Dutch bikes, Townies, and other CF bikes - CycleBlaze

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Dutch bikes, Townies, and other CF bikes

Mark Boyd

I recently watched a video on You Tube called "Why Dutch Bikes are Better". It is about the classic Dutch bikes that I have seen everywhere in the Netherlands and, occasionally, in other European Countries.   It is a good 10 minute video that argues the virtues of the Dutch bike as everyday  transportation. I enjoyed watching it and it got me thinking about two other bikes, that seem like their design might have been inspired by it .

The first bike I thought of was my RANS Fusion which I've posted about both here and on crazyguy. It can be thought of as rather sports version of a 'comfort' bike. The second bike I thought of was the Electra Townie. Trek sells them now and claims they are the best selling bikes in the USA.  I always thought the Townie was a crank 'half' forward design based on the RANS CF comfort bikes but it is really even more like the Dutch Bike

I've never met a bicycle tourist on a Dutch bike but I bet that Dutch folk have toured on them. In standard form, they are single speed bikes, but the video showed versions that used a geared hub - no not a Rohlof! - but still a useful addition - and they all come with very sturdy rear racks and good fenders. 

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1 month ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Mark Boyd

I'm not sure how those bikes would be on non-flat terrain. I've never lived anywhere flat. 

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1 month ago
Graham SmithTo Mark Boyd

Mark the Koga World Traveller such as Vince’s bike might match ‘The Dutch Bike’ description. Especially because it is really a Dutch bike.

https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/vince/the-bike/

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1 month ago
Mark BoydTo Graham Smith

The Koga World Traveller is  a great bike and, other than its cost and flat handlebars, is the kind of bike I have toured on for many years. It is not, however, very much like a the classic Dutch bike except that it is made in the Netherlands and designed to take a lot of abuse.

In the video about Dutch bikes, which is well done and fun to watch, a point that is stressed from the beginning is that the seating position is very upright. I've just come back from my daily ride which, today, I did on my CF bike.  I bought that bike because of its very upright seating position.  On it, even more than on my V-Rex, I can really look at all my surroundings as I ride. On my upright touring bike I mostly look at the road ahead and my front wheel. On the Koga, I would have  the same view.

While I do appreciate the ability to look around while I ride, especially when I'm touring, that wasn't why I bought a CF bike.  More than a decade ago, I ended up riding a 200 km day with Saskatoon randonneurs  who were doing a 600 KM brevet. I was riding on my fully loaded touring bike, but we had a great tailwind and the ride was flat so I could keep up with them. There were about a dozen of them, all very experienced randonneurs, and roughly half of them were riding recumbents.

 When I was riding with that group, I asked why they were riding recumbents. Most of them said it was because it had become too painful to ride long distances on upright bikes. Most of those said the thing that caused the pain problem was their neck.  

My neck is why I bought a CF bike. I can no longer ride my road bike - a very comfortable Waterford 1200 - even around town and my touring bike with 5omm wide tires at low pressure, still  causes me neck pain on rough roads. The CF bike is actually not quite as comfortable as my recumbent, but but neck pain wasn't a problem when I toured on it.

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1 month ago
Mark BoydTo Jacquie Gaudet

Single speed bikes are not suitable for hilly terrain, but there is very little hilly terrain in the Netherlands. Most places I've toured in the US and Canada aren't that flat, but, even in my old age, I could still tour all of them on either my CF bike or my recumbent because I've e-biked both bikes ;-}. I live in Asheville, NC which is NOT a flat place.

Townie now offers e-bikes from $1600 to $2900 or, like me, you could e-bike  an existing RANS CF bike or have your bike shop do it.  It only takes a few hours.

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1 month ago
Graham SmithTo Mark Boyd

Mark it is great you’ve found a solution for the next pain.

Many years ago I had a single day in Amsterdam visiting various museums and the extraordinary science centre there. It was a work trip. I needed to be able to get around easily and quickly to fit in with a meeting schedule, so I hired one of those classic Dutch bikes. It was great fun to ride. Other than the upright position you mentioned, another distinguishing feature is the very relaxed head-tube angle and long front fork rake. This geometry gave a considerable comfort advantage absorbing the bumps on the many cobbled streets of Amsterdam. The bike had a very cruisy ride feel with its  combination of big, under-inflated tyres, long wheel base and relaxed front-end frame geometry.  I’ve ridden similar hire bikes in Vietnam, India and (not surprisingly) Indonesia with its post-colonial Dutch style bikes. They are also fun, comfortable, cruisy bikes to ride. 

My latest bike indulgence is a titanium 29er with fat (2.6”) tyres running at 35 psi. A Curve GMX+, an Australian brand.  It’s designed for off-seal touring. The Curve will take a rear rack, but it’s really designed for a bike-packing set up with soft bags and fork cages.  The frame geometry is very relaxed, and with the big wheels, and low pressure soft tyres it is amazingly comfortable on rough stuff roads. I’ve only had it for a month or so and have tested it doing a few hundred kms unloaded on local fire trails and tracks. So far so good. The real test will be a loaded tour.

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1 month ago
Mark BoydTo Graham Smith

I hadn't thought about the " the very relaxed head-tube angle and long front fork rake. " but that is also a major feature of the RANS Fusion along with the long wheelbase. Interestingly, that isn't a feature of the Townie bikes although  a Dutch style rear wheel lock is and they use weird - well not too weird since they are made by Shimano so they must be popular somewhere - hub band brakes which are at least more like the hub brake on the Dutch bikes. The fusion has v-brakes.

The fusion is quite fun to ride and comfortable on gravel roads. We don't have any cobble stone around here. Mine has 47-559 tires - my favorite 26" touring tire -  I think one of them is a Travel Contact and the other is a Contact Travel which is the newer version because I had just one new 26" Travel Contact in my stock.

I expected the Fusion would be slowed down by the upright riding position but I really don't notice any difference in coasting speed compared to my upright bike which has drop bars and a somewhat stretched out riding position. 

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1 month ago
Graham SmithTo Mark Boyd

“Dutch style rear wheel lock is and they use weird - well not too weird since they are made by Shimano so they must be popular somewhere”

They are very popular in Japan. From what I saw in Tokyo, the Japanese out-Dutch the Dutch with cruisy, comfortable, urban utility bikes. They almost all have the rear wheel lock and a stand. Theft is almost unknown there but they still use the wheel lock.   And lots of e-bikes.  I can’t recall seeing any CF bikes in Japan. They do have lots of 20” mini-velos and folding bikes. Storage space is scarce there.

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1 month ago
Mark BoydTo Graham Smith

I'm used to seeing things like the rear wheel lock in Europe. That weird referred to the hub band brakes. I'd never seen those before. They actually make a lot of sense for a utility bike since, I assume ,they are not affected by rain and last a very long time.   Some reviews I read said they weren't very strong, took too much force to operate, and, in the context of the heavier (60 lbs) and faster e-bike version of the Townie, might not be strong enough.

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1 month ago
Edward HitchcockTo Mark Boyd

You refer to rear wheel locks.  I assume you refer to locks fixed to the frame that immobilize the rear wheel.  "Frame lock" is a better term I think.   They do not prevent the bike being picked up and put in a van, but otherwise provide very effective protection against opportunist ride-away theft.  Very easy to lock and release.  Better an 80% lock that you actually use, than a 95% lock that you only use sometimes.  For me the frame lock is excellent for shopping stops, but not sufficient for  leaving a valuable bike in the same place all day most days.

Someone commented on recumbents on the prairie.  It seems to me that recuments are specialized for speed on (windblown) straight flat roads.    But potentially the cause of serious injury if you put a foot down at the wrong time.

I ride an upright touring bike wearing whatever shorts come to hand, so the reported comfort of recumbents does not attract me.  I prefer to be higher up where I can see and be seen,  react better to my environment, and have better control and better climbing ability.

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1 month ago