The Amsterdams have landed…

[Photo: Ethan Jewett/Stickeen Photography]

The long-awaited, Dutch-inspired Electra Amsterdams have hit U.S. bike shops, and it just so happens there’s one in my basement right now ;-).

Unfortunately I have to give it back after the weekend so stay tuned for a review on Monday…


UPDATE: Read my review and see more photos of the Electra Amsterdam.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Caleb
17 years ago

These utilitarian bikes becoming popular in p-town is really interesting. On a recent trip to Japan, I noted a few areas where Japanese cities were way ahead of us in the transition from cars to bikes. Namely (1) design of bikes emphasises utility over performance, style, or individuality (2) bike density so high that theft is negligable (i.e. no one locks up their bikes) and (3) bike density so high that there are “parking lots” just for bikes. At least to this casual observer, it seems like we are hitting a landmark on the predefined timeline for a city to transition from cars to bikes as the personal mode-of-travel of choice! (Of course, I’m sure I’m not the only one to realize this). It’s a happy sign at any rate.

Cecil
Cecil
17 years ago

I lived in Japan in 1988-89 and was very impressed by the multi-level bike parking lots at all the major railroad stations. Sadly the only time I got to ride a bike the whole time I was there was on my week vacation in Kyoto. The rest of the time it was the train or shank’s mare.

beth
17 years ago

It’s certainly a pretty bicycle.

that said:

I can hear the groaning at bike shops all over town as mechanics get asked to fix rear flats on these bikes with their fully-enclosed chains and multiply-geared rear hubs. It’s a user-friendly combination for the rider, but not so friendly for whomever has to repair it. (Anyone who’s fixed a rear flat with a Nexus-7 or Nexus-8 rear hub knows what I’m talking about.)

I’m about to bite the hand thhat feeds me (since I work in a bike shop), but I think that folks who rely on bikes as their primary transportation ought to learn how to fix their own flats at roadside, unless there’s a medical issue that prevents them from doing so. Designing a commuter bike that discourages commuter self-sufficiency on the simpler repairs (by making the hub harder to remove and replace, and fully enclosing the chain) seems slightly counter-intuitive to me.

vj
vj
17 years ago

I just saw one! I just saw one! Someone was taking a handsome black one out for a test drive from the downtown Bike Gallery.

Greg Raisman
Greg Raisman
17 years ago

Beth:

The other thing that I think is important is the type of tire you use on a bike like this. I have tires with a gel inside of them that makes them puncture resistant. Can’t remember the last flat I’ve gotten since riding on puncture resistant tires.

Greg

Cheesus Christ
Cheesus Christ
17 years ago

You people pay bike shops to fix your flat tires?
I was a mechanic in a bike shop in Wyoming, and the worst fear I had was someone coming in to have me fix a flat tire.
Due to Goats Head thorns, it could turn into a 25 minute debacle.
Even in a shop, in a state w/ minimum Goats Heads,
The worst job in a bike shop is changing flats.
And, sadly, the least amount of respect is given to a person who brings a flat tire in to be repaired.
This of course changes if you are handicapped, a child, or very old.
Of all the mechanical abilities to have as a cyclist, changing a tire is a basic.
If you can’t do it, start practicing today.
Change the same tire over and over, is the advice I have given to my friend, a new racer, who fears
getting a flat during a race, because she does not know how to change one.
I am not trying to be mean here, but this is a skill every cyclist needs to know.

Cheesus Christ
Cheesus Christ
17 years ago

And, while the slime does work well, sometimes, it changes the aspect of “patching” a tube, which is better for the enviornment, as patching is recycling.

Cecil
Cecil
17 years ago

“Change the tire over and over”

And try doing it in the shower (cold water only) at least once to simulate changing it under less than optimal conditions. I am not kidding.

reeely?
reeely?
17 years ago

Maybe YOU should take a cold shower. (smiley face that means I’m only kidding goes here). The Amsterdam chainguard has a cool removable rear section that allows easier rear wheel removal. You still need more tools than you’d need for a regular QR geared wheel (15mm wrench, 10mm wrench, a mid-sized phillips screwdriver, tirelevers, patch kit (or spare) and a pump) But changing a rear wheel on these isn’t any harder than any other Nexus 3speed. And they are built very well otherwise. And they look cool. And that is all I have to say.

Carl
Carl
17 years ago

Jonathan,
Out of morbid curiosity, where are these things actually made? Will some of the true European competitors be priced…competitively? Just curious.

Tip: just patch the flat without taking the rear wheel off. It’s a lot easier than it sounds.

NPBike
NPBike
17 years ago

“And try doing it in the shower (cold water only) at least once to simulate changing it under less than optimal conditions. I am not kidding.”

and more people don’t ride bikes why…?

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
17 years ago

NPBike, I’m with you on this.

If we want to drastically increase the amount of people riding bikes in this country, we cannot expect them to change their own flats.

The folks at Shimano spent a lot of money researching to create their new Coasting grouppo and they too came to the conclusion that we should not force our own ideas/visions of self-sufficiency on “the masses”.

Shimano actually added a cap to the axles in order to discourage people from taking the wheels off.

Times are changing folks, and our old ideas about what cycling should be needs to change with them.

Cheesus Christ
Cheesus Christ
17 years ago

“Shimano actually added a cap to the axles in order to discourage people from taking the wheels off.”

Is this a matter of assuring job security for bike shops?
Certainly not as I jest, but I think the reality would be that shimano is lowering the liability of selling a coaster groupo, which would mainly go onto a lower end, or even more of a city bike, by ensurring that most would bring it into a shop to be fixed, therefore passing liability onto the shop itself.
Is this what we want, or need, for our local shops?
While I understand this, I also question it.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
17 years ago

Cheesus,

It’s a matter of Shimano understanding that the vast majority of non-cycling Americans will never consider changing a flat on a bicycle themselves.

Their idea — as I understand it — is to make the bike as simple, aesthetically appealing, and low-maintenance as possible.

And Cheesus, what “we need” for our local shops is to have more than 2% of our population riding bikes on a regular basis.

I would much rather have more Americans riding bikes than local shops making money on fixing flats.

Donna
Donna
17 years ago

Jonathan,

If you read Cheesus’ responses to Elly’s piece on traffic on the Hawthorne Bridge, you’ll understand that Cheesus doesn’t want more people on bikes unless they’re hardcore athletes – people who I doubt would be all that interested in owning an Amsterdam to begin with. They don’t pedal fast enough for his taste.

Cecil
Cecil
17 years ago

“Shimano actually added a cap to the axles in order to discourage people from taking the wheels off.”

Some states (New Jersey for one) have either passed or are considering passing legislation requiring axle or hub locks on wheels because there is a concern that most recreational riders don’t know how to properly fasten a QR and risk having their wheel fall off at an inopportune moment.

Cheesus Christ
Cheesus Christ
17 years ago

Donna,
You could not be more wrong.
Read again.
With an open mind.

Cheesus Christ
Cheesus Christ
17 years ago

My comments on that were in reference to everyone (not just onn this site) despising people going faster than them on the hawthorne bridge.
My point is that there is nothing wrong with being faster.
BUT, there is something wrong with bitching about the percentage of bikes that are fatser than you.
If you ride slower, great.
But expect to be passed.
That was my point, if you would learn to interpret correctly what you read.

Cheesus Christ
Cheesus Christ
17 years ago

And, not to contradict you too much Jonathan, but, as we all know about shimano, they are looking out for themselves, their name, and the liability factors, as they always have. They of course will say otherwise.
I have no prob with bikes shops, having already mentioned that I am an ex mechanic. Where do you think I buy my bikes?
My main point was people should know how to change a flat.
That was a public service announcement.

Cheesus Christ
Cheesus Christ
17 years ago

And, I never said anything bad about the “Ansterdam bike”. I never would.
In fact, it looks nice.

Joel
Joel
17 years ago

Cecil-
Only in our overly litigious country would we require locking axles because we won’t trust an adult to properly lock a wheel. Good grief- 15 seconds of instruction to the new owner would solve the problem entirely. Makes sense that NJ is the one pushing for this, considering the number of personal accident attorneys per capita there.

Cecil
Cecil
17 years ago

Joel – I was just pointing out the trend in legislation, not voicing an opinion yay or nay. As an insurance defense attorney, I can assure you that I spend an awful lot of time arguing about whether or not 15 seconds of instruction would or would not have solved a problem. I can also assure you that there are indeed times when such laws and lawsuits are completely justified. I have not researched the stats on accidents caused by someone not properly fastening their QR, so am in no position to voice an opinion on this particular legislative trend.

Cecil
Cecil
17 years ago

Anyway, returning to the topic of this post, I was in the downtown BG today and saw the row of pretty, pretty Amsterdams (the blue is very nice) – Eric told me that there is already a waiting list to purchase. Maybe I’d better buy some more raffle tickets . . .

Ian
Ian
17 years ago

I’d like to know how the Amsterdams ride. (Is the Bike Gallery letting us test ride them?)

Do they have the feet-forward geometry of some of the other Electra models? How do they feel pedaling uphill and at a stop?

What are the gear ratios of the three speeds? What are the comparable gears on a 3×7 deraileur shifter?

What kind of rear panniers do they accept?

Jessica Roberts
Jessica Roberts
17 years ago

Aw, get off your high horse about how anyone who doesn’t know how to fix a flat doesn’t deserve to ride a bike. I know how to fix one but often don’t enjoy wrestling with a grubby tire on the side of the road. I’m often happy to find a different solution, such as putting my bike on TriMet (“the slow cheap AAA for bikes”), or locking it up, taking a cab, and dealing with the flat later when I don’t have time pressure.

And plenty of newbie/wannabe cyclists I talk to have let their fear of flats keep them from biking anywhere. Everybody’s at a different place as a cyclist and as long as they can make it work for themselves, why do you care?

JimK
JimK
17 years ago

I have an Azor – 60 pounds of steel! I confess, I am not looking forward to fixing flats! My hope is that I can just patch any punctures without removing the wheel. Has anyone ever tried this?

If I recall correctly, another trick that’s possible with at least some of these bikes – one can leave the chain side of the axle bolted to its dropout & just spread the dropouts enough to skinny the tire between the left dropout & the axle. Reminds me of the rock and the hard place! Obviously there is risk of bending the frame this way. But at least the Azor is one tough piece of steel.

Jim

Richard Wilson
17 years ago

I don’t know what tires they put on the Amsterdam, but with tires like the new Schwalbe Marathon Supreme out there people should be able to ride very significant periods/distances without flats. I’ve been running various Marathons (XR, Slick, etc.) on city, touring and cargo bikes for the last few years and can’t remember the last time I was in a muddy ditch changing a flat – even touring with huge loads in the third world… Tough, purpose built utility bike tires (not ultralight road racing ones!) maintained at proper pressure with nice, beefy tubes on a Nexus bike should get you through the better part of the year, or more, without a flat from my experience – even when you’re hauling lots of stuff around on back streets… Am I just lucky with my lack of flats?

Phillip Ross
Phillip Ross
17 years ago

Hey Richard,

I have had the same experience – nary a flat with big tires on my 1957 Schwinn Jaguar! In fact -and yes I do keep them properly inflated – the last time I had to change them was when they wore out.

Eric
Eric
17 years ago

Yes, the Bike Gallery lets them out for test drives!

I took a steel “classic” out for a spin yesterday afternoon on the Park Blocks. I’d never ridden one of these Euro-styled bikes before. It was a minor revelation for me. I love my own bike, a city/hybrid thing, but between the share of weight my arms bear and the need to steer, I wouldn’t say my arms & upper body were totally relaxed while riding it. The Amsterdam was an amazingly relaxing ride. I have difficulty looking over my shoulder without taking my front wheel with me. On the Amsterdam I could much more easily turn around to look – plenty of slack in my arm extension to reach the handlebars. The pedals were forward of the seat stem tube and appeared to conform to the general electra geometry. The chainguard worked dandy with my loose jeans. The rear racks looked like they’d accept any number of panniers.

I did wonder about the gearing. Low gear was adequate for the gentle inclines around the Park Blocks, but to stay seated I think I’d want lower gearing on a hill like SE Harrison between 20th & 30th. Similarly, even going downhill on the Park Blocks, I didn’t really use the high gear or want to go that fast. I’d shift the whole gearset a notch lower – it’s a bike that shouldn’t require much work to pedal, right? I don’t want to have to stand up while riding it.

Anyway, I’m eager to read what more sophisticated & critical bicyclists have to say about it. As I said to the salesman: I don’t need one, but I sure want one.

Martha
Martha
17 years ago

JimK — yes, it’s quite possible to patch a flat without removing the wheel. It’s one of those slick tricks that makes you feel like a genius. However, if it’s raining hard or if you’re practicing in the shower, the patch might not stick because of all the moisture (been there, tried that).

Cheesus Christ
Cheesus Christ
17 years ago

“Aw, get off your high horse about how anyone who doesn’t know how to fix a flat doesn’t deserve to ride a bike.”
Jessica, what is this in reference too?
The point was made, by me and others, that everyone who rides a bike should know how to fix a flat.
It is good, useful, common knowledge.
No one, that I found here, I just reread all the comments again, ever said if you can’t fix a flat. you don’t deserve to ride a bike.
I don’t know if you made that up to spark controversy, or just misinterpreted, but the comments above clearly reflect the idea that it is a good idea to know how to change a flat, a skill every one should have.
So sensitive………..Take a chill pill.

Cheesus Christ
Cheesus Christ
17 years ago

By the way, “high horse”?
Is that a reference to one of them fancy, pedalin’, tall horses?

Meryl
Meryl
17 years ago

I just have to mention this to prove I have bikes on the brain… I DREAMT about this bike last night! Seriously, it was in my dream, as someone rode one past me. Crazy huh?

josh m
josh m
17 years ago

As long as you inflate your tire to max inflation noted on the tire, you should have no problems. I rode 5 months w/ out a flat. it also helps to buy decent tires. I run bontrager race lites($36 each, i believe at BG)and have had no problems.

You should really learn to fix a flat if you don’t know how. Personally, depending on the shops or what not to do that for you, you’re just perpetuating the “lazy american” stereotype 😉
It’s not that difficult. My dad showed me how, and I’ve never seen him on a bike in my life.

Frankie
Frankie
17 years ago

Cheesus, even you admitted that the least amount of respect is given to those who bring a flat in. I hope to god that the very remote chance of you or the bike shop you used to work at fixing my bike do not happen at all.

Cheesus Christ
Cheesus Christ
17 years ago

Frankie,
This was not an admisson on my part.
This is a well known fact.
Well, maybe not to you, but to bike shop workers, and people with a cognitive capacity big enough to realize the truth.
Mechanics do not like to change a flat tire that people can easily change themselves. They have other things to do.
I did not make this up.
In our town, in most bike shops, the largest amount of respect given in a bike shop, to a regular, fresh from the road cyclist, comes from the mechanics.
Sales people here want to sell new bikes. If you are not buying a new bike, it is difficult to get real help here, at the major shops, especially Bike Gallery and River City.
Go straight to the mechanics if you are looking for a little part, or something difficult to find.
But, buy a tube, use the pump, and change your flat yourself. Grease washes off. Road grime washes off.
Maybe even say “I do not know how to change a flat. Since this is what you do for a living, perhaps you can assist me in doing it properly?”
And, since you do not know me, I will give you a little latitude, Frankie.
But, if you did know me, you would also know that I am exactly the type of person you want working on your bike.
I am the person people ask for help, or call for mechanical advice.
I am the person who will save your tacoed wheel 20 miles from nowhere, in a field.
I am the person my friends call to fix their cars even.
And, once again, I am the person to tell everyone, if you can’t change your own flat, you should start learning now. For your own good, and for the good of the land.
And. on a final note, to further make my point:
If you take your bike to a bike shop to have a flat fixed, they pull out your tube, throw it away, and put in a new one. Bike shops, as a rule, “DO NOT PATCH TUBES!”
THIS IS A WASTE OF A PERFECTLY GOOD TUBE!
Patching a tube over and over is recycling.
You might as well take that tube, throw it in your recycling bin at home during the week, and then, on garbage day;
Dump the whole recycling bin into the regular garbage, glass , cans, and all.
Cause, who cares?
Why should I recycle? Why should I learn to use a patch myself? That is what the bike shop is for…..

Food for thought, or fodder for landfills?
You make the call, Frankie…..

Richard Wilson
17 years ago

Well, anyway… I, for one, am very excited to see more Dutch style bikes with internal gear hubs on the road regardless of who has to fix the flat tires on them. Looking forward to the review, road test and more pictures!

Ian
Ian
17 years ago

Thanks for the note, Eric! I’ll go for my own test ride soon.

Now I just have to see which comes first, my winning ticket in the raffle or getting to the top of the Bike Gallery waiting list.

vj
vj
17 years ago

Does it have an AXA lock? It doesn’t look like it.

Burr
Burr
17 years ago

“I’d shift the whole gearset a notch lower – it’s a bike that shouldn’t require much work to pedal, right? I don’t want to have to stand up while riding it.”

It’s super easy to change the gearing range on a three speed:

To raise the gearing put a smaller sprocket and/or a larger chainring on; to lower the gearing put a larger sprocket and/or smaller chainring on.

Alicia in L.A.
Alicia in L.A.
16 years ago

I just read all of the comments, and here is a message from the suburbs of L.A…. The jokes about driving the half a block to get a coffee are all true. Going against L.A. tradition, I just bought the ELectra Amsterdam to ride to my job about two mles from my home. I have not ridden a bike in 25 years. I have no intention of ever changing a flat tire or learning how. I think the bike shops should offer service like the AAA. I bought the 30 pound aluminum framed Amsterdam model just in case I have to carry the bike home sometime. Wish me luck on the streets of L.A.

don bright
don bright
15 years ago

i just wanted to say that i have been riding old american 3 speeds for a coupla years, and with the addition of tire-liners, i have never gotten a bad flat. a few small leaks but nothing that would stop me from riding a coupla miles to some convenient stopping place.
well, also i stopped driving through brambles. but yeah. i think the tire liners would help alot.

i think with some improvements in tire/wheel technology, flats could become very rare. . . . like they are for cars.

you can look at the same thing with cars, they are more complicated to fix nowdays, but they break down less often. a lot of people dont change their own tires. they call AAA or a cab. maybe some sort of auto-inflate spare device could be made for bikes to make quick temporary repairs to wheels. i guess thats what the co2/slime or whatever are supposed to do…

brettoo
brettoo
15 years ago

BetterWorld Club, the green alternative to the evil AAA that\’s based in Portland, offers a pickup and rescue service for broken down bike riders along with the usual such service for stranded motorists. For car towing, they use the same local shops as AAA; the difference is, they don\’t lobby in Congress against sustainable energy and transport policies.

Hans-Henrik Fuxelius
Hans-Henrik Fuxelius
14 years ago

Dutch-inspired??

It is sure a beautiful bike, but to me the design is more of a *complete* ripoff of the “Gazelle Toer Populair” even when it comes to the small details. This is by no ways a bad thing, cause the design is delicious. The only (and seriously cool) addition to the original design is the flat foot technology.