Support BikePortland

My impression of the Electra Amsterdam

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

On test: The Electra Amsterdam

All photos by Jonathan Maus,
unless otherwise noted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

About me

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

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

OK, on with the test.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On test: The Electra AmsterdamOn test: The Electra Amsterdam

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

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

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

On test: The Electra Amsterdam

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

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

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

on test: the Electra Amsterdam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

109
Leave a Reply

avatar
108 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
68 Comment authors
PhilipbJennyDavidtodd Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
jeff
Guest
jeff

Nice write up, great looking bike.

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

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

margaret
Guest

Hi,

Nice write up!

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

Thanks!

Jonathan Maus
Guest

Margaret,

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

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

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

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

hope that helps.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

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

oneil
Guest
oneil

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

Thanks!

SKiDmark
Guest
SKiDmark

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

fixieboy
Guest
fixieboy

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

Kate
Guest
Kate

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

Jessica Roberts
Guest
Jessica Roberts

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

Eric
Guest
Eric

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

You should at least take it for a test drive.

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

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

SKiDmark
Guest
SKiDmark

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

sarah_o
Guest
sarah_o

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

greg
Guest

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

Chris
Guest

Two questions:

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

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

Gary T
Guest
Gary T

Jonathon,

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

bArbaroo
Guest
bArbaroo

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

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

trackback

[…] via Bike Portland By Rocky Thompson […]

Mike
Guest
Mike

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

Mike
Guest
Mike

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

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

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

spaz
Guest
spaz

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

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

adam
Guest
adam

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

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

Cecil
Guest
Cecil

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

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

adam
Guest
adam

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

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

pushkin
Guest
pushkin

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

Burr
Guest
Burr

“…unfortunately, I have two bikes already.”

Only two? You need more bikes, dude!

😉

adam
Guest
adam

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

Burr
Guest
Burr

More than I can ride at once.

beth
Guest

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

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

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

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

patrick
Guest

hey jonathan,

thanks for the review. Well done.

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

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

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

Patrick

SKiDmark
Guest
SKiDmark

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

pdxmark
Guest
pdxmark

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

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

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

Cecil
Guest
Cecil

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

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

Scout
Guest

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

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

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

trackback

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

Josh
Guest
Josh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jackieNYC
Guest
jackieNYC

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

clinton rider
Guest
clinton rider

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

Greg Raisman
Guest
Greg Raisman

Jackie:

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

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

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

Greg

tonyt
Guest
tonyt

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

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

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

Let the flame war on generator lights begin.

Jonathan Maus
Guest

Greg,

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

Sizzlak
Guest
Sizzlak

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

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy riding!

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

djkenny
Guest

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

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

tom
Guest
tom

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

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

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

nicnyc
Guest
nicnyc

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

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

Todd B.
Guest
Todd B.

Hi Nic of NYC.

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

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

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

nicnyc
Guest
nicnyc

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

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Hi Nic,

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

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