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!”
Andy knows what it is to follow your heart. She used to be an investment banker for one of the Netherlands’ biggest banks, but she stopped that promising career to follow her heart and she became a musician. Andy is a happy, positive, 30 year old Dutch singer songwriter. She sings about love, love in relationships but also love for a city. And Andy… she is in love with Amsterdam.
Andy loves Amsterdam
Nine years ago Andy moved to Amsterdam and she fell in love with the city. “Amsterdam is beautiful, the atmosphere is good and there are so many different people. The fact that there are more bikes than people makes the city even cooler. Everyone cycles! Cycling makes people more social then when everyone sits in their own car. I also love the trams in the city. Sometimes I just hop into a tram and let it take me to its final destination. In those 9 years I got to know all the tram routes!”
‘City love’ is the name of the record Andy is working on. She is in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign to finance it. With as little as 10 euros people can fund it: “Crowdfunding the money to release my second record is a logical choice for me. Music is social. It is my way to communicate. I make music for people. To move them, to inspire them, or to make them happy. So if I make music for ‘the crowd’ why not involve them in the process of producing my record?” The campaign is going well. In only two weeks Andy funded nearly 60% of her project. The record ‘City love’ is about Andy’s love for Amsterdam and about love between people. “Love is nice, it is horrible, it is disastrous… sometimes love makes you act like a complete idiot. That is what makes love fascinating.”
Andy is not only in love with her city, but also with her bike. She bought her racing bike 6 years ago on Marktplaats (the Dutch eBay). “I bought it because I wanted to see if I liked to go racing. But the bike wasn’t good enough for long cycles so I kept it as a city bike. I have many bikes that got stolen in Amsterdam so I am very careful with this one. I used to carry it up three stairs to my apartment, so that I didn’t have to leave it on the street. Luckily I now have a shared garden with a little storage box where I can put it.”
Look at Andy: No side wheels!
Andy has one very clear memory of when she was 4 and learned to cycle. “It was the last day I would cycle with side wheels. I knew that this would be a ‘Kodak’ moment, so that morning I put on my best dress and cycled with a big smile, and my cute little pink basket to my father taking the picture.”
Like most Dutch Andy doesn’t have a ‘cycling’ style, she just cycles with what she is wearing that day. Almost always Andy wears All Stars: “I wear All Stars since I was 9 years old and they really became part of my identity. I wouldn’t go on stage without my All Stars. People would just be so surprised to see me wearing something else.” We also loved Andy’s ring: “That ring used to be my grandma’s. That makes it extra special. My grandma was a tiny lady. She was always very sweet, friendly and quiet. But she was a tough cookie: she had 9 kids and a bakery and her husband passed away quite young. So she worked incredibly hard! Also she was a talented violin player. When I look at the ring I think about the hard work she did and that she didn’t have a chance to make music her life. I then feel so lucky that I do have the chance. That is why I decided to go for it. To follow my heart…”
- Want to help Andy to make her dream come true? Fund her crowdfunding campaign!
- Andy is planning a world tour. Do you know a nice venue where she could play? Email her! email@example.com
Photos: Aude; Text: Joni
Since December passed us by so quickly we are just now getting to share some big news. US-based urban cycling mag, Momentum Magazine, featured our very own Amsterdam Cycle Chic girls in their December issue. Joni and I wrote a brief article with tips about the best cycling city in the world, including a few pointers on “how to cycle like an Amsterdammer”. In the 2-page spread they also featured photos by us — and Aude’s shot of me for last year’s Cyclist of the Month was chosen for the cover! You can still download the December issue here.
We love opportunities like this. Sharing Amsterdam’s unique and amazing – and all so normal at the same time – bike ‘culture’ with the world is one reason this blog exists. So keep on cycling chic, Amsterdam!
Our friends from Cycling with… have made yet another cool video in Amsterdam. This time they want for a cycle with art hirstorian Max Put. In the video you see beautiful examples of the famous ‘Amsterdam School‘ architecture. Max tells you all about this group of young architects and how they wanted to challenge the status quo of more traditional architecture with their new vision on the combination of functionality and style. They wanted to make ‘architecture art again’.
So watch this video! It really makes you feel like you’re on a bike in Amsterdam, while learning a lot about this interesting and revolutionary architecture.
Cycling with… is a blog that focuses on the social side of cycling. Paddy and Philip interview people while cycling around in their city. In the interviews a broad range of topics is covered. Want to know more and see what kind of cool filming technique they use? Check out their cycling blog!
Hi Amsterdam Cycle Chic team,
I never had a driving license and I have never missed it because my bike brings me everywhere! Cycling is freedom.What is nicer than discovering the city by bike? I cycle a Bub by Batavus now but years ago I had a real old omafiets, and… a very sweet Jack Russell puppy. Maybe a nice picture for your blog?
We love it to receive an email like this. People sharing their bicycle stories with us. In that way we get to know our readers a bit. So thanks for sharing Louise!
After seeing Louise’s picture I went through our own photos and selected a few dogs in baskets (or crates) for you, something you see a lot in the streets of Amsterdam. And you see, big dogs, small dogs, they all love to go for a ride!
I am lucky that the social enterprise JO Cadeau that I founded has its headquarters (and to be honest, only quarters) in this amazing building by Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck. It is an anti-squat arrangement; you pay very little and rent a space in a building that would otherwise be empty or occupied by squatters. It is great. It is in the city centre, in the old Jewish neighbourhood. The only disadvantage is that you can suddenly be ‘kicked out’ when the building is sold.
For lunch I love to go out to get some bread and nice Dutch cheeses that we eat all together (interns, freelancers and ourselves) in our office. When outside, I look at the cyclists. It is a diverse scenery at the Plantage Middenlaan. Check it out:
When it comes to cycling the Dutch love to double up. Especially on chilly, wintery days like today, it seems like the only way to get around is to jump on the back on your friend’s bike and snuggle up close. Or hop on a tandem like the adorable cutie-pie in the last pic! Don’t lose those flowers!
Now Pete gave Amsterdam Cycle Chic a signed copy of the book that we can give away!
How do you win? Send us by mail, post on our Facebook page or in our Flickr group a picture of your own ‘history of cycling’. So for example a picture of yourself as a baby on the back of your dads bike, your mother in a hippy dress on a Dutch bike or a picture of your home town full of cyclists a few decades ago.
The picture of Aude’s husband Willem that she posted a few weeks ago is the perfect example. Join the competition and win!
Anyone up for short Dutch lesson? I already told you at the time what was an “Opa“. Now let’s talk about the “Oma”: it is the grandma. You may think I love old people, and I do. But I am not the one who invented the expression “Omafiets”. “Fiets” means bike in Dutch so “Omafiets” is a grandma bike. And trust me the Omafiets is the fancy old classic that most of people in Amsterdam are riding on.
Born in Afganistan in the 80’s, Massy and his family moved to the Netherlands more than 20 years ago. As a child he discovered the Dutch culture, he learned to cycle straight away and felt in love with this way of moving around. He likes the feeling of being independent on his bike, to be free to go everywhere and to breathe the fresh air.. He never went back to Afghanistan but he is pretty sure the bicycle is not as popular as it is here !
Massy is living in Utrecht. A few months ago, a friend inspired him to start a new business. His friend was selling ice creams on his delivery bike.
He couldn’t stop thinking this idea was very good and would be much appreciated by all the Amsterdammers !
So he just started with one of his mates a new company on wheels : bikeexpress.nl (site still under construction)
They have 2 ice cream delivery bikes, one is mostly cycling in Amsterdam North, while the other one goes around Amsterdam East. They offer our most beloved flavors : vanilla (in pole position !) strawberry and chocolate, or pistache, or lemon, etc
Massy loves selling ice creams. The reason is very simple: he is happy to make people smile. It is related to what makes him happy in life : « to help people in every way I can help ». He is already doing so since a long time as he has worked many years for Amnesty International and other NGOs. He also initiated this nice project ofoundation.nl. Massy’s dream is « to have a positive influence in the development of the human kind ».
I was happy to meet Massy and to taste his delicious ice creams while enjoying the Oosterpark with my little baby.
Let’s see what he will offer us in the winter : broodjes, soup ?
I just loved these blues-brother-like guys, appearing on the borders of the Amstel river. It made me wonder, though: are they just colleagues on their way to have a drink or is this a smart dressed entrepreneur, taking his client out for lunch to one of the nicer restaurants on the borders of the Amstel. In any case, you must have a good deal of self-confidence to sit on the front seat of a bike like this, because a clumsy fall of the bike in front of a fully occupied terrace does not really match with this cool image!
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.
As you probably have heard; we have a new king! On Tuesday the ceremony of the abdication and the coronation (without a crown though) took place in Amsterdam. Prince Willem-Alexander (also known as ‘Prins Pils = Prince Pilsener’) is now king Willem-Alexander and his Argentinian born wife, Máxima, is Queen Máxima.
For Amsterdam Cycle Chic the first question that arose was of course; how cycle chic are the new king and queen? As a royal couple you usually are very chic, but do they also cycle chic? We found the following pictures of the King and Queen on bikes. What do you think? Quite cycle chic eh?!
What a weekend it’s been. The sun is shining, people are happy and out on their bikes all the day long. This is the time of year when I just can’t get enough of this city. And Queen’s Day has yet to come! Let’s hope this wonderful weather keeps up for Tuesday.
Let me invite you to Amsterdam, to have a look out of my window. Every minute at least one chic cyclist is passing by. Having a Cycle Chic blog in Amsterdam is therefore not too difficult, almost any cyclist is a chic cyclist.
Please enjoy, ten minutes hanging out of an Amsterdam window:
Hope you enjoyed your ten minutes in Amsterdam. Don’t you love the cyclists, the sun and the cyclists’ shadows on the pavement? Please come again soon!
In Amsterdam people of all ages cycle. Last week we saw ladies with their babies on bikes, we have seen young kids cycling and trendy students. This week we show you chic cyclists with grey hair. Aren’t they stylish and fit? I guess cycling keeps you young!
How do I know she is an art student? Easy: the black tube she wears is used to carry her drawings. I wish I could see her work! She was cycling in West but I would not be surprised if she studies at the opposite side of Amsterdam, at the famous art school the Rietveld Academie.
Aude is right! More fur is just what doctor ordered for these chilly winter days. I’m seeing so much fur around the city, aren’t you? Fur hoods, fur hats, fur scarves, fur mitts, fur boots–it’s everywhere! But it’s best worn by bike.
This young man is pretty styled out with his red hot wheels, red bicycle chain and even red lock! If you look carefully, you can see he is carrying a Vans shopping bag. This reminds me of the cool guy I photographed a few months ago. As you can see below, he wore red Vans and was cycling on a white fixies.
So, Fixies and Vans seem to be the perfect match, right?
What happened to all the snow?! I was just getting used to the slip n’ slide riding on the snowy streets. Nevertheless, the terrible wind and rain didn’t stop any Amsterdammers today. It’s almost like nothing can stop these people from riding their bikes!
Now they have released a new bicycle interview, with Alexander Klopping (a tech freak and gadget expert, known from the popular tv show ‘De Wereld Draait Door‘) and Ernst-Jan Pfauth (a Dutch journalist and blogger, known best for his columns on technology in nrc.next).
We encourage you to join Alexander and Ernst Jan on their Sunday cycle through Amsterdam, to see how they met via Twitter, to hear them argue about the demise (or not) of traditional journalism, and to learn some cool Dutch cycling tricks.
The mission of ‘Cycling With…’
“Today’s cities face big problems: polluted air, obese citizens, and social exclusion. Luckily, there’s a simple solution: the bicycle. ‘Cycling With…’ believes that by sharing stories of inspiring people on bikes, we can encourage cities to take pro-cycling action. So we have embarked on a mission to film 100 ‘Cycling with… documentaries’. And to show the world how gloriously easy, fun and sexy a bike ride can be.”
If you want to help, please sign up for their newsletter now.
- Visit the ‘Cycling With…’ blog for more videos
It’s never too late to go out there on your bike and get back home with the last tree from the very friendly Californian Christmas-tree-man located on Marie Heinekenplein.
Season greetings, the ACC Team.
As announced for our birthday, we have picked randomly 3 people who shared their favorite picture with us…And the winners of the cute saddle covers are:
Please send your addres to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can send you the saddle cover.
We are taking this opportunity to thank you all for your support and encouraging feedback,
we loved it!
Amsterdam cycle chicly yours,
Joni, Else, Meredith and Aude.
In decades the design of the most popular bike in the Netherlands has hardly changed. The Dutch love the simplicity, the upright position and the everlasting steel frame of their bikes. Now that cycling becomes more popular in other countries, the Dutch omafiets and opafiets gains popularity all over the world. In the book ´De Nederlandse fiets-The Dutch Bike´ design critic Zahid Sardar describes the history of the traditional Dutch bike and looks at the new trendy versions of the bike by Dutch designers. A great and easy to read book about Dutch cycling culture and design.
Origin of the Dutch bike
Did you know that the design of the ‘Dutch bike’ actually isn’t Dutch? The Dutch got the design from the French vélocipède and the English Rover bike. At the end of the 19th century bicycle production increased and Dutch brands like Burgers, Fongers and Union where getting bigger and bigger. The import of cheap steel from the US and the fast industrialisation in Europe turned the bicycle from a product for the elite into a product for huge parts of the Dutch population. Many women cycled too and the design of the bike was adapted to women with long dresses cycling (‘the looped frame’: the omafiets).
Dutch design: new trendy bikes
The traditional omafiets and opafiets might be the most common in the Netherlands, but there are also many new designs on the market. It becomes more and more trendy to have a cool and special bike. So Dutch designers started to make new bikes, often based on the traditional design, experimenting with materials, position and colours. Popular ones at the moment are amongst others the urban Vanmoof bikes, the wooden Bough Bikes and Urban Arrow, an electric-assist cargo bike.
- Order a copy of the book The Dutch Bike at Nai Publishers