Not “No Maintenance”, But “Low Maintenance”! Roller Brakes, An Idiots Guide!

Roller brakes are fitted to most Dutch and European city bikes, why is this, and why haven’t you heard of them (if you have, nice work, you have your finger on the pulse of modern city bikes). Roller brakes are good at working the same in all weathers, not needed much attention, not wearing the rim, looking neat, not really having any consumable parts to replace (new unit £38 if you need one (you probably won’t for your bikes lifetime) and just generally being good as slowing you down without fuss or bother. They have their weak points, maximum power is not as good as rim brakes or discs, …eeeeerrrr well that’s about it..for hilly areas you need to keep the lubrication grease topped up (it can dry out with lots of hot decents) and for a cargo bike + hills + a speedy rider you might want to think about disc brakes.

But roller brakes (and Sturmey archer older trad design of drum brakes) are pretty useful bits of kit for a bike that is used for riding, rather than a hobby. Fit a roller brake (particularly the IM80)  and you won’t need to look at the glossy brochure for next years model cos these are about function not flash. (in fact there isn’t a glossy roller brake brochure, shimano keep these brake units close to their chest, V brake pads are good business).

So how do i look after a Roller brake?

here are some pics of the inside of an IM80 shimano roller brake. Service schedule says grease every 6 months, if the brake squeaks or ‘grabs’ or just feels ‘not as good as it was’ then a few squirts of grease should put it right. The greasing hole is covered by a little rubber bung that you pick put with your finger nail. (if you lose it , we have more) early IM30 rear brakes are a pain because you have to rotate the brake to access the hole, (seat stay in the way)
but newer IM45 and 80 grease holes are easily accessible.

You can buy some roller brake grease here.…/shimano-roller-brake-…/

We can service your roller brakes (and your whole Dutch bike) if you bring it in, it won’t break the bank, but you can do it yourself.

Thats the great thing about a dutch bike (and Gazelles in particular) you pay good money once for a good machine, and you don’t have to spend out later.

happy riding.

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New bars can set you free!

We have been a Larry vs Harry Bullitt dealer for a while now…we built our demo bike around a frame from the importer that previously lived with the Jersey Post office…(we think) .

We built it to be different , so a Nuvinci hub gear, dynamo hub and front light…I also used a Surly bar that i loved when i fitted it on a MTB based bike with a massive basket on it…I don’t really favour handle bar/fork mounted baskets but i thought i would try it and the surly open bar was a good choice. Being so wide, it gave a nice bit of leverage and was comfortable to boot. This massive basket was controllable and the ride was good.

So i stuck a Surly Open bar on the Bullitt…..rode it for a while, it wasn’t quite right, but i regarded it as a good and well loved handlebar, a personal favorite. Now more it on a bit and i have a customer that has me building a E assist Bullitt, we talked a bit about bars, and he talked about a straight bar or a more upright bar, Bullitt do one. This got me thinking so i went through our quite respectable selection of sit upright bars and picked one out, I chose a fairly pulled back, quite a high rise bar from Humpert for my demo bike…lets see what difference it makes…well….these new handlebars have transformed the ride of the Bullitt, a lot more comfortable and upright, less twitchy even. I think there is a little more work to do on the stem/saddle position combo but the Bullitt is now a dream to ride.

So my point is this, there are a lot of handlebars out there, if your ride is not quite right, try another handlebar, don’t stick with what you know, trying a new (often inexpensive) handlebar might just make such a difference that you ride more, ride further and set you free to a lot more enjoyment from your ride.

Elasticated bike ride, The Paper Bicycle made me do it!

I sell cargobikes and i sell Gazelle bikes, i also sell the Paper bicycle. I ride what i sell, it’s important i think, to do that.

I ride daily, not always a long way but i shop by bike, go to the post office by bike, that kinda thing.

I have my favorites, often that changes on the weather, my mood or my fancy…i’m kinda whimsical like that….i’m allowed..

All of my bikes have a rear rack, often a front rack, sometimes a big box/luggage area up front.. bikes that carry stuff is what i do. I like bikes for the everyday, they need to carry stuff…

We have a paper bicycle here, its our Paper bicycle, it’s had a bit of a history, rescued from a garage in trowbridge it lives with us as our demo bike. I’ll be honest, because it has no rack (there is a nice one available) i don’t really ride it. Customers come and try it, its a great bike for the shorter lady…it inspires confidence and is very comfortable and stable. I have a bit of patter about it, it’s a nice bike.

I’m a big chap, a bit overweight and about 6 foot, i have seen these petite ladies riding serenely around our yard, looking chic and a little spoiled by the comfy i thought well bugger this, i want a nice upright steed to get me to the post office today, i only had two little parcels to send,so i got out my overpriced (but quite nice) Brooks rucksack (do they call them that?) upped the saddle height of the Paper bike and pedaled in the direction of the local Post office/One stop shop.

I have a friend who talks about the elastic commute, that time when you take the long way home, well bugger me if i didn’t find myself pedalling past the little post office and aiming my Paper bicycle at the main post office in town. I found myself on an elasticated post office run.

I was having a thoroughly nice time, the upright riding position of the paper bicycle was a nice change from my sporty little (pimped) Donky bike. The Paper Bikes saddle was comfortable, arms comfortable on the bars, the centre of gravity was so low down and the the big apple balloon tyres were soaking up the ripples in the tarmac. my progress along the bumpy path was was smooth and stable, comfortable and serene. It was a treat..

The paper bike never used to have it’s own rear rack, so we had to fit a standard rear rack, it wasn’t fun and it didn’t really look right, but now with the new official rear spaceship rack fitted, it makes the Paper bicycle a real package now. It looks good and works well.

All in all, I think the Paper Bicycle is THE bicycle for the petite lady who wants a dutch bike. (the Dutch don’t do petite), its 26 inch wheels and stability make it ideal for the nervous rider, It’s good for the family who want to share a bike because its one size fits all, it great for someone that wants a stylish alternative to a Dutch bike, is works for me very well.

I have rediscovered it, i think its a real treat to ride and i shall be doing it again. So thanks to Nick Lobnitz and his chicken shed for building a great bike. I shall be riding it more from this point on..

bikes 014

Hans is testing a shorter Bullitt, so why do i get teary?

The world of cargo bikes is getting interesting, there are local models being explored, there are Belgium splittable models breaking cover, there are Dutch electric behemoths and now the Danish get all delicate and sensitive with this little shorty. I love two wheeled cargo bikes, damn it, i can’t get enough of em, its been like wading through a desert with treacly hands, but there is finally stuff happening, exciting, sexy and just so damn practical stuff. It’s not just pricey (but economic) custom box bikes that get my juices flowing, put a front/rear rack on your bike. Go shopping by bike, use your bike to carry your kids to school, don’t think about all the head spinning stats and the anti cycling rhetoric, think on the sunny days and the kick of smelling the cut grass, think of the stinking wet days when you get home and you and your kid swing your heads like a dog from a pond, just to get the water from running down your collar. laugh like you forgot how too, take the long way back, ride out and bring the tea back, hunter gather on your stead, like a Boadicea, lift your head high and ride.

Damn it it i love what cargo bikes can do….i love the feeling of 40kgs up front and the steady slow rhythm of my body at one with this marvel of modern movement. I love the freedom it gives to change the view of my local world, the freedom to chose how i get there, This shorty from Larry vs Harry might just look like a shorter Bullitt, but it’s an evolutionary step on our way to better cities, an indication that the cargo bike is getting a big foot in the door of our consciousness, people are giving them a better look, businesses are realising that they make financial sense, families are realising that they can save a mint and have a better life style too, cool dudes realise that this is a trend that really works for them in a way that those very very skinny jeans never did.
BOOM!, this is rock and roll, this is tears at a birth, this is proud prom day, this is middle of the Mosh pit, this is so damn sensible i don’t know why it makes the ink on my note pad run…..i love two wheeled cargo bikes, box bikes are the best of em….

Right, i’m gonna wipe my eyes and load up my boxbike. Gotta get up the post office, might take the long way back!


Gazelle Bikes 2015

The New 2015 Catalogue for Gazelles non electric bicycles breaks cover, some new models there showing that Gazelle has intentions to sell more bicycle outside of their traditional markets, IE the Netherlands. The style and desirability of the bicycles continues to improve whilst maintaining their easy to look after and ride functionality. Good news then for everyone except those who look to Gazelle to build traditional steel framed bicycle, the Impala and Primeur are noticeable by their absence so viable steel framed options are limited to the excellent tour populair, which in 8 speed roller brake guise is just lovely. and the sportier bike too, the VAN STAEL, designed to broaden the appeal of the brand and it looks very nice.

Favorites for me are the Orange, the Heavy Duty/Miss Grace and for value the Esprit and the Paris.

I’m not sure there is a bike that i don’t like, the range is comprehensive and each bike thought through, each offering something different.

What will your next bike be? if you want quality, comfort, low maintenance and style, Gazelle might just have something for you.

read all about it here. Gazelle2015-Non-Electric

some links to pics of the new bikes

Van Stael

Cityzen C7

If you want proper Dutch with some tweeks for us Brits, the Tour pop is an enduring classic

We supply all of Gazelles range and much more beside, the place for Dutch bikes in the south west.

Happy Riding,


Why I dig the Donky!

The Donky bike…what is there to say about this reclusive, low profile, affordable cute little workhorse.

Let’s start with some background… it’s the brain child of two men who saw that little urban bikes could be a help to so many, they wanted it to be owned by lots of people not so much for the profit that might be made, but for the impact it could have on individual lives and on cities as a whole. They teamed up with another, a production guy and the Donky was born. We have had inputs too, They have asked for our opinions, we gave our support and inputs and can confirm the Donky is here to stay and a future classic.

So what makes the Donky bike special?
It’s small, it has strong 20 inch wheels and a small footprint, the racks turn so you can make it narrow when it needs to be narrow, the idea is you can park it in the house hallway, in the flat or easily in an outside store.
They made it handy, with removable racks either end, on a square section beam, you can swap the racks about, make your own rack, ride it with one rack or none, stick a kid on it, put your dog on it, or two…its the best, most versatile little load carrier there is i think.

They made it reasonably priced…other very nice urban bikes from Milan or Barcelona, Germany too, cost around £1000 and you need to get them here.. The Donky Team worked hard to build a bike that would sell for £400, and that’s why you can buy one for £500, the £400 target could not be done, its a low volume bike (at the moment) and building bikes isn’t cheap. So you have a very handy bike for £500 and that isn’t bad. (now you might look at one as say it looks a bit low end….BUT, the frame is a gem, the components work, they don’t say nick me and it makes the Donky affordable for many more people, with the prospect of upgrading as time goes on. (we pimp Donky’s by the way 🙂
They made it handle well and ride comfortably, it will take a good range of people sizes and you can ride one around town for sure but further afield too. Don’t let the small wheels fool you, it’s a nice ride..
It uses simple but effective components, a 3 speed hub gear won’t let you down or give you big bills, the V brakes are simple kit you find everywhere and that anyone can help o look after, It has a centre stand that does the job, a nice riding position, a integrated frame lock, in fact it’s a little like a Dutch bikes odd mutated nephew.

Like all my reviews i try to be objective and honest, for example i think the original racks are heavy and clumsy…and that’s about it for negatives, there are new racks coming out, and we make other options too but its not such an big deal, (the racks work fine, which is the important thing) but find one, ride one, make your own mind up, but if you need to nip about town, fancy doing more shopping by bike, want to carry a dog about, tight for bike parking space or just fancy some fun about town with a practical edge, The Donky is a great little UK produced bike, a gem, and bloody good value too.

Begv4fGCQAAZ7sD phone pics pre NYC 2054


Available to buy and try at Really Useful


Dutch boxbike news.

A little bit of boxbike news. Azor, the manufacturer of the Van Andel designed bakfiets.NL boxbike (stick with it!) have a couple of new models tickling the horizon. They seem to have a new frame based on the Bakfiets (licenced from Van Andel?) and have used it to build a disc braked boxbike (Hurray!) the Airo. A similar looking frame also appears on the cheaper roller braked boxbike called the Milano, frame is split able, components seem ok, some of the finish looks cheaper, frame is made in Europe and seems better quality/stronger than the cheaper chinese made brands. it but has some potential for the shorter of pocket. Tests still being carried out for longevity, but interesting to have more choice. It’s a small but growing market, but still difficult to find supplies of bikes suitable for all of the UK, (and getting to stock them all). Prices not known yet, The factory are on holiday for another few weeks and there is a back log of orders…but if your interested, get in touch.