Thanks to good folks at Seattle Bike Supply, for the past several months I’ve been the lucky caretaker of a Batavus “Old Dutch”. I hoped the Portland sales rep who loaned it to me would have forgotten about it, but unfortunately, last Friday it was time to give it back.
It’s a beautiful bike, and a clear symbol of the Dutch Bike Invasion that is sweeping North America.
Even though it wasn’t my ideal day-to-day bike, I relished every opportunity to take it for a spin. There’s something about the Dutch position (expertly explained here by Todd Fahrner) and the angles of this classic bike that just feels right.
But beyond how it felt to ride, one reason I enjoyed this bike was because it always attracted attention. That’s not just because I’m some egotist who likes attention (although I don’t usually mind it), it’s because if we’re ever going to get non-bikers to start pedaling, we’ve got to first inspire them with functional, and more importantly, beautiful bikes.
Riding this thing around town, I was amazed at the type of people who would stop, stare, and ask me about it: The mail carrier ducking out of his truck; the elderly women crossing the street in front of me; not the usual suspects to have bike-envy.
And it’s not about rocket science or huge R&D budgets, the Dutch have built bikes like this forever. It comes stock with a full chain-guard, ample front and rear fenders, integrated front and rear lights, an upright position, a skirt guard (also handy for keeping kids’ feet out of the the wheel), and a comfy saddle.
As I rode around on this thing, usually grinning ear-to-ear, I often wondered how much better off our great country would be if bikes like this could be purchased at at Toys R ‘Us or Wal-Mart.
Maybe the bike industry’s current fascination with commuter and utility bikes will trickle down to big-box retailers someday. But first, they’ll have to sell through their stock of $189.00 full-suspension mountain bikes.