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First look at Electra’s new “Amsterdam” bike

Posted by on September 22nd, 2006 at 7:27 am

I usually wouldn’t post about a bike that has no connection to Portland and that I haven’t even ridden yet…but the new “Amsterdam” bike from Electra could make a serious run at being the perfect Portland bicycle. I’m also excited about this bike because it’s looks to be the first time a euro-stylish city bike has been offered by a major U.S. company.

Here’s the exclusive photo (it’s not even on their website yet):

[Electra’s new “Amsterdam” series.
It also comes in black (which I prefer) and a
ladies version with step-through frame.]

As you may have realized from some of my previous posts, I have a major love-affair with Dutch-style city bikes. They’re just so dang simple, elegant, well-made, and I can’t help but think of all the cool Dutch people that ride around with them (sans helmet) on cobblestone streets with their healthy, bright-eyed kids hanging from the top-tube.

If only Wal-Mart and Target were selling these instead of the plastic toys they call bicycles, maybe more Americans would take bikes seriously.

Can’t you see these doing well here in Portland? After all, our elected officials, bike community leaders, and city bureaucrats seem to have a thing for Amsterdam.

Cool features of this bike include:

  • Nexus internal 3-speed hub
  • Coaster brake (keep things simple)
  • Aluminum frame
  • Fully-enclosed metal chaincover
  • Generator LED front and rear lights
  • Full fenders (with mud flap up front)
  • Rear rack
  • Coat/skirt guard over the rear wheel

Our local Bike Gallery stores are Electra dealers and I’ve asked owner Jay Graves to keep us posted when he’s got them in stock (you might recall that Jay was in an Electra ad a few months ago).

No word on price yet, but it will be much less than importing something from Holland!

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Jonathan
Guest

Just got back from Amsterdam, and yup, that’s them!

Now if they only made those nice, simple bags they throw on the back rack. They were only 50 euro, and I’m really kicking myself for not getting one because I can’t find them here.

Cecil
Guest
Cecil

Very cool – I was THIS close to ordering one of the Netherlands-made versions from the dutch bike dealer in Florida (they also have bakfiets) – but maybe I should wait and check out the Electra version

John Boyd
Guest
John Boyd

I don’t know why, but would be surprised to find a mainstream seller without a front brake. Though just a coaster brake seems perfectly suited to this handsome bike.

Looks like the bike of a lifetime for a lot of people, is aluminum up to this?

Geoff G.
Guest

Yeah, the lack of a front brake is strange. A drum brake would be sweet, but even a simple caliper would be enough.

vj
Guest

I’m both excited and disappointed. What’s with the three-speed? That seems like a serious misstep. And the generator lights — are they built in, like Breezers, or are they the tire rubbing kind. And the big question: will they fit on bus racks, and be easy enough to control to hang on MAX hooks? Because for some of us, that’s the sort of issue that makes the decision, are you cycling or driving this trip?

Still – Electra. You know it’s gonna look sweet, and I am overjoyed to see a coat guard. But probably not overjoyed enough to buy a three speed…

Are you going to Interbike, Jonathan?

trackback

[…] BikePortland.org got the scoop: […]

Cecil
Guest
Cecil

I hadn’t noted the lack of front brake – the ones from NL have one – also 8 speeds – maybe I should just plunk down the bucks for authenticity . . . .hmmm

http://www.dutchbikes.us/

miroslav
Guest
miroslav

I’ve got an Electra Townie (via Bicycling Magazine’s contest / promo a while ago). The bike is really nice, but has serious drawbacks. The main one being that it is huge and unwieldy. It’s also danged slow. I’d reserve judgement on this one until I saw some detailed specs.

West Cougar
Guest
West Cougar

I strongly suspect if you are reading this you are not in Electra’s target market.

Joel
Guest
Joel

VJ- looks like it’s an external dynamo that rubs on the tire. I’m a little surprised that a Nexus dynamo hub isn’t standard.

Cate
Guest
Cate

Sorry to be rude, but I like my bike better (Bianchi Milano). It has a Nexus 7-speed internal hub (new bikes have 8-speed), rear drum brake, front caliper brake, fenders and chainguard. I added a front basket, and front and back lights.

The only things on the Electra bike I don’t have are the “fully-enclosed metal chaincover, rear rack, and coat/skirt guard over the rear wheel”. Those things don’t matter that much to me.

I wonder if it would be harder to lube the chain with a fully-enclosed chaincover.

Cate
Guest
Cate
Brad
Guest
Brad

My wife and I both have Electras and love them. Mine has a Nexus 3 and while I suppose that it would be nice to have more gears, I’ve never really needed more than what it has. The gearing is nicely spread out so that it’s not unconfortable. Plus, you get the advantage of having all the gearing internal to the hub. There is virtually no maintenance and the shifting is very smooth. I used it on the Bridge Peal, and it was extremely comfortable. As far as Max goes, this bike doesn’t appear to have the Flat Foot Technology thing, so it would be the same length as a standard bike. If I was in the market for a new bike, I’d definately look at this model.

Cecil
Guest
Cecil

Yeah, the Milano is pretty cute, and it would go well with my Veloce . . .on the other hand, I often commute in a skirt or dress, and at those times a skirt guard is a handy thing to have

DL Byron
Guest

Cool ‘cept if you live in a hilly city like say, Seattle.

eric
Guest
eric

Coaster brake? What if you get a leg cramp?

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Yes, aren’t coaster brakes illegal?

Jonathan Maus
Guest

come on guys, please don’t hijack this discussion with that stuff ;-).

Officer Barnum
Guest
Officer Barnum

What if you your chain breaks or you get muscle cramps and can’t engage the coaster brake, or you have a seizure or a heart attack. How will you stop the bike then?

felix
Guest

Does it come in a 16 inch mini?

BLDZR
Guest

Answer to post 1: If you’re looking for those classy rack bags in the Euro Style, look no further than Rivendell They may be currently out of stock of the “baggins” bags, but I believe you can backorder.

re post 11: it is indeed harder to lube the chain when the guard is on, but you just have to take it off. simple procedure. The guard does keep a lot of crap (including your pant cuff) out of the chain, though, so you don’t have to lube as often.

JimK
Guest
JimK

I have an Azor HD Transport from the Florida importer. It is too long to hang from the MAX hooks! The lower fender stay has this extra loop that sticks out – I gather that is to protect the tail light – I don’t know if that loop is all that keeps the bike from hanging, but it certainly is what hits the floor when I try. Maybe my Azor is longer than this Electra though.

Ian
Guest
Ian

ME! WANT! NOW!

Wow, I logged into bp.o today to search for the other Dutch bike importer and ran into this. I’m having serious nostalgia for my biking days in Eindhoven. (It was also cute to see the Dutch girlfriend riding sidesaddle on the rear rack.)

I’m glad to hear about Brad’s 3-speed experience. That is my only qualm (aside from whether it is legal at all without handbrakes).

I’ll also check out that Bianchi that Cate mentioned. Who sells this model in Portland?

Clinton Rider
Guest
Clinton Rider

Gee…remove the coat-guard and it reminds me of the Raleigh 3-speed I bought new for $60 when I was a kid, circa 1967. (the 5-speed was a whopping $70!) Bet this puppy will be a lot more than $60!

JimK
Guest
JimK

For lubing the chain, my Azor’s chain case has a tiny panel by the rear hub that snaps open to expose the chain. I have no idea how to remove the chain case – it doesn’t look easy!

Randy
Guest
Randy

Electra made a bike called the ‘Commuter 7’ for about a year circa 2001. It had 700c wheels, an old-school steel cantilever-style frame,
Nexus 7 hub, fenders, rack and chainguard. It was probably a more versatile bike than this one, but apparently didn’t sell all that well, since the model was discontinued.

On the other hand, if it’s geared correctly for the hills of Portland, a three-speed is really all you need, in my opinion.

Greg Raisman
Guest
Greg Raisman

I am so happy that a bike like this is hitting the market. It’s really set up to be able to ride in your work clothes, low maintenance, and has everything you need on the stock model.

My commuter bike has a full enclosed chain guard like this bike. What I’ve found is that I don’t need to oil the chain until it’s time to replace the chain. The new chain goes on lubed and then by keeping it away from the elements, stays nice. With the internal hub and drum brake, the only maintenance I’ve done on the bike over the past couple thousand miles is to adjust the front brake.

There are a couple of things I’d wish for on this bike. I wish they’d offer a true step-through model. The bike I ride came in a diamond frame, women’s, or step-through. I love having the step though for lots of reasons. One of the main ones is that it makes for an incredibly tall and relaxed geometry, that lets me easily mount and dismount. I’ve named this bike, my primary commuter, “Dreamy”.

A rear lock, generator hub, and luggage straps would also be nice. But, maybe this will be the first entry of many European commuter style bicycles. Maybe later models will make me even happier.

Cecil
Guest
Cecil

Jim – if you don’t mind revealing, how much did you end up paying to get the Azor from FLA?
(you can e-mail off list at car@hhw.com if you don’t want to publish to the world) Thanks

JimK
Guest
JimK

I think I paid about $1490 to http://www.dutchbikes.us plus $300 for shipping. This is for the deluxe model, i.e. 8 speed Nexus hub, front hub dynamo, Brooks B66 saddle, and also a frame-fixed front rack. I’ve carried maybe 50 pounds of groceries in my front basket – a Wald Giant Delivery Basket is a good fit – and the bike handles fine with that load.

SKiD
Guest
SKiD

I think if you are going to have fenders and lights, there should be a brake on both wheels. And as we discovered tonight the Electra feet forward design increase the wheelbase just enough to make it NOT fit on a bus bike rack. I have a feeling that it won’t hang on the MAX trolley either. Crying shame because this feet-forward design is getting a lot of people back onto bikes. Novice and liesure cyclists like to have their feet on the ground while sitting on the seat, which you can’t do with a conventional “diamond” or “safety” frame unless you set your seat so low that your legs never straighten out.

I like it. I especially like the pinstriping.

vj
Guest

Skid –
Electra has a number of bikes that have coaster brakes. Whether they’re legal or not, I have no idea.

I have a townie 3speed, with the feet forward design, and getting it on & off the MAX is a nightmare. It’s really hard to manuever, given that it’s long, and the bike just isn’t designed to be walked by the handbars. I can hang it on the hook, but my fenders are on the floor, and getting it off the hook is a something best done when the train is empty.

It is a shame. It’s very fun to ride.

Cate
Guest
Cate

River City Bicycles sells the Bianchi Milano.

I live in SW and having 7-speeds is great. From what I’ve heard, the 7-speed internal hub range is about the same as the 10-speeds from the 70’s.

Jonathan Maus
Guest

I heard from Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves:

“Yes, we are aware of this bike and plan on ordering bunches of them. They haven’t started accepting orders yet but you can bet we’ll have a bunch.”

I hope to get a report from Interbike with more details from Jay about this and other cool news (since I unfortunately will not be there).

SKiD
Guest
SKiD

Vj: I am a big fan of the Electra bikes. Of course a bike with a coaster brake only isn’t illegal, it is a running joke from the fixed gear discussion.
Jonathan and Timo figured out a way to get the bike to fit by turning the handlebars 180 degrees but i am not sure that will work if your Electra has V-brakes and it definitely work work with the motorcycle triple tree-style front end that the Electra Rat Fink has. I like my homebuilt cruisers a lot but that Rat Fink is the bomb. The Amsterdam is beautiful too.

TimmyC
Guest

You’re my hero for posting this! I hadn’t heard of or seen anything about this. As much of a fan as I am of Empo and Gazelle citybikes, it would be AWESOME to see Electra’s idea catch on here in the states.

F.
Guest
F.

My lbs here in San Diego(calcoast) is also aware of these bikes. I forgot to ask if they were gonna stock it but from the sound of it, they seem really interested and might have a few of them. They already stock giant’s Cypress, very similar to the Electra Amsterdam

DL Byron
Guest

Check Jason’s posts on Bike Minivans in Copehagen.

Ethan
Guest
Ethan

Close, but no cigar.

With all due respect to our fixie brethren, this thing is a novelty bike, like much of the rest of the electra lineup, without a Nexus 7 or 8 hub, and better braking. It would seem that the company is at a crossroads, perhaps launching more into serious transportation bikes (thay have done this with a few non-euro models already) . . . or maintaining their brand, which has till now been centered around fetish/retro bikes.

Still, it is great to see them offer this style.

Carl
Guest
Carl

Considering that the classic Dutch city bike is a heavy steel-framed single-speed with a coaster brake, adding a 3-speed, a dynamo, and (though I’m not a fan) an aluminum frame make this a step up. Sure, a front brake, an 8-speed, and a dynamo hub would be another step up, but I’d argue that those are unnecessary luxuries that, particularly in the case of the dynamo hub, just mean more stuff to break.

With the exception of some trailer-hauling, there isn’t a single ride I’ve been on here in Portland for which this bike would not have been suited. The range on a 3-speed is surprisingly wide.

The only glaring omission that I can see on this bike is a built-in lock, but Electra probably recognized that in throw-it-in-the-truck America, frame locks are a bit quaint (though aesthetically Electra usually embraces the “quaint” and nostalgic and this bike is no exception).

This type of bike is exactly what we need. Portland’s bike racks are smothered in mountain bikes and road bikes trying to be city bikes and, in one way or another, they all have unfortunate compromises. This bike is the right tool for the job.

todd
Guest

I’m with Carl; I said similar in comments here: http://todd.cleverchimp.com/blog/?p=149#comment-11360 . Who’s to say this photo isn’t just of the base model, with wider gearing and front drum brakes etc. available for a little more? Hey wait, who’s to stop those upgrades from happening at the LBS? A lot depends on price. If this bike comes out around $300, I think it could be revolutionary. $600 and it’s a fetish.

Adrian Hands
Guest

Sweet!

Pashley also makes some great high-quality traditional style bikes:
http://www.pashley.co.uk/products/roadster-classic.html

Gilbert Anderson, at North Road Bicycle Co. imports them into the U.S.: http://www.northroadbicycle.com/
He’s got a lot of experience with custom set-ups for Dynamos, internal hubs, baskets, etc…

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Here’s the thing a lot of “commuters” or “hardcore cyclists” don’t understand: not everybody wants what you want out of a bike. Some want utter and complete simplicity. Some want a bike that is comfortable that they can put along the waterfront with on the weekends. Some want to win the criterium. Some want to get to work in a certain amount of time and be dry. Some want a challenge and see bikes as soem sort quasi kinetic art sculture and practicality is not even considered. Some like to jump dirt mounds and fly high in the air…..

SKiDmark
Guest
SKiDmark

Here’s the thing a lot of “commuters” or “hardcore cyclists” don’t understand: not everybody wants what you want out of a bike. Some want utter and complete simplicity. Some want a bike that is comfortable that they can put along the waterfront with on the weekends. Some want to win the criterium. Some want to get to work in a certain amount of time and be dry. Some want a challenge and see bikes as soem sort quasi kinetic art sculture and practicality is not even considered. Some like to jump dirt mounds and fly high in the air…..

Craig
Guest
Craig

Nearly all cruisers, and many kids bikes come with coaster brakes only. This includes the many vacation rental bikes. I’m sure a coaster brake is a legal bicycle brake in nearly any juristiction. Whether it is sufficient is a different question. I would a front brake if I was going to use this bike off of a bike path.
BTW Electra has an add in the latest Bicycling for this bike. It is a very classic looking bike.
Craig

Matt
Guest
Matt

A similar bike which is already available is the Breezer Uptown 8. It has the Nexus 8-speed rear hub, front and rear brakes, rack, kickstand, chainguard (though not fully-enclosed chaincase), Nexus front hub generator driving headlight and taillight, and a built-in rear lock. It’s aluminum framed (oh, and has reflective-sidewall tires, too). It might even have a bell. It’s not as classic-looking as this Electra but is very functional.

F.
Guest
F.

I just got word from my LBS that I can pre-order this bike now if I talk to the onwer. The price is estimated to be around $550 but I can’t confirm it. They showed me a brochure and this bike will come out with at least 4 different models/color.

todd
Guest

There’s another photo here: http://rodale.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/electra_amsterdam.jpg

Unconfirmed/rumor pricing is ~$550.

mary
Guest

I think I’m exactly the kind of person this bike is intended to appeal to — lazy, out of shape, easily intimidated, and as much concerned with style as function — (I should say “one kind” — I don’t mean to denigrate others who likes this bike!) — and boy, I really love it! One of the things that appeals to me most is the skirt guard, but it occurs to me I could put one on my existing old 3 speed and save some money. This probably isn’t the right place to ask this — so forgive — but does anyone know where you can buy skirt guards in Portland? (I don’t need directions on how to make one myself — google got me that far!) I asked at a bike shop here in Portland a couple of years ago and the person working there had never heard of them.

Thanks1

brettoo
Guest
brettoo

I love the feet forward retro look, but I’ve heard that that design prevents you from fully using your quad muscles and thus deprives you of power. Not that I’m a power biker — just an in-city rider who occasionally hits the Springwater and trails like t hat — but is it really worth it to have to pump that much harder just so your feet touch the ground easily?

Don’t get me wrong — I love the looks of this bike, and Townies, and would consider getting one but I’d need to know how much harder it is to ride on Portland’s moderate hills than my current cheap Specialized hybrid, and what other advantages it offers, so please enlighten. thanks.

vj
Guest

Mary –
I’ve never seen coat/skirt guards for sale separate from a bike in the US. Hopefully if the Electra is popular, that will no longer be the case.