I took delivery of my WorkCycles Azor Opafiets (grandpa bike) this weekend, a traditional-style Dutch city bike.
WorkCycles are an Amsterdam-based company that distribute and made modern versions of traditional Dutch city bikes, together with transportation and cargo bikes. The bikes have hand-built frames and use the best components to make study bikes that will last.
I had visited Amsterdam back in February, and having read up about WorkCycles in advance, their shop was firmly on my list of must-visit places (ahead of the Anne Frank house!). I was lucky enough to speak to Henry, the owner, when I visited, and went for a test ride in the local streets – and instantly fell in love with their bikes.
Luckily for me the Dutch Bike Shop here in Dublin are a dealership for WorkCycles, and were able to fulfil my order through the Cycle to Work scheme as soon as I returned to Ireland.
The bike took a total of 10 weeks to be manufactured to my specification and be delivered, but it was worth the wait!
About the Opafiets
The bike frame is made of steel, and feels robust and pleasantly over-engineered. As such this is a heavy bike, in comparison to a lot of the road and hybrid bikes on the market, and it really feels like it could last a lifetime.
My version has 8-speed Shimano hub gears, with roller brakes. It has 47mm Schwalbe Marathon tyres on the wheel, to ensure a smooth ride and puncture resistance, and a leather Brooks B67 saddle. It also comes with a front-hub dynamo and lights as standard, and a rear carrier, parking stand, mudguards, coat guard, enclosed chain case, rear-wheel lock, and a rather nice chrome bell.
This is an incredibly well-spec'd bike, and of course that doesn't come cheap, but then again it's a very high quality product.
Out on the road
I went for my first ride today, and I don't know if it was the goofy grin on my face or the stylish bike, but something was turning heads!
The ride is smooth, and a lot of the bumps on the road are evened out by the wide tyres and sprung saddle. The geometry and high swept-back handlebars ensure you sit in an upright position, pretty much above the back wheel. The front wheel feels like it's really far out in front of you, but you get used to it quickly.
The gearing feels a little lower than other bikes I've had, which helps take some of the slog out of going up hills, but also means you'll never win a time trial on this bike. But that's OK, because this bike isn't for people who want to go fast – it's for people who prefer a more sedate and comfortable ride.
Heavy duty rack
The rear carrier (or pannier rack) is pretty heavy-duty, and is designed to take a weight of 50kg or an adult passenger. As such the tubing is a lot thicker than I've come across before.
In fact it's so thick that it won't fit with the Cam-lock attachment system of my Arkel pannier bag.
This is the only downside I've discovered so far – and it means that I'll probably need to get a new pannier bag.