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Facing “financial obstacles” Jorg & Olif looks for investor

Posted by on October 2nd, 2008 at 8:20 am

The founders of Jorg & Olif, a company that was around at the inception of the Dutch Bike Invasion in America, have announced that they’ll sell off the company if they don’t find an investor.

In a statement posted to their website on September 16th, co-founders Rob MacDonald and Jane Cox wrote that their company, “faces some financial obstacles that need immediate attention” and that “Without new capital injection, the partners are considering new paths.”

(From JorgandOlif.com)

Jorg & Olif — whose bikes are offered free to guests at the stylish Ace Hotel in downtown Portland — is a Canadian company that I first wrote about nearly two years ago. At that time, there was no Clever Cycles, Seattle Bike Supply wasn’t (yet) selling the Batavus “Old Dutch” in the U.S., and if you wanted a Dutch city bike, you had know a reliable source and then pay dearly to ship the heavy steed across the atlantic.

Jorg & Olif has been selling Dutch bikes in North America since 2004 and they were the first company to set up a shipping operation in the U.S., a move that helped pave the way for the Dutch and urban transportation biking revival in this country.

So, anyone out there looking for a great investment opportunity?

While the economy is scary and uncertain, the bike industry is sitting pretty. Ford Motor Company just reported a 34% sales drop for September, maybe they can gobble up Jorg & Olif and grab onto the coattails of the booming bike business?

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Comments
  • T Williams October 2, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Ugh. My goodness, to my eyes this bicycle is a trainwreck, both stylistically and in name.

    I see that the outfit is Canadian, but it’s too Euro for my taste.

    Rename, restyle, restart.

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  • Paul October 2, 2008 at 10:12 am

    “Ugh. My goodness, to my eyes this bicycle is a trainwreck, both stylistically and in name.

    I see that the outfit is Canadian, but it’s too Euro for my taste.

    Rename, restyle, restart.”

    Americans never did have a sense for style and practicality. Euro bikes rule!

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  • bahueh October 2, 2008 at 10:15 am

    that thing would hurt my knees…

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  • Lillian October 2, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Wow. I, for one, find that bicycle incredibly sexy. And very pragmatic. Two of my favorite qualities…

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  • Ariel October 2, 2008 at 10:51 am

    J&O are great bikes but let’s be realistic, $1500 for a bicycle in this economy just isn’t gonna fly. I can’t help but wonder how business has been for Clever since they reopened.

    As for the commenter who said the bike looks like a trainwreck.. rename, restyle, restart?! You must be joking. Do you even know what a Dutch styled bike is? :P

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  • Anonymous October 2, 2008 at 11:05 am

    $1500!??!? my goodness. now, i realize theres import costs and whatnot to deal with, but really. granted, im not in amsterdam, but i could fly to amsterdam, buy an omafiets, and fly back with it for that price, inclusive of oversize baggage fees – *and* have enough left over to hang out there for a day or two.

    $1500 for a $1500 bike, even in this economy, is one thing, but really…

    the beauty of the dutch bikes like these is that theyre simple, cheap, and comfortable – they just work for the purpose theyre designed for – riding around town, running errands, things like that.

    someone packing a container full of used omafiets in amsterdam and shipping them to portland could do a tidy business, considering that ive yet to see one selling for over 100 euro when ive been there. oh, for more capital…

    but given their target market (dwell magazine readers, stereotypically speaking, arent exactly broke :) ), i bet its a totally viable business, given a bit of work.

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  • red hippie October 2, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Most of the “Dutch Style” bikes are the Harley Davidsons of the Bike World. Old technology, over priced, over hyped and just plain ugly. Give me a Gary Fisher Simple City or Swobo anything any day!

    Cheers

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  • Steven J October 2, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Properly preloaded, I would think the design might be very smooth ride.
    Simple & Elegant.

    Essence of a Bicycle.

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  • Ariel October 2, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Anonymous: they already ship them here, it’s a place on Hawthorne called Clever Cycles ;)

    1500 is not overpriced for an Azor imo. Then again, you really have to ride one to understand. It is truly the Rolls Royce of bicycles… and those with a penchant for leaning over and rolling up their pants and wearing a bunch of silly ‘bike gear’ will certainly find the Azor to be a very different experience.

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  • maxadders October 2, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    I suppose this is better than dropping $500 on a “pet stroller”.

    Or, you know, walking your dogs.

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  • maxadders October 2, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    But seriously, for all the overhyped practicality of the dutch bikes, bakfiets, etc– the price tag has got to be a huge turnoff for most folks. I’d have a hard time imagining anyone buying one of these for anything other than pleasurable cruising. But why a dutch bike and not a more modestly priced comfort bike like the Electra Townie? I think the main selling point of these Dutch bikes is the Euro charm. So there you go– it’s an elegant, pricey cruiser.

    If you need transportation and have a budget of $1500, I’d recommend a cheap old car. If you instead buy a fancy bike, you’re doing so for very specific personal reasons. It’s not common sense for most people. Maybe it would be over in mythical Biketopia Platinum Dreamland, but the average consumer of today would scoff at such a notion.

    I’d like to see this economic recession bring $299 Schwinn cargo bikes to the aisles at Wal-Mart. I’ll call that practical.

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  • Ariel October 2, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I spent 2200 on my Retrovelo. Why should I buy a cheap car instead of a bike? I know this will sound completely condescending, but for some people, 2200 really isn’t that much money. It’s a good amount of money, sure.. but it’s not THAT much. I can see why others would be taken aback by such a pricetag, but for others it isn’t all that wild.

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  • Opus the Poet October 2, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    A big part of that $1500 price is the $ tanking against the :eur: and I hope that bit of html worked for everybody. When I started building bikes the exchange rate was $0.97/:eur: I stopped looking a currency exchange rates when it went over $1.60, but I understand it is bouncing around $1.40-1.45 right now.

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  • T Williams October 2, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    To the Dutch Defenders,

    As Skwisgaar Skwigelf would say, “[dusgustedly] Pfft. The Dutch.”

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  • Brad October 2, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    I see a very easy explanation why they are experiencing difficulties – why would the consumer spend $1500 for this when they can get a very similar looking and performing Electra Amsterdam for half the cost?

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  • brettoo October 2, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    I ride a J&O Oma around Portland every day. It’s true that I probably couldn’t have afforded it at full price (I got it for less than half that on craigslist), but after three months of daily riding, I can say it’s absolutely worth the price. The Shimano Nexus 8 speed hub is hardly old tech, and adds a lot to the price of whatever bike it’s on. It sure makes handling Portland’s moderate hills a breeze. The roller brakes are terrific for smooth stops on rainy streets.

    Also, you can deduct the cost of fenders, enclosed chain guard (which reduces maintenance costs and burden considerably), basket, rear rack, front and rear lights, and coat guard, heavy U-lock, kickstand, and wheel lock, all of which come included on the J&Os, all of which are very useful to me most urban bikers every day and and all which you normally have to pay extra for when you buy a typical American bike.

    So what you’re paying for is high end components, bundled accessories, much lower maintenance, an upright position that’s safer in traffic and easier for stop and start city riding, and an amazingly smooth ride, thanks to the stainless steel frame. It’s hard to appreciate how different the ride is until you’ve tried it. I smile every time I ride one because it feels so good.

    I test rode the Electra Amsterdam (the half-price American knock off), and it was a nice bike (though plagued with mechanical problems and unreliability), but a real Azor (which is what the J&O really is) is an order of magnitude better.

    The Dutch (and the rest of the world’s city dwellers, who ride these kind of bikes far more than the sportier models we favor here) are very practical people; they want a bike that they don’t have to accessorize, don’t have to tinker with, and that gets them around town smoothly and with minimum fuss. And they’re willing to pay a bit more initially to get that. Sure, you can save money by buying a cheaper bike, but the cost is putting in more maintenance time or paying for accessories and repairs you’re less likely to need with a J&O.

    Oh, and I have bad knees (chronic tendonitis) and I haven’t noticed the J&O being worse on them, at least for the kind of riding I do. I have noticed that my neck, back, and wrists are much more comfortable thanks to the upright posture.

    I do wish they were cheaper. I’m sure a lot of that price (and probably the company’s troubles) comes from the sinking dollar (thanks George W.!), and the fact that the J&O bikes are made by living wage workers in Europe instead of oppressed Chinese laborers. I’m willing to pay more for organic and local food, ditto for decent working conditions and quality workmanship. The Amsterdam has been recalled for persistent mechanical problems; not my Oma.

    Didn’t Clever Cycles have to close for a few weeks in August because they were selling out of these bikes? Obviously some people here like them. I wonder if they’re doing OK, and if so, why they’re able to and J&O couldn’t?

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  • Blair October 2, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    These bikes don’t work for North American situations. We need more performance; we’re not riding on the easy streets of Amsterdam.

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  • brettoo October 2, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Just saw the “cruiser” comment above. Actually, the Dutch/ English/ Danish upright posture feels quite inferior to the Townie’s beach cruiser position, which I really hated when I rode a friend’s. You can read Todd at Clever Cycles’ explanation here: http://clevercycles.com/?p=193.
    Admittedly, it took me a few weeks of riding to build up my quad muscles (which bear more of the load in this position than they do on a road or mountain bike, where you’re hunched over more and using the big hamstring muscles more) to the point where I can climb hills almost as easily as I could on my old Specialized hybrid, but the added comfort and visibility were certainly worth the break-in period. Also, I’m told that building up the quads actually takes strain off the knees but someone with actual knowledge of anatomy would have to confirm that.

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  • brettoo October 2, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Re: Blair @ 17: that’s a myth. See http://www.copenhagenize.com/2007/11/debunking-flat-countrybike-country-myth.html.

    Plenty of cities hillier than Portland (Oslo, Bern, Basel, et al) teem with riders who use these bikes — including little old ladies and gents. (Biking in many European cities is for everyone, not just the young and athletic.) I’ve ridden in Holland and can attest that the headwind can be worse than climbing Mt. Tabor.

    I promise I’m no super-athlete (the longest ride I ever did was 40 something miles, and climbing Tabor or Forest Park was as steep as I ever wanted to get on any bike, Dutch or otherwise), and trust me, in Portland, unless you’re a total couch potato or really have to get somewhere 3 minutes (at most) faster than I do, you don’t need more performance than you can get out of a Dutch bike with 8 speed Nexus hub. More performance is always nice, of course, but to me, not worth the trade offs listed above. Not sure if I’d say the same about Seattle or hillier cities, but here, no sweat, or no more than on an American bike.

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  • Ariel October 2, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    brettoo: I believe in your comment (#18) you meant to say the Dutch position felt superior (not inferior) to the cruiser position?

    Anyway, those saying Electra Townie’s feel and ride the same as an Azor/J&O have clearly never ridden both.. or if they have they weren’t paying attention. It is not the same sitting posture nor ride style. Even the Electra Amsterdam is not the same as the Azor/J&O. The Electra Amsterdam doesn’t have an enclosed chaincase or some of the other trimmings the nicer “Dutch” bikes have. For some, the cost of an Azor/J&O isn’t worth it.. for others it is very much worth it. No one bike is definitively “good” or “bad”.. it is up to each individual to find the ride that fits him or her.

    As for Blair (#17) saying these Dutch bikes don’t work in North America because “we need more performance”, I’m glad your viewpoint doesn’t apply to my life and enjoyment of riding these types of bicycles in Portland. Even on a 3 speed Dutch I can handle just about all the hills relatively easy. And with the 8 speed Azor/J&O it’s beyond easy. I’d venture to guess many of the criticisms being leveled against these bikes are by people who have never ridden one, or have read some sort of Electra bicycle and assume it’s the same as a Dutch, which is comparing apples to oranges.

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  • Ariel October 2, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    brettoo (#19) good point, and don’t forget all of the Swiss people (mostly older men and women) who cruise up and down the Alps on these bicycles. Americans seem to have a hard time grasping the notion of heading up an incline on anything other than a bike where you’re hunched over like Gollum. heh heh heh ;)

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  • beth h October 2, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    I dunno. A basic city bike that starts at $1500 just screams “lifestyle” to me, and “lifestyle” marketing is meant for folks who earn a salary rather than an hourly wage. So it’s hard for me to call any European-imported bike, well, “basic”.

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  • Clem October 3, 2008 at 5:17 am

    I sure wish that more people posting here could celebrate the emerging popularity of Dutch bikes as being part of the resurgent interest here in bikes as transport, rather than just as toys for recreation. I have a Dutch Azor, and I love it because of its robust utilitarianism. Far more than being some sort of high-style “Euro chic” thing, it epitomizes “basic bike” and has a whole lot in common with the universal bike type that has been the dominent wheeled transport in India, China and Africa, and the sort of bike you would find in America and Britain before bikes became seen mostly as toys. The Azor, though, is much more reliable than the typical universal bicycle, and rides much more smoothly and quickly than the old Raleigh and Schwinn bikes I’ve owned that some might think are comparable. I also have a newer Trek, but the Dutch Azor has become my favored ride around the neighborhood because of its comfort and convenience; and even for rainy day commutes to work downtown (10 mile round trip) because its fully enclosed chain case and brake systems are protected from the elements, so the chain doesn’t need constant relubrication, not to mention keeping me relatively clean. Sure, price is an issue, but it is mostly due to the Euro/Dollar exchange rate rather than the Azors being inherently elitist (My Azor 3-speed was priced in Holland at about 750 Euros, fairly standard for a quality bike there, but the exchange rate and shipping brought my cost to just under US$1000). I had spent time in Amsterdam, but only realized after I returned to the US how much I wanted one of those utilitarian bikes – and then it ended up being cheaper to buy one here than to fly back and get it in Holland). Expecting new bikes to be less than $300 pretty much limits you to cheaply-made imports from China. Simply put, Dutch bikes – with their fenders, weather-proof chain guards and brakes, and light systems – are much more about practicality than just looks, and are much more practical as transport than the typical recreational bikes that dominate in America. That being said, Dutch bikes like the Azor are heavy and are not a good choice if your commute has a lot of hills (I live on the eastside flats, so don’t have to deal with the West Hills). The perfect bike commute for the American city would need to be lighter. I think the Gary Fisher Simple City is a great adaptation of the Dutch utility bike to the American scene – we need many more practical bikes in America along these lines.
    Finally, I suspect that a failing of Jorg & Olif is that they depended too much on pitching the style aspect of their bikes, thus making themselves more vulnerable to swings in style, and did not do enough to highlight the practicality/transport angle. Also, as they did not have a bricks-and-morter store, did not do enough to cultivate a strong local customer base in Vancouver. I think that Portland’s Clever Cycles has done a far better job at developing a local following and pitching the utilitarian aspect of their bikes, including their bakfiets, and suspect that they are doing better than Jorg & Olif. When I was in Amsterdam a few years ago and saw all the parents riding their children to school on their bikes I assumed it was an “only in Europe” thing (in America, transporting 2 kids requires an SUV or minivan, right?), so now seeing all the bakfiets and other kid-carrying bike rigs in Portland feels like a major cultural change, a dream come true.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 3, 2008 at 8:35 am

    I don’t think the price of these bikes is too hight at all.

    value isn’t just about low price… it’s about buying something that will last forever and that has a proven, timeless design.

    and, just an FYI, Jorg & Olif has a $500 model called the Scout. Read all about it.

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  • BURR October 3, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    count me as another fan of European utility bikes.

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  • Zaphod October 3, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    The argument against some of these spendier bikes is is similar to people that say they can get a full suspension mountain bike for $179 at Wal-mart. Ya sure, go ride it down the trail, then pay $10,000 to reconstruct your broken limbs. Value eh?

    Riding a bike where everything runs buttery smooth without rattle, squeak or unwanted flex is awesome. While I cannot afford a retrovelo with those super luxurious fatty balloon tires this year, maybe I’ll find myself funded one day and go in. These machines are niiiice.

    Sure there are other bikes that solve the utilitarian problem just fine but are they a joy to ride? And what will they look like & how will they ride in 10 years, 20? And if you have the understanding and desire to dial in another bike, go for it.

    And I stand unapologetic in wanting something that has style. Is this vanity or consumerism? Perhaps. Wanting to look at least a little bit good keeps society from running around conducting their lives in sweatpants and neon T-shirts. (My apologies to those who happen to be wearing the aforementioned clothing.) Life is short, ride a sweet bike.

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  • LizardMama October 4, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Everyone has a different reason for buying their bike, whether it is expensive or crappy or used or shiny new. So long as they ride it and like it and haven’t stolen yours, who cares, eh?

    I just spent over a thousand bucks on my second family bike setup to carry my kids and commute to work. Seem expensive and overpriced? Maybe on its own, but not when you realize I sold a 12,000 dollar car to do it and am not replacing the car. This bike is going to last me a long long time.

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  • Icarus Falling October 4, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Sorry that they are having difficulties, but considering the style of bikes offered (dutch), it doesn’t surprise me at all.

    I wouldn’t ride one of those around town if you paid me. I have ridden one, and it rode like a joke. Not even a funny joke at that. More like a off color joke someone just told your sweet, old, grandma, that made you want to drag them outside.

    Might look nice in the garage, but come on…

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  • eileen October 4, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    I want to live in Ariel’s world where $2200 isn’t that much money. Is it under the sea? For the majority of the world, that is a hell of a lot of money.

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  • Ariel October 5, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Nope, not under the sea. I guess I just worked really hard through school and got a job that pays good.

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  • Eileen October 5, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    So if I do think that is a lot of money that means I didn’t work hard? hmmm… The median income is around 43,000 a year last I checked. That means half the people around here make less than that. Thinking globally, that is an ENORMOUS amount of money. How do you justify spending that much on a bike when there are people who are feeding their children mudcakes to survive? In my opinion, being able to afford excess does not justify excess. Man, I can’t WAIT for the depression to hit this country.

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  • Andy B from Jersey October 5, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    I still can’t get over the bashing of “Dutch” style bikes on this blog. Close to half the population of the world, (2,000,000,000 people) ride bikes like these every day and they’ve been popular for over 100 years! For my commute and everyday riding, I’ve traded my megabucks, custom bikes for a practical old and FREE 3-speed.

    All I can say is: practicality, practicality, practicality!

    No more backpacks or messenger bags (since it has baskets which also means no more sweaty back)! No more stripe of dirt up my backside! No more greasy pants! No more pain in my back and numb hands since I sit upright! And best of all I can wear regular cloths which means no more need to change when I get to work which actually makes my door to desk commute times faster!

    Also, I’ve even ridden up to 45 miles on this bike, in regular shorts and a t-shirt, just to prove a point on a local fundraiser bike ride. Towards the end I was at the front of the pack having a grand old time while everybody else was complaining of pain.

    Eileen, people spend 20x that amount on a car all the time but we don’t bash them for it. Hmmm…. $30,000 for a new car or $1,500 for a bike? I think a depression would get many people choosing the bike!

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  • Eileen October 5, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    “Eileen, people spend 20x that amount on a car all the time but we don’t bash them for it.”

    I do, but I’m weird. My point was exaggerated because I’m cranky and I guess what I really wanted to say is it annoys the crap out of me when people act like that amount of money is no big deal. Even if you’re a billionaire, knowing that that amount of money is more than a year’s wage for many people is not insignificant. It sounds pretty princessy to say “it’s not THAT much money.” Your money has power and no matter how wealthy you are, every purchase you make has a ripple effect on the world.

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  • Eileen October 5, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Oh, and if there’s a real depression, you’ll be fixing up your old bike.

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  • matt picio October 6, 2008 at 1:11 am

    Eileen, I think the general point of many people on this blog is that $2,200 (or $1,500 for that matter) is a lot of money, but a: a bike that price will last a LOT longer than one which is $500, and b: most of the people in this country think nothing about paying $6,000-$8,000 per year on a car, which is a LOT more than $1,500 for one of these bikes and $200-500 per year in bike repairs.

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  • brettoo October 6, 2008 at 3:37 am

    I’m sure quite a few readers here have spent more than an Azor’s $1600 price on expensive non-Dutch commuter bikes like the Trek Portland. I agree that some bikes aren’t worth the high price (you’re buying a status symbol), and that lifestyle marketing happens. But those of us who’ve ridden Azors know that their durability, reliability and complete feature set make the price not excessive, as Jonathan said. People in Europe spend a comparable amount because they know these machines will last. Some fops may indeed buy them for style but that doesn’t mean they’re not reliable or appropriate for the style challenged among us, like moi. I got mine because it was practical and durable, not because it was stylish.

    I know it’s hard for so many of us who’ve been raised in a disposable consumer culture to believe it, but there are still some well built items (made by living wage workers) that are meant to last for years with little or no maintenance, and these bikes, which originated in a time when people paid for quality and expected it to last, qualify.

    That said, I do hope American bike makers will follow suit with locally made commuter bikes that have all the assets of the Dutch style — steel, full accessories, upright geometry, high-end components, smooth ride, durability etc. And it appears to be happening — see this year’s Interbike report, Gary Fisher Simple City (though they left off the back rack and full chain guard), Breezer city bikes, etc. But my craigslist Azor cost less than all of them.

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  • Eileen October 6, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Matt, I understand the idea of quality and I appreciate buying something made by a small, independent company as opposed to mass-produced by a large corporation with underpaid workers and overpaid execs. I think I was really just reacting to princess Ariel’s statement about it not being that much money and how wonderful she was for having a high-paying job as a direct result of having worked so much harder than the rest of us. As though I were a slacker in school!!!!! And what about the people who didn’t go to school but learned a trade out of high school – are they slackers? They were working harder than the college students probably.

    One $8,000 car will carry 4 or more people. You would need 4 of these bikes for all those people. I’m not trying to defend cars here, just pointing out that it IS a lot of money. it’s a lot of money on a car. I lie awake nights worrying about what kind of bad karma this nation is going to have to pay for the lifestyle we currently lead. We don’t DESERVE nice stuff (no matter how hard you worked in school). And I hope everyone knows how damned lucky they are to have what they have.

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  • IanO October 7, 2008 at 9:59 am

    I got the bike spirit after working two summers in Eindhoven (the Beaverton of Holland), where the factory’s bike garage was about five times larger than the parking lot.

    Coming back home, I started with a cheap $300 mountain bike hybrid for my commuting + >$300 accessories. I recently sold it to someone who lives in the West Hills who could make use of the extra gearing.

    Then I got a $600 Electra Amsterdam out of nostalgia. I found it to be comfortable and stylish (I’ve never had random compliments on the street about any other bicycle!). However, you get what you pay for: it is really a Euro-styled cruiser with cheap components that break or fall off. The splash guards unclip all the time, the 3-speed hub needed a warranty replacement, and the rear spokes broke just carrying a normal load of groceries home in panniers. The coaster brake also took some getting used to and the bottle generator buzzes annoyingly.

    Then Clever Cycles opened, and I decided to go with the real thing, the $1500 Azor Opa. The riding posture is, in a word, perfect. (PROTIP: Dutch bike geometry is designed for the instep, not the ball of your foot.) At first, it felt heavy and unbalanced (too much weight in the rear). But my quads and knees have strengthened, and I’ve learned to ride at a slower pace and use the lower gears on hills more. The Azor’s unbalance is because it is designed to carry a large load on the front basket; I would recommend that in preference to panniers. Any future bike will have a hub generator, it is just too convenient.

    The end result is that I am using the Opa for commuting and utility trips. The Amsterdam is gathering dust and my auto is just for infrequent freeway trips. I’m considering using ZipCar instead.

    $1500 +$100 accessories +$0 maintenance +$0 gas +$0 taxes (+$0 fitness club) is not expensive compared to even a used automobile. On the contrary, I worry that the lack of maintenance required will put my local bike shops out of business! (I don’t mention +$0 car insurance because a regular biker really ought to have accident insurance also.)

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  • matt picio October 7, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Eileen, I understand your point and for the most part agree with you, but one comment I can’t let by without a response.

    On car *can* carry 4 people, but they don’t. They typically carry one person, the same as a bike. There are 251 million registered cars in the US, at an average of $5,600 a year per car. By comparison, $2,200 really *isn’t* a lot of money.

    And wow, you’re really reading a LOT into Ariel’s statement, especially considering it was in response to your personal attack.

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  • eileen October 7, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    For the most part I agree with you too Matt. And thank you for pointing out my bitchiness – sometimes I need that. I think in light of recent events, I’ve been particularly touchy lately about any perceived sense of entitlement.

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  • KWW October 8, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    When you consider the similarities between East Portland, and Amsterdam (mostly flat and rainy), Azor Dutch bikes make a lot of sense.
    Perhaps more sense than bikers who have made questionable bicycle purchases, can admit to (I am talking to the Oakley and spandex crowd, lolz).

    But that is peripheral to my post. It is not until you travel to the bicycle mecca, Amsterdam, and see what a true bicycle culture looks like. Only until then will you understand.

    Part of the cost includes weather fastness, they can be stored outside for years and still work.

    kww

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  • Eric @ Fourth Floor Distribution March 2, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    It’s sad to see J&O in trouble. I count Rob at J&O as a good friend and I say this as his biggest competitor. Rob certainly laid the groundwork for our own success selling and distributing Holland’s most legendary brand, Batavus. Establishing a new product in a new market (actually, a Batavus is quite an old product!) is tireless work and requires something of a missionary zeal, which Rob had in spades. I must admit that Rob was always far better at marketing than we were, but our mission was a little different: establish a Dutch bicycle beachhead in one place and set a precedence for success elsewhere. Before we moved into creating Fourth Floor Distribution, we at Curbside put over 800 Batavus bikes on the streets of Toronto alone, creating a ‘little Amsterdam’ here in the great white North. I could always understand (but not agree with) J&O’s distribution tactic, which generally viewed bike shops as the weak link in the chain. To some extent this was true. In fact, J&O was an object lesson for most bike stores in North America. Sure, it was ‘lifestyle’ marketed, but most urbanites who buy a J&O bike understand this marketing perfectly. J&O always knew what most bike shops didn’t: the urban bicycle consumer is out there. We knew this too, but then we’ve been around for fifteen years hearing constant complaints from our Curbside customers about rust, discomfort, constant maintenance, and above all, clothing replacement costs from an exposed and dirty chain. Our customers wear suits to work and store their bikes outside in the deep Toronto snow. They would pay anything for something well designed that actually worked. Today Fourth Floor is distributing Batavus bikes (and others) across North America with great success, and proving to bike stores that they can sell transportation options on top of their recreation and performance options (just like a Dutch bike store!). But J&O laid the foundation. Of this there is no doubt. A great product with absolutely fantastic marketing. If they leave us, they will be sorely missed.

    Eric Kamphof
    General Manager
    Fourth Floor Distribution (www.onthefourth.com)
    Curbside Cycle (www.curbside.on.ca)

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  • Hans March 15, 2009 at 5:33 am

    “Rob certainly laid the groundwork for our own success selling and distributing Holland’s most legendary brand, Batavus.”

    What about Gazelle?

    http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=nl&u=http://www.tweewieler.nl/nieuws/1144/gazelle-onmisbaar-voor-nederlanders.html

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  • Marlano December 28, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Years ago, OK, closing in on twenty, I spent nearly $1500 on a road bike. Lots of riding, lots of weather hot, cold, rain…..a couple of crashes. That amount for a road bike today is entry level. I’ve ridden bikes my whole life for one reason or another. The Azor level Dutch bike would suit myself for a daily neighborhood ride just fine. And if I need a faster move there always the little Ninja 250.

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