Saturday, 26 March 2016

My new omafiets

My New Omafiets Video

Today, I finally got my new omafiets. Brand new, 3 speed shimano twist shift, internal gears, almost fully enclosed chain. Nice leather (don't know about whether it's real leather or not) saddle and grips. A step through frame, but it doesn't really make a difference whether I would be a man or woman in terms of who can operate it. The bike is tall, at least 8 cm, probably 10 or more, higher up on the handlebars than my previous bike had. 

A major change to me, is that it only has a single lever brake (which connects to a rim brake). Where is the second brake? In the transmission. It's called a coaster brake. Most people who've ridden a bike as a child used this at some point. It's a simple idea, but works very well. Including for around half of the bicycles in the Netherlands or so. This helps to make my handlebars very clutter free, and easy to remember once you get used to it. I will probably sometimes think to use my right hand to squeeze a lever for a few days, hopefully that will go away soon. It's also an enclosed brake, meaning that nothing gets in it. Not dirt, rust, water, anything. 

I handed my old bike off to my dad, who needs a new bike for himself after my brother grew too tall for his current bike and decided to start using my dads old one. 

A couple things were less than idea, but not many things. The frame turned out to be too small for my AXA defender lock and I doubt that I will be able to find any that will fit. Leave suggestions with the smallest ring locks you can buy. Because I don't have any ring locks that small, I decided to get a chainlock instead. The rear light is battery powered, although I have no idea how to turn this particular kind on. A small light like this will last a long time on battery, but batteries always find a way of going flat in the most inconvenient of times. 

The design is built like a tank, designed to last decades out in the open (assuming nobody steals it prior to that) even in harsh weather. It will be interesting to see how this rides in the rain and snow, but spring is often full of rain, and sometimes can have snow (it once literally snowed in July in Alberta). But it's much easier to ride than you might have thought one of these "old fashioned" bikes. It felt light, possibly because of my upright position. 

You have good posture, especially useful if you're over 40, and that also gives you good sightlines. You can have chats with your friends and family as you ride, assuming you are in an environment where you can ride relaxed. It's a very easy to use and understand bicycle. 

I only added a cupholder, which I switched over from my last bike. Such is the influence of the American car on just about every part of our lives. Including the beverage holding handlebars I have. 

Price: ~750 dollars, I got a discount to the tune of 150 dollars because the owner needed to get rid of the only bike he had of that kind.


I described some of the features that other similar Dutch bicycles have here in another blog post: http://cyclinginedmontonfromtheeyesofateen.blogspot.ca/2015/12/the-bicycle-version-of-everyday-car.html. I suggest you go and read that too. 

I suggest you get a good lock for any bike, especially one like this which has extra features. I also suggest registering it with a local bike registry, usually the police can tell you who does that where you live, as soon as possible. I will be doing the same once I can figure out what my serial number is. Insurance is another option you probably should look into, get it if you can if it won't be covered by other insurance plans you have. 

My bike was especially hard to find. I saw some decent but not quite bikes, often under the cruiser aisle, which had some non enclosed or hockey stick style chainguards, 3 speeds but no coaster brakes and rim brakes. They can be decent bikes for this purpose, but won't quite be weatherproof, and not having coaster brakes can be not what you want, especially when you want clutter free handlebars and a system that is usable when your hands are tied (not literally) up doing things like signaling and turning. No other accessories are included, no lock (then again, neither does mine), no lights, and sometimes fenders aren't even included. Look carefully, you just might find what your looking for in a crowd of thousands of look a likes. 

This bike also taught me a few things about practical design. Hills should be avoided when you can, especially when such hills are only aesthetic hills built as part of a drainage system. And do whatever you can to reduce the incline. Make sure that you have adequate width for turning, otherwise you will be artificially slowed even when there is no need for going so slowly, like when yielding to cross traffic at a roundabout. Make sure that you have a smooth surface to ride on, either smooth bricks or level concrete or asphalt. Otherwise whatever you may put on your bike might slide off or get bumped too much. Just a few things to keep in mind. 

This bike should keep me happy for a long time, and may very well replace any need for a car for many years to come. 

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