handlebars.  They all sport bells, but what is common to all of them?  That’s right, all the bells are on the left side!  It’s not just these bikes.  ALL the bikes I saw over the course of a day in town had bells on the left side.  Not sure why.  It’s just Dutch Standard!

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Filed under bike of the week, culture, gear, urban bike