His great grandfather had a bicycle shop, where his grandmother spoked wheels in the cold Dutch winters and his father ran around as a little boy. At the age of 3 Elian learned how to cycle, when 15 years old he started to work in a bike shop and now he has designed the ultimate city bike, the Minute. In short; Elian’s life is all about bicycles!
The ultimate city bike
Elian is a bike designer. He makes handcrafted bicycles; “the process of designing a bike starts with a blank paper, I talk to the customer, what does he/she want, what is their ideal cycling position, where and how will they use the bike, I take their measurements and then I start.The result is the perfect bike for that person.”
While designing these bikes, Elian realized many people were looking for a bike that would solve the typical urban biking problems many people face: “It should be a bike that they could leave in their apartment (not to get stolen on the street). Not too heavy, not too big, easy maneuverable in the busy city centre’s of Amsterdam and Utrecht and easy to park in the full bike parking’s. Also most people want to sit upright, cycle comfortably and they want to be able to carry groceries and kids on their bikes. When I kept hearing those same requests for a bike, I decided to design the Ultimate City Bike. And we just launched it: the Minute.”
Great grandfather’s bike shop
Elian’s great grandfather had a bike shop in Maarn (close to Utrecht). Elian’s father still remembers being there as a little boy: “His grandfather was a typical bike repairman. He always wore a blue overall, his hands were black of all the repair work and he was always smoking. He still remembers the smell of his workplace.” In the village of Maarn almost everyone had a Fongers bicycle. “The winters were much harsher then, so in winter people couldn’t cycle because of all the snow, in these winters there were no repairs to do. In those months my great grandparents and grandparents had another task: spoking wheels for Fongers. That is how it went in those days.”
Elian lives in Leersum, a village in the green Utrechtse Heuvelrug. His workplace is in the shed of his parents in Maurik. Every morning he cycles to work through the forest and the fields. He has a little son for whom he built a walking bike. “I get a lot of support from my family; my wife moved mountains to get the Minute launched, my 16 year old brother helps building bikes, and my father brings technical knowledge – which often comes in handy.” Even Elian’s grandmother offered help: “Let me know when I can help, I can still spoke wheels like in the old days!”
It is the time of the year again that all kids in Nothern Europe get really excited. Why? Because Santa Claus is coming to town! Sinterklaas is a lively tradition in Northern Europe. The legend goes that Sinterklaas, who lives in Spain, arrives by steamboat over the Amstel River every year. Reason for all parents to get their kids on the bike and follow this happy proceeding alongside the shores of the river.
This year the Sinterklaas tradition got a lot of attention from all over the world. Not for a positive reason, though. There has been a big controversy about Santa’s helpers, the ‘Black Peters’. Some think of it as a tradition that lacks respect to these nice ‘Zwarte Pieten’. You can read all about it in the NY times, the Washington post or even Aljazeera. Here are some ‘Zwarte Pieten’ on roller blades:
Anyway, I don’t feel like taking any position. All I want to do is to share the joy of the kids and the devotion of their parents, carrying them on their bikes:
It seems like ages ago because of the enormous change in the weather conditions, but last week I was in sunny Utrecht for my cousin’s graduation. I took these pictures of the bikes and students in front of the Academic Library. You see the one where it says ‘Forbidden to park bikes’ (verboden rijwielen te plaatsen)?
Utrecht is a very pretty and old city full of nice shops, terraces along the canals, students, cafes, the dom tower and museums. If you’re ever in Amsterdam you must absolutely take the train for only half an hour to visit this lovely city.
Probably coming back from the guitar lesson on the back of her mum’s bike. One of the first songs you learn on the guitar is the famous ‘Hey Jude’. So if you feel inspired: just find a guitar, a good tutorial on youtube and start playing! Or just listen to this old classic..
On one of the few ‘hills’ in Amsterdam, I watched this girl breeze down the Ceintuurbaan bridge. The wind blowing through her hair. No pedaling required. Just calm and content. And not to mention a rockin’ outfit! Super chic.
Constructing your own bicycle out of old parts? That’s something Niels Gomperts loves to do, as his two striking, circus-like bicycles illustrate. Actually, Niels is a selfmade handyman who can fix and construct almost anything. And with artists’ blood flowing through his veins, all his creations have an artistic touch.
His beautiful home in the heart of Amsterdam, which seems to be an ongoing creative construction site, represents his bohemian lifestyle. In front of his house, his two bicycles are parked on a bridge.
Cycling all the way to Poland Niels and his friends made a pit stop in Berlin, where they visited a friend with a very colourful collection of bicycles. Returning home Niels couldn’t wait to get started on his own. For both bicycles he used old bicycle-parts, and for the steering wheel of the ‘low-rider’ he ‘borrowed’ his grandmothers walking frame. Nice touch!
Though he doesn’t ride them daily, he does take them out to cruise through the Vondelpark – sometimes accompanied by a sound installation – or go to a cafe. Of course he fell of a number of times, but hey, that’s the best way to learn. Now he can handle just about any moving vehicle.
Niels isn’t just a skilled handyman, he is also an actor and appears on Dutch television and in several movies. He acted in the movies Lena and Shocking Blue, but he is probably best known for his role in Penoza, a fantastic television show about a Dutch mafia family. So Niels is definitely a talented and remarkable individual. If you keep an eye out, you might see him cruising around town with his head in the clouds.
Same bridge, same bike, same sun … bu different cycle chicsters!
This May is very grey. It is cold, rainy and windy. Luckily some people make the city less grey by pimping their bikes. They paint them, decorate them with flowers, or other objects.
These are my three favourite bikes of this month:
In one week we had many festivities in Amsterdam; on the 30th of April Queensday and the coronation of the new king; on the 4th of May the Remembrance of the Death at Dam square and on the 5th of May both Liberation Day and the championship celebrations of Amsterdam’s football club Ajax.
After all these celebrations, with many people in the streets from all over the world, we are now taking it easy. Just enjoying the city and reliving about all the beautiful festivities.
Paddy and Philip from the blog Cycling with… went for a cycle with Job Cohen, former mayor of Amsterdam. On a sunny day, Job told them a lot about the history of Amsterdam, about living cities and about interesting things that happened during his time as mayor.
Job Cohen was Amsterdam’s mayor for more than 8 years, he was the first to wed a same sex couple and he was awarded with the title European Hero by Time Magazine.
Before kids can cycle themselves, they have already been on a bike many times. Dads and mums take them in a carrier, a child seat or in the cargo bike and cycle them around. To daycare, to the supermarker or just for a relaxed ride through town. Kids love it. You see them looking around, enjoying the speed when cycling down a bridge or just sleeping like angels.
Love and Sun: this is what I wish you all for this Valentine’s day!
The cold and white feeling we missed for Xmas is in town since a week, Amsterdammers love it and keep on cycling very chic!
Little smile but large shopping bag, this girl is cycling back from town with just the ingredients you need to begin the week-eeeeeeend!
Meet ‘Miss fair fashion’ Marieke Eyskoot: her mission is to make fair fashion normal in the Netherlands. “For me fashion is a way to celebrate life. I love it! But it should also be nice for the people who make it. I can’t enjoy clothes that people made in terrible working conditions.” For many years people have asked Marieke where they can buy fair fashion, what to look out for when shopping, easy things they can do for a more ‘fair lifestyle’ and if a fair lifestyle isn’t too expensive? Those questions made Marieke decide to write the book ‘Talking Dress- Vertelt je alles over eerlijke kleding (en lifestyle)’ that was recently published.
‘Talking Dress’ is a guide –written in Dutch – to a fair lifestyle in the Netherlands and Belgium. The book shows you the way to your own fair fashion lifestyle. Ranging from shopping tips to DIY-tricks, from washing instructions to swapping ideas, from clothes to accessories, beauty products, food and even marriage: Talking Dress makes it easy (and fun!) to do good and look great at the same time.
We love Marieke’s book and know that she uses her bike every day, so we asked her for an interview. We met in the lovely fair lunchroom and boutique ‘Beter & Leuk’ on the Eerste Oosterparkstraat.
Marieke and her bike
“This interview is a tribute to my bike. I bought it second hand in 1996 for 100 guilders and I have cycled it daily through the streets of Amsterdam since then.” The frame is from 1967 and it is a classical black Gazelle Dutch bike. But after more than 40 years some essential parts can’t be repaired anymore. So Marieke has to get a new bike. The decision of which bike to get was an easy one; “A Roetz bike of course!” Roetz’ bikes are sustainable and fair bikes made in the Netherlands. (Read more about Roetz on our blog).
“I love to cycle and I use my bike every day, to go to my office, to meetings, to go out and to go for cycles in the weekend. I like to go fast on my bike. It is a great break every day to cycle in between the many meetings, phone calls and long hours behind a computer. The movement, the wind or sun and just being outside for a while make me feel relaxed. When I pass bridges I always slow down a bit, to enjoy the beautiful city and look at the water.”
“I can still clearly remember the moment I learned to cycle. I was with my father practising in the street where I grew up. I was cycling and he was running beside me, holding me. Suddenly I heard him quite far behind me shouting ‘I am not holding you anymore!’ and from that moment on, I could cycle on my own!”
- Order Marieke’s book ‘Talking Dress’ (19,95 euros, free shipment in the Netherlands).
- Marieke co-organises MINT, the fair fashion section of international fashion tradeshow Modefabriek
This year’s Cycle Chic Conference in Budapest was legendary! The Cycle Chic Republic was united in the Hungarian capital. So it was a weekend full of bike events, chatting about cycling, photographing, tweeting and instagramming with bloggers from o.a. Vienna, Copenhagen, Berlin, Vitoria (Brazil) and Budapest.
Hungary Cycle Chic organised the conference and found many sponsors to make our stay even more enjoyable and the cycling events even cooler. The main event for us was definitely the Bicycle fashion show, in which normal people walked the catwalk with their bikes, dressed up in their best clothes. It was so nice that we decided to dedicate a whole blogpost to it, that will follow later this week.
Budapest is working hard on improving their cycling infrastructure. The very successful Critical Mass meetings have certainly left their mark. And now organisations like Hungary Cycle Chic and the Hungarian Cyclist Club are taking bicycle activism over to make the city more bicycle friendly. But as you can see on the pictures; Budapest has bicycle infrastructure and cyclists, and was quite a comfortable city to cycle around. So let’s hope the amount of cyclists, cycle lanes and bicycle traffic lights will only improve!
Thanks to the Hungarian Cyclist Club, the European Mobility Week and the Center for Budapest Transport for sponsoring the cycling events. Thanks Csepel Bikes for lending us our very comfortable and cool bikes! And thanks Anker’t for being such a cool bar and for sponsoring the afterparty after the fashion show.
I often get spotted while taking pictures of our beloved Amsterdammers on 2 wheels! Most of the time people smile at me or even strike their best pose for the picture. And sometimes people also wave at me, like this nice guy I photographed from the bridge above the Vondelpark.
Today, the weather was so beautiful that we decided to take our bikes up to the North of Amsterdam. Half an hour cycling takes you away, right into the heart of the real idyllic Dutch countryside where water is everywhere. So all kinds of solutions have been created to cross over, like for example this “floating platform”.
We were not the only ones with this idea today: we met those 2 friendly Amsterdammers while crossing the river. Thanks for posing girls!
Cycling is very social, all over the world people cycle together. In a lot of pictures from the Cycle Chic Republic below you see ‘doubling’ (two people on one bike) something you see a lot in Amsterdam!
Japanese painting is one of the oldest and most highly refined arts, encompassing a wide variety of genres and styles. This idyllic scene, shot at the heart of Amsterdam ( in the Vondelpark) took me away to ancient Japan for a couple of seconds: Geisha-style knotted hair, a touch of red on the lips, and …isn’t that the shadow of a cherry blossom tree?
And then suddenly, summer is there! Check out Amsterdam’s summer dresses…