The ABC – archetypal Bremen cycle

The real lean-mean machine’s dirty dozen. This, pictured below, is the cycle contraption you very rarely see in Newcastle or Gateshead, or indeed (m)any other British cities. Yet it is one that is very typical for, very normal and prevalent in Bremen where I am currently privileged to be biding some time. Thanks for putting me up. The lean mean cycle machine features are thus (and I hope I got them right, as I am no tekkie when it comes to bikes, I just ride them):

2016-09-01 16.27.5901

  1. swervy frame
  2. curvy-comfortable handlebar
  3. comfy-soft saddle
  4. rear rack
  5. integrated lights / hub dynamo
  6. mud guards
  7. kickstand
  8. chain guard
  9. basic hub gears
  10. non-slip robust pedals
  11. coat/skirt guard (optional)
  12. and yes, a bike bell too

Utterly commonplace in Bremen. Compare this to our typical British cycles, and it’s easy to make out the stark difference between the two (transport) systems. And the difference is not just in the types of cycles, it also is visible in the numbers of cycles. It’s the prevalence of different bikes that led me to arrange the ecology of cycling “the cyclist you design” – better infra, more civilised bikes and more – and more civilised – cycling.

And thanks to Cycling Industry to post my top five cycle campaigning tips. May we, one day, get an army of ABC’s (archetypically Bremen-style cycles) in the UK too! It’d be wonderful.


7 thoughts on “The ABC – archetypal Bremen cycle

  1. It’s not only the bike’s swerviness. It’s also the low access allowing women wearing a skirt or dress to mount without showing their underwear to the public that shows: It’s a lady’s bike.

    As one can see in Netherlands, Denmark and even Germany, emerging of lady’s bikes is related to the emerging of dedicated cycleways/cycling culture as shown in the graph above. Not only cyclists are becoming more and even more various then, bicycles too.
    These bikes are – despite the lack of 52 gears/”one gear”, disc-brakes, carbon frame and other essential gimmicks – quite modern and very stylish. Eyecatcher.


    1. I ride this style of bike. I can confidently say I have never worn a skirt (I am a man!). It’s simply much easier to mount and dismount than one with a high top tube. That’s why I chose this style. And millions of Dutch males ride this style of bike too!


  2. Yeah, the lack of high top tube makes it far easier to mount/dismount/get moving when carrying a crate of cargo / kids on the rear etc too. I’ve a Pashley with high tube, and it’s tricky to mount when you’re fully loaded with shopping and kids 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi,

    Yesterday evening I talked with my wife about this post. She rides this type of bike. She is, just like me, all but a tekkie. She is, just like me, an every day cyclist (all bike no car) and, unlike me, she “feels much, much better and much, much safer” on her bike in contrary to a “Herrenrad”.
    Another important point to her: She doesn’t has to figure out, whether that t-shirt or blouse she wants to wear would fit her on her bike too. Unless a bent forward position the upright riding position makes no difference to her wether she’s riding, walking or sitting. She simply wears just that top that she wants to wear.

    But aside from no need of special clothing (which still is an important point to every day cyclists) my wife’s explanation (“much much better, much much safer”) stands diametral to my own experience with lady’s bikes. The missing top-tube makes a lady’s bike a little bit insecure to me due to less torsional stiffness. In several conditions like high speed, with heavy baggage, in bends or on uneven ground (longitudenal grooves) I got that uneasy feeling like the frontpart is going a slightly other direction than the backpart of the bike.

    So why she feels better and safer on her bike – and I don’t? Aren’t we both cyclists?

    I made some digging and now I think I got a better understanding of my wife’s choice. So thanks for your post. 🙂

    On FietsenPagina
    I found this (Google translation):

    Het Verschil Tussen Dames- En Herenfietsen (The difference between …)

    – The biggest difference between a men’s bicycle and a ladies bike is the shape of the frame. In particular, the center of the frame of a ladies bike is designed differently than that of a men’s bicycle. There are also many other small differences between women’s bikes and men’s bicycles.
    – The central space of the frame of a ladies’ model is on average three centimeters shorter than men’s models, allowing women, with their typically shorter torso, easier at the wheel and can no longer need to â € ~reikenâ € ™.
    – The fork tube of the frame, which sits between stem and fork is ladies bikes usually 10 â € ’20 cm shorter. This, too, women can more easily to the handlebars.
    – The handlebar width of women’s models is less than men’s models. Women have shoulders on average narrower than men, and it is important that the steering wheel has the same width as the shoulders, so that the arms do not stand on the body in an angle. Women can also choose to buy a ladies bike with a wider wheel.
    – The handles of a ladies bike are often smaller in size.
    – Hand brakes Ladies bikes are closer to the handles, because women have smaller hands and their fingers are otherwise too far open when cycling. The same applies for the acceleration switch. So there are special hand brake and gear switches for women on the market. Note that when you buy your bike.
    – The trappers [pedals] Ladies bikes are shorter than men’s bicycles.
    – Another point of difference is the weight of the ladies bike. A ladies bike is lighter and easier to handle than a men’s bike.
    – When ladies bicycle saddle is usually wider than men cycle to ensure a comfortable seat.
    – A final difference is the appearance of the ladies bike. Women like cycling on a bike that looks elegant and feminine. Women love feminine accessories such as light racks and baskets.

    Lots of points. Her bike isn’t “objective” design (usually men’s sight), but design trying to take women’s sight (surely not fitting all women and surely including many men).


  4. I’d say you forgot to mention the integrated lock, which allows you to lock/unlock your bicycle in 2-3 seconds when you don’t need the extra security to lock it to a fixed object.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Something which regular cyclists seem to overlook is the ease with which one can mount/dismount/put your foot down when stopped at a junction. It’s alright saying the optimum riding height is with the leg very slightly bent when the ball of your foot is on the pedal at its’ lowest point or whatever. But some of us are built such that that means when we stop we need to cant the bike over at about 45-degrees to put a foot flat on the ground. Unlike track and road racers I don’t have a soigneur following me around whom I can lean on at every set of traffic lights or give-way line. Losing the top bar suddenly means no longer teetering to a stop followed by a controlled fall to the side every time.


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