Archive | July, 2007

Smart Trike – Smart Urban Transportation

Dutch company, SmartTrike, makes a fantastic cargo tricycle that comes in a variety of configurations. In the photo from their website, you can see two versions, the kid carrier and the basic cargo box. The tricycle is also available in a other models such as a solar powered icebox version for vending ice cream and soda. Also, the cargo box is available alone as a push cart for vending and moving cargo.

 

Similar to other European luxury cargo tricycles, the SmartTrike comes with a hefty starting price of € 2199 Euros ($3000 USD). The tricycle looks great and has many useful options like power assist & onboard lights. However, it comes at a price only a few can afford.

 

Hopefully enough early adopters will buy these great tricycles and bring the price down to a family budget.

 

Check out their website at: http://www.smarttrike.com

 

 

Posted in Family Cycling, Load Carrying, tricyclesComments (4)

Chinese Bicycle Factories

A few months ago during a business trip to China, my friend an import export broker invited me to visit some bicycle factories with him during my day off. Always on the lookout for new products and suppliers for his clients, he regularly visits Chinese factories. I jumped at the chance and toured three different bike factories with him.

The factories were in Tianjin City about an hour outside of Beijing. Tianjin is a massive port and factory town. The city is drab and heavily polluted. You literally couldn’t see more than three blocks due to the air pollution. Tianjin is famous in China for being the hub of bicycle manufacturing in China. With over 200 bicycle companies in Tianjin, we only had time to visit three.

The factories varied greatly. The first was a former gov’t owned company that made sturdy low-end bicycles for sale in developing countries. The second was a state of the art OEM supplier for US bike companies. The last was a modern factory that made bicycles for the China market under their own brand name.

The first factory we visited, the Tianjin Flying Pigeon Bicycle Company, was a former gov’t owned company. It is a fixture in Chinese society, famous for having made billions of bicycles since it was established by Chairman Mao fifty years ago. You’ll see their classic bicycles providing basic transportation for people all over the developing world.

What surprised me most about the TFPBC was how friendly the people were. They had an easy going rythmn similar to farmers working the fields and were always easy with a smile. The factory was run in an informal style and the buildings showed their age. There were even a couple of stray dogs that the workers adopted that were wandering the factory. The equipment was old, manufacturing techniques dated, and quality control questionable. I even saw workers smoking cigarettes while working the line. However for me the whole experience was like a history lesson. Entering their factory was like traveling back in time to the communist era.

The Factory Experience: Time proven manufacturing methods for the world’s most popular bicycle…

Although they manufacture other bicycles these days, they continue to build the classic Flying Pigeon Bike. Their biggest customer thesedays, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Photos: Tianjin Flying Pigeon Bicycle Company Factory Photos I’ll post more about Tianjin City and the other factories later. Stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.

Posted in Places & Events, shopsComments (10)

Atomic Zombie Bicycle Builder’s Bonanza

Brad Graham and Kathy McGowan have written an amazing book called Atomic Zombie Bicycle Builder’s Bonanza. This book is a “must have” for anyone that loves to tinker and make things. Inside the book are detailed instructions and over 200 photos that teach you how to hack, modify, and build bicycles using minimal tools. 

The book is written in a clear and easy to understand style that walks you through real projects ranging from playful to surreal. Anyone who loves DIY projects will love this book. After reading it, you’ll be ready for any Franken-Bike creation.

I found the book on Amazon for about $17 and they even had an electronic version available for an additional $5.  It won’t compare to the two week frame building course at the United Bicycle Institute. But if you think of the cost of tuition and room & board, this book is a real bargain. Also checkout Brad Graham’s website, which is definitely worth a visit.

Posted in DIY, Tech Talk, Useful ReferencesComments (0)

Ed Begley Jr. & Daryl Hannah Ride iZip Electric Bike

Renowned actress Daryl Hannah took time out of her busy schedule to participate in the Los Angeles County River Ride. A long time supporter of green initiatives, Ms. Hannah rode to support the LA County Bicycle Coalition. She road an iZip electric bicycle given to her by actor and longtime green activist, Ed Begley Jr.

Check out the following links to catch up on cycling in LA:

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Trekinetic Off Road Performance Wheelchair

Trekinetic makes an award winning high performance off road wheelchair. It’s aluminum and carbon fiber frame is packed with features that would make a racecar driver jealous.

Checkout their website for detailed photos and descriptions of how it works. 

Website: http://www.trekinetic.com

Posted in Mobility ImpairedComments (1)

Dutch ID – Bakfiets with Safety

CargoDutch ID is a company in the Netherlands that makes a bakfiets with a tension fabric and cage design for carrying children. Think of it as a kid trailer mounted on a two wheeled bakfiets bicycle.

The added safety of the tension fabric cage takes care of the safety concerns many parents would have when using a wooden box style bakfiets. Although this bicycle is available only in a few countries in Europe, it would be a very easy sell to parents anywhere.

Maybe if enough parents show interest in this style of bakfiets, dealers will start to carry them in the US.

Here’s a link to their website:
http://www.dutch-id.nl/products.shtml

Posted in bakfiets, City Cycling, Family Cycling, Load CarryingComments (3)

Christiani Tricycle a Danish Original

Christianiabicycles_2The Christiania Tricycle is one of the original “tree hugger” bicycles from the 70s. It was built as a way for residents to get around the town of Chrisitiania, which does not allow cars. The town has about 850 residents and was established as a social experiment on the site of an old military barracks. Although the town has had some recent troubles with the Danish gov’t, the trikes themselves have gained in popularity throughout the years.

We are real fans of these great tricycles. They are sturdy front load cargo trikes that can be used for all sorts of tasks such as carrying kids, the handicapped, transporting goods, etc. The unique charm of the tricycle is it’s simple wooden box design which is inexpensive, easy to maintain, and highly customizable.

If you’d like to find out more, check out these links.

• Christiania Bikes: http://www.christianiabikes.com/
• Christiani Freetown: http://www.christiania.org/
• History of Christiania Freetown: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freetown_Christiania

Posted in City Cycling, Family Cycling, Load Carrying, tricyclesComments (446)