Jorg & Olif now available in the U.S.

I know isn’t directly related to Portland, but I’ve been following the local bakfiets and Dutch city bike news lately and I know a lot of Portlanders (including myself) love these things. So here you go.

Jorg & Olif, the stylish Canadian company who re-brands and modifies authentic Dutch city bikes has just announced that they have established a North American shipping operation. No retail store yet, but at least now you can get the goods without paying the crazy shipping costs.

They’ve even got this handy order guide (links to PDF). And, depending on if you’ve been naughty or nice, Christmas orders are due by November 5th.

The bikes are available in 1, 3, or 8 speeds and range in price from $795 – $1,295 respectively. I guess the Electra Amsterdam has its first direct competitor.

Jorg & Olif made the announcement in their customer newsletter (which was forwarded to me by no less than five people this morning) which you can download here (or click the graphic on the right).

Apparently their first two customers were stylish celebs Chloe Sevigny and “Splash” star Daryl Hannah.

[A thing of beauty, modified for U.S. conditions.]

I’ll have more Dutch bike and bakfiets news very soon…2007 is clearly going to be the year of the Dutch bike invasion and from what I can tell, Portland will be at the epicenter of the action. Stay tuned…

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portland notary
15 years ago

I want one of these bikes. Now the prices seem somewhat reasonable to high. But thats ok because the pictures of the bikes are amazing and the manufacturer is the best. I love Jorg & Olif and used to have one of their bikes a while back. Thanks for the article. Interesting stuff about the celebs too.

Jessica Roberts
Jessica Roberts
15 years ago

You used to have one? What did you do with it?!

SKiDmark
SKiDmark
15 years ago

I’d like to see some specs. Frame material, rim material, what kind of hubs, crank. I t would have to be some top line stuff to justify that price tag.

Jeff
Jeff
15 years ago

the Jorge & Olif newsletter says they’re launching a “fleet” (fleet = 2+ bikes?) at Seattle’s hip Ace Hotel this winter. Perhaps the Jupiter Hotel on EaBu wants to do Portland proud & get on board..?

bArbaroo
bArbaroo
15 years ago

They are definitely competing in style but are otherwise very different. Electra Amserdams will retail for about $550 so are competing at a different price point. They have Electra-specific geometry. I would expect the ride to be very very different from the Jorge & Olif bikes. The Electra Amterdam has Euro styling but is otherwise very different. If you want a true Euro bike it looks like Jorge & Olif is a winner if you want an American bike with Euro styling check it’s the Electra.

Cecil
Cecil
15 years ago

But how will the $125 Jorge & Olif cap look under a helmet?

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
15 years ago

In the Dutch Bike Wars…Electra vs. J&O

bArbaroo sums it up well – a lot depends of the ride and style you are looking for and your pocket book.

I have ridden (and own) many Dutch bikes and find their ride very good for city utilitarian trips.

My favorite is a 1960’s oma fiets by Gazelle (http://www.gazelle.nl/nl/product.php?idParent=2&idChild=70&idFiets=111&idSegment=19) (Oma = grandmother; Opa = grandfather)

They can ride much like a fifties caddie – solid straight upright and comfortable. They ride better the more you load them. Gears are nice if you have hills and kids as cargo, but a single speed oma fiets with a well chosen rear cog can manage most moderate hills with planning. (I took my oma fiets around most of urban Honolulu and Portland with little trouble.) The weight is mostly an issue if you have to heft your bike up stairs or onto transit racks – both things that most Dutch riders do not have to do. The oma style is the best for urban upright riding unless you are very heavy (250 lbs+) or the loading of your bike with a child or cargo up front causes flexing – the quality of the build determines this. (My 1960s Gazelle does not flex like some cheaper oma fiets.)

Some key things to think about in choosing a Dutch style bike for your city ride:
– weight, heavy but get over it
– use on transit: the Electra and J&O bikes will likely have a longer frame/ wheel base, this is good for stability with cargo and more heel room, but it will mean that they may not fit on older Sportworks bus racks or LRT racks. You may have to bring a bungee cord for securing the rear wheel to a bus rack or hang the bike from the rear wheel when using it on the MAX (Portland) so it does not drag on the floor.
– frame style, stick to the step through frame (oma style), more style points and useful access in city riding.

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
15 years ago

Continued…2 of 3

The jorg&olif bikes are classic Amsterdam bikes, so their ride would be similar to what I have experienced.

I have not yet seen in person or ridden the Electra Amsterdam, so I am just going off their ads and web site, per my comments.

Which bike to buy…some things to consider (and perhaps Electra and jorg&olif may take some hints on accessories and options):

– gear: both basic bikes are well appointed with utilitarian gear, and nice Dutch features like internal generator cable routing.

*Though I do not know why Electra strips off the rear racks and lights for the sport model, it is a mistake, as a bike with lights/reflector and rack and more robust fender set will be more functional for more riders in the US (and safer). Sure go ahead and tweak the handle bars for a sportier ride or look.
– kick stands: jorg&olif’s selection is best for loading kids and cargo onto a standing bike, especially the bottom bracket style. Though in some of the photos the more traditional style is used (contradicting the spec sheet). It is more functional for loading rear cargo vs. front. Electra does not show the kick stand, so I guess it is the standard single arm style, so this is not as useful for loading a lot of gear.
– the traditional Dutch handle bars (jorg&olif) are not pitch adjustable like an old Raleigh but they are still very comfortable with he upright ride.
– chain case: both are functional. The Electra looks more robust (plastic or steel – assuming it is fully enclosed) but the jorg&olif’s classic vinyl case is strong enough for daily use (lighter too), though I have had trouble finding shops to repair similar cases in the US for my bikes. A good skill to have would be to learn how to patch a rear flat without removing the entire tyre.
– gear (jorg&olif): the Steco rack with a rear reflector is a sturdy rack as found on the best classic bikes. The Electra should add a similar rear rack reflector for its Amsterdam bike – for safety and the look.
– gear upgrade (jorg&olif): not much more on the basic bike. The Lepper leather saddle is as good as or better than a similar Brooks saddle. Include the AXA security chain for the lock too.
– gear (jorg&olif): Keep the 28 inch rims for a better fender fit – you may not like the look of the fender gap with the 700 rims.
– gear upgrade (jorg&olif cargo bike): I would suggest importing only the longer bakfiets (freight) model; it is more functional due to its additional space for kids and cargo. And do offer the most practical gears: 5 or more. Plus the rain cover and bed cover.
– gear upgrade (Electra): no front brake? You may not want to load this bike up with too much gear or kids in an area with traffic or hills. It is nice that the jorg&olif has the front drum brake on the geared models for slow but steady but slow all weather stopping power.
– gear upgrade (Electra): A rim lock like the AXA7 on the jorg&olif would be a nice option too.
– gear upgrade both: go for the traditional all white tyres. They really look great on a Dutch bike. Sure they look dirtier with mud, but more style points. And they should have the reflective stripe on the sidewall too – it is much more effective that a spoke reflector (it looks like a wheel when a bike is stopped in traffic).
– gear upgrade (both bikes): a good efficient bottle generator makes a big difference (AXA HR Traction, etc.). And a rear generator light with a stand light or rear battery light with an auto sensor off function is key.
– gear upgrade optional (both bikes): a nice set of Dutch panniers either the old school canvas or a funky mod vinyl set from Basil.nl . And Bobike.nl child seats.
– gear upgrade optional (both bikes): front cargo racks with lower headlamp bracket or rear rack for a briefcase or babby stroller, as Steco.nl offers.

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
15 years ago

Cont… 3 of 3

And last but not least – would be to add a sticker on the rear fender from the shop the bike is purchased at – as is typical in the Netherlands.

Cost: The jorg&olif bikes in the 3 and higher speed models are the best return on value compared to the effort of buying a bike in the Netherlands and having it shipped to the US. There is at best only $100 difference with the existing ‘Bush Dollar’ (weak exchange rate to the Euro – 1 Euro to $1.28) and taxes (19% VAT or 11% US) and shipping and boxing.

There are much cheaper oma fiets bikes for sale in the NL, but you are not getting as much quality as the Electra or the jorg&olif bikes.

The Electra step thru (oma) model is a great value for the money – assuming the ride geometry and quality matches your needs. You could then upgrade on accessories.

Though the jorg&olif is classic Amsterdam – and cheaper than a plane ticket + hotel fees to get to Schiphol airport and back home with a used bike.

Vancouver USA

eric @ curbside cycle / fourth floor distribution

Wow, thanks Todd for some solid Dutch bike schooling. I also have made it my task to educate North American folks that these bikes are well worth the investment. Yet, the first thing that occurs in my store (I sell and distribute the well known Batavus brand) is the consumer lifts the bike. Who ever needed a light bike, or a bike with 27 speeds, to get from stoplight to stoplight? You\’re right, get over it! The Dutch bikes represent a sort of paradigm shift, and it\’s funny to watch the North American consumer first balk at the price, and then realize that they have been waiting for this for a very, very long time. How the North American bicycle industry has ever convinced anyone they needed so many gears, or that its wise to ride a pair of $200 jeans against an exposed sharp and oily chain, or even the value of quick release wheels, is absolutely beyond me. The Electra is a noble attempt, but hey, the Dutch don\’t build a great mountain bike, why would any North American company build a great city bike on the first attempt? We have a lot left to learn, and much we can learn from the Dutch.

Yusef Riazi
Yusef Riazi
14 years ago

Does anyone know of a review of the Scout yet? I want one but want to hear what people think of them. Thanks.

Yusef Riazi
Yusef Riazi
14 years ago

Review this bike someone please

A
A
14 years ago

I\’d like to see a review of the Scout too. I\’ve seen the Electra in person and a lot of the components seem flimsy to me – I wouldn\’t buy one. No local shops carry J+O so I\’d have to mail-order.

Veloiste
Veloiste
14 years ago

Apart from Euro \”style\”, I fail see the attraction of riding a heavy, poor handling, outdated design. It is like driving an MG versus a Mazda Miata. You might think it is fun but it will end up being disappointing. If you really want a good city bike take a look at a Trek Portland

brettoo
brettoo
14 years ago

Having now ridden a J&O Oma (found on craigslist) all summer (including the bridge pedal and quarter century), allow me to enumerate the attractions. It has certainly NOT ended up being disappointing. Quite the opposite.

The weight has not proved to be an issue for me, thanks to the wonderful Shimano Nexus 8 speed gears. Unless you\’re carrying the bike up the stairs (which I don\’t have to do), weight is overrated as an issue. The way they explain it at Clever Cycles, what counts is the total weight (including your body), and the added 10 or 15 pounds of the bike weight differential really doesn\’t amount to much compared to that total. Everyone always asks about the weight, but in Portland at least — it barely matters, if at all. Not an issue. Forget it.

The design may be old — heck, so is the design of bikes in general — but it\’s certainly not outdated for its intended purpose: city riding. We\’ve seen the hybrid/mountain bike/road bike designs for decades now, and they\’re great for racing, trails, steep climbs and other rec rides. Yet they make up only a tiny fraction of the bikes you see in Europe, China, India — the rest of the world that too many Americans remain ignorant of. Why? because the city bike design WORKS for riding in cities. It\’s easier on the neck, hands and wrists, and back; it\’s more stable (I\’ve never come close to falling); it affords much greater visibility when riding in traffic (both for the rider and surrounding drivers); it\’s easier to stop and start; and it\’s much better at carrying stuff from the grocery store or the bookstore or the office. I don\’t leave mine outside all night like the Dutch do, but if I did, the sturdiness would be handy. That\’s why this \”outdated\” design (granted, augmented by new tech like roller brakes and the Nexus hub) is overwhelmingly preferred by urban riders around the world, and now I can say the same for Portland.

It\’s true that it\’s taken me a few weeks to build up my quads (muscles on the front part of the thigh, which take more of the load in an upright geometry) to the point where my hamstrings were with my old bike, but since that\’s happened, climbs are getting even easier.

And having all the included accessories like the chainguard, lights, rack, fenders, kickstand, pump, wheel lock, U lock, basket, etc (which would add up if you bought them separately) makes it much more convenient to just hop on and go, which is how I use my bike. The good workmanship and demonstrated durability of this model (especially the enclosed hub) also mean that I won\’t have tinker with it nearly as much (I prefer to ride my bike rather than work on it) nor replace it as often — maybe never — so that adds value. And my bike cost a lot less than half of what a Trek Portland sells for, without my bike\’s included accessories.

I kind of think about my Oma like I think about my Mac — it just works. I\’m not the kind of bicyclist who wants to spend time tinkering with my bike, nor am I the kind of computer user who wants to spend time dealing with software issues or building my own machine. For me, bikes and computers are tools that enable me to do other stuff I like, so I value ease of use and reliability above all, and that\’s what my Oma gives me. I jump on and GO. And if it ever needs work, well, I\’m sure glad Clever Cycles is here! I already bought a great pannier from them.

The most surprising aspect of my J&O has been the incredible smoothness of the ride, which is directly attributable to the steel frame and big tires and sprung saddle. It just makes riding such a pleasure that I want to ride much more than I ever did before, and I always loved riding my bike.

I might have been almost as happy with a Breezer, but it would have cost at least as much and probably more, depending on the model, for equivalent accessories and components. And it\’s aluminum.
I never realized how much aluminum frames transmitted road shock to my body until I rode my Oma. Because the ride is so quiet (thanks to good workmanship, unlike the rattly ride of the Electra Amsterdam I test rode) and cushy and the position is so much easier on my body, it\’s just a sheer pleasure to ride this bike everywhere. I\’ve used my car even less — almost not at all — since I got it.

Again, YMMV, literally — the vast majority of my rides are in the central east and west sides, although I\’ve taken it out to 82nd and 67th and Laurelhurst Park and the Springwater and Marine drive and many other parts of the city. I\’ve yet to get back on my old hybrid, though i\’ll probably keep it for recreational rides with climbs. I\’ve actually timed some of my regular rides, and although I\’ve bought into the no-sweat, slow bike philosophy, I really don\’t get where I\’m going any slower than I did on my old bike. In city rides, you still have to stop at red lights, slow down at intersections, etc. Even if it were slower, the added pure pleasure of the ride would be worth leaving five minutes earlier so I can enjoy the cruise more.

My J&O Oma (which I think is essentially the same bike you can get at Clever Cycles) is certainly not the bike I\’d recommend to racers, trail riders, or other specialized uses. But for anyone who mostly rides around town and through neighborhoods a lot, and uses the bike for practical everyday purposes like carrying stuff and just tooling around the city, it\’s ideal. And I think that\’s increasingly how most Americans will use their bikes — not for recreation but for transportation. It\’s all about having the appropriate tool for the job.