Showing posts with label Batavus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Batavus. Show all posts

Monday, April 14, 2014

Batavus Flying D

Unfortunately, Batavus bikes are no longer being regularly imported to North America. But for a period in the mid 2008's they were available through several local bike shops. I became the second owner of a Batavus Flying D, after my first good city bike, a Breezer Uptown 8, was stolen.

Batavus is a dutch company from the Netherlands, but the frames are made in Taiwan or China. The Flying D model has a traditional "Dutch Bike" geometry and appearance, but is made with thick aluminum tubing and modern "29er" wheels.

The wheels have deep rims that are laced in a modern-looking pattern, paired with huge 2-inch thick city tires. This can make it difficult to hang up on a bike hook in a train, but it certainly gets attention. The front hub is a Shimano dynamo plus roller brake, the rear is a 7-speed SRAM hub with coaster brake, with the chain inclosed in a full plastic chaincase with futuristic styling. The bike came standard with a leather Brooks saddle and matching vinyl grips, rear wheel lock, and dynamo headlight.

I later added a dynamo taillight and rear rack to mine, which made it much more useful. The standard metal fenders are a little short, and need rubber mudflaps to be added for full protection. The 7-speed hub is a little finicky, making it difficult get the shifting to work smoothly when the rear wheel is removed and replaced for repairs, and you have to let up on the pedals while shifting, as with most 3-speed hubs (but unlike the Nuvinci and Shimano 8-speed hubs).

The riding position is very upright even with the handlebars at the lowest setting, and the large heavy wheels make acceleration and hill climbing feel slow. But this also means it rides right over potholes without a shudder, it feels like riding on a full suspension. The upright postion feels regal, as you loom over cars and other bike riders, and a tail-wind feels like a magic carpet ride. Just watch out for headwinds and hills, the aluminum frame does not make this bike light-weight.

If you want a "Dutch" bike, I would recommend looking for a Gazelle or Workcycles bike, instead of a Batavus due to the better build quality and looks of those bikes. But this was an affordable option in the used market, which came along at the right time. It originally retailed for about $1100 in 2008 to 2009, and now would be worth about $500 to $600 used.


Frame:  Aluminium
Fork:  Aluminium
Rims:  Deep-section 700c ("29er"), black with silver sides
Tires:  Chinese imitation of Schwalbe Big Apple tires 29x2.20 (52mm x 622 mm); reflex sidewalls
Spokes:  Stainless, 36
Front hub:  Shimano dynamo plus roller brake
Rear hub:  SRAM 7-speed with coaster brake
Shifter:  SRAM twist shifter
Handlebar:  Cruiser-style, riser bar with swept-back grips
Stem:  Alloy
Grips:  Vinyl, leather-look
Bottom bracket:  Sealed
Rear Cog:  18 (I recommend changing to 21t for lower gearing)
Pedals:  Rubber block
Front & rear Brake:  Shimano rollerbrake (front), Coaster brake (rear)
Brake levers:  Right (front) only
Saddle:  Brooks B67 brown leather with springs
Seat post:  Alloy
Chainguard:  Full chaincase, thermoplastic
Kickstand:  Long alloy plus rubber single kickstand
Fenders:  Metal (black painted alloy?)
Rack:  Not included (added on mine)
Lights:  Halogen B&M (replaced on mine with LED headlight and taillight)
Extras:  Bell
Colors:  Matte black

Monday, December 20, 2010

Batavus Fryslan

Batavus produces many modern bike models with aluminum frames and components, but in North America, their classic Dutch style bikes have made the strongest impression. The Old Dutch model, which we previously mentioned, has striking good looks. But the coaster brake and single-speed set-up were not for everyone. In response to requests for a classic-looking bike with more versatility for hill American cities, Batavus designed the Fryslan, based on the Old Dutch frame, but upgraded with classic glossy black and gold paint, cream tires, roller brakes front and rear (operated by hand levers), and a 5-speed SRAM internal gear hub with a twist shifter. 

Like the Old Dutch, the Fryslan includes everything you would expect on a traditional European city bike: a solid galvanized steel frame, chromed steel swept-back handlebars, a vinyl chaincase and coatguard, steel rear luggage rack and kickstand, painted fenders, and a sprung saddle. It even has a rear wheel lock, a bell, and an elastic strap for the rear carrier. The gold details on the glossy black paint combine nicely with the cream tires and chrome handlebars. 

Surprisingly, the traditional-appearing lights are LEDs operated by batter, rather than by a dynamo. This is probably what most people expect in Canada and the USA, but its somewhat disappointing in this price range. The brakes and SRAM hub and twist-shifter are also modern and functional, but not as traditional appearing as the rod brakes on a Gazelle, or the drum brakes and thumb shifter on the Pashley. SRAMs 5-speed hubs have wide steps, similar to those on a 3-speed hub, which results in a total range from top to bottom which is similar to a Shimano Nexus 7-speed hub, and should be adequate for moderately hilly terrain.

Batavus Fryslan - Classic
By Rain City Bikes
Generally the Fryslan is priced at $950, compared to about $825 for the 3-speed Old Dutch. This is more than what you will pay for a modern-styled, aluminum, made-in-Taiwan bike with these components. However, it is several hundred dollars less than the price of a Gazelle or Pashley in this style. Batavus keeps the price lower by using cheaper components, and by partially welding the frame and fork, instead of using labor-intensive lugwork as on more expensive steel bikes. Lovely Bicycle has an detailed post about these aesthetic compromises on the Old Dutch (which shares the same frame).

The Old Dutch 1-speed or 3-speed, the Fryslan 5-speed, the Favoriet (3-speed with hand brakes), and the 1-2-Have (3 speed with coaster brake) can be seen in this catalog by Fourth Floor Distribution catalog, the most official source I've seen. But note that this year the Old Dutch is a 3-speed, and there is no photo of the Fryslan, only a sketch:


Josef at Flying Pigeon LA was kind enough for confirm the components, which changed a little from the catalog. Right now, the Fryslan step-thru is on sale for $850 at his shop.

Frame:  Galvanized High Tensile Steel
Fork:  Hi Ten Steel, unicrown [Sorry, Lovely Bicycle]
Rims:  28" Van Schothorst stainless steel, 635 mm
Tires:  Cheng Shin Traveller Puncture Resistant [Cream]
Spokes:  Stainless steel
Front hub:  Shimano hub for front roller brake
Rear hub:  SRAM Spectro P5 [5-speed internal gear hub, with coaster brake]
Shifter:  SRAM 5-speed twist shifter
Handlebar:  Chromed steel, Dutch-style
Stem:  Chromed steel
Grips: Batavus comfort
Front & rear Brake:  Shimano Front roller brake, rear coaster brake
Saddle:  Paddled plastic sprung saddle
Seat post:  Chromed steel
Chainguard:  Full vinyl and steel chaincase
Kickstand:  Single
Fenders:  Painted steel
Rack:  Painted steel rear luggage rack, 60 lbs capacity
Lights:  Battery powered LED headlight and taillight
Extras:  Rear wheel lock (Trelock RS420), Bell, vinyl coat guard / skirt guard
Colors:  Black with gold highlighting
Sizes:  Step-thru 50 cm (20") and 56 cm (22"); Classic 60 cm (24")
Weight: 19.2 kg (43 lbs)
Price: $950 ($850 on sale)

With addition of Brooks leather saddle
Photo by Adeline Adeline

Frame Geometry

The Fryslan has the same frame as the Old Dutch, which copies the classic Dutch omafiets and opafiets (grandma and grandpa bikes). The seat tube and head tube angles are both around 67 to 69 degrees, which puts the seat far back from the pedals and leads to very stable handeling. The handlebars very high and far back, facilitating a bolt-upright seating position The wheels are 28" tall (635 mm) and heavy steel, and the frame is also large, leading to a smooth and steady ride. Shorter riders may be put off by the 56 cm "small" frame, which is more of a "medium" size, but riders as short as 5'2" should fit the smaller step-thru frame. Tall riders over 6' will be happy with the imposing 60 cm classic frame.

These are bikes meant for riding moderate distances in the city, in all kinds of weather, where good visibility, comfort and stability are more important than weight, twitchy steering or rapid acceleration. They are quite the opposite of a modern (racing) road bike. 


Los Angeles Cycle Chic compared the Gazelle Toer Populair vs the Batavus Fryslan
Cecily Walker bought and reviewed the Fryslan, and has nice photos too. She also wrote a second review 2 weeks later .

Please leave any other reviews in the comments, and I will add a link or post here.

Gazelle (Front) and Batavus (Rear)
By Cosmo at Los Angeles Cycle Chic

Someone at Fourth Floor Distribution, the North American distributor, needs to take better photos of these bikes. In the meantime, check out Josef's Flickr page for a few more shots.

This one is nice, but a simple drive-side studio photo would be great:

Batavus Fryslan Classic
Bespoke blog, Fourth Floor Distribution

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Batavus in the USA: The BUB

Batavus has been making bicycles in the Netherlands since 1917 and they know a thing or two about making bikes for the city. Dutch bikes are different from the typical Trek Hybrid here in the US. The drivetrain is hidden away behind chaincases and hubs so that they don't rust when left out in the rain. The metal parts are all treated to withstand the weather. Brakes are typically coaster or drum, so that they're not affected by bent or grimy rims. Most have a rack on the back that can hold an extra passenger. Oh, and they are mostly black and all pretty heavy by US standards (40lbs+).

In recent years Batavus has hoped to capture some of the export market by making bikes with wider appeal. Some, like the Breukelen, are Aluminum-framed modern interpretations of the more classic bikes like the Old Dutch. The BUB is a different animal because it doesn't try to look like any bike you've seen before. Oh, and it costs about half of the typical Batavus.

What makes the BUB so special by US standards?
  • It has a cool paperclip-shaped frame that has won the prestigious iF Award
  • Well, if you needed to Google "iF Award" like me then let me just tell you that it makes Aluminum tubing look really good
  • It comes with a wheel lock for dashing into your favorite Kebab place for carryout
  • You can get it with front/rear lights and front/rear racks
  • The tires are big and wide but it's not for beach cruising
  • You sit upright to see over the backs of bent-over fixie riders ahead of you.
  • You're tempted to add reflectors to the bike because of the cool colored plastic bits they offer
  • It costs $600 and it's not made in China
You can get a BUB this spring at your local Batavus Dealer. If you actually have a local dealer with Dutch bikes you are incredibly lucky. So head to your local Clever Cycles, or Renaissance Bicycles or Copenhagen Cyclery or Bikes@Vienna and give a Dutch bike a ride.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Elusive Chain Guard

There isn't a feature on a Bike For The Rest Of Us more essential and elusive than the chain guard. 

Why elusive, you ask? 

Just walk into your local bike shop and count the number of bikes with chain guards. Yes, plenty of kids bikes have them, but they seem to vanish when you get to wheel sizes over 12 inches. And if you do happen to have a chain guard sighting it will probably be a partial coverage one that just covers the top half of the chain.

Torker T-300 Partial Chain Guard

On some new bikes the chain guards are so tiny that you'll probably miss them at first glance. These 1-inch strips of metal are very much the thong of the chain guard world providing only the minimal amount of coverage and not obscuring the circular lines of the front sprocket and chain.

Electra Tincino's Low Profile Approach

Now there's no question in my mind that chain guards are essential. They keep your pants clean and remove another barrier from just hopping on your bike and riding. OK, so there are other solutions that people have suggested like cuff rolling, pants strapping and knicker wearing. But a BFROU is about using your bike for transportation. You wouldn't think about special clothing modifications for driving your car, so why should your bike be any different?

Chain guards have other functions like keeping the lube on your chain and the dirt off of it. If you're really lucky you'll find a bike with a chain case. Chain cases enclose the chain on both sides and keep the weather out, extending the life of the drivetrain. Dutch bikes are commonly equipped with chain cases because, like our beloved cars in the US, are made to sit out in the weather for many years without frequent maintenance.

Mighty Batavus Chaincase
Chain guards and chain cases are not without their drawbacks. They add an extra step to removing your rear wheel. Access to your chain for inspection, cleaning and lubrication will be hampered as well. At one time chain guards were fashionable and made to enhance the appearance of the bike; however, now the bare lines of the chain are the desirable visual cue thanks to the dominance of fixie and track bikes.

I'll mention that if you want to add a chain guard to your existing bike they're hard to find and can be a challenge to retrofit. They range from the very functional and plastic
(SKS) to the handcrafted and unique (Velo-Orange). Soma even has a modular one that they say works with front derailleurs. With the resurgence of internally-geared transportation bikes we hope to see more chain guards and more BFROU along with them.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dutch Bicycles

This week, the New York Times did a fashion piece in which it declared the glossy black Dutch bicycle "the new It object." Although still pretty rare, I am starting to see these on the streets of D.C., and apparently they have become common sights in Manhattan, Seattle, and Portland.

The Dutch Opa pictured above (Oma is the women's step-through model) is sold by the Dutch Bicycle Company in Seattle for $1589. They will ship it anywhere in the continental U.S., and they estimate that it costs between $330-365 to ship an Opa or Oma. According to the New York Times story, the Dutch Bicycle Company will soon open a store in NYC.

Dutch bikes, of course, have both style and function. Fenders, chainguards, rack carriers, headlights and taillights are standard. Here are the specs on the Opa:

Frame: Powder coated, hi-tensile steel, available in 57, 61, & 65 cm sizes

Hub: Shimano Nexus eight-speed, sealed, internally geared hub

Headlight: Shimano Nexus hub mounted dynamo powering headlamp and tail lamp
(no batteries needed - ever) 

Saddle: Brooks model B67, sprung leather

Brakes: Front and rear roller

Accessories: Center stand, fenders, mud flap, cargo rack and pump, rear wheel skirts/spats - spoke guards (keeps your skirt or suit clean), fabric and chrome chaincase cover, integrated rear wheel locking system

By the way, the Dutch Bicycle Company also sells German Velorbis models like the one pictured in the very first post on this blog.

In addition, Biria has come out with a Classic Dutch Series that includes this 21" Classic Dutch Men's:

The specs are similar to the Opa:

Frame: Hi-Ten Steel, 52 cm (21")

Fork: Hi-Ten unicrown

Rims: 28" steel black

Tires: 28x1.50

Gear: 3-speed Shimano Nexus

Brakes: Rear Roller and front v-brake, Alloy

Colors: black, dark red

Standard: full Chain guard, fenders, front and rear lights with generator, kickstand

Finally, don't forget the Dutch and Dutch-style bikes that we've already discussed on this blog, including the Batavus Old Dutch, KHS Green, and Electra Amsterdam.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Batavus Old Dutch

Let's face it: the most utilitarian yet elegant bikes are the ones that are being pedaled everyday as basic transportation in Old World Europe. Just take a look at the blogs Amsterdamize and Copenhagenize. Europeans ride a whole lot more than Americans and they look good while doing it.

As some of us Americans have clamored for more "bikes for the rest of us," companies such as Batavus have tried to market their bikes here. The women's Old Dutch, pictured above, retailed for $829.99 at City Bikes, but it's currently not in stock.

Old Dutch is a 3-speed with an SRAM hub, making it ideal for cruising around a city. It comes with a "theft prevention chip" and a lock, but I would strongly suggest double locking it in underground parking garage. This is a bike that attracts attention.


Frame: High Tensile Steel (sizes 50-56)
Luggage rack: Steel
Taillight: Manual with battery
Tires: CST Traveller with anti-leakage layer
Bell: Chrome
Crank: Steel, chromium plated
Grips: Batavus comfort
Headlight: Traditional battery-powered
Pedals: Plastic anti-slip
Brakes: Coaster
Lock: Trelock RS420
Carrier Straps
Spokes: Stainless steel
Mudguards: Steel
Stand: Batavus Safety adjustable
Handlebars: Steel, chromium plated
Rims: Stainless steel
Saddle: Selle Royal 8274

Yes, that's a lot of steel. The Old Dutch weighs in at 19.7 kg, or about 44 pounds.

This is, in so many ways, the antithesis of most bikes being marketed to Americans today. Maybe, some day, our bike shops will look like this one visited by Dave Hembrow in the Netherlands. Until then, many of the best "bikes for the rest of us" will come from Europe.