Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Electra Amsterdam

Electra Amsterdam Classic - available at Big Wheel Bikes.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: THIS BIKE HAS BEEN RECALLED!


Electra calls the Amsterdam “style and speed running hand in hand through a field of tulips.”

These photos are from bikeportland.org, which also has a review of the Electra Amsterdam.

2008 Specs:

High-tensile steel frame, lugged fork
Saddle: retro leatherette with steel springs
Shimano Nexus Internal 3-spd rear hub
coaster brake
pinstripe fenders including front mudflap
Built-in generator headlight and rear LED tailight
Platform with resin, non-slip pedals
Rims/wheels: aluminum
Chainwheel 38T; rear cog 19T
Chainguard
Tires: 700 x 38c

Some comments I’ve received about the Electra Amsterdam:

Fritz: Electra's ride like your typical Euro junk. They're heavy clunkers that will rust out and fall apart, but they do have a fan base and excellent marketing. They're made of hi ten steel and the cheapest no-name Chinese components they can spec. Their vaunted "flat foot" design means more pressure on your peritoneum. They're great for a few blocks to the coffee shop, not so great for actual utility use.

Michael: The Electra Amsterdam is a beautiful machine, a classic Euro bike. It has two fatal flaws from my experience: coaster brakes, and a very light "tinny" feel.

I like a bit of heft to the bikes I ride around town. No racing, no sew-ups, no superlite.


If anyone else has feedback on the Electra Amsterdam, please leave a comment.

34 comments:

MB said...

You know, I don't doubt that Fritz is right on the cheapness of it, or that Michael's got a good point about the coaster brakes. But this bike has some fantastic lines - it's just beautiful. And I'd like to think I've got a little bit of understanding about beauty in utility.

Jennifer said...

I think I've seen it before in glossy, two-page ads right inside the front cover of Bicycling magazine, which makes me a little wary. I'm not sure it's "for the rest of us" so much as it's "for cyclists who already own a dozen highly specialized bikes and want to add a classy Dutch cruiser to their collection." How would it fare being banged around on the subway in the middle of winter?

Freewheel said...

MB: You're right, it's a beautiful bike. As is your 3-sp - thanks for sharing the pics!

jennifer: This is a heavy bike - I'm guessing close to 40 lbs. (the Breezers are 32-33 lbs). It would probably do OK in the subway as long as your wheeling it.

Anonymous said...

So get the Amsterdam Sport 3 Custom model with the aluminum frame and f/r cantilever brakes.

lonsdale1488 said...

I've had one of these for 6 months and i love it, do at least 5 miles a day and had just two punctures. Not that its important but people come up to me all the time and say how much they like it's looks. I dont know enough about bikes to comment on the other peoples comments here but like I said I love it.

melancholic optimist said...

I've also gotten one of these recently and have been riding it about 5 miles per day, and it has held up great so far (except for one screw that whoever built the bike at the shop didn't tighten all the way). But that's hardly the bike's fault. Not for you if you have a lot of hills to climb (seattle or san francisco, for instance). I think it gives a pretty solid ride though, and also looks wonderful.

A. Gamble said...

I've had my Electra Amsterdam for a couple of months now and use it to commute every day. I've had no problems with it. I love my bike!

Anonymous said...

IMO Fritz is part right: this probably has cheapo components, and the whole thing is likely made in the far east (tho' not priced to reflect that). It's made to emulate something it's not; but genuine 'european 'clunkers' are built to the highest standards, have the high quality componentry and are made to last.

mlaiuppa said...

What isn't made in the "Far East" these days?

They're still selling them so I expect they've fixed whatever the recall was about.

Anonymous said...

I love my Amsterdam. Maybe it isn't a feat of engineering, but it is blissfully comfortable compared to other bikes I've ridden and it's pretty looks have met only smiles from others - no rage :)

Kevin said...

I think Fritz is right about the components on the lower end Amsterdam models. I tried a sport today.

The thing to keep in mind is that good, real Dutch bikes cost $1500 plus and are made of heavy steel and stainless. The quality is way beyond any sporty, stripped-down US (taiwanese) bike. They can last for decades outdoors with almost no maintenance.

However, the US is not Holland. Most of it is not flat and most of us have shelter for our bikes. The weight is a problem and the extreme durability isn't necessary.

The Electra seems like a good compromise. If you get the Royal, you get decent components in a Dutch-style package, and it is much lighter than a real one, with 8 gears good for hills. Electra made a bunch of cheaper models because they already had the frameset designed and knew many Americans would choke at a $1k price tag, which is still actually relatively cheap.

As for the "peritoneum" that is the lining of your gut sack. I think he meant "perinium" and the impotence issue. Like any other bike, the way to address this is to get a split seat designed not to press on it.

Kevin said...

I've been looking around and I have to revise a bit on the price issue. It appears Batavus bikes are available in the US at about the same price range as the Electra Royal 8i.

I am tempted, because I would be getting way more durability and quality for a similar price. However, there is nowhere near me where I can try a Batavus so I would have to buy it without trying it. I have reservations about the 45+ pounds of weight, and frame geometry and such that I can't address by reading about it. The 28" wheels on several models sound worrisome to me too, both in terms of making the bike big and unwieldy and in terms of availability of tires and tubes.

Kevin said...

Ok. Bought an Electra Royal 8i for $900, for the reasons specified above. After getting a more detailed look, I can say that it is definitely not the equivalent of real Dutch bike in terms of quality. The overall quality seems more like mid-high end mountain bike you'd buy in the US. The only bits that are disappointingly made of plastic are the triangular side panels and the headlight. I think it will be fine for me though, as I'm not going to beat on it like a Dutchman would. Next time I go to Holland - probably within a year or two, I'll do some shopping and look into the possibility of buying a real one.

Sarah said...

Kevin, I'd like to know where in the US you found a Batavus for the same price as the Electra! At any rate, I've found that in Europe you can pick up many top-line Dutch Euro-made bikes brand new for around 700 Euro incl of the 20% VAT which you can get a rebate on if you're a US citizen--if you're traveling anyway, it's significantly less than $1500+ for the bike...

I live in NYC, and the Dutch Bicycle Company is opening a shop in 2010 and selling WorkCycles basic Oma and Opa bikes for $1600+!! which FYI you can get a highly comparable version (some details not as nice as WorkCycles but sturdier better made than Electra) from Dutchie for about 290 Euro 20% VAT incl in most European countries; FYI also in London, and if you fly Virgin to NYC your bike goes for free... http://www.dutchie.co.uk/Dutchie-Dutch-Bikes/ ) Or for that matter, if you've a trip scheduled, check out used... gumtree!

To me the Electra feels flimsy compared to the Dutch bikes I've ridden in the Netherlands, Germany and UK, but if I didn't have those to compare to I probably would be happy enough with it... still considering Electra as I'm back in Brooklyn with an aluminum cheap Viking kitted out with mud flaps rack etc but just too flimsy for me; and I can go get an Electra up the street any day, no trips to Europe planned until next near.

The cons of heaviness have already been noted above--but here's a plus: I have personally found the heaviness of a steel Dutch bike gives me more psychological confidence in traffic as I have a slight balance problem and it actually feels less wobbly. I find it also is easier to maintain equilibrium with a bunch of groceries etc loaded up on it as its already grounded.

Sarah said...

p.s. per comments above, it should be noted that the Electra actually has combo brakes--the rear is coaster but the front is caliper.

Kevin said...

I forgot the sites, but two North American places will get you Batavus models for under $1000.

The brakes depend on the Amsterdam model. The Royal has roller brakes front and back, the Classic has coaster brake only, the sport models have lame V brakes. The useful parts that get upgraded on the Royal are the brakes and the 8 speed shifter, all the rest of the upgrade value comes in upgraded aluminum frame and welded cro-mo fork.

As for "flimsiness", there is no doubt that the Electra has some issues. Most of what I think people are feeling is the aluminum. Almost everything is aluminum, which is probably half the weight or less of equivalent steel, and a big positive in my view.

However, aluminum is one thing, plastic is another, especially fake chrome plastic. The back fender side panels are plastic and squeak like hell, the awful generator light has too much friction and plastic seat base squeaks... the fake leather grips looked so bad next to a honey colored Brooks seat that I switched to black. The pedals are iffy - lots of friction and very small platform. I switched out to MKS rubber pedals, a battery light, and a Brooks seat. Now the bike seems really nice. Had to add around $250 to do it.

I still think the Amsterdam is a good purchase for me, though not really a good value compared to other types of bike or real Dutch bikes. The two issues are weight and the availability hassles of a Dutch bike. Buying an expensive bike without trying it is a total no-go for me, and I think getting parts might be worse or nearly impossible. Some lady with a real Dutch bike got in a crash here and our best bike store could not get a replacement wheel period, there are only two stores in town that carry one type of 28" tire, etc...

Anonymous said...

My Electra Amsterdam, purchased in November 2007 has just turned 2000 miles (October 2009). It has been excellent after some minor "break in" problems which were very quickly and properly handled by my excellent dealer. It looks about as good as new. I don't know about "cheap" or "flimsy" or Chinese or any other derogatory statements others want to make. I am 68 years old, and have had scores of bikes. For city commuting and light shopping, the Amsterdam has been about as good as it can get.
Dave

Jens said...

I am surprised by some of the comments here, regarding the "low-quality" of the Amsterdam. I am bike commuting in Chicago and have done so for a long while on a 200 dollar Huffy (yes, Huffy, the Yugo of bikes). It seems some forget we're talking about bikes, not Airplanes or even cars. Hey, something might sound funny - go ahead and fix it, or bring it by your LBS and have them fix it for 20 bucks... And yes, I do have a $2000+ road bike, so I know the difference but I wouldn't use this for my daily commmute.

I've tested the Amsterdam Original 3i (no skirtguard,light, steel frame)and it's fine. Is it like a Dutch Opafiets with a 150 pound load capacity, lugged and hand-brazed steel construction etc , no of course not. But that's not really necessary considering the Electra is a Bike For The Rest of Us. After all, the Electra Amsterdam will still cost you somewhere between 600-900 dollars, and that's a nice amount of money.

So for those of you who bought the Amsterdam, I'd say "Good choice. Wish I had one, too!!" ;-)

Anonymous said...

"These bikes have been recalled".

That's an extremely misleading claim. Bikes like the one pictured in this blog next that statement have not been recalled. The front tray on some Amsterdam delivery bikes came loose, causing a recall of a subset of those Amsterdam bikes that have front trays. Most of them don't have front trays - the one pictured here, for example - and so they haven't been recalled.

"They're made of hi ten steel and the cheapest no-name Chinese components they can spec."

Largely false. Some are steel, some are 6061 T6 alloy. Gears and brakes are mostly Shimano.

"heavy"

Hey, post a weight, will you? I'd love to know how much the various different Amsterdams weigh. I know weight weenies who consider a 25 pound bike "heavy", I know dutch bike fans who think a 40 pound bike is "normal". So saying "heavy" or "light" and giving a basis of comparison or actual weight and not specifying a model of Amsterdam doesn't tell me much.

As for the derogatory statements about "Chinese" manufacture: I think they're actually made in Taiwan by Giant like about 40% of the bikes made in the world today. Giant makes a vast range of bikes, including some very high-quality bikes that have been ridden to olympic gold medals.

Freewheel said...

Anon 1/10/10 - click on the link for recall info. The recall has to do with the chainguard, a feature on all of the models. Hopefully Electra has fixed the problem and it's a moot point with respect to the 2010 Amsterdam.

Anonymous said...

I have an Amsterdam Balloon 8d. I haven't had this much fun on a bike since my Schwinn Tyhoon kick-back 2 speed. It's great for my short (1-1/2 mile) ride to work but I don't think I'll use it on long bike trips, though.

Nuke it said...

Just bought the Amsterdam Classic and I love it. It commands the road, I sit upright with zero pressure on my arms or back. The build quality is fine and it will stay outside under the tarp locked to the frontyard fence. At work I drive it into the underground parking lot's bike rack. I expect this will be my last commuting vehicle until I retire in 10 years. It replaces my 25 year old Raliegh (now my son's fixed gear beater). The Amsterdam is surprisingly agile and capable. The upright position suits me for the city. If I need to tour on the highways, I have my original 1973 Masi Criterium I raced as a junior(only change was clipless pedals)

Anonymous said...

I really wanted to like this bike but eventually the quality, one size fits all frame design and fake Dutch bike stigma killed it for me. I sold it and bought 2 old Raleigh Superbes.
Such nice bikes, I can't believe people are buying new Chinese made bikes when they probably have a couple old English 3-speeds in their
parents' garage. In defense of Electra however, the recall thing is no big deal, I just bent the chainguard tab 90 degrees and cut off the length that could reach the chain, easy peasy.

Anonymous said...

I've had my Electra Amsterdam 8i for around two years. Put around 750 miles on it with no problems at all riding on streets and greenways for combination of recreation and utility. Easier to shift and to ride than the 10 speed Raleigh tourer I'd owned since 1974.

I'll never get rid of my classic Raleigh but the Amsterdam is a good substitute when it comes to a daily driver.

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Max Roderick said...

I rode one of these for about a year and a half, delivering sandwiches for Jimmy Johns about 35 hours a week. After I replaced the back tire (that shifter caused so much trouble) it road beautifully right up until the day it was stolen, even after 2 wrecks.

Definitely not a biker's bike, but for those of us who love cruisers, it's hard to beat.

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The Electra Amsterdam Classic 3 is a stylish, comfortable dutch-style bicycle with almost all the features needed in a lifestyle bicycle, but unfortunately there are nagging safety and build quality concerns.

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I rode one of these for about a year and a half, delivering sandwiches for Jimmy Johns about 35 hours a week. After I replaced the back tire.

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Firstly, I'll just say that entering an apartment building with an Electra Amsterdam is about as easy as bringing a drunk home.

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I think I've seen it before in glossy, two-page ads right inside the front cover of Bicycling magazine, which makes me a little wary.

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They're great for a few blocks to the coffee shop, not so great for actual utility use.

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The Electra Amsterdam Classic 3 is a stylish, comfortable dutch-style bicycle with almost all the features needed in a lifestyle bicycle, but unfortunately there are nagging safety and build quality concerns.