Amsterdam Diaries Part 10- TwoTone Amsterdam Visit

Friday December 16, 2016 Continued

One of the first appointments I locked down for this trip was to meet up with Jon Woodroof. Jon is the founder of TwoTone Amsterdam, a consulting/PR agency that does work with innovative start ups including many companies in the cycling industry. They also happen to have a really entertaining newsletter that I always find to be a worthy read. For a quick intro to Jon, check out this recent interview of him from Amsterdam based startup Headroom.

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A peek inside the Twotone Amsterdam space

Flashback to September 2010…

I first met Jon back in 2010 when he was visiting Chicago from Atlanta with his wife and their son and they rented a Bakfiets from us (disclaimer- we no longer offer rentals at The Shop). It was really great meeting them and Jon was super into what we were doing importing Dutch bikes to the U.S. as he had previously ran a bike shop of his own in Atlanta.

Chicago Trip, write up coming soon

photo credit – Jon Woodroof

Chicago Trip, write up coming soon

photo credit – Jon Woodroof

For more sweet pics of their time in Chicago including some early days shots of The Shop, check out Jon’s flickr photo album.

We stayed in contact for a while through social media and I remember seeing pictures online of his wife’s bike; a first generation Civia Loring (a bike we used to sell and one that deserves it’s own post on our blog as it was such a beautifully crafted city bike).

Fast forward to September 2015…

While on another one of my trips visiting Amsterdam and what do I see in the service shop at Workcycles… a Civia Loring.

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The Civia Loring all Dutchified with Clarijs panniers, child back rest and a Bobike mini child seat mount.

Seeing a U.S. bike brand like Civia in Holland certainly got my attention but that alone wasn’t enough to make the connection it was Jon’s wife’s bike. Then later that same day while getting a quick demo of Workcycles’ point of sale software, I noticed the name Woodroof in their work order queue and quickly put two and two together.

I was excited to learn that Jon and his family had made the move from the US to Amsterdam. I then joined Jon’s TwoTone Amsterdam newsletter and made a mental note to try and connect with him on a future trip. Which brings me to my visit today with Jon.

Fast forward to now (December 2016)… 

After spending some of my afternoon with Henry Cutler at Workcycles, I made the hop skip and a jump bike ride over to TwoTone’s work space.

I booked my meet up with Jon for Friday afternoon with the intention we could have a beer together heading into the weekend. But we were both completely zapped from a long week so the happy hour idea never got off the ground.

It was a really nice time catching up and hearing how he is pulling off the dream of settling down in Amsterdam with his wife and raising their kids. As someone who loves bikes as much as Jon does, he sure has found himself in no better place on earth to live out his cycling passions on a daily basis both professionally and personally. I often think about pulling up stakes and making Amsterdam home again someday and it’s super encouraging to hear from people who make it happen.

It was also cool sharing with Jon what The Shop has been up to lately and what I have in mind for the years ahead. If I could draw one parallel between us, aside from both being no ‘h’er Jon’s, I would say it’s the passion we put into what we do and how much of that is derived from the partners (in his case clients, in our case suppliers) we choose to support and represent.

Speaking of, we will be representing TwoTone Amsterdam here at The Shop with a nice supply of their sweet TwoTone Amsterdam x VERA bike caps.

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We have a small shipment of these fresh lids on order. Stay tuned to the blog for updates on their imminent arrival.

Thank you Jon for taking the time to meet up. We will leave that beer for next time!

Well that’s all folks! I appreciate you taking the time to join me on this ride. This was undoubtedly my most productive trip back to Holland. It was fantastic to learn more about this little corner of the bike industry that we are a part of and see for my own eyes how many of our suppliers do what they do. I am heading home to Chicago with my passion for everything Dutch bikes fully stoked and more excited than ever for the future of The Shop.

Until next time Amsterdam.

-Jon

Amsterdam Diaries Part 9- Coffee With Pete Jordan

Friday December 16, 2016   

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Back when I was making out the schedule for this trip, my strategy was to get the supplier visits locked down first and then leave some open room for meeting other relevant, interesting people. High on my list of people I wanted to meet was Pete Jordan.

Pete Jordan is an American who has lived in Amsterdam since 2002. He is also the author of the book ‘In The City Of Bikes: The Story Of The Amsterdam Cyclist’. This book first came to my attention from a customer’s recommendation a few years ago. It is hands down the most entertaining and informative book I’ve ever read about Dutch bikes and the history of biking in Amsterdam. If you are into Dutch bikes, this is must read stuff here.

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I’ve read Pete’s book cover to cover twice now and I often go back to reference specific sections like Chapter 6 where he highlights the key factors that have lead to the Dutch obsession with bikes and how it contrasts with the United States’ obsession with cars. I dwell on this section of the book a lot as someone who dreams of cities like Chicago someday resembling Amsterdam with a constant stream of bikes up and down every street. This chapter is a bit of a double edged sword; it’s inspiring for me to read about the Dutch biking culture but equally depressing reading about how historically ingrained the car culture is in the US.

When I first finished his book, I was inspired to meet Pete someday. I really wanted to meet this fellow American expat who moved to Amsterdam and was as nuts about Dutch bikes as I was. Our lives followed similar trajectories up until a point; that point being when I decided to move back and sell Dutch bikes. Pete on the other hand decided to stay and make Amsterdam his permanent home.

I reached out to Pete a few months before my trip to try and arrange a meet up. I was really excited when I heard back that he was available and up for it. After I got to Holland we settled on a place and time and met for a coffee at de Wasserette (Dutch for The Laundry) in De Pijp neighborhood of Amsterdam.

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This cafe provided the backdrop of our conversation

We hung out for about an hour and had some great conversation. It was really cool and kind of strange, having read his book I felt like I knew him already and was catching up with an old friend. Pete is an easygoing and friendly guy, it certainly helped that we have such a strong commonality in our passion for all things Dutch bikes.

In addition to being an accomplished author, Pete also happens to be a talented photographer. I picked Pete’s brain about how to capture and share the experience of Dutch biking. When I come to Amsterdam on these trips this is something that I always try to do but can be really difficult. I want to make this experience available in the virtual sense to the J.C. Lind family, where they feel like they are a part of the action. I mentioned to Pete how it can be frustrating when you either can’t get your camera ready fast enough to capture a Mom biking by with 5 kids on her bike, or, right after you put your camera down the action you’ve been patiently waiting for rolls right past you. Pete made a good suggestion which is to narrow the focus of what you want to capture. So you tune your radar, turn it into a fun challenging game and only pull your camera out for that preordained theme you’ve chosen to capture; ie. people transporting their Christmas trees on their bike. For a prime example of his strategy in action, check out this post from the Workcycles blog (Beldoppen: Why Only Some People Can Be Artists) about a really cool photography project of Pete’s.

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De Lairessestraat – a highly trafficked street in the Oud-Zuid (Old South) neighborhood of Amsterdam

I took the above photo the day after I met with Pete as this particular street came up during our chat. This is De Lairessestraat, a long straight street that runs the entire length of the linear Vondelpark (Amsterdam’s iconic city park). It is an arterial street, highly trafficked by many modes of transport as you can see. It also happens to be a street that has what in Dutch terms is inferior bicycle infrastructure. Cyclists have no protections from motorized traffic and have to share a narrow space with parked cars to their right and trams/cars/buses to their left. Pete mentioned that Amsterdam’s city hall is currently discussing potential improvements to make this street safer for cyclists. Just like here in the states, they have the same NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) folks who object because they don’t want to lose their parking spots. However, Pete pointed out very casually that this being Amsterdam the city council ultimately will side with the cyclists.

It was encouraging and refreshing to hear such places exist where the local government prioritizes cycling. It hasn’t always been this way in Holland. One of the key takeaways from Pete’s book for me was that the Dutch biking culture is not something that just came naturally or without any resistance or effort, the Dutch have had to fight long and hard for it.

I recommend checking out the above YouTube of Pete’s appearance on David Letterman while he was promoting his first book ‘Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All 50 States’. Not only is the video hilarious but it will also give you a great introduction to Pete. I haven’t read ‘Dishwasher’ yet but I just ordered a copy and it is next up in my reading list.

We have ‘In The City Of Bikes’ in stock at The Shop and I gotta say, I get almost as much joy from selling a copy of Pete’s book as I do from selling a bike. Thank you kindly Pete for taking the time to meet with me, I hope to see you again the next time around.

The sun is starting to set on this trip, stay tuned for my final entry where I’ll wrap things up.

-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 7- Bicicapace Visit

Thursday December 15, 2016

After three days of exhausting travel by train and bike throughout most of the country, it was nice to sleep in a little and only have a 10 minute bike ride to the next bullet on my itinerary. That bullet being a meet up with Bicicapace, a young cargo bike brand out of Milan Italy with whom we’d been in touch for about a year.

Once I had booked my trip to Amsterdam, I reached out to Stefano from Bicicapace to see if it would be possible to test ride their bikes during my visit. As luck would have it, our schedules aligned and they were going to be passing through town on dealer visits around the same time.

I was thrilled to finally be getting a chance to see and ride their bikes after a long period of looking at pictures and reading about them online. Bicicapace makes three models, the Classic, JustLong and Sport. I was able to try out both the Sport and the JustLong.

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Bicicapace JustLong with Sport model and my Brompton in background

Right out of the gate the JustLong fits seamlessly with what we offer at The Shop. It is a dedicated family truckster cargo bike, capable of transporting two kids on the long rear rack with Yepp seats or on a cushion for older kids. When I rode it, it handled really well and I was pleasantly surprised with how stable it felt even with a full size adult passenger on the back. The 20 inch wheels keep the center of gravity nice and low, and the low step through frame make it a great option for a wide range of rider sizes.

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The JustLong rear armature ring is a kiddie retention system that also doubles as a basket for other cargo as seen in the picture below.

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When riding on the back it’s good to have a place to put your feet.

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The JustLong rear rack is compatible with one or two Yepp Maxi Easyfit seats.

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The JustLong comes with Option A- Folding Flatbed front rack (above). Or Option B- 80 liter PVC/Cordura front mounted bag (below).

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The Sport model, as the name implies, is sportier and less upright than most of the bikes we sell. The handling of the Sport was responsive, making it an agile bike, perhaps better suited for messengers or somebody who wants to carry cargo without siting bolt upright.

So you’re probably wondering whether you will be able to see these in Chicago anytime soon? I’m happy to report the answer is yes. We have a shipment from Bicicapace arriving imminently. Stay tuned to our website and social media channels for news of their arrival.

But wait, that’s not all! Stefano and Claudia also introduced me to Velo-ce, a brand of stylish Italian city bikes. High on looks without sacrificing on smart practical features. This spring we will be bringing in the Classic Draisina. Dyno powered lights, roller brakes, internal gearing, 2 leg center stand with fork spring, chain case and Brooks saddle. These are all of the types of things we are into here at J.C. Lind Bike Co. These also happen to be the things which unfortunately are hard to find in most bikes.

 

Velo-ce Draisina Classic Green

The Velo-ce Draisina Classic in Verde Pastello

It felt great knowing I’d be returning home having successfully scouted out some new blood for the shop. This is one of the big reasons why I make these trips. Discovering bike brands I never knew existed before and getting some valuable hands on experience with new product.

Thank you very much Stefano and Claudia for making the trip to Amsterdam, next time I think I’ll have to come and see you in Milan.

My morning visit with Bicicapace complete, I had the whole day ahead of me to explore Amsterdam on my bike and drop in on the guys at Workcycles. Check back for the next installment as my trip keeps rolling on.

-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 4- Azor Visit

Tuesday December 13, 2016 Continued

After my morning visit at Nijland, I made my way to the town of Hoogeveen to visit with Azor Bike. Azor is where all of the Workcycles classic city bikes we sell are made. They are also the home of the original Bakfiets.nl cargobike we used to sell from Workcycles in the pre-Kr8 days. Lastly, Azor is where some of the Onderwater Tandem bikes we sell are produced.

It was a pretty aggressive move on my part to schedule visits to both Nijland (in Heeten) and Azor (in Hoogeveen) on the same day. Lucky for me the trains all ran flawlessly on time and I didn’t get a flat tire.  2016-12-13-14-16-34

This is probably as good a time as any to give my ringing endorsement of the Dutch train system and the NS Reisplanner Xtra app for scheduling and fares. My memories of train travel from back when I lived in Amsterdam 10 years ago were always riddled with anxiety and uncertainty. I boarded the wrong train more than once back in those days despite being someone who is more than happy to ask around to conductors and other passengers if I was on the right train. Thanks to this handy dandy app, the days of missing transfers and waiting in the info kiosk line to find out which platform I should go to were over.

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Above is an image of my itinerary to get from Raalte to Hoogeveen with easy to follow platform instructions. Below is a map of the route.

2017-02-27-19-20-58Ok, back to Azor.

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Curious where the name Azor comes from? Azor founder, Jan Rijkeboer, wanted to have a cool logo with a silhouette of a bird of prey. After researching names he came across Azor and liked it and thought a short and easy to remember name was a good idea. BTW- Azor is Spanish for Goshawk.

First stop on the factory tour was the wheel building station. This being a factory and not a bicycle shop, building wheels the old fashioned way without a machine won’t cut it. So, somewhere along the line someone invented this cool piece of equipment specifically to speed up the wheel building process.

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Space. Having enough of it for building these large bikes is a serious demand. This is something we can relate to being a small bike shop that sells large bikes. In the above photo a Bakfiets frame is suspended upside down mid-assembly. Note the amount of space the factory has given to this station. You can tell that they recognize the workers’ efficiency is dependent on having enough space.

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Azor takes the quality and durability of their bikes very seriously. They continually test everything to ensure it can take a licking and keep on ticking. Aside from the usual beating with a hammer and drop testing, they put all parts in a salt spray chamber designed to mimic years worth of living outside in the Dutch elements to make sure they will not succumb to rust easily.

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Some colorful combinations in the queue of the Azor assembly line.

Here’s a photo gallery with more…

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Thank you Jan for taking the time and giving me such a thorough tour. And thank you kindly for this cool embossed metal Bakfiets.nl sign. It hangs proudly on our wall at The Shop.

The know your commodity chain tour is just getting going. Stay tuned for the next installment when I once again test the reliability of the Dutch train system with two visits on the same day.

-Jon

 

 

Amsterdam Diaries Part 3- Nijland Visit

Tuesday December 13, 2016 

Next stop on the know your commodity chain tour was Nijland (pronounced “Nih-LAHND”). The name Nijland most likely doesn’t ring a bell. That’s because we don’t sell a brand of bikes called Nijland, but we do sell a brand I’m sure you are familiar with called Workcycles. Nijland happens to be where all of the Workcycles F/K/G r8 family of bikes are produced and they are located in the town of Heeten.

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In addition to Workcycles, Nijland is a contract manufacturer for other similar small scale bike brands such as Onderwater, the classic Bakfiets, Brik and a brand we used to know well- De Fietsfabriek. Nijland also designs and produces their own line of adaptive bikes for riders with disabilities. According to the Nijland website, they have 13 employees, I have a feeling based on what I saw that this number has grown some.

The day started when I woke up to my alarm clock having overslept. This resulted in a mad dash to the train station through a steady rain in the pitch black morning before sunrise. I had to catch a train from Leiden to Amsterdam to meet Richard (from Workcycles) to then get on another train headed to Deventer. I narrowly made the train and then connected with Richard at Central Station-Amsterdam and we were off.

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This photo of the Workcycles crew was taken at their headquarters in Amsterdam on my trip back in summer of 2015. Richard is on the right there. Great guy and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him. He’s the right hand man of Workcycles founder Henry Cutler and my main point of contact on all of our dealings with them. It is fantastic having someone I can depend on to reply to my emails and help get our bike orders produced and shipped out in a timely fashion.

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After we arrived in Deventer, we had about a 40 minute bike ride through the countryside to get to Nijland. I had a great time between the train ride and the bike ride to the factory chewing the fat with Richard and learning more about how Workcycles operates. There is a ton of R&D, testing, moving parts and suppliers involved to take one of their bikes from concept to finished product. It was enlightening for me to peel back some of the layers of that onion and gives me a greater appreciation for their awesome bikes.

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The factory bosses boss bike.

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There is a dedicated team of three Nijland employees who perform all the Workcycles F/K/G r8 bike assemblies right here in this section of the factory. It was a pleasure meeting them and shaking their hands. I sometimes forget how much of a role the human element plays in the products we sell. This is what getting to know your commodity chain is all about, after all, and sadly, it’s something we’ve strayed from as economies have gotten less and less localized. Therefore, being here and meeting the folks who do this was kind of mind blowing. This is high quality attention to detail small scale manufacturing and it was really neat to see it first hand.

The other interesting thing to see is how the industry has become specialized in such a way that, if you want to make bikes, you don’t front the overhead for a factory to build them. This is because in such a huge economy, your business is busy enough dealing with designing and marketing the bikes. So, you contract a factory to build the bikes, and if that factory is successful, they’ll be good enough to build bikes for a variety of companies, all of whom might even be rivals in the market. This is basically what Nijland has done.

Here is a gallery of images giving you an inside look at this part of the factory.

A peak at the upper floor where painted frames and parts are stored

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An oldie but a goodie. Early days Workcycles Fr8 with a Massive Rack that is used as a factory transport bike at Nijland.

The highlight for me was definitely the painting shop. Nijland used to outsource their paint work so everything had to be transported back and forth to the powder coater. This was costly, time consuming and also left more chance of scuffs and dings during transport. So Nijland decided to invest in their own state of the art painting facility and we were given a thorough tour which was just amazing.

Here’s a step-by-step of how the magic happens…

STEP 1 – Degrease, wash and pretreat

STEP 2 – Primer coat

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STEP 3 – Pick your RAL number (30% is Matte, 70% is Semi-Gloss)

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STEP 4 – Powder coat

STEP 5 – Bake in the oven

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STEP 6 – Don’t touch the oven!

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Then marvel at the beautiful powder coating

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Thank you Richard for making the trip to Nijland with me and giving me the grand tour. It was a real eye opening experience.

After lunch, Richard and I parted ways and I raced off to the Raalte train station. Here’s a little video of my ride, if I sound a little winded, I was in a rush to catch that train.

Where was I heading that afternoon? Well you’ll have to stay tuned to find out!

-Jon