Despite what you may think after viewing the above photo - The Mountaingoat Bike - Sögreni Bikes is one of Copenhagen's more bespoke bike brands.
Sögreni was established by designer Sören Sögreni back in 1981. He quickly built himself a reputation for unique and contemporary designer bikes.
While he has since branced out into bespoke bike accessories, kitchens and furniture, his shop in Saint Peder's Street is still all bikeness.
You get craftsmanship, that's for certain, and you get design. Sögreni's bikes also give you the opportunity to make a statement. You decide what it might be, but he probably has a bike that fits the bill. The Mountaingoat, seen above, fits just about any statement you choose to make. Just be as creative as he was in inventing it.
In this day and age, Sögreni's Wooden Bicycle may be more straightforward if you're looking to comment on environmental issues, as so many people are. You're sure to be a rolling advert for sustainability. And it looks wicked cool, too.
The company, of course, produces bespoke models of 'regular' bikes, too. Fine functionality and elegant designs. As seen below in the Young Shatterhand model, for men and women.
In addition to his bikes, Sögreni produces wonderfully designed accessories. Among them are unique, classy bike bells, stylish trouser clips and earthy fenders.
I snapped this fender last year:
One thing we really fancy is the pop-up bike rack, seen below. It would be brilliant to see these embedded in the oceans of cobblestones in Copenhagen. Just place your front wheel in the groove, click your wheel lock and you're off for a coffee.
Another exciting brand on the massive Danish bike market and we like Sögreni for their flair, design and playfulness. The latter being something that is often lacking in the bike world.
Check out Sögreni's WEBSITE - it's in English. And see what else he has cooked up.
You may have seen this before in the cycle blog universe, but here is a fine example of a bike rack making a statement in Switzerland.
Designed by Swiss designer Adrien Rovero, the bike rack 'VD 003' is a tad preachy, but the message is clear: six bikes can fit in one car parking space.
Although if this was in Copenhagen there would be 86 bikes crammed into the space. :-)
Very stylish and elegant. Perfect for urban centres.
Height: 196 cm
Width: 340 cm
Depth: 40 cm
While the Swedes rule the world of self-assembled, cheap, particle-board furniture, they can't compete with Copenhagen's daily cycling masses. Nevertheless, our brethren across the Straight still adhere to classic European bike culture. I spent a couple of days in Stockholm and was pleased to see that their bike culture is alive and kicking. Just like in Copenhagen, it's cyclists wearing normal clothes, riding normal bikes and just getting on with it.
Here's some photographic details from the streets of the Swedish capital:
Chic Stockholmer in the drizzle.
Now here's a city that is quite sure that their century-long cycling history will survive. Carved in stone, no less.
Stockholm is a hilly city, but that is no excuse to stop riding.
Snakeskin tyres! So very cool. As seen on the bike below:
A Danish import... cycle ramp on a set of stairs. Ramps on both sides and stairs in the middle.
Technically speaking this should be the inaugural post in an newly started "Bikes That Make Us Giggle and Blush Like Schoolboys in Love" category.
We had heard of the Balloon Bikes from Retrovelo before but hadn't really explored the rumours. Until recently. Oh my.
It's one thing to fall head over heels for a bike but it's quite another to discover an urge to party with the people behind the product. Can't say we've experienced THAT sensation before.
It's the bikes, sure, but it's their whole approach to marketing their product. The whole 'joie de vivre' feeling of their website and catalogue. Playful, tongue-in-cheek, retro kitsch. These are clearly people who love making their bikes and aren't afraid to have a laugh [and buy us beer].
The good people at German bikemaker Retrovelo are quite clear about what they do and why they do it. They adhere to the 'form follows function' mantra of Northern European design while maintaining the emotional attachment to retro style. Aesthetic expression, they say, creates things of special quality and individual beauty. Not content to merely imitate historical forms, they choose to push the form to modern limits.
On their website they state that their style is inspired by the playful designs of the 50's and the irresistibly rebellious designs of the 60's and 70's. A certain naïve design period which mirrored society's dreamy visions of the future. As they say themselves, 'now, more than ever, humans want to see memories, desires and dreams fulfilled'. And they produce simple bikes that wave happily back in time to the period between the 1930's and 1950's.
While the balloon tyre is not a new invention - it was developed back in the 1920's - Retrovelo's frames beg for fat tyres and it is a match made in heaven. Their bikes look... well, bouncy. Playful. Cheeky. A refreshing and much-needed antidote to the burgeoning luxury bike market. We believe that more Retrovelos on the bike lanes of Copenhagen would create a party mood. A temptation to wink and flirt at the cyclist next to you at the light.
Their models are all given simple names like Fritz, Paul, Klaus, Max, Klara, Pauli, Maxi - which is so refreshing. The colours are somehow unique and deliciously cool.
All said, Retrovelo is a bike we like. Often imitated, rarely matched.
Retrovelo's website [in German, but the catalogue has an English version.]
Retrovelo is available at Velorution in London and Clevercycles in Portland, USA.
Here's an interview with the two chaps behind Retrovelo, from Dirtmag . Interviewed at Interbike '07. How ironic is that... a retrodesign bike for urban commuting interviewed by a mountain bike magazine...:-)
An M&C Saatchi advert for London Transport.
Very cool. Very effective.
We found this cool bike and were happy to have done so. A classic Longjohn cargo bike painted with authentic Mercedes paint and an addded Mercedes star logo attached.
We wondered who customised this wonder and we found a small Danish company called Esimex who customise cargo bikes for personal, commercial and industrial use.
As coincedence will have it, they are responsible for the new ice cream bikes at the Copenhagen Zoo that will pedal around the Gardens this summer. We spotted the newly delivered ice cream trikes, shiny new, the other day at the Zoo:
Copenhagen Newspaper Delivery, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].
There has been a proliferation of free newspapers in Copenhagen. It all started with the Swedish Metro Express and now there four free newspapers battling for the hearts and minds of the public.
Every morning there are people standing next to the bike lanes all over the city handing out free papers to cyclists and pedestrians. If you want to get rid of papers, the busy bike lanes are the place to do it. On this stretch over 20,000 bikes will pass in the course of a day.
The chap in the photo is a Brasilian who is now a famous sight on the City Hall Square, dancing and singing and flying about like a ballet dancer cum breakdancer to ensure everyone gets a paper.
Music blaring on his ghetto blaster atop his cargo bike provided by his employer Nyhedsavisen - The News Paper.
Danish cargo bikes have been around for a century or so. There is a wealth of choice on the market but innovation - apart from using modern materials - has not been that progressive.
Enter the Triobike.
With it's splendid design and brilliant flexibility, the Triobike is muscleing its way onto the international cargo bike scene. Based in the heart of Copenhagen, the Triobike is everything Danish Design is world-renowned for; simplicity, functionality and coolness.
If you haven't sussed it out yet, the Triobike is a three-in-one extravanganza of bikealiciousness.
You can transport your kids to kindergarten or school in the cargo bike incarnation and drop them off. Instead of riding the cargo bike around all day you merely pull out a front wheel from under the cargo bay, detach the front forks from the cargo and pop on the front wheel. Off you go, riding to work on a proper bike. If you fancy going for a walk, you can merely use the cargo part as a stroller.
It's all so easy that it's amazing nobody thought of it before now.
The Triobike is currently in version 2.0. There were minor design issues in the first generation but they have been lovingly sorted out in this new version. By all accounts, Danish distributors are snapping them up like warm bread - as they say in Danish.
There are many reasons why we love the Triobike. It's cool, it's different, it's three-in-one. Then there are the plusses regarding the ride - very smooth and definately comparable to other leading brands of Danish cargo bikes - and the ease of switching from one version to another. [See a film about it on their website] In short, the Triobike is an urban cargo bike hybrid dream.
We're seeing more and more on the streets in Copenhagen and the export network is growing by leaps and bounds. Pricewise, the Triobike is only marginally more expensive than competing brands like the Winther Kangaroo. Here in Denmark you're looking at about 19,000 kroner for the basic setup. [€2500 / $4000]
Still rockbottom cheap compared to a small car. The clever thing is that you can buy two bikes and one cargo bay. That way dad can drop off the kids, ride off on his bike to work and mum can pick them up on her bike in the afternoon.
Oh, goodness me, we like the Triobike. Besides the bike, they have the coolest logo in the Danish cargo bike world and the most modern website [although it's not very Firefox friendly].
Me and wifealiciousness are talking about getting a cargo bike now that we have two kids. Let's see what we end up with. Watch this space. We'll tell you all about it when it happens.
Check out Triobike's groovy website here... just choose your flag. They have loads of cool photos and all the specs regarding their three-wheeled wonder.
I was running some errands the other morning, on a brilliant sunny day in the mid-winter. It was chilly, around freezing with a wind chill that took it down to -15 C.
Here's a series of cargo bikes I saw on my way:
City Hall Square in Copenhagen on morning. He's riding either a Sorte Jernhest [Black Iron Horse] cargo bike or a Bellabike.
A Bellabike making the crossing over Nordre Fasanvej.
One person adjusting the iPod to find the perfect sunny winter's day music and another contemplating the light changing on his Nihola.
A Winther Kangaroo hanging with friends in the bike rack.
A couple of Copenhageners commuting together. He's on a classic Short John delivery bike.
Dad on his way to work after having dropped off the kids at daycare with an older Winther Dolphin trailer.
Another commercial event has passed and here's some photos about it.
It was Valentines Day today [i heard about it on the evening news... it's not that popular here] and this chap was cycling home to his partner [or lover].
A bike messenger pushing off, on his way to deliver an I Love You balloon.
Behind him is the quintessential Danish sausage wagon.
This one was sent to us by our good friend Jacquie Phelan - legendary cyclist and proprietor of the Alice B. Toeclips blog.
To be honest, I'm embarassed. Embarassed that the cycle-mad Danes didn't think of this first, given our affection for beer, which is just as developed as the Germans. What a splendid concept. Riding a bike with friends, drinking beer and even eating. All at once. Meet Das Partybike.
This is taking bike design to new levels. Their website is clear about the concept. "The rolling partytheque with music, draught beer and good times." You can bring your own beer and food, or they can provide it, as well as a DJ if you prefer. The price is €20 if you can muster 15 friends - beer, food, DJ are extras.
While this partybike will roll to your door anywhere in Germany, there seem to be other versions abroad. But this beast of a pedal-powered machine is by far the coolest on the kitsch scale. I love it.
It seems to be the ultimate northern European invention. A social gathering involving beer where everyone helps propel the vehicle forward towards a common goal. If one of you needs a rest, the others will keep pedalling. The partybike is Scandinavian-style democratic socialism in practice. :-) A rolling society of like-minded individuals.
From what I gather there has been a similar bike in New York City:
They called themselves Partybike, but it is actually a Conference Bike. This bike - another German make - is used as a tool for corporate teambuilding in London, as a tour bike in Berlin and a tool for helping blind people ride in Dublin.
In New York, however, groups of people having fun are apparently frowned upon by the police and the operation has been shut down. Here's one account. I find that extremely odd.
But nevermind that, what I'm looking forward to seeing is a commuter version on the bike lanes leading to distant suburbs in Copenhagen. Seven businessmen and women pedalling along together, chatting or talking on their mobiles, drinking coffee in the morning light, taking turns steering. What a great way to go to work.
Anyway, feel free to check out Das Partybike here. There's an English version.
Read more about the Conference bike here. And about the makers of the Conference Bike here.
Let the good times roll!
Do(g)scene, originally uploaded by m-louis.
I just love this photo. Japan has such a wonderful bike culture and there are so many fabulous shots out there about it.
This one was taken by m-louis on Flickr.
Classic Copenhagen supermum on a classic Danish cargo bike. [although my wife is the superest of supermums...] - The Triobike. Three in one. You can ride as seen above, you can detach the bike and push it like a stroller or you can pop a front wheel on the bike part and use it as a regular bike.
Just be sure that you're looking frightfully stylish while you ride.
I've heard the Dutch have started making cargo bikes lately. Which is nice, of course. The more the merrier. [yes, we're teasing you Henry!]
Because we horribly biased towards Danish brands, we're always keen to point out that Denmark is the spiritual home of the cargo bike. Over 70 years ago the Long John was being used to transport goods around the cities.
The number of brands and makes has only increased through the years. The Short John, the Christiania Bike, the Sorte Jernhest, the Nihola, the Trio, the Kangaroo and so on.
The cargo bike is enjoying a massive revival these days as parents opt for one to transport their kids around town and to carry the groceries home. And even though they are expensive, they are still a fraction of the cost of a small car.
We have numerous posts about cargo bikes.
- You can check out our blog posts with the Cargo Bike label.
- Read a consumer test of five cargo bike brands.
- Read about the award-winning Nihola cargo bike.
- Read about other Danish cargo bikes.
In a world of blogposts and ezines, sports highlights and doping charges, it may be possible that some of you may fancy the literary version of the casual Copenhagen bike culture.
Perhaps you'd like to go on a 'Bummel' read. There are two classic novels available free as e-books on Project Gutenberg -
Firstly, there is a wonderful novel by none other than H.G. Wells called The Wheels of Chance. First published in 1897, the humourous novel portrays the freedom that the recently invented bicycle gave to the working classes and to women and how it heralded an era of social change. There is a decent Wikipeida entry about the book.
Download The Wheels of Chance by H.G. Wells free on Project Gutenberg.
There there is the fine book Three Men on the Bummel, by Jerome K. Jerome, published in 1900. Jerome is better known for that classic of humourous literature Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog). Three Men on the Bummel is a sequel to that novel, wherein the three characters go for a cycling holiday in the Black Forest of Germany.
A 'bummel', we find out near the end, is this:
"A 'Bummel'," I explained, "I should describe as a journey, long or short, without an end; the only thing regulating it being the necessity of getting back within a given time to the point from which one started. Sometimes it is through busy streets, and sometimes through the fields and lanes; sometimes we can be spared for a few hours, and sometimes for a few days. But long or short, but here or there, our thoughts are ever on the running of the sand. We nod and smile to many as we pass; with some we stop and talk awhile; and with a few we walk a little way. We have been much interested, and often a little tired. But on the whole we have had a pleasant time, and are sorry when it's over."
Download Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome free on Project Gutenberg.
Free bike lockers (for Clive), originally uploaded by burgerjesus.
This is from my mate 'Burgerjesus' on Flickr. New bike lockers for a new 2-way busway. Insert a $2 NZD coin and it is refunded when you pick up the bike. The box has hooks inside for helmets and raincoats etc.
He describes it better:
Unbelievably, the powers that be have built a busway (2-way bus motorway) beside the existing overcrowded motorway that takes all traffic from the North Shore over the harbour bridge to downtown Auckland. Something was needed as we have no rail at all on this side of the city and the northern half of Auckland is expanding rapidly, but I feel a light rail system would have been much more appropriate. The last thing we need is more roads and more vehicles. At least they have made a good job of constructing it.
Cars Stop for Bikes, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].
A bike path carves through the landscape and cars at a crossroads are the ones who have to give way and stop.
Part of the new Green Path - Grønne sti - in Copenhagen that provides cyclists with a long shortcut through Copenhagen. A kind of ring route that serves to help cyclists avoid riding into the center of town if they don't need to.
Built largely on terrain once used by railways, the Green Path is a fantastic initiative.
Here's some more info, but it's in Danish...
And no trees were harmed in the creation of the pathway.