Gazelle Heavy Duty NL For A Song

This is the Gazelle Heavy Duty NL. It comes in step through in this sand color and step over in grey. Both with a nice matte finish.

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The original MSRP is $950 which is a great price in and of itself. Act now and you can save $200 and get one for only $750 which is undoubtedly the best price we’ve ever been able to offer on a fully featured Dutch bike.

When I say act fast I mean it, as these bikes will no longer be available through our Gazelle USA distributors after we sell through the limited inventory that we have right now.

When I say fully featured Dutch bike, here is a run-down on what I’m talking about…

Stout 2 leg kickstand, in this case the Ursus Jumbo.

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Full fenders, of course.

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Low maintenance 7 speed Shimano internal gear hub.

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Front and rear Shimano roller brakes make for a low fuss, low maintenance braking system.

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But wait, there’s more. It also comes with a Shimano dynamo front hub which powers the head light. And it comes with a rear battery powered light.

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The Gazelle Heavy Duty NL comes with front and rear cargo racks. The front rack has a weight capacity of 10 kg (22 lb) and the rear rack 25 kg (55 lb).

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Also, the rear racks have the Yepp Easyfit window so this bike is a solid option as a one child transport bike.

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It’s worth pointing out that even though the step over model comes with the same Easyfit window we would strongly discourage you from choosing this bike to transport a child as mounting and dismounting any step over bike with a child on the rear is not a good call.

Like any good Dutch bike it comes with a frame mounted wheel lock.

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Back to the drivetrain, it has a fully enclosed chain case which is a game changer in terms of minimizing maintenance and makes it so you to never need to worry about your clothes coming into contact with a greasy chain.

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Internally routed cables give the bike a nice and clean look.

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It comes with a headset locking mechanism that keeps the front wheel from flopping around when the bike is parked.

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It comes with cruiser style swept back handlebars and has a fairly open cockpit with comfortable ergonomic handgrips and a bell cleverly integrated into the left grip.

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In stock right now we have the step through model in a 49cm frame which should fit riders 5’2″ to 5’6″ and the step over model in a 54cm frame which should fit riders 5’5″ to 5’9″.

The term I keep coming back to on this bike is ‘no-brainer’ as you really can’t go wrong here when you consider how much bike you are getting for the low price of $750.

Interested in trying one of these out, please come visit us at The Shop and take one for a spin around the block.

Don’t snooze and lose as this deal won’t last forever.

-Jon

Amsterdam Diaries Part 8- Workcycles Visit

Thursday December 15, 2016 Continued

After a fruitful morning with Bicicapace, I had some breathing room in my schedule before an afternoon visit with the guys at Workcycles. The hectic pace of the previous three days’ train travel had worn me out. Having a day without boarding any trains and being able to ride my bike around Amsterdam was just what I needed. Following my nose around town, I popped into a few bike shops, had lunch at one of my favorite spots and visited some old haunts.

With my trip down memory lane complete, I continued on to the business at hand.

2016-12-15 14.27.07The mothership. Workcycles headquaters, located in the quintessentially Amsterdam neighborhood, the Jordaan. A familiar place that I arrived at on a familiar bike. That bike (pictured above) was one of the first ones I ever sold back in 2008. My friend JL, who I introduced you to in Part 1, bought it second hand from the original owner when he lived in Chicago a few years ago. When JL moved back to Amsterdam, the bike was repatriated back to the country where it came from.

We are grateful that Workcycles exists, a bike company that is uncompromising in making bikes that are purely utilitarian. The thing that makes Workcycles different from so many others is they don’t try to beat well marketed ideas with better marketing of their own. They try to beat well marketed ideas with better ideas.

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We have been a Workcycles dealer going on five years now. Each year they have reinforced their status as the core brand we sell here at J.C. Lind Bike Co. Therefore, it goes without saying, I prioritize spending as much time with them as I can during these trips across the ocean.

If you’ve been following my posts about this trip, you know that earlier in the week I visited both of the factories, Nijland and Azor, where Workcycles bikes are made. My primary purpose of visiting their showroom, which I did both today and the following day (Friday), was to catch up with the Workcycles crew including founder Henry Cutler.

On these trips, I aim to get a glimpse of their day-to-day operations and find out the inside scoop on their plans for the immediate and distant futures. It’s also key for me, as I’ve stated before, to get to know the people behind the brands of bikes we sell.

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The Fr8/Gr8/Kr8 bikes can be personalized with a custom nameplate

One of the cool things I learned is we will have more choices of fonts going forward on the CNC nameplate.

Another thing I picked up on this trip is that we have the option to order Fr8’s in a special configuration designed to handle even more weight than the venerable Fr8. We refer to it as the Heavy Duty package and it includes tires with a higher weight capacity, even beefier rims, an 8mm thick saddle rail and a double seat tube clamp. It’s commendable of Workcycles to continue pushing the envelope of what their bikes are capable of.

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Workcycles Fr8 in Vermilion RAL2002

The Workcycles Fr8 is hands down our best selling bike model from any manufacturer. We always keep a healthy inventory of this bike in the neutral black and matte grey colors, but, every once in a while we try to bring in a few Fr8’s in funky seasonal colors. One of my favorite things to do on these trips is to get inspiration for color ideas. Our Workcycles shipment that just arrived last week has Fr8’s in both Vermilion RAL2002 (see picture above) and Patina Green RAL6000 (see picture below), which were both influenced from seeing these bikes during my visit.

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Patina Green RAL6000

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Another first for me on this trip was getting to test ride the e-assist Fr8 (shown above) and Kr8 (below). Electric assist is a hot topic these days and only seems to be getting hotter. For years now I’ve been pretty staunchly anti-e-bike and as of the writing of this post it is still not something we offer or do any service on at J.C. Lind Bike Co.

That said, this visit to Amsterdam and my test rides of the e-assist Fr8 and Kr8 along with my read on our industry and the more frequent conversations I’m having with existing and potential cargo bike customers, I’m starting to come around and see some of the value and legitimacy of e-assist for certain situations. Long story short, with so many pros and cons, it’s a complicated topic which is better left to its own blog post.

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I got a kick out of playing ‘I spy’ with Workcycles bikes on this trip. Here is a photo gallery of the #workcyclesofamsterdam bikes I came across.

Workcycles is never idle. If they aren’t working on a new project, they are busy selling, servicing and improving their existing line of bikes. Per one of Henry’s recent blog posts, it appears some big changes are afoot. It was great chatting with him and learning more about their future plans. Thank you very much to Henry, Richard and the rest of the team for taking time out of your busy schedule to indulge my curiosity. And finally, thank you for making such great bikes.

With all of my vendor visits behind me, I had a few more days left to enjoy Amsterdam and a few more interesting meetings still to come…

-Jon

Amsterdam Diaries Part 5- Onderwater Visit

Wednesday December 14, 2016 

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Next stop on the tour was a breeze with a half hour train trip followed by a ten minute bike ride along the large canal shown above. My destination this morning was just outside of Bruekelen to meet with Ronald Onderwater. Ronald is the founder/creator of, you guessed it, Onderwater Tandems.

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A little side note- Brooklyn NYC is named after this Bruekelen similar to how New York City used to be called New Amsterdam before it was New York. And there is a Haarlem in the Netherlands that the Harlem of NYC is named after. There’s even more in case you are interested.

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From one of our great customers who also happens to be a great photographer

The first two of these amazing head turning thingamajigs we sold were special orders that were stowaways on our early Workcycles containers. Then when we switched over to LTL pallet shipments with Workcycles this arrangement was no longer possible. So in early 2016 we decided it was time to order direct from Onderwater and it was also time to bring in some inventory in addition to special orders.

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That’s me on the left and Ronald on the right

Ronald is an extremely friendly and enthusiastic guy and he has a long history in the Dutch family/cargo biking scene. Let’s put it this way, if there was a Mount Rushmore dedicated to this scene, in my opinion he has earned a spot on it. He is a maker and someone who prefers to work with his hands to design and create.

His workspace just outside of Bruekelen is in a cool industrial park. I say cool because it actually didn’t look like a dirty drab lifeless industrial park like I would normally expect. It was nice and clean with a modern and inviting vibe to it.

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It has a large garage space with an overhead door and on the second floor there is an office space with a kitchen.

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His desk has a great view of the canal and a train line. It was quiet and peaceful and I could see how someone who loves to design and tinker could get a lot done here. It is a dream setup for an independent entrepreneur/craftsmen/engineer.

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We had some coffee and a slice of pie and got acquainted with one another. I once again can’t stress enough how meaningful it is for me to meet the people behind the bikes we sell. Beyond that even, to get along so well with them on a personal level makes me enjoy what I do that much more.

I was struck with two feelings while sitting there enjoying our chat. One was ‘why did it take me so damn long to figure out that these visits would be awesome and that I should make them happen’ and the other was ‘man I kinda wished I’d booked a whole day here’. As it was I scheduled another aggressive two-a-day so I only had about three hours to spend with Ronald before traveling off to my next destination.

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A majority of Onderwater Tandems are sold to rental agencies which makes perfect sense as they are kind of a sleeker version of those beastly 4 wheel Surrey bikes you see every now and then on Chicago’s lakefront path in the summertime. The Onderwater Tandem is indestructible and ideal for active cycling families on vacation. So long story short, if I decided someday to open a rental shop in a touristy coastal town, you could count on me having a strong fleet of Ronald’s bikes.

 

One thing Ronald mentioned that stuck out to me was about the general profile of his individual (non-rental company) customers and that was that they are mostly people with an above average level of enthusiasm for biking. And their Onderwater Tandem is not their first or second or even third bike. I thought that was pretty cool and totally jives with the customers we have sold them to.

Although I was visiting the Onderwater ‘headquarters’ where Ronald handles the ongoing R&D, stocks small parts and runs the sales/admin side of his company; the manufacturing and assemblies are done elsewhere in the Netherlands. As it turns out I had already visited both of the factories Ronald contracts with for this just the day before as Azor and Nijland are both involved with the production of his bikes.

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Here is an Onderwater Tandem that I saw being assembled during yesterdays visit to Nijland. That vibrant Red/Orange RAL2002 color is sizzlin’ hot!

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And here’s some more bold color Onderwater Tandems being assembled at Nijland. Ronald emailed this photo to me just the other day as a nice progress report on our pending order. The yellow one on the right is an XL model that will be available for sale at The Shop this spring and the teal green one next to it already has a home waiting for it here in Chicago.

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The first bike Ronald ever made was a Filibus style cargo bike (not the exact bike pictured above but a very similar front loader cargo bike with linkage steering). He saw one that he really liked and thought it was expensive and that he could make one himself. So he did. He still has that first one he ever made. And he still rides one of his early Filibus renditions to schlep his kite surfing gear to the waterfront.

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What do you do when nobody makes a single speed rear hub that is both roller brake compatible and beefy enough for one of your bikes? Well you make one. At least that’s how Ronald rolls.

We headed into Bruekelen for a quick and satisfying lunch at Loetje. Then Ronald dropped me off at the train station and I was off to my afternoon visit where I was about to see a factory that has been churning out bikes for more than 100 years.

Thank you very much Ronald. It was really great getting to know you and your bikes better and I am already looking forward to my next visit.

-Jon

Amsterdam Diaries Part 2- Clarijs Visit

Monday December 12, 2016 

The first visit on my agenda was with Clarijs (pronounced “Claire-ICE”). They are the makers of the colorful cargo bike rain canopies and bike bags that brighten up our shop and keep our customers’ kids dry and toasty inside their cargo bikes. We’ve been a Clarijs dealer for several years, originally via Workcycles, another Dutch brand. But eventually, we became such big fans of their work and were ordering such large quantities we decided to order from Clarijs directly. We love how you can take one of their bright panniers or Bakfiets rain canopies and instantly give a black or grey bike a dynamite splash of color and personality.

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The trip to see Clarijs took me to the southwestern corner of the Netherlands to the region known as Zeeland. Clarijs is located in the small village Serooskerke which is near Middelburg. I’d never been to this part of the Netherlands before, but even in a country this small, it’s exciting to be en route to a totally new area.

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I stayed with my good friend Joost in Leiden the night before my visit to Clarijs. He was nice enough to offer use of his car for the trip. I was definitely tempted as it would’ve saved me a lot of time vs the train. Ultimately I opted for the train because it’s way more relaxing to see the countryside and you can actually do something with your time. I get stressed the rare times I drive in Chicago when I know where I’m going. Driving directionless in a foreign country? No thanks.

Besides, my main justification for bringing my fancy new folding bike on this trip was for it’s magical multi modal capabilities for just this type of A to B travel. Oh, and it’s probably worth pointing out the last time I drove Joost’s car, I got a speeding ticket in Germany on our way back from Eurobike so that made the decision an even easier one!

2016-12-12-08-10-38Rise and shine from Leiden.

One of my favorite videos I took on the entire trip was on the train ride from Leiden to Middelburg. This is the bike parking at the Bergen op Zoom train station. Yep, that’s the town’s name and yep, that’s how much bike parking is required for this town with a population of 65k! I can’t wait for the day when this sort of infrastructure is common stateside. A guy can dream can’t he? 🙂

Upon arriving in Middelburg, Diana (one of the Clarijs owners) was nice enough to come pick me up at the train station. I got a chance to meet Diana’s husband Frank in the summer of 2015 when we met up at Eurobike, but this was my first time after countless emails getting to put a face with her name.

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Me and Frank at Eurobike 2015

Clarijs was founded in 1948 by Diana’s grandfather and granduncle and originally made leather saddles and then when demand for that slowed down they started making boat sails. They still do some business repairing boat sails and boat covers. Diana and Frank have been involved for many years with running the business and officially took over complete ownership just a few years ago.

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The company is part retail camping (or to be more accurate glamping) store and part bike bags & cargo bike accessories factory. The bike stuff goes down in the back room of the store. The camping shop is closed in the winter which is when they can focus all their attention on the bike business.

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A view of the workshop from the second floor.

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Monique showing me how it’s done.

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A large order of custom branded bike bags for one of their clients.

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Here’s a prototype of a high ceiling rain canopy which they’re messing around with.

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Here is the punch they use to install those giant anti-theft grommets on the top of the bike panniers. Clarijs acquired it via old school bartering with a client of theirs who saw they had a need for such a tool and gave it to them in exchange for some product.

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Stenciling out the back section of a Bakfiets/Kr8 rain canopy.

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As a small, small business owner, I found it fascinating to see how Clarijs (itself a small business) has done everything they can do to make their bag construction as streamlined and convenient as possible. As such, the bag assemblies are done in steps, very much in assembly line fashion. Near the top you see the front/back sides of their panniers with the stripes of reflective material and in the foreground you’ll see the flaps that help to keep the rain from getting in. On the Clarijs cutting room floor, even the flaps have flaps.

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More pre-assembled bag parts in various colors.

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It’s surreal and fun (in a Willy Wonka sort of way) to see huge spools of fabric you find familiar but it’s out of the context you normally see it in, i.e. a bicycle pannier bag.

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Meet the fine folks from Clarijs. Clockwise from back left (Toni, Leo, Twan, Ozzie, Frank, Kees, Diana, Sammy and Monique). This is where the real value of making this sort of trip lies, in knowing the people behind the products.

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Checking out some of the patterns on the recycled bags they had in stock. Clarijs purchases these recycled materials, mostly from old truck tarps and large advertising banners, which they then clean and make bags and covers from them. We haven’t stocked these up until now but I really dig some of them and am now planning to bring some to The Shop.

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Enjoying some oliebollen, a Christmastime Dutch treat of fried dough goodness. Thank you Frank & Diana for your hospitality!

One interesting side note. Clarijs is close to the Oosterscheldekering sea defense wall, which is where they host the Headwind Championships.

I remembered coming across this video in my twitter feed shortly before my trip and then Frank mentioned it while I was there. Isn’t it hilarious just how small the world has become?

Ok, I’ll close on that. Stay tuned for the next part of my journey where I finally get to see where our most popular bike, the Workcycles Fr8, is made.

-Jon

Jumping Into Deep Water

You are a customer looking to buy a bicycle. Not just any bicycle, though. You have seen people around town with strange, large bikes which they use to transport not just themselves, but groceries, and children (emphasis on the plural there). Your neighbor just got one of these bikes to take her daughters to school and you privately admit to envying that active lifestyle.

So, after an information-gathering session disguised as gossiping with your neighbor, followed by a quick google search, you walk into J.C. Lind Bike Co., a respected Dutch city and cargo bike retailer in Chicago. Hence you begin your cargo bike journey. Your excitement is palpable as you ask questions and go for test rides. Eventually you return to the shop with your children and maybe your significant other. But after riding a heavy, durable Dutch bike pregnant with the weight of your kids, you make a sobering realization: it’s heavy, it’s slow, and you don’t feel safe riding by yourself (much less, with kids) in Chicago traffic.

Apart from feeling sorry for the poor saps at J.C. Lind who try to sell these boat anchors, you’re starting to have remorse about wasting your and the bike shop’s time and you want more than anything to back out of the sale. No, it’s not for you after all. You were mistaken. This water is too deep and you can barely tread water here, let alone swim, to finally use the titular metaphor. You also can’t believe what kind of superhuman abilities and/or insanity your neighbors are afflicted with that allow them to manage rolling such a boulder around town. Best to just climb back onto the dry shore, your dependable car, towel yourself off, go home, and put this desperate charade to rest.

Sadly, as an employee of a bike shop that sells Dutch-style city bikes and cargo bikes geared (hate that pun) particularly for families, I see this narrative play out almost on a daily basis. You would think I’d have some antidote for it by now, some way to reach out and stop it from happening. The truth is, I don’t, at least not yet. This very essay serves as my first attempt to prevent the pitfall so many would-be cargo bike owners unwittingly stumble into when first looking to buy a bike–the pitfall being that while you might have the dough and the will, you are unprepared to use a bike that requires a significant leap outside of your comfort zone as well as a not inconsiderable amount of riding experience and proficiency.

I strongly believe that riding a bike in the city with children as your precious cargo is the highest level of commitment and ability a bicycler can achieve. It is truly the 700-level course of bicycling, nay, the Ph.D. program.  I’d say the majority of our potential customers have taken the 100 and 200 level courses but that was ten years ago and they probably missed a bunch of class and just downloaded the professor’s Powerpoint notes (and then missed the class reunion in fashion).

My hope is that I can supply the Sparknotes for the intervening classes. (My hope is that I can also sell you a useful, durable bike).

Before I begin, a brief disclaimer: my best efforts notwithstanding, you may read this all and give it another try, or another ten tries, and still not feel comfortable riding a cargo bike stacked with kids around town. Maybe it’s that your city’s not there yet in terms of infrastructure (show up at those advisory meetings, yo!) or maybe it’s just that you don’t have the coordination to feel safe doing it. <—No judgment here from us. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to establish your comfort level and choose how much you’re willing to push yourself out of that comfort zone. That’s not something I can teach you or sell you.

First, I think it’s empowering for people to recognize that those who are riding around town with their kids like Superdads and Supermoms (your neighbors, perhaps) aren’t actually special. That’s not meant to be demeaning. What I mean is, they weren’t genetically endowed with “cargo-biking, car-free” genes or something. They are normal people, just like me and you, their lives just happened to take a path that led to cargo biking before you. That should encourage you to press on. And from here on out, I think encouragement vs. intimidation is actually the name of this game.

I think the number one reason folks get into the cargo bike ocean about ankle deep and then get scared and jump out is pure intimidation. It’s the unfamiliarity of it all. This bike you may be looking at presents a series of challenges: 1) It’s expensive. We’re talking north of $2000. And that’s before tax! 2) It’s big, and you better have a good spot to store it. If it’s jussssst inconvenient enough to get to day in and day out, you’ll never use it. 3) It’s heavy. Like I said, a boat anchor.  These bikes were designed specifically to take a pounding from the weight of an adult rider, kids, and miscellaneous cargo like groceries, and to do all that daily for a year or more without needing a tune-up. I bet your car can’t even boast that good of a record. And I bet your car is pretty darn heavy. And lastly 4) It can be kind of scary riding in traffic, especially with your kids on the bike.

But again, back to the intimidation, it’s all an illusion, the natural human instinct to preserve the status quo, nothing more. I think with the right encouragement one can learn to trust in that boat anchor and hold onto it for dear life. Assuming you can come up with an answer for numbers 1 and 2 (those are the ones we can’t help you with really), then all you (we) need to do is get you to a comfortable point with numbers 3 and 4.

So, the bike is heavy. With your kids on it, even more so. But, consider the positives: 1) it’s stable and not shifty or twitchy, due not only to its weight, but also its geometry, 2) A heavy bike is harder go really fast on. “But Keith, that’s not a positive!” Yeah, yeah, it may seem counter-intuitive, but riding in the city is wayyyyyy safer if you’re going between 10-12 mph. If you’re used to going 16+ mph maybe on the bike trail that’s one thing, but in the city you’re putting yourself at greater risk. If you recognize that, then you might be able to use the fact of the bike’s weight to assuage your fears about safely riding in traffic. Double Whammy.

Some customers make the point that their commute is eight miles one way, and that it’s just so far to go loaded up with all the weight on an already heavy bike. The coach in me can confidently say, “You can do this” And that’s not just because I want to sell you something. To borrow a line from Morpheus of the Matrix movies, “Do you think how strong, or how fast I am, has anything to do with my muscles… in this place?” Any perceived weakness you feel is just that, perceived. Your legs are the strongest, most efficient muscles for moving you, and bicycles are the most efficient way to move. You might get sore by the end of the day for the first week, I’ll grant you that, but afterward your body will find its new normal.

The only other issue is that you have to give yourself more time to get to where you’re going, whether it’s one mile or ten miles. Actually if it’s just a few miles away you most likely will be faster than a car. But for longer trips it will likely take you longer. Again, find that new normal. You’ll eventually figure out how long it takes you to get to the common destinations in your life and you won’t have to look it up on googlemaps every time before you go. Even at a slow and comfortable pace of 10mph I think you’ll be surprised with how much ground you can cover. Consider the fact that you are exercising while you’re doing this, and hanging out, rather intimately in fact, with your kids. For most parents I know that’s Double Whammy. See? Already we have TWO Double Whammies! You’re growing more and more confident, more and more at ease, I can see it in your face.

The last sticking point is safety, which I only brought up briefly. Starting with this article, I hope to continue writing on a variety of subjects, but I can assure you safety will feature prominently among them. If you haven’t ridden a bike very much in the city, we can educate you about the classic dangers and common situations you may find yourself in, so that you can learn from our experience and prevent them from occurring.

Route planning is key, you’ll want to take your time and plan ahead, sometimes trying out routes for the first time during low traffic days like Sunday. You want to be seen and heard, acting almost as if you are invisible. Having a good set of lights cannot be understated enough and a bell loud enough to command some attention is also a must have.

Maybe you’ll want to ride a Divvy bike with just you on it for a few months and continue to default to the car as the kid carrier (assuming you have a car). Divvy is great because there’s very little commitment. Pay as you go. Whatever you need to do to feel more at ease, we’re confident that you’ll get the hang of it eventually.

We see customers getting intimidated by this decision all the time. Whether it’s the big, new bike, the big, daunting lifestyle, the concept of being a pioneer, or even the price, we’ve seen it. But we’ve also seen the customers who’ve stuck with it, maybe took a little bit on faith, and those are the very same people out biking around town with their kids. Your neighbors. The cargo/family bike experts. We know because of them that this intimidation doesn’t last. It comes down to confidence. For those potential customers who are hesitant neophytes, we’ll do everything in our power to build your confidence. We’ll be your cheerleaders. We’ll be your mechanics. We’ll be your coaches. See? The water’s not that deep. Just put your feet down and see that you were tall enough to touch all along.