Vanmoof Urban Cycles

I’ve had yet another trip to Melbourne and was lucky enough to stumble over a Vanmoof bicycle, my first sighting of such in the wild. I took this awful photo of it on my phone:
Vanmoof No 5.

Here’s a slightly better one from the

Vanmoof 5

These bikes have some clever features built into them that might not be obvious at first sight. The gears (there are three, sorry, not actually a single speed or fixie at all) are via Nexus 3 speed hub. The brakes are back pedal (or coaster) brakes. The lights are built into the bike and with this model I saw the security chain is also built into the bike. The chain pulls out of the top tube (stored in that little bracing tube you can see running between top tube and down tube) and wraps around whatever street furniture you can find to attach it to. Rather neat.

You can find out more at Urban Cycles.
Cell also sell one but not the model I saw.

I’m not quite convinced of whether the Vanmoof bikes are clever bikes or merely a clever styling exercise. The bike design is predicated by the placement of the bike lights and while it’s great to have bike lights permanently on the bike they’re only LED flashy types. Neither myself nor my wife can get by with LED flashy lights. We need to navigate bike lanes with no street lights and need proper lights.

A visit to the Vanmoof website does little to reassure, it being one of those all style and no substance websites. It makes no sense at all when viewed on my netbook and isn’t much fun on a real PC. It’s  Flash heavy so it probably doesn’t make much sense on an iPad or iPhone. And it made it very difficult to get pictures it. Still, I can only hope that Vanmoof bikes run better than there website does and they sell a truckload in Australia. It’ll be good for the local scene to have these stylish and practical bikes roaming the roads and pathways.

While in Melbourne I also saw a lovely bike from Papillionaire in the flesh. I didn’t take a photo because my wife was starting to get embarrassed about frequent roadside stops to photograph other people’s bikes. Also, I’d have to say, based on my photo above I’m better off not taking any phone snaps on the go. Here’s a picture from the Papillionaire website:

These clever bikes are heralding the new waves of bikes, what I like to call bike bikes. They’re bikes that are simply bikes, not fixies, racers, mountainbikes, hybrids etc. Why anyone ever needed to invent those awkward looking hybrids for getting about town when bike bikes already existed is beyond me. Millions of bike bike exist worldwide (must be about ten gazillion just in Asia) because they’re the best and most economical way to get about town. Meanwhile, back in the Aus we’re riding around on ridiculous contraptions with head-high handle bars and suspension. Anyway…back to Papillionaire.

I must have spent 100s of hours in this place. Never leaned up a bike so stylish though.

If you’re looking for a label for the Papillionaire, call them a Dutch bike. They have two bikes for sale on their website and the Sommer is definitely in the Dutch bike mold. The one I saw was the Classic and it’s    more in the style of the “1930s Path Racer”. I quoted that from the Pashley website because the Classic reminds me of the Guv’nor. The Classic is cheaper than the Guv’nor (at only $499) and probably more attainable as well (at least in Aus). In the flesh it was a very beautiful bike with a whole lot more style built in that you would expect for a bike at this price. The elegantly swept back handlebars were very eye-catching and made the whole bike look very retro stylee. I’d happily swap my fixie for one of these for a few days. If you need a second ride, say you want racks and fenders on a wet commute, or you want something you can share with the other half, check out Papillionaire bikes.

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