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My impression of the Electra Amsterdam

Posted by on December 19th, 2006 at 2:53 pm

On test: The Electra Amsterdam
All photos by Jonathan Maus,
unless otherwise noted.

When I first saw the Electra Amsterdam in an ad in Bicycling Magazine I was stunned. Not just by the bike’s drop-dead gorgeous looks, but because of what the bike signified to the U.S. bike industry and American cycling in general.

U.S. companies have long offered various city and commuter bikes, but none of them has ever captured the design elegance, romance, and simple functionality of the archetypal Dutch city bikes ridden for decades in the most bike-friendly cities on earth.

Most American attempts I’ve seen have either catered too much to the lycra-set, or have been so expensive and/or woefully geeky looking that a large demographic of potential cyclists would never be compelled to ride them.

If we want those “interested but concerned” Americans to take more short trips by bike, we must offer them a bike that is simple to operate, efficient, affordable, and most importantly, has a design that strokes their ego.

The new Electra Amsterdam accomplishes all those things…and does it with style.

Before I get into my impressions of riding the Amsterdam, there are a few things you should know.

About me

I’m about 6′ 2″ and weigh around 175 pounds. My riding background and style is more racer than charity-rider and around town I usually (when I’m not on an organized, fun ride) take a no-nonsense, get-to-my-destination-quickly riding style.

About the bike
I tested the “Classic” model which has an internal Shimano Nexus 3-speed, steel frame, alloy rims and a coaster brake. Retail is $550 and the bike weighs 39 lbs. [The "Sport" version is lighter (30 lbs) and comes with an aluminum frame but without some accessories.]

OK, on with the test.

On test: The Electra Amsterdam[Photo by Ethan Jewett] On test: The Electra Amsterdam[Photo by Ethan Jewett]

Before throwing a leg over it, I stared at the bike to take in all the features. I noticed tasteful pinstriping, classic, yet-evolved frame angles, ample fenders, faux leather grips and saddle, and tastefully chromed accents. Taken all together, this bike has outstanding curb appeal, without looking forced or fake like a mid-life crisis Harley.

Missing from the Amsterdam is that quintessential Dutch bike feature, the rear-wheel lock. I suspect this is something that got left on the design-room floor to help hit the sub-$600 price point.

I like how they made the stout pannier rack attach to the seat tubes via integrated slots in the seatpost collar. That’s a nice touch. And on the other end, Electra gave the rack big loops to hook your panniers and bungees to.

But looks only get you so far in this business. The real test is how the bike rides and holds up on the street.

Ace Bike Gallery mechanic Brett Flemming — who built up my test bike — said the Amsterdam went together pretty well. His only nitpick were the crank bolt caps. They didn’t quite fit the sculpted crank arms (which have been made custom for the Amsterdam) and were difficult to install (he suggested rubber push-in caps). Sure enough, upon returning the bike yesterday, I noticed one of them had fallen off.

My only other issue was that the shnazzy rear wheel cover/fenders popped off somehow and I had to fanangle them back on to prevent the rear tire from rubbing. This was merely a minor annoyance and was easily fixed, but I wondered if it would happen again.

Once I stopped looking the bike over and threw a leg over it, my first impression was the size and reach of the handlebars. They were much larger than I expected. At first they reminded me of a beach cruiser and I really hoped this bike would be more of a serious, get-around town machine (but I should just learn to mellow out I guess).

Sitting squarely on the saddle (which is quite cushy and stylish) the bars deliver the “leatherette” grips a mere foot or so from my ribcage. I felt like I was sitting in my living room on my favorite chair, arms resting on armrests. The position — although different than I’m used to — was immediately comfortable.

Electra is well known for the “Flat Foot Technology,” a design puts the saddle and cranks in such a position so that “when the rider is sitting on the saddle, his or her feet can still stand flat on the ground.”

On test: The Electra Amsterdam On test: The Electra Amsterdam

While not as drastic as their Townie models, the Flat Foot Technology still came through, resulting in a just-relaxed-enough position.

But with bikes, as in life, there’s no free lunch. The comfy riding position means that the bike isn’t quite as efficient and speedy as I prefer. Also, the slightly laid-back position, combined with the large sway of the handlebars meant that getting out of the saddle wasn’t as easy or graceful looking as I would have liked.

As for climbing, I found the 3-speed (with a 38 tooth chainring up front) to offer a nice range of gears. But make no mistake about it, this bike is not for the West Hills commuter, but it’s fine for short grinds and most hills around Portland.

On test: The Electra Amsterdam

Coming to a stop at the bottom of hills, I was pleasantly surprised by the feel of the coaster brake. You can sort of feather the brake before it really engages. And it’s a strong brake too. In wet conditions, I slammed in reverse and the coaster brake responded solidly. I’m used to coaster brakes skidding and being either on or off, but with the Amsterdam, the feel is much more modulated and smooth.

And speaking of smooth, the Shimano Nexus twist shifter is like butta’. Compared to all the finicky, old Sturmey-Archer 3-speeds on Schwinns in my basement, I could shift with the flick of my wrist, even while pedaling.

The creature comforts (braking, shifting, geometry) of this bike are very well done and it’s clear that Electra did their homework, but where this bike really shines is in its handsome stance and Hollywood good looks.

on test: the Electra Amsterdam

I’m not the only one who was compelled by the Amsterdam’s distinctive styling. As I rode the bike around town, I noticed lots of stares (the best ones came from people in their cars!). One hipster in front of a coffee place really liked what she saw. Astride a beautiful, pink, vintage Italian, DIY fixie, she commented that it would be great for her friends that aren’t has “hardcore” as she is.

Several people said the bike reminded them of old Raleigh 3-speeds. One guy on Mississippi Street did a complete 180 as I rode by him. I looped back around to give him a closer look and he said it reminded him of an old Japanese commuter bike he used to own.

As the days passed, I found myself appreciating the leisurely vibe of the Amsterdam more and more. It’s a bike that demands nothing of the rider. You can simply get on and get going and suddenly you’re comfortable, enjoying the ride, and because of the upright position the bike affords, you can take in the city in ways you may have been missing…and you look oh so stylish all the while.

In the end, this bike will be a big success for Electra and with any luck, its dashing design, comfortable ride, and utility-based features will give more Americans that gentle yet all-important nudge to finally leave their cars in the driveway and go by bike.

If you have specific questions about the Amsterdam, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. And don’t forget, you’ve got until the end of the month to enter the raffle for you chance to win one for yourself!

To get your own impression of this bike, visit your local Bike Gallery and tell them you heard about the Amsterdam on BikePortland.org.

[See all the photos in my Electra Amsterdam gallery (some images taken by Ethan Jewett / Stickeen).]


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Comments
  • jeff December 19, 2006 at 3:04 pm

    Nice write up, great looking bike.

    For me, speed can very often mean safety in this auto-centric country, so I wonder how I’d feel in some of those situations. Likely though, it’d prompt me to trend toward slower, lower traffic streets.

    I’m soooo entering this month’s raffle “)

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  • margaret December 19, 2006 at 4:00 pm

    Hi,

    Nice write up!

    I’m 5’2″ and wondering about size considerations for this sweet bike. Also curious to know how it might compare in weight to other commuter bikes, not that any would be as heavy as my current ride.

    Thanks!

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  • Jonathan Maus December 19, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    Margaret,

    Remember that this bike also comes in a step-through design. It’s also interesting to note that it only comes in one-size. The geometry allows that to work for most everyone.

    I can’t say how it would fit you, but best advice is to go try one out.

    As for weight, the “Classic” version is steel and has some extra do-dads (including the internal hub) that add weight.

    The Sport version is probably significantly lighter due to the aluminum frame and singlespeed drivetrain.

    hope that helps.

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  • Dabby December 19, 2006 at 5:07 pm

    This is a great article and a nice review.
    I must point out that the Flat Foot technology is very bad for your knees, for many obvious reasons.
    The most apparent is it will lead to being ridden with a improperly adjusted seat height.
    Due to the demographic that this bike is aimed at, this can cause more problems than ever.
    The demographic is one already laced with knee and back problems, and such a seating style will on wear on many peoples already aching joints.

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  • oneil December 19, 2006 at 5:30 pm

    Wondering how this compares to the Bianchi Milano. Contemplating a commuter bike purchase early next year, would love some feedback.

    Thanks!

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  • SKiDmark December 19, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    Actually, the “flat foot technology” is designed to alleviate improper seat height adjustment. By moving the seat back (or the crank hanger forward) you maintain the proper distance from the seat to the pedal and you gain the ability to put your feet flat on the ground without moving your butt off the seat.

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  • fixieboy December 19, 2006 at 7:00 pm

    Jonathan,
    I have a good question…….
    any cops look at you on that bike? just wondering if you were in danger of getting a ticket for “not” having a “brake”.

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  • Kate December 19, 2006 at 9:16 pm

    I corresponded with an Electra rep. about weight of the Amsterdam at one point, and he said the aluminum “sport” version is about 25 lbs. and the “classic” steel frame is about 30 lbs.

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  • Jessica Roberts December 19, 2006 at 9:53 pm

    I’m still pretty sceptical on that flat foot “feature.” I like to stand up on my bike, and have a good position for seated hill climbing, and my previous experience with Electras was bad on both those fronts.

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  • Eric December 19, 2006 at 10:04 pm

    Margaret, I’m maybe even a little shorter than you, though I have a short torso & proportionately long legs & arms. I found the Amsterdam (I rode the step-through frame) super comfy. Here’s my comment on a previous note: http://bikeportland.org/2006/12/08/the-amsterdams-have-landed/#comment-98971

    You should at least take it for a test drive.

    Oneil, I think it’s better suited for a leisurely commute than an efficient & speedy one. Jonathan refers to the “leisurely vibe” and that’s exactly right. Never ridden the Bianchi, so I can’t directly comment on the comparison, however.

    I echo Jonathan on the skirt guard – the clip popped loose when I was riding it. But the brakes & shifting were terrific – just like Jonathan said.

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  • SKiDmark December 19, 2006 at 10:31 pm

    So basically just like a road bike, they are not for everybody.

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  • sarah_o December 19, 2006 at 11:45 pm

    My beautiful pink bike is a single-speed, not a fixie. ;) And the more my friends ride, the more “hardcore” they’ll get! Oh, and the Amsterdam was quite the stunning ride. Hope to see them about town…

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  • greg December 20, 2006 at 12:39 am

    I have a 3speed townie and its very hard to ride standing up, but i love it sitting down. The handlebars get in the way of your knees when riding standing up. I usually end up in first gear most of the time and 2nd when i’m picking up some speed. I wish instead of 3rd gear there was a gear more hill friendly than the first gear that is there now. That being said, I love my townie and wouldn’t trade it for any other bike. The amsterdam looks great, and if I didn’t have my townie I’d buy one immediately. I use my bike daily for quick jaunts around NW and downtown, so I’m pretty target market here.

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  • Chris December 20, 2006 at 4:39 am

    Two questions:

    Did you feel like you were pushing the size range for the bike? I am 6’4″ and 210lbs (although hopefully some of that will come off if I start riding to work – my racing weight was 185 about 10 years ago).

    Can you mount a child seat on the rack that comes with the bike? As an expectant father I’d love to be able to take the little one to daycare on a bike rather than haul along a baby-sling, diaper bag, and whatever I’m already carrying for my job.

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  • Gary T December 20, 2006 at 4:51 am

    Jonathon,

    The Sport model is lighter because of the aluminum frame and the lack of accessories but both models are equipped with a 3 speed/coaster brake rear hub.

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  • bArbaroo December 20, 2006 at 8:24 am

    Dabby,
    I couldn’t tell from your comments if you know that the flatfoot style DOES allow for proper seat adjustment and, because of the laid back geometry, accomodates putting your feet on the ground. Sorry, if I’m telling you something you know. By my observation Electra geometry is saving the knees of those who would not be comfortable with the toe-touch style of traditional geometries. There are lots of casual folks out there that are intimidated by the “high” seat position of traditional bikes and run their seats to low in order to feel in control. Electras are a great solution -foot down AND proper seat adjustment so that knees are NOT strained.

    Electras are for a more casual set and as Jessica and Jonathan both noted that laid back geometry do not make standing to pedal natural. However, I know folks that really make Electras work hard – commuting from West Linn to P-town and doing 40+ mile recreation rides and they love the flat foot technology: might not have gotten back on a bike without it.

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  • [...] via Bike Portland By Rocky Thompson [...]

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  • Mike December 20, 2006 at 10:56 am

    I wonder how easy it is to change a rear flat on this bike. I assume it’s got a slotted drop out, so you would have to move the fender to slide out the rear wheel. Combine that with releasing the coaster brake, unhooking the internal three speed hub, and removing the chainguard. Then you have to hook it all back up. What tools would need to be carried to do this I would feel comfortable doing this, but I’m not the bike’s target market. Would the casual rider be able or willing to fix a rear flat or is this a bike that will leave someone walking at the first sign of trouble. I feel bike’s should be user friendly and the difficulty of removing the rear wheel to change a flat (something that happens to us all) creates a barrier alot of people aren’t willing to cross.

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  • Mike December 20, 2006 at 10:57 am

    I wonder how easy it is to change a rear flat on this bike. I assume it’s got a slotted drop out, so you would have to move the fender to slide out the rear wheel. Combine that with releasing the coaster brake, unhooking the internal three speed hub, and removing the chainguard. Then you have to hook it all back up. What tools would need to be carried to do this I would feel comfortable doing this, but I’m not the bike’s target market. Would the casual rider be able or willing to fix a rear flat or is this a bike that will leave someone walking at the first sign of trouble. I feel bike’s should be user friendly and the difficulty of removing the rear wheel to change a flat (something that happens to us all) creates a barrier alot of people aren’t willing to cross.

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  • Dabby December 20, 2006 at 11:15 am

    I understand what the flat foot technology is trying to do.
    I am saying I do not think it really does it, nor is it a good thing.
    Also, the words properly adjusted and entry level bike do not go together, in reality…

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  • spaz December 20, 2006 at 11:38 am

    Chris:
    Most baby seats come with a rack specifically desgned for the seat to clip into. I’m not sure of the weight rating for the Amsterdam’s rack, but I wouldn’t trust it with my kid. If you need to cary a lot of stuff though, you may be better served by a trailer. Size-wise, it seems to me that you’d be pushing it at your height, though I was suprised at Jonathan’s compatabilty at his height.

    Margaret:
    The step through (ladies’ version)comes in one size, which is a bit smaller than the one size the diamond frame (men’s version) comes in. Also, the weight of the amsterdams is more like 30 and 35 lbs, not 25 and 30. Most new commuter bikes will be noticeably lighter, even after fenders, rack, and lights are installed.

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  • adam December 20, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    man, I want one! unfortunately, I have two bikes already. and, I have to go do somethings for awhile. luckily, you can rent these in amsterdam for like 10 euro per day.

    sweet! I am jealous that you have figured out a way to make money by “testing” bikes. that is clever.

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  • Cecil December 20, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    “luckily, you can rent these in amsterdam for like 10 euro per day.”

    Next time I am lucky enough to be in Amsterdam, I will keep that in mind. Unfortunately that doesn’t help me here. Guess I’ll just have to by some more raffle tix in the hopes of pretending I am in the land of sane bicycle (and other) policies. Let’s see, assuming I would be in the Dam at least a week, at 10 euros per day that would be approx. $92 – that’s 23 tickets . . . :-)

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  • adam December 20, 2006 at 1:26 pm

    raffles and lotteries are for people who think about math differently than I do.

    however, I can find 10 euros if I look in the right places. you should visit amsterdam, very bikey place and, fantastic museums…good luck with that ticket.

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  • pushkin December 20, 2006 at 1:38 pm

    To Chris post #14 –
    Child seats are about the most dangerous thing you can put your child in. It is surprising that they are not illegal. Think for a moment about what happens when you crash. Now compare that to a Burley trailer for kids.
    DONT’T buy a child seat, get a trailer. Be safe.

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  • Burr December 20, 2006 at 2:04 pm

    “…unfortunately, I have two bikes already.”

    Only two? You need more bikes, dude!

    ;-)

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  • adam December 20, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    I can only ride one at a time. of course, I had to get a second bike in november when my fast bike was not safe to ride…how many do you have?

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  • Burr December 20, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    More than I can ride at once.

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  • beth December 20, 2006 at 7:54 pm

    That it’s gorgeous, there’s no argument. Stunningly beautiful.
    Get me a lobster bib.

    But I echo Mike’s concern about ease of self-repair. Am I the only person who thinks that people who ride bikes as primary, daily transportation ought to be able to perform their own simple roadside repairs with a minimum of fuss and pain?

    Shimano Nexus hubs are smart, efficient and work beautifully when properly adjusted. I work in a shop and I have watched professional mechanics get annoyed with these things when they go to fix a rear flat. That’s why many shops charge twice to three times as much labor on these rear wheels as they would on any other kind of wheel. And I don’t blame them. Nexus hubs are a pain to remove and replace, especially when the customer is waiting and in a hurry.

    I love the visual aesthetic of this bike but would not own one unless I had the option of a single-speed coaster brake or a 5- to 7-speed rear deraillieur, either of which would be far easier to deal with on the fly.

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  • patrick December 21, 2006 at 9:56 am

    hey jonathan,

    thanks for the review. Well done.

    the “fender/wheel-cover” at rear is called a skirt guard.

    I still think the fashion is too heavy on these bikes; most people would be better off with a “city-bike conversion,” which is to say, a decent-shape used mtn or road bike, with a newly installed tall stem and swept back North Road or Albatross bars. But that concept is a lot less marketable than something called the Amsterdam…

    There is certainly a market for these machines. I wonder how many of them I’ll see on the road in the coming year.

    Patrick

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  • SKiDmark December 21, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    Patrick, there are quite a few bikes out there already like you describe. Redline offers a singlespeed or fixed one. Some people just want to go into a shop and buy something of the floor. These people also equate new with reliable and old with broken down. There are not going to search for a vintage Raliegh or a Dutch bike or be interested in building lighter wheels for it or putting up with the idiosycracyies of a 30 year old Sturmey-Archer hub. For them it’s Retro not vintage. And that’s cool for me because when they get sick of that old Schwinn Jaguar and buy an Electra I can buy the Schwinn off them really cheap.

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  • pdxmark December 21, 2006 at 5:53 pm

    Here’s what Sheldon Brown says about fixing flats on Nexus rear wheel:

    Shimano Nexus Hubs require the cable to be unhooked from the control ring. This is explained on my Nexus Mechanics Page. With Nexus hubs, it is often easier to open up one side of the tire and patch the tube on the bike, because this type of hub is the most difficult to remove.

    Here’s his Nexus Mechanics Page:
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/nexus-mech.html

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  • Cecil December 21, 2006 at 9:01 pm

    “you should visit visit amsterdam, very bikey place and, fantastic museums”

    I agree, it is indeed one of my favorite places, even if we spend more time in the coffee shops and bars than we do in the museums. The food is better in Belgium, though. ;-)

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  • Scout December 23, 2006 at 5:54 am

    It’s interesting the Electra Amsterdam is geared toward the non-rider, considering how many little problems you had with it on your first ride, Jonathan. I’d be only slightly miffed if a nut or bolt popped off, but I think the average Jane or Joe, not accustomed to riding a bike usually, would be fairly pissed at the number of things which went wrong on your single test ride.

    I’ve lost count of the number of bikes I ride by on any given day, where a tire is clearly rubbing or some part is loudly and audibly squealing, and I assume those people are either riding their bikes like that out of ignorance or necessity. Many people willing to drop 500$ on the snazzy toy, however, are probably much more inclined to bring the bike back or give up on it altogether with so many problems on the first outing. It’s a shame to hear, but let’s hope your particular bike just had some kinks which will get worked out easily enough with some feedback between bike owners and builders.

    That being said, I’m a proud owner of more wrenches and tools than any girl needs, and I wouldn’t kick that cute little bike out from under my Chrismukkah tree!

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  • [...] If you’ve been drooling over the Electra Amsterdam (read my review here), you’ve got just five more days to enter the raffle for a great chance at winning one! [...]

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  • Josh December 27, 2006 at 9:01 pm

    Dabby, the Amsterdam does sit one back slightly furhter than traditional geometry, but the bike certainly does not allow for flat footn’ it like the Townie does. Therefore, the ‘dam is easier to stand up on..

    Also, I believe that knee placement over the pedal is completely irrelevant-a myth (Read “Bike Design” by Mike Burrows and observe the variance in pro racers positions). It will, of course, affect total power output.

    Oneil, I am a huge fan of the Milano, and now a huge fan of the Amsterdam. The Milano is more utilitarian in that it incorporates more gears (8), has two hand brakes, is lighter, and puts the rider in a more powerful position. However, the position and comfort on the Amsterdam are astonishing.

    The Milano: Short, Medium, and Long distance commuter over most asphalt, and at home in fairly busy traffic (nimble).

    The Amsterdam: Short-medium commuter and FUN bike for thoses living within a few miles of their favorite hangouts. Better on sidewalks than Milano due to slightly wider tires (actually a big plus).

    Chris, I am totally confident you could fit an Amsterdam with a stem change. Also, look at the Townie, as it fits very big (Townie 700cc 3spd is a beaut).
    As for anyone pushing 220lbs, seriously consider a handbuilt wheel in the back.

    Skidmark, I agree, the Amsterdam is not for everyone. The Amsterdam is not for those with commutes 10+ miles; and its not for those who must always ride fast atop a nimble converted race bike (fixie), but like Jonathan said, its exciting to see a new bike that holds so much promise for appealing to such a wide variety of people (even die-hards). I dream of car-free downtowns, where everyone walks or rides their cruisers/’dams/fixies/lifestyle bikes.

    Patrick, the Amsterdam makes more sense than most bikes. I’ve raced road, mtn, and cross, and I’ve sold bikes for 7 years–still, I have to wonder why the vast majority of bikes on offer wedge the seat between your legs, placing much of your weight against your most sensitive bits. My car has been a cross bike for 7 years, and I’m just now realizing how little sense it makes for riding the 2 miles to my girlfriends apartment, or meeting up with buds at the bar a mile away. It pure joy to hop on a bike in normal clothes, sit up on a cushy seat, not bend down to roll up or peg my right pant leg, never clip on a fender, transition from street to cracked sidewalk without a second thought, and just enjoy the ride.

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  • jackieNYC January 2, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    how about thefact that you cant put a basket up front? i was just at the bike shop looking into an amsterdam (men’s…for a woman) and the front light would be in the way. i know there’s a rear rack but i do my food shopping and commute on my bike so i need a basket to carry all that stuff. it’s killing me that this little issue is basically breaking the deal for me. any suggestions out there folks?

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  • clinton rider January 2, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    We saw two young women cruising Clinton on Amsterdams this past Sunday afternoon. Fully dressed up as if to go out on the town. Reminded me of old-timey “Sunday in the Park” pictures. They looked like the happiest riders I’ve seen in a LONG time!

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  • Greg Raisman January 2, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Jackie:

    Batavus recently started to have a USA web page. usa.batavus.com

    This follows rumors that they’re going to sell their full line of bikes in the states. I wonder if it’s going to be true soon.

    Check out the Personal Bike Delivery model in their Everyday Use Specials section. No prices on the page. No places to look to buy them. But, seems like another step closer to real Dutch bikes coming our way.

    Greg

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  • tonyt January 2, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Good question jackieNYC. The Amsterdam screams out for a wicker basket. I think the basket/light conflict is probably why a lot of generator-light equipped bikes mount the light on one side of the fork.

    Not that you want to get involved in a ‘rig’ as soon as you buy a bike, but any mechanic worth his/her salt should be able to mount that light on the handlebar to get it up and out of the way.

    As an aside, my experience as a former mechanic, is that generator-lights are one of those things that you really WANT to work well, but more often than not, they start to get finicky or just plain fail. Maybe they’ve done it better on the Amst., but I’m a bit skeptical, especially given what our Portland winters tend to do to bikes and everything attached to them. It’ll probably suffice for use as a cool errand bike, but as a daily rider? I’m thinking not so much. I’ve seen the solder points on generator-light wires fail again and again. Kind of a pain.

    Let the flame war on generator lights begin.

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  • Jonathan Maus January 2, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    Greg,

    Unfortunately I have major doubts that we will see authentic Batavus bikes here in the U.S. I’m trying to find out the final word, but based on what I’ve heard from their potential U.S. distributor it doesn’t look good.

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  • Sizzlak January 5, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    This review is very accurate to my experience. I just want to add, that this bike is the most comfortable ride around. I’m pickin up a classic this weekend. Shouts to all the peeps in Oregon from your friends in NorCal.

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  • Todd Boulanger January 9, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    After visiting the Electra Amsterdam bikes at Bike Gallery last Friday…more thoughts on these bikes…in response to some of the recent posts:

    - go for the classic step through model…it has the most classic Dutch look…the blue is stunning and the black is classic. These bike are robust and at a fare price point.

    - front basket options with a head lamp, you could mount the lamp on the fork with an old school dynamo bracket or look for a European rack with either a lamp bracket on one of the posts or on the basket itself (Biria.com bikes come outfitted with this type of basket) or a lamp cut out (the Boston Lux model http://www.basil.nl).

    - the other option would be to install a low rack…so that the lamp was not blocked; like the type that Paul Components sells (see Flatbed Rack): http://www.paulcomp.com/

    - the bike looks to have internal routing of the lamp wiring, so rerouting of the cabling for a low mounted light may have to extend this.

    - the bottle generator outfitted on the bike looks to be pretty low grade (I did not ride it in the dark), so one my want to upgrade it if using it a lot especially in the winter). This type of incandescent head lamp throws a decent beam, though the original Union bullet lamps were some of the best.

    - the existing skirt [or trench coat] guard has not been designed to make installation of a wheel lock (AXA type), one would have to enlarge the slot to make room or use a U lock.

    - Over time the plastic brackets on skirt guards will likley break…so zip ties can be a solution. (This is the same option for rattling chain cases.)

    - the rear rack is likely long enough to support sizable panniers away from one’s rear heel, though the large gauge of the rack tubing may make it frustrating to outfit it with typical US spec panniers…seek a European model with broad hooks (Ortlieb)…or zip ties or a true Dutch saddle bag without hooks.

    - the chain case is not truly enclosed…more like 3/4, as the back side of the case is partially open to the rain…I am not sure why they did not enclose it fully…though it is good enough to keep your pants clean and the chain relatively dry.

    - the bikes are outfitted with basic tires and spoke reflectors…given the difficulty of flat repair I would suggest upgrading to a thorn proof inner tub with slime and a Schwalbe Marathon tire (or similar) with a reflective sidewall. The look would be perfect with a set of white Schwalbe tires on a black bike.

    - remember that this bike will likely have a longer than normal wheel base and so it might take a bit more work to take it on transit (not a very Dutch thing to do…just ride there). Try hanging the bike by its rear wheel on the MAX if it is too long by the front wheel.

    Happy riding!

    (Hey Jay … has Bike Gallery looked at carrying some Amsterdam friendly bike gear for the new Electras? I worry that Electra may not have thought this thing out completely…and missed the urbane accessories opportunity – to set them selves apart until Batavas enters the US market.)

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  • djkenny January 28, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    Hey oneil
    One way the Amsterdam compares to the Milano, and a positive one as well, is it has bigger 700 wheels. The Milano costs about the same and the mini wheels mean less distance covered.

    I road the Milano and liked it quite well. The Bianchi Bergamo on the other hand, offers a better riding experience due to bigger wheels and a few other features. Less classy than the Amsterdam though.

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  • tom March 12, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Thanks for the article; I see it is in the buyers guide, but reading from above, I don’t like that the crank bolt caps could easily come off. I have a Motobecane 27″ inch ’70s type bike boom 3 speed made in Taiwan, so I am familiar with the old hassle of the bolts on the crank arm. It is a lot like those older 3 speeds. I will mull over this, I finally want to buy a new bike and the Amsterdam certainly caught my eye in the bicycling magazine’s product issue. It looks great. Likewise, I empathize with the above gentleman querying about fixing a rear wheel flat; it can be chore.

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  • Kevin April 12, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    I have owned my Amsterdam for about 2 weeks now and absolutely love it!
    I live in Santa Barbara, CA where I commute daily about 2 miles over low hills and flat. The 3-speed IMO is perfectly geared for this type of terrain, and I don’t feel that the weight is an issue. It is very solid overall and the styling is second to none. I even think it’s more classically styled than the present day Gazelles.
    The most common comment: “I hope you’ve got a good lock. That thing’s gonna get stolen.”
    And thanks to Jim from Bikesmiths in Carpinteria, CA.

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  • nicnyc April 22, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    I drooled over this bike here in a NYC shop and couldn’t wait to research it. My 1973 Raleigh Sports (garage-kept and never ridden by sweet old lady for those 33 yrs) has been lost to me so I’m looking for a replacement with the Euro style and this bikes makes me want to buy new.

    Now I bike all over Manhattan and into Brooklyn over bridges several times weekly as well. Someone please tell me that this is a suitable option for me. If not, I’ll cry, then buy a BIanchi Milano maybe. Oh anyone have experience with the German-made Biria? Have my eye on a Touring Sport 3 speed. I wish NYC were as bike-cool as Portland!

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  • Todd B. April 23, 2007 at 12:25 am

    Hi Nic of NYC.

    I have many Dutch bikes…and like the step thru model of the fendered Amsterdam…there are a lot here in Portland…its looks are more classic. All you need for this bike is to upgrade the generator (perhaps a hub type), add some white tyres with reflector sidewalk (Schwalbe), add a rim wheel lock and Claris panniers and you could be in the NL. Remember you can swap out for a larger rear sprocket if you have trouble on the hills.

    Our office fleet has some off the first Birias imported into the US. Great frame and ride but very very cheap accessories and head badge (fell off on 2 of 3 bikes). A great bike if you have mobility problems with higher frame styles.

    You may want to also look at the Breezer too…expecially if it is a used Villager 8, etc. Or a Brompton with a hub lighting (you can take it on the subway too).

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  • nicnyc April 23, 2007 at 6:42 am

    Thanks Todd B. Now I can cross Biria off my list. But why add white tyres to the Amsterdam? And I just realized I’d need to add brakes too. I think the add-on list is growing too much.

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  • Todd Boulanger April 23, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Hi Nic,

    The white tyres are just a classic Dutch thing on vintage or retro city bikes (all tyres historically used to be white or off white – the colour of latex rubber). The reflector band on a tyre sidewall is much more effective and visible to cars (when moving and stationary) than the US spec reflectors.

    Why more brakes? Are you carrying children/ cargo or riding down very long steep hills? A coaster/ back pedal brake is all one needs in the city unless you are going 15 mph+ or load carrying.

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  • Nic April 25, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Ok yes thanks Todd. I’m waiting for my dealer to call. It should be delivered on Friday! No I’m not carrying kids. I’m all city Manhattan, sometimes over bridge to Brooklyn. ;)

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  • Tim May 18, 2007 at 9:29 am

    Hello,

    Like Nic, I also live in NYC and commute about 8 miles each way from Brooklyn to Manhattan, five days a week. I want to know if the Amsterdam is efficient enough for this kind of distance or if I should go with the Bianchi Milano.

    Thanks.

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  • Jonathan Maus / BikePortland May 18, 2007 at 9:37 am

    Tim,

    I think you’d be happier with something a bit lighter and speedier than the Amsterdam. in my opinion, it’s really not ideal for such a long commute. you’d be much better off with the Milano.

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  • Greg Raisman May 18, 2007 at 9:45 am

    What about the Tikit?

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  • Tim May 21, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Thanks, Jonathan and Greg, for the advice. Is the Milano more of an upright riding position than a regular mountain bike (I have an older trek now).

    Tim

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  • tonyt May 21, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    A nice in-between bike would be the Bianchi Bergamo. It has 700c wheels and a cool look.

    The Milano’s 26″ wheel size is really unfortunate, making it much less speedy than it could be. God knows why they went with that size.

    Tim, it’s hard to compare the Milano to a “regular” MTB since there is such a HUGE range of fits to be had. One thing that I will say though, is that back when I was selling them, I would almost always end up putting riders on a size larger Milano than they would normally ride on any other bike. Something about that bike’s fit that was kind of weird.

    So if you’d normally ride a 17″, check out the size larger.

    For a commuter bike I always recommend 700c wheels. MUCH speedier over the long haul. Smoother too.

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  • Tim May 22, 2007 at 8:26 am

    Thanks, Tony, for advice on the Bergamo and on wheel size. I will check it out.

    Tim

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  • Tim May 22, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Greg, I looked into Bike Friday’s Tikit. Does anyone reading this site have substantial experience with using a folding bike for regular commutes? I like the idea of being able to take the bike on public transportation if need be, but must admit being skeptical about this type of bike for regular commuting.

    Tim

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  • Richard Wilson May 22, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Tim – also check out the Brompton folder. I’ve ridden both the Tikit and the Brompton and much prefer the latter for a variety of reasons. The Brompton is already very widely used in London and New York by urbanites such as yourself, can easily be stashed under your desk or taken on bus or subway when need be. It’s an excellent design and only takes a few folds before you get the hang of it…

    If you’re still skeptical about whether these things can cover the distance you are talking about check out this video of the recent world championship Brompton races in Barcelona!

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  • Tim May 22, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Awesome video, Richard! There’s a couple shops in Manhattan I can test ride the Brompton and the Tikit.

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  • Todd Boulanger May 23, 2007 at 7:23 am

    I have had many folders over the last 10 years.

    The Brompton is the best overall folder for city + transit use: foldability, folded size, and bagage/ accessories. But becareful of the small wheels and potholes/ tram tracks.

    The Bike Friday is best for long tours. It main weakness is the time it takes to fold completely down to a Brompton size package. It has the best trailer option. (Do not wait to long to buy your Brompton – the cost is going way up due to the weak BUSH dollar vs. Pound exchange rate.)

    The Strida…great balance of price and folding quickness. Odd riding behavior.

    Dahon has a great range of models and overall price points…a great way to try folding. Best affordable option for integrated hub dynamo and lights.

    An Oregon made folder – the Swift. I have not ridden this one yet.

    Clever Cycles in Portland will carry the Brompton and BikeFriday.

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  • Greg Raisman May 23, 2007 at 7:51 am

    Todd:

    From the look of things, I would be really surprised if the Brompton completely folded as fast as the Tikit. Maybe someone can make a video of that race?

    Clever Cycles will have both models to compare. I’ve heard the difference is the Tikit handles more like a “regular” bike than the Brompton. But, the Brompton feels more solid when it’s together.

    I’ve also heard the Dahon are really good.

    I thought the Tikit initially because he lives in NYC and the super fast folding and compact size would be great for hopping between modes there.

    Speaking of videos, check this one out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bnb7ETdPR20

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  • Richard Wilson May 23, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Greg -

    Granted the Brompton doesn’t fold quite as fast as the Tikit – but that said, it probably only takes another 15 seconds or so once you’ve got the hang of it.

    For the type of multimodal transit I do I am never cutting it that close to making a train or bus, so fold time is not so critical to me as folded size. I started shopping for a folder because during peak commute hours I was always in competition for the limited bike hooks on Max. When I couldn’t get a hook I found standing up with the bike and jockeying around trying not to block the aisle or get grease & dirt on my fellow passengers to be at least as, if not more, stressful as driving to work. When I demoed the Tikit alongside the Brompton I found it to be noticeably bigger and significantly more awkward to handle when folded – it was bulky enough that it didn’t feel like the answer for lower stress commuting… The Brompton is so much easier to carry and just fits so many more places on transit than the Tikit – and it also stands up nicely on it’s own once folded which comes in very handy, too.

    The stylish new Dahon Curve is very appealing for the price and almost as small folded as the Brompton. It also features the cushy Schwalbe Big Apple tires. Anybody got one or had a chance to ride one for comparison? I haven’t been able to find any local shops that have one in stock.

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  • todd May 24, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    The tikit folds completely in three to five seconds with practice. But the Brompton folds halfway in less than one second to a form with a smaller footprint than the completely folded tikit. What’s more it can be rolled around in this half folded state and used as a shopping cart, free standing: http://clevercycles.com/blog/?p=100 . The tikit’s fold is pretty whiz-bang, but ultimately I don’t think its fold compares with Brompton’s in real usefulness. Instead I think the tikit competes on the very normal feel of its handling (though it’s too flexy for my taste, others pan the Brompton for feeling squirrely) and fit for people of unusual dimensions or just particularly stringent fitting requirements. The tikit’s use of more standard bike parts throughout makes it easier to customize, and perhaps easier to service outside the more proprietary Brompton’s somewhat spotty global support network.

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  • Thomas June 2, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    I bought mine today…should be put together and ready to go by 3 tomorrow afternoon! A test ride convinced me that it’s worthy.

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  • AT of VT June 2, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Fantastic review, helpful comments. Thank you!
    A couple of questions:

    -Classic vs. Sport- Mostly I’m curious about the difference in weight and how it effects the ride. Has anyone tested both?

    -Coaster brakes- Are they enough if I’m towing a trailer (with kiddo in in it?)

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  • Ruro June 4, 2007 at 8:27 am

    It’s great reading all these comments. Has anyone actually attached a bike seat to the Amsterdam and carried children around? Can you use the rear rack on the classic, or is it better to install your own? I would like to use this bike for that. Thanks for any information.

    This bike looks perfect for my needs, in Cambridge, MA. It’s great looking, too. In response to a much earlier post about the safety of children’s bike seats: the flat foot technology combined with the step through frame makes riding with a child’s bike seat (and child) quite safe. I have ridden around Amsterdam with my son and always felt in control on those bikes, unlike the ones you usually find in the US. I could stop instantly and put my feet down to balance if I needed too. Being able to step through the frame helps manouver the bike around with the added weight of a child while always holding onto the handlebars. The danger happens on bikes with child seats when you cannot put your feet down and you are always leaning forward to ride. Those bikes should not have bike seats and children on them.

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  • Thomas June 5, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    Do not buy this bike! It is a complete piece of junk. The skirts? Plastic. The headlight? Cheap plastic. The kickstand guide? Plastic. I already regret buying it…I have yet to have a ride without incident. There are these tabs in the chain guard (which is three pieces), one of which gradually unbends as I ride. The result? Not after long, my chain is grinding against it. I only diagnosed the problem today, but it keeps bending out, causing me trouble. But far scarier is how this bike is not \”hardy\” at all, unlike how one would expect a Dutch bike to be. I hit a moderate bump on a paved bike trail today, and the chain fell off the gears. Want to have some fun? Try stopping your bike with your feet, going over 30mph down-hill at night because your brakes stop working when the chain falls off. And you\’d better have tools, because the chain guard prevents you from re-attaching it to the gears.

    Oh, and did I mention the \”generator\” for the light? I\’m going to get that removed ASAP, as it\’s worthless and possibly a safety hazard. If you hit the slightest bumps, the generator wheel goes off-line. If you\’re lucky, it goes up and just stops sending energy to the headlight. But if it goes down, it rapidly gets caught in the spokes. I\’m lucky the thing hasn\’t broken off yet!

    Amsterdam has cobblestone roads, and I\’m sure their streets, sidewalks, and bike paths are just as bumpy as mine. In fact, I\’m sure that they\’re rougher. This poor imitation wouldn\’t last a second on a city street: It can\’t even last on bike paths and paved neighborhood roads for me.

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  • Thomas June 5, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    Note that I didn\’t enter those slashes before every quotation mark and apostrephe. The web developer needs to disable Magic Quotes in the PHP, or invoke \”stripslashes\” to keep these out. Just thought I could lend some knowledge, as I do a little PHP development.

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  • Ruro June 6, 2007 at 9:56 am

    Thomas,

    Thanks for your comments. I will definetly think about it. I need a solid bike and this is great feedback. It\’s too bad they cannot do a better job on a great idea.

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  • Thomas June 8, 2007 at 8:12 am

    Well, I take back my comment that you should absolutely not buy this bike. Rather, make sure that the dealer you buy it from looks it over thoroughly, and does the following:
    * Tightens the chain
    * Fold down the metal tabs on the chain guard\’s rear section, which will otherwise scrape the chain relentlessly
    * Tighten the generator hub in its proper position

    With the chain tightened, barring a snapped chain, there\’s no longer the risk of it falling off. And the generator should not be able to move vertically, only between the on and off position.

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  • Cheryl in SF June 15, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Probably not the type of bike to take on a ride with 30 mph descents!

    I am really interested in checking out this bike, but am concerned, as Thomas mentioned, at the amount of plastic parts and its overall sturdiness. Has anyone else had a negative experience like his?

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  • Jill Seeking Bike June 18, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    It\’s great to find so much information about Electras and comfort bikes here. Today I tried out an emerald green, lady-style Electra 8-speed (not sure about model name) in Vancouver, B.C. It was a lot of fun to ride and fairly easy on the hills. However, it retails here for $1000 (Canadian dollars), and after reading through all of these posts, I have decided to continue to look for a used road bike to which I can add a tall stem and swept-back handlebars.

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  • Help! June 19, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    All right, I have a huge dilemma. I LOVE this bike (Amsterdam Classic). It really seems perfect, but I have to admit I\’m really worried about some of the issues brought up. My situation- I\’ll be riding every day for the next year, since I don\’t have a car and don\’t want one. I\’ll be living on a university campus in a very hilly area- my commute won\’t be extremely long- only a few miles every day. But, like I said before, steep hills. And if I\’m riding it every day I don\’t want it falling apart underneath me. Are my worries legit, or should I get the bike?

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  • k July 2, 2007 at 11:24 am

    I\’d like to get similar handlebars for one of my bikes. Any idea on which shop has a good selection?

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  • Cheryl in SF July 9, 2007 at 11:59 am

    In response to post 74- I took my new Amsterdam out yesterday for a ride of several miles. I wouldn\’t worry about it falling apart (though the skirt guard will rattle over major bumps and holes). I loved the ride, really fun! But if your commute has steep hills, you will get worn out. It handles moderate hills here in San Francisco, but you might want something with more range for your particular commute. And getting out of the saddle is not something you really do on this bike. I would hate to see you embittered about your commute, albeit it on a lovely bike.

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  • from Batavia Indonesia August 2, 2007 at 3:33 am

    wau …

    electra !

    this is the best fiet in Indonesia

    Syaloom :)

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  • Electra Amsterdam « WIRA-WIRI NAEK SEPEDA August 7, 2007 at 2:53 am

    [...] Admin, saya baru baca blog ini http://bikeportland.org/2006/12/19/my-impression-of-the-electra-amsterdam/ soal sepeda Electra Amsterdam… kayaknya enak sekali ya gowes pakai sepeda [...]

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  • d September 28, 2007 at 12:42 am

    Hi,
    I just bought an Electra Amsterdam Sport and the second time I rode it, it slipped out of gear consistently, made a loud griding sound and I ended up walking it back. I was so upset.
    I wanted to exchange it for a new one and they are giving me guff, saying that all of these have gear problems, that the same one will happen with a new one and it\’s just part of owning an Electra…which to me sounds ridiculous for a $500 bike…can anyone shed some light on this? I am not a bike person like you all, I have only owned vintage cruisers (thrifted) and bought this because it\’s light and I have back problems. I really need advice, please help. Are Electra\’s reliable? My husbands $100 schwinn has not broken and we bought both the same day.
    d

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  • Alex October 30, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    D: I have a single-speed Electra Coaster. While it\’s a lot of fun to ride, the bottom bracket wore out after less than a year, and the frame broke at the seatpost joint. Electra did replace the frame under warranty. I\’m interested in the Amsterdam because I could use a 3-speed, but I\’m nervous about the quality. They seem to emphasize style and comfort over durability.

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  • The problems people are having with Electra remind me of the problems our shop had with Kronan bikes three years ago. They looked great, they spent a great deal of cash on publicity, but they were just style without substance – beach cruisers dressed up like Dutch bikes. Most of these companies don\’t deal with the customer at the retail level. Our customer is a cyclist who behaves like a real Netherlander. They leave their bike outside year round (in Canada!) and want something rust resistant. They want something that won\’t ruin their clothing. They want to sit upright without their shoulders rolling forward. They want something zero maintenance. And, of course, they want it to be pretty. In Holland, Dutch bicycle manufacturers deal with a consumer that has a standard of quality way above and beyond the standards of the North American bicycle industry – which is why they still build bikes in Holland and not China. Our Batavus bikes keep all the promises of a good European city bike (not surprising since they have been around for 104 years) and aren\’t priced that much more than an Electra. Check them out at http://www.curbsidecycle.com or find a Canadian dealer at http://www.onthefourth.com

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  • anchovylove February 27, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    I\’m planning on commuting to work via bicycle, but I am definitely a beginner — I haven\’t ridden a bike in years. I don\’t mind investing in a good bike since it will be my main form of transportation (I don\’t own a car). I am 5\’1\” and will be riding about 5 miles to work one way. I\’m concerned about the quality issues on this bike and am wondering if this is a good bike for me as a beginner. Any thoughts?

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  • Tecky May 14, 2008 at 10:55 am

    To Mike about fixing a flat tire problem, I have personal experience from a place where totally replaces the tube is a luxury and people patch the hole instead.

    To patch the hole you do not need to take the wheel off the bike. just take the tube out (still looped around the axle) find the hole, and patch it. Patch kit is lighter than the spare tube and will fix most of the problem adequately.

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  • Scott May 20, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Poor Quality Steel, Not a reliable commuter.

    I\’ve been commuting with my Amsterdam for about 10 weeks now. I average about 50-55 miles per week. I transport about 20-25 lbs. on the rear panniers. I\’m a big guy (6\’4, 220 lbs.) and the seat post has fallen victim to my girth. The steel has bent at the frame entry point. I\’ve also encountered problems with the headlight and the chain guard (as mentioned in earlier posts). The rear baggage rack has bent to one side as well, due to the fact that I was using only one pannier on the right side.

    While this bike inspired me to commute to work via bicycle, in retrospect I regret its purchase. I feel like I paid for retro looks and got shorted on practicality and quality. It\’s a fun and sexy bike, no doubt. However, it\’s not the type of bike that a serious commuter can rely on.

    Spend the extra bucks and get a real Dutch bike like a Batavus.

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  • TP May 21, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    I have the Electra Amsterdam Royal 8 and haven\’t had any issues. I ride long distances in comfort, although I am not concerned about my speed. I tend to average about 20mph. I carry panniers and the rack has been fine. But I guess I am at an advantage in that my husband used to be a professional cyclist. He took my bike apart after I brought it home from the shop. He checked everything, added Mr Tuffy\’s to the tires, and put it back together – choosing to remove the generator and light and buy a similar looking light with a batter. Nothing rattles over bumps, nothing has broken or come loose or fallen off.

    I have the women\’s model and there is a lot of flex in the frame but, having had other women\’s bikes, this is a design problem (frame).

    I thought the flat foot technology wasn\’t so bad, except I don\’t really get it because I can\’t sit on the seat and put my foot flat on the ground. I am on my absolute tippy toes with the bike tilted to one side. I tried an electra cruiser and those are much more exagerated, so maybe that\’s why.

    I bought my Royal 8 for the same as most buy the Classic so I think it was a good value. I tried Breezer, Milano, and Globe, none of which were as comfortable as the Amsterdam.

    I wasn\’t looking for a \”workhorse\” although I kind of use it like that. It\’s my primary transport and a stylish fun transport at that. But, it is checked by my husband once a week so that might explain why it rides so well.

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  • brettoo May 25, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    I test rode an Electra Amsterdam Classic 3 and a Batavus Old Dutch at Clever Cycles (nice people, great shop!) yesterday. The Old Dutch felt slightly more comfortable (but I may have set the Amsterdam\’s seat a bit too high) but the Electra definitely felt better for climbing moderate hills; I was surprised at how low the low gear went, and how smooth the shifting was – very nice. In both cases, the upright position was wonderfully comfortable, as I\’d remembered from riding in Holland. I really liked smooth, stable ride on both bikes, and my back and knees appreciated the comfort.

    I was kinda surprised that the Clever folks had such good things to say about the Electra (my price range doesn\’t go high enough for one of CC\’s beautiful high-end Dutch bikes, alas), given the disparaging comparisons to real Dutch bikes in this thread. I was going to try the Amsterdam Royal 8 but the floor model sold while I was test riding the Classic 3; apparently that happens frequently!

    Anybody tried the Amsterdam Sport? How does the ride compare to the Classic and Royal? Of course I\’d have to add a rear rack and lights, which sort of defeats the purpose of buying a city bike.
    I\’d previously expected to buy an Old Dutch or a Breezer citybike or a Jorg and Olif, but based on this test ride and the lower price, the Amsterdam is now the leading candidate, pending test rides on the others. My main hesitation is the durability problems cited earlier in this thread. Has Electra done anything to redress those since those first Amsterdam models came out?

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  • dcufan May 25, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    I have a royal 8. I\’ve had it about six months. Aluminum is the way to go. Its lighter and stronger than steel. I haven\’t had any issues as far as quality. I\’m glad I went with more gears though, rather than a 3speed. I bought mine at the downtown bike gallery. They were really helpful and semed to have a ton of bikes in stock, They also have been super helpful as far customer service. I also cummute 5 days a week on it at about 5 miles each way. I get a lot questions and comments about it, its fun!!!

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  • xlylasx June 29, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    Hi!

    This has been a great thread to read.
    In trying to get a better idea of what the different colors of the Amsterdam bikes look like, does anyone own the \”green sunflower\” style and have a non-stock photo of it? I have a hard time making out all the details in the stock photos, and would like to see it in \”natural light.\” Anyone have one they want to show off?

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  • Electra Complex « Spirit of Place July 2, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    [...] been languishing in my parents’ garage for most of our time together, almost soon after I fell head over heels with it in July of last year. We only went out five times, three to bike to work and a couple of [...]

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  • [...] reviews: http://bikeportland.org/2006/12/19/my-impression-of-the-electra-amsterdam/ (BikePortland.org) has a more favorable review of this [...]

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  • jw July 31, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Haven’t ridden a bike in ~15 years. Started looking for a bike 3 weeks ago. I was looking for something very clean and simple and ended up buying a Trek Soho S. Beautiful bike to look at, but after a 5 mile ride, I realized it’s not the bike for me (too aggressive – the bike, not me). Last week I returned the Trek and replaced it with an Amsterdam Original (3-speed).

    On the positive side, it is a hoot to ride. Very upright posture. Nice gear selection. Simple clean design. It’s the kind of bike you could go bird watching with. It’s the kind of bike that’s fun to just peddle around the driveway with my sons. It’s a biking experience I haven’t had since I was 10 years old.

    On the negative side, quality issues are a concern. After one week, 1) my bike’s crank bolt caps have fallen off, 2) Electra’s emblem keeps peeling off (cheap adhesive? Come on…) and 3) there’s a recall on the chain guard. Is this really all the quality I can expect for $500 these days? Would I have been better off with an old Raleigh?

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  • brettoo August 1, 2008 at 3:09 am

    Here\’s the scoop on the recall: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml08/08337.html.

    I really wanted a city bike that I didn\’t have to tinker with much if at all, and the reports of the Amsterdam\’s problems discouraged me from buying one. Luckily, I wound up finding a near-new real Dutch bike (Jorg&Olif i.e. Azor Oma) on craigslist for less than the price of an 8 speed amsterdam, and I absolutely love it. Of course I can\’t attest to its durability yet, but I know already that it feels much more solid than the Amsterdams I test rode, and the chainguard doesn\’t rattle (because it\’s made of vinyl) like the Electra\’s. I like the upright posture more than the Amsterdam\’s more cruiser-like geometry, but both are a nice change from the standard US hybrid fit. It rides like a dream, too, and I\’m happy to have the Shimano 8 speed nexus gears (which the higher-end Amsterdams also have) for moderate climbs. I think I prefer the Amsterdam\’s Brooks saddle to the Lepper that came with my Oma, but that\’s about its only advantage.
    Man, there\’s nothing like a real Dutch bike. I could never have afforded a new one, though, and I bet there\’s plenty of other Americans in the same position.
    The Amsterdams look gorgeous, and I hope that Electra can find a way make them sturdier without making them less affordable.

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  • Beth August 1, 2008 at 8:59 am

    Has anyone reviews Electra\’s Amsterdam Ladies Sport 9? If so, could I have the link? I\’m contemplating purchasing a bike from the Amsterdam collection but am trying to acquire as much information as possible so I can make an educated purchase. Any help is much appreciated!!

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  • Dave October 31, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Just to add my two bits to this discussion – in case anybody comes looking :)

    I got this exact model (the 3 speed classic) in June of this year (2008). In September and October, I’ve put about 400 miles on it, and I haven’t had any major problems. The ones I have had were due to some screws not being tightened properly when I got the bike (on the rear fender), and then just simply the chain loosening up (which is normal) and clanging against the chain case. Some loctite and nudging the rear wheel back solved those.

    In terms of replacing a tube, you only have to remove the very rear section of the chain case, loosen a hex screw on the hub to disconnect the cable, pull the little rod out of the hub, and then remove the wheel. All of that can be done without removing the fenders or skirt guard.

    I commute from SE 39th and Powell to OHSU, and the three speeds are just fine for my commute – I almost exclusively use 2nd and 3rd (note, I don’t ride up the hill, I take the tram – but I think I could if I really wanted to, it would just be slow going).

    I was recently able to modify it by adding a front caliper brake – a friend found a used one really cheap, and the lever and cable was cheap as well. It was a really simple modification (you just have to make sure you get a brake that is long enough to reach from the mount to the wheel rim).

    My biggest complaints are that the generator vibrates a lot on the wheel at a certain speed, and that the skirt guards do come loose – it’s not dangerous, they don’t fall off or anything, there is just a clip on the side of the skirt guard that clips to the frame to hold it steady, and that sometimes pops off, so they flap a little. Removing the clip and using string or a zip tie alleviates this issue (my wife later got an Amsterdam from the same shop and they had used zip ties from the get go). If you want to get a front basket, you will have to move the front light – the mechanic at the shop we got ours at said he’s been successful in mounting the light just above the fork, rather than at the base of the handlebars (since the wiring comes up through the frame from the fork anyway).

    I think it’s important to note with a bike like this, that the weight is really a non-issue unless you have some major hills to climb. It’s not designed for speed in the first place, and once you get going, it’s not hard to keep going, even with 40lbs of groceries in panniers on the back. Weight is certainly important for a racing bike, but not for a utility bike so much. I wouldn’t get too hung up on it. Besides, a little weight and the sturdiness of steel will give you a nice, smooth ride. Also, steel is actually stronger than aluminum (contrary to what was said in an earlier comment), but it has the problem that if it sits in the rain a lot, it will rust. You can ride in the rain, just not a good idea to let it sit outside all the time in the rain.

    A few things that have worked out really well too, just in terms of practical issues commuting around town – since with the internally geared hub, you can shift while not pedaling, this makes it really convenient when you have to stop at stop signs or lights. You don’t have to think ahead of time about which gear you need to be in to start again. The pedals grip well without clips, so you don’t need to worry about them, and you don’t need to have clip systems where you have to clip and unclip every time you stop. Kickstand makes it really practical to just stop and lean the bike wherever you need to, no balancing acts needed. Coaster brake is internal to the rear hub, so it’s not affected by rain like rim brakes are. The Royal 8 model also has a front roller brake, same thing there.

    Anyway, I was never a bike commuter before, and the Amsterdam made it easy, comfortable, and convenient to switch to commuting by bike at least 4 times a week, about 5 miles each way, even in the rain (and is street legal right off the block with front and rear lights, reflectors, etc). All in all, I would highly recommend them for anyone who is interested in practical, around town biking (shopping, work commute, etc). It’s been a great bike so far.

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  • Reesie April 7, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Just bought one of these & I love it! A women’s Classic in Cape Cod blue.

    There was a chain guard recall last summer so hopefully all the complainers above will get it fixed.

    FYI, I don’t ride flat foot & I’m 5’4″. Seems ridiculous to think so because riding at a bad seat height would be so uncomfortable. My generator is kinda loud but I hit plenty of bumps & it didn’t move – it’s tightly on there.

    To the guy who is 220 & 6’4″ – I wouldn’t think you fit on this, to be honest. It’s not a huge bike nor one to support weight like that?

    Anyhow, don’t listen to the nay sayers – this bike is a beaut & a smooth ride. The gears are prefect & I’m adjusting to the pedal brakes.

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  • Alina May 20, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Today I purchased the classic dutch mens 21″. I’m a female and 125 pounds, but i was told that doesn’t make any difference in the ride. I’m also pretty tall (about 5’8″ maybe taller) so it fits. I tried it out before i bought it and it felt great at the moment. I live in NYC and getting home was a whole different story. Although my ride home was primarily flat, it felt like i was putting in too much effort, compared to others on bikes who seemed to breeze by me so effortlessly. I got tired very quickly, and especially when i reached a hill the ride was nearly impossible. Maybe i’m just not used to it because my bike before this one was a trek mountain bike which i rode for years with no problem (until if got stolen). I understand this bike is a utility bike meant solely for city riding but i’m confused why it feels so uncomfortable?…I’m getting the generator fixed/started by an electrician in the bike shop next week, but that has nothing to do with why i’m having so much difficulty, right? If anyone can give me any insight, that would be greatly appreciated. Either way, i’ll go back to the shop and see what they suggest, but maybe it’s just the way the bike is and the salesman’s only concern was to sell it..i’m just skeptical. Thanks.

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  • Michael July 17, 2009 at 6:06 am

    I bought the Amsterdam 8i two weeks ago. I love the ride. When I picked it up two weeks ago I lifted it to see how heavy it is because I live in NYC and I need to carry on occasion. I was astonished at how heavy it was because I remember reading that it was about 30 lbs. Today I had it in my apartment so I decided to weight it. It is 40lbs. I’m wondering if I have the right frame, so I have a note into Electra to see the correct weight.

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  • David August 4, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    I have 1700 plus miles on my Amsterdam and love it. I ride it for shopping and errands. I have rear panniers and can easily carry two large paper bags of groceries. I also ride it for pleasure.

    I did have some minor issues at first. The rear tire seemed to be defective as I continually had flats. Cured it by changing to a Kevlar belted tire. Incidentally the rear tire is a pain to change, but not really difficult. There are just a lot of parts to take off and put back on. I had several spokes break on the rear wheel, a first for me and I have been riding a variety of bikes for years. My dealer is superb and replaced all of the spokes as a no cost warranty item. No more problems there.

    I like being able to ride without concerns about pants legs or road spray. I have had no problems with the rear fender skirts other than the burden of dealing with them to change a tire. I have had no problems with the chain guard or fenders — no rubbing, no great noises or rattling.

    The Nexus is fine for both gearing and braking. I should say that I live in a very flat area with few hills (Bakersfield, California).

    I like it so much that my recumbent (Bike E) and other bike now just sits.

    Dave

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  • Geoffrey August 16, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Great thread of info here. Test drove an amsterdam sport today. Very comfortable as people say, but I’m concerned about the lack of power in this stance. I also test rode the Batavus fryslan which was not nearly as comfortable. Handle bars kept hitting my knees. Keep you posted on more test rides. Interested to read about durabilty concerns, and other’s good experiences. Thanks g

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  • Jay March 14, 2010 at 10:42 am

    I have 10,000 miles on a Royal 8. Year round commuting in Chicago. My main issue with this bike is something I should have been aware of – ‘one size fits all’ does not fit me, at 6’4″ and 270lbs. I snapped one Thomson Elite seat post in two, after 5,000 miles. My bike is heavily customized. Here is a link to pics:
    http://www.neiu.edu/~jbollyn/bike/electra/
    Also see the Usenet forums RBT and RBM.

    J.

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  • Geoffrey March 16, 2010 at 1:03 am

    Jay, sounds like you are really putting it through it’s paces. Your pictures show you replaced the fenders, aesthetics or repair?

    How did you fix the sagging chain, I notice mine rattles about when I go oer curbs, but suppose that’s normal on a bump that big.

    In general I’ve loved my Amsterdam for nearly a year, rain or shine. Super fun bike! Would rather that the gears on the Royal 8 where created for greater speed as opposed to climbing ability, not sure what determines that. Otherwise, great bike for a commuter. Light too with the aluminum frame.

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  • Jay March 16, 2010 at 11:10 am

    As I recall, one of the rear fender supports broke. The replacement fenders are SKS, which is good, but the rear fender does not really fit the bike properly. In the rain, the rear tire sprays onto the trunk bag and my backpack.

    One of the rear rack supports also broke, so I replaced it with a Topeak rack. I have a Topeak trunk bag, which slides/snaps quickly into place. I need this because my commute also involves a commuter train and city bus.

    The chain sags/rattles because it has worked its way loose. Just pull the rear wheel back, or have a shop do it. But I never go over curbs.

    I have a new Cannondale Bad Boy Disk (2009), so I am only going to ride the Electra in rain/snow. In Chicago, they use winter road salt and sand, so an internally geared hub is necessary. BBQ pics:

    http://www.neiu.edu/~jbollyn/bike/bbq/

    J.

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  • Jessica March 20, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Great write-up. This beauty in cream caught my eye back when Bush’s stimulus checks were distributed and I spent every last penny on mine. I get the same looks every time I’m on it — and I’ve caught people admiring it when it’s just locked to a pole. Several times I’ve been told, “That’s the Cadillac of bicycles” from admirers.

    It’s a sweet little thing I use to get around Philadelphia. I’ve only ever been a leisurely rider, so this is great for me. The back tire has been popped for some time and I let it go all winter as I hate the cold, but today’s gorgeous and sunny day has me itching to ride. Not too savvy about the bike, I can’t get the back tire off to remove/replace the tube. I think I’ll just take it to a shop and let them have at it.

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  • David March 21, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Jessica — Taking off the back wheel is a real task, what with the full chain guard, the three speed link, the coaster brake arm, the fender skirts, and the special washer which prevents the axle from turning. I have worked on my bikes for years, but I hate dealing with the rear wheel on the Amsterdam.
    That having been said, I have something over 2200 miles on mine. As you say, I still get looks and and affirmative comments and find it to be a superior commuter bike. Dave

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  • todd April 3, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    removing the wheel to repair a simple flat is seldom useful: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cleverchimp/sets/72157623396745255/

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  • David April 3, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Well done, Todd!!

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  • Jenny June 11, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Hey Jonathan,
    I did a search for this bike and your blog came up. I enjoyed reading what you wrote, and clearly this was about 4 years ago. I was wondering if you are still enjoying the Amsterdam? Have you tried any other Electra bikes since they came out? I have tried the new Ticino and Linus at a store but I have not tried the Amsterdam. These bikes are perfect for me because I am not a hardcore biker, just want something that makes my ride enjoyable. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks so much!!

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    • b April 16, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      I’ve had my Royal 8 (ladies) for about two years and I love it! I wanted a dutch bike like a Workcycle or Batavus but I live on the 2nd floor and have to carry the bike up and down stairs every day so opted for this because it was lighter (and cheaper,). Paramount to me is comfort- riding sitting up straight with handlebars that don’t make me stretch to reach them (I have major upper back and shoulder problems). It is a great ride! Smooth, so comfortable, great quality. I’ve ridden it all over the place- it’s been on our roof rack many, many times on road trips. I can easily keep up with my husband on his Surly Long Haul Trucker. I don’t ever want to ride a bike without internal gears again! Same goes for the upgright riding position, the only way to travel for me now!

      My only complaint is the frame is not super stable; but this is not unique to this bike. It’s a long, step-through frame so there is a lot of sway if you jostle it; though it isn’t really a big deal. I think it’s a byproduct of being made of Aluminum. It’s not as heavy as people think it is; I get a lot of questions about that and like I said, I carry it up the stairs every time I ride it which isn’t too hard and I’m really not that strong.

      I swapped out the kickstand for more stability and handlebars for narrower ones and added a rectangular black metal rear basket by Basil.

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  • Philip April 26, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I was wondering if the “flat foot” technology causes more strain/stress to be put on the lower back because proportionally less weight is put on the handlebars, and because the legs can’t really be used for shock absorbers when going over bumps.

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