I recently told you about some upgrades I am making to my Schwinn euro-style city bike project. Friday when I got home from work, I was excited to find a small brown box on my front porch. Inside the box were the last of the parts I had ordered from Vince at the Dutch Bike Co. in Chicago. I carried my bike down to the basement work area to make to complete the Dutch conversion of my made in the USA Schwinn. I popped open the box and inside were a new Bibia mudflap (just like the one that came on Oma), an AXA defender rear wheel lock, and the same pedals that come standard on Workcycles bikes.
Most every european city bike comes with a similar lock mounted to the frame. The 2011 Raleigh Detour Deluxe and Breezer Uptown Infinity are the only two production bicycles sold in the US that come with come with frame locks. The locks are great for when you don’t need a lot of security, but want to be sure no thief can hop on the bike and ride away with it. I use it when I pop into a store for five minutes, when my bike is parked in our indoor parking garage at work, or when I can still see my bike, like at a park or outdoor cafe. They also have a plug, which fits a heavy-duty chain so you can lock your bike to a rack when you need real security.
Installing the lock was pretty simple and only took about 20 minutes. The lock is mounted to the seat stays at the brack bridge. Frames designed for such locks have bosses brazed in the stays so the locks can be mounted with allen screws. To retrofit the lock to frames like mine without those bosses, the AXA lock comes with special clamps.
To install the lock, I mounted the bike in the stand with the front wheel straight up. Then I pry the two black covers off the lock to expose the mounting area. Then I slipped the metal straps into the proprietary band clamps. The clamps fit neatly in the spot where the two black covers were. The metal straps go around the seat stays and are tightened with a straight bladed screwdriver.
Installing the pedals was straightforward. I like rubber pedals because leather soled dress shoes don’t slip on them when they are wet. Regular readers will remember I used to have MKS 3000 rubber block pedals. Those pedals are fine, but I find the Dutch pedals to be a bit more comfortable when I am wearing shoes with thin soles.
Finally, I installed the big Bibia “waffle” mudflap. They don’t list them on their web store, but you can buy them from the Dutch Bike Co. I have not found them to be available anywhere else in the US. These mudflaps are made of heavy rubber so they don’t flap in the wind and they have two metal bands molded into the rubber at the top which you bend around the fender. I installed mine with a single 3/16ths inch aluminum pop-rivet and two washers.
Now that it has every feature found on a European City Bike, how does my Dutch Schwinn compare to Oma?
The ride: The Schwinn feels a lot quicker than Oma. I make better time when I ride the Schwinn, and it is easier to stand and pedal up hill on the Schwinn than it is on Oma The angles on Oma are a lot more relaxed, almost like a pedal forward design, so the steering and acceleration are both a bit slower. But Oma fits much fatter tires, and the heavier frame yields a very smooth ride. The Schwinn ride is not as smooth, and a bit stiffer. If Oma rides like a Cadillac, the Schwinn would be a Mercedes.
I’m pretty pleased with the end result and happy I did it. But when Is started the project, it was pretty difficult to find a bike with all these features outside of the very expensive Dutch and Danish bikes like Oma. Now $800 will get you a bike like the Raleigh Detour Deluxe that comes with all those features. Or you can spend a few hundred more and get a really sweet Breezer. As far as I know, those are the only two bikes that come with frame locks and all the other features.
Do you have a commuter conversion you built up? If so, tell me about the makeover in the comments below.