Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Batavus Personal Bike

I was helping my friends at Rarified assemble some bikes today. Usually I have to pay for the privilege of building a bike so this was a nice change! I built a couple of Pashleys and 4 Batavus' bikes. Although I can appreciate the theoretically appeal of the old school dutch bikes I don't really love them. However, I do like the modern versions that Batavus is making. A similar riding position, but with modern designs and components.

The bike I liked the best was the Batavus Personal Bike. That's a weird name for a bike, but besides the name the bike is quite nice. It sports a robust [ie. heavy!] step through frame, 3 speed internal hub, lights, fenders, rack & skirt guard. It has two cool security features - 1) a RF ID Tag in the frame so cops can scan the bike and determine if it's stolen 2) the frame serial number incorporated right above the crank big enough to read as you walk by.

The riding position is bolt upright - even more cruiser-ish than my RANS Street. The bike is stable at low and moderate speeds. Easy to pedal despite the weight [I didn't climb any hills] and put a big grin on my face. If was going to get a bike like this I'd probably get the "delivery" version shown below. It has bigger racks and would be ideal for loads not quite huge enough to bother riding the Big Dummy.


runawayscreaming said...

I am guilty of owning several of these scandinavian roadster type bikes. The Batavus Personal Bike is probably the most interesting of the bunch not just because of the serial number but because it is a bisexual step-through frame that men uncertain of their sexual identity can ride without feeling girlish, like they would on the very feminine Pashley Princess or Azor Oma, for instance.

Step-through frames on these bikes are simply superior, whether you are a man, a woman or both. Most roadsters have 28" tires and a very high top tube on the men's models. The top tube is a good way to end up splayed out over a fallen bike if you are not careful getting on and off.

The square number plate tube on the Batavus is a good place to put your feet when splashing through puddles without a front mudgaurd extension. Another thing to like about the Batavus are its 26" wheels. Things not to like about it are the inexplicable steel rims and the enormous weight typical of the genre. It is better suited to flat cities, like the rest of its ilk which I love yet hate.

Anonymous said...

For practical & stylish? Behold:



I have a Velorbis Victoria Classic and this bicycle is simply flwaless in its design and attention to details.

Andrew said...

I like the laid-back style. With a full chain case, how tough it it to remove the rear wheel to change a flat?

Vik said...

Andrew I haven't tried removing the rear wheel, but certainly the full chain case will add some time to that operation. On my non-performance bikes I tend to run some robust Schwalbe tires like the Marathon XR which have never flatted for me. That would be my plan with this bike as well so I think it isn't a big concern.

Vik said...

I should point out that these are the first old school Dutch bikes I've been exposed to in person and I may well be much more into other models from these companies or other companies like Velorbis.

Vik said...

Having said that my personal style is more Mad Max than wicker baskets...=-) Even still I can appreciate them when ridden by others - particularly of the feminine persuasion...lol...=-)

runawayscreaming said...

...how tough it it to remove the rear wheel to change a flat?

It depends on the particular chaincase. There are several different types that can be used on this bike, from very open to very enclosed. The most open chaingaurds are do not interfere with wheel removal. The more closed ones slide apart to expose the gear mechanism. The most fabulous chaincase of all is made of vinyl coated fabric and is a major operation to remove but fortunately Batavus does not use it on this bike.

Generally on this type of bike you don't get flats because of the types of tires they use. When you do get a flat you can just put a patch on the tube without removing the wheel (the old-fashioned way).

If you do have to remove the rear wheel it is no small matter and requires several (common) tools. You will have to disconnect the gear cable from whatever type of shifter it has, then loosen the dropout slider locks (if it has them) and then turn off the axle nuts with a wrench (or preferably two). It's not an insurmountable horror but if you were doing the Tour de France and you had to change a tube you would spend so long at the side of the road the sweeper van would collect you and you would have to hide your face from television cameras (and you would also have to borrow the tools from a nearby farmer because they aren't the type of tools you carry with you on a bike).

Andrew said...

Thanks for the info on rear wheel removal. I totally forgot about the patch trick, runawayscreaming. On my own bikes I just replace the tube after checking the inside of the tire for debris, and patch the old one when I get home. But then again wheel removal is pretty quick ;)

These dutch style bikes look very classy and civilized.

Anamixis said...

I am a scientist working in the Netherlands [Leiden] for two months. The Naturalis Museum where I work is a 10-minute bike ride from my flat so I purchased a used Batavus bike for €70, cheaper than renting for two months. The dealer will buy it back when I leave for €30. Although it is pretty ragged it rides well so I started thinking about purchasing a bike to take home. Yes, the $USD is in a nose dive making purchases here expensive and thus some serious consideration is needed.
After much searching I settled on the Batavus Personal bike 3-speed. While it listed for €640 I was able to get it for €470 as the shop was closing out 2008 models. Yes, it is heavy but it rides well and the gear ranges are fine, even for the steep 45-degree bridges over the canals. I would have preferred the 7-speed Nexus hub but there were none in stock. The bike is solid and rattle-free even over the rough square cobblestone streets. The unisex step-through frame is a plus for convenience getting on and off the bike. I have seen a number of tourists take a dirt meal trying to get off men’s style bikes. When stopping or starting to ride the locals tend to coast standing on one pedal which makes quick dismounts in U-tube frames easier and less hazardous.
It’s hard to describe the ride, but it is solid and the efficiency and pedal effort are smooth as glass. In retrospect, the 3-speed is probably a better choice; there is a small sight glass on the rear axle with 2 yellow reference marks. All you have to do is adjust the cable at the axle to keep a red mark in between the yellow lines. The 7-speed Nexus is completely enclosed and would entail a bit more effort to service/adjust. There is an internal hub dynamo that powers a very bright LED headlight, although most bikes in the area still use the dynamo that runs off the tire. The taillight is battery powered.
As many on this list have noted the Personal Bike is the model the bike shops rent and they get daily abuse. In addition to top notch construction Batavus puts a computer chip in the frame tube and the serial number is laser-etched into the horizontal frame number potentially reducing theft [this assumes law enforcement uses scanners, I don’t know anything about this]. The frame is galvanized, the rims and spokes stainless steel and it is build to last with little or no service. I live in coastal Florida, an area where rust and corrosion are constants for any metal machinery. I rode many makes and models from the shops but kept coming back to the PB and look forward to using it at home. I flew over on Martin Air and they will take the boxed bike as a second piece of luggage.

Ricardo's Law said...

How about one of the Chinese roadsters - they're not as pretty, but they're durable as all get-out, and are a lot easier on the old wallet.


Suzanne said...

I bought a Batavus Personnal Bike Deluxe XL, (7 speed Nexus hub) and it was love at first ride. I tried that same day a Gary Fisher Simple City 8. And although the Fisher felt much lighter and faster, the Batavus gave a much better ride. I do live in a somewhat flat city with lots of bike paths, and plan to commute to work with the bike. For now just getting back into shape and enjoying it immensely. The issue of the flat tire : there is a small kit provided with the bike in the bag under the saddle with patches, glue and tools, but in fact, you would have to leave it in the care of a good bike shop. It is more complicated then your usual flat repair. One feature of the PB is it lock on the back wheel, sort of a horseshoe lock over the back wheel. You have to have a key to get it unlocked, a key that stays in the lock to be able to ride the bike, and although it doesn't prevent the bike from being stolen (you still need to lock your bike with a U lock or something), it might make it less appealing to steal since the person cannot ride the bike, the back wheel is really locked. Batavus also provides in that small bag under the seat a cable, that hooks into that lock, and you could use it for just a very quick errand in a safer neighborhood, not needing the heavy U lock. I would never use that shoehorse lock and calble alone, but in conjunction with another lock. The more complicated you make it for thieves, the better.
When looking at buying a bike, and wanting to compare apples with apples, you do have to consider that this bike, although expensive, comes with fenders, chain guard, a really good front light (with dynamo), back light (with dynamo), both lights with condensator, so the lights stay on when you are not pedaling and waiting at a stop or light, so you are still visible, also comes with the lock and the cable, a good bike rack with integrated bungee cords, the stand, etc. When you look into buying a bike, and in the end you have to add all those accesories, it does add up. I was looking for a bike that will last forever, and I found one. It was worth every penny.

Anonymous said...

i am thinking of buying a Batavus Personal Bike Deluxe to use with my kids - i am going to put a Bobike mini seat on the front. have any other readers done this? how does the bike perform when loaded on the front with a kid?
cheers, jo in Brighton, UK