Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Le tour d'Autriche

As a saying modified after one of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's poems (famous German writer) already suggests,

"Why wander around in the distance, when good things lie nearby?"

I'm going to check out local bicycles before getting lost in the international market.

KTM Univers 7 Lite
Simplon Kagu R8
Krafstoff Sissy
Kraftstoff Sissy
Steirerbike Holzbike
Steirerbike Holzbike
Unfortunately, Austrian bicycle producers are more on the sporty side and don't offer a huge variety of urban bikes -- most of them being either not well-equipped or simply ugly. There are exceptions though. Let's just have a look..

In fact there are only two internationally relevant bicycle producers in Austria nowadays:

KTM builds beautiful road and mountain bikes, but their city bikes are rather ugly. Well, they are quite cheap though, and well-equipped.

Simplon at least has the Kagu that has refreshing colors and balloon tires, but imho the ladies' version looks rather clumsy. The standard version doesn't have lights, fenders nor a rear rack, but it can be attached easily. Simplon bikes are far more expensive, but the quality is excellent.

Beside these two, there are smaller brands like Kraftstoff with their lovely monarchic series -- but again nice bikes without lights, fenders and rack (except the male Siegfried balloon bike). Otherwise I would definitely go for the Sissy although it is pricy.

And there's Steirerbike which builds a wooden bike and some relatively cool, well-equipped and fairly cheap trekking bikes. But I really don't need suspension forks and fat tires in the city..

Steinbach, Newton, Capo and Hrinkow produce mainly road resp. mountain bikes.

Furthermore, Team Schmidt builds customized bikes and also recycles second-hand bikes. They make refreshingly many different types of bikes -- road, mountain and urban bikes, fixies, tandems and cargo bikes ;-). MeinRad does a similar thing and rebuilds your own old bike to a new (single-speed) bike.

Ok, I know this sounds like a lot, but most of the companies I only know because I did some research for this article. Unfortunately none of the bicycle producers focuses on urban bikes although there is a high demand for cool such bikes here. I have the impression that after Puch went bankrupt nobody built useful and elegant bikes for the masses anymore :-(.



9 comments:

spiderleggreen said...

I like the handle bars on the sissy. the simplon looks kind of dumpy.

Anna said...

Hi Anna,

I've got a workmate who bought a folding bike from the brand AMAT. It is a Catalan bike brand. I never had one myself, but they say it is a good brand and they've been building bikes since 1912.

I found their webpage http://www.amat-bici.com/. The pity is that there is no english version of the page, but I think that seeing the catalog would be maybe useful for you. To do that you need to click on "Descarregar catàleg en PDF v2009.01"

And in "OFERTES BICICLETES" you can see bike offers.

Gregor said...

Anna,
you are missing your own austrian homegrown Kettler! :-)

mike said...

Thank you for doing the research so I dont have to : )

anna said...

Gregor: I did forget about Kettler, but as far as I know the brand is actually German, but they produce in Salzburg, Austria?! I'm not sure about the origin, but well, doesn't really matter. Their nostalgic bikes are quite nice, unfortunately only with bottle dynamos. Thanks for reminding me.

Anna: Thanks for your link too.

Dottie said...

I'm not familiar with any of these bikes, but the sissy looks sweet. I looked at Kettler when I was deciding on a new bike - nice but more expensive in the US.

Gregor said...

Anna,
check again, they do have hub dinmos:
http://www.kettler-bike.de/2009/layana/layana_fun_light.html

Greg Spencer said...

Two years ago, I spent EUR 2,000 on a Cannondale Street Ultra. Fantastic looking bike, but it turned out not to be very durable and quite expensive to service. I found I did not internally geared hubs -- supposedly they're only 5% less efficient than normal, but I can really feel the drag. My other misgiving is that this fancy bike is too damned nice to use everyday -- I'm afraid it'll get stolen.

I now find myself using an eight-year-old Schwinn mountain bike, which is a bit heavier and not so sleek, but well-built and perfectly suited for my day-to-day riding. And having bought it used for about EUR 50, I do not worry about having it stolen. Although if it was, I would probably get depressed. I fitted it out with these cool, skull handle-grips and I'm kind-of attached to it by now.

anna said...

Good point, Greg, that expensive and too fancy bikes are not so good for every day use. Actually I did have a look at second-hand bikes on the weekend, but they were all too big for me. For the time being I think I'll just modify my mtb until I grab a bargain :-). Yeah, I'm quite attached to it myself although it's worth nothing by now.

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