Monday, December 20, 2010

Batavus Fryslan


Batavus produces many modern bike models with aluminum frames and components, but in North America, their classic Dutch style bikes have made the strongest impression. The Old Dutch model, which we previously mentioned, has striking good looks. But the coaster brake and single-speed set-up were not for everyone. In response to requests for a classic-looking bike with more versatility for hill American cities, Batavus designed the Fryslan, based on the Old Dutch frame, but upgraded with classic glossy black and gold paint, cream tires, roller brakes front and rear (operated by hand levers), and a 5-speed SRAM internal gear hub with a twist shifter. 

Like the Old Dutch, the Fryslan includes everything you would expect on a traditional European city bike: a solid galvanized steel frame, chromed steel swept-back handlebars, a vinyl chaincase and coatguard, steel rear luggage rack and kickstand, painted fenders, and a sprung saddle. It even has a rear wheel lock, a bell, and an elastic strap for the rear carrier. The gold details on the glossy black paint combine nicely with the cream tires and chrome handlebars. 

Surprisingly, the traditional-appearing lights are LEDs operated by batter, rather than by a dynamo. This is probably what most people expect in Canada and the USA, but its somewhat disappointing in this price range. The brakes and SRAM hub and twist-shifter are also modern and functional, but not as traditional appearing as the rod brakes on a Gazelle, or the drum brakes and thumb shifter on the Pashley. SRAMs 5-speed hubs have wide steps, similar to those on a 3-speed hub, which results in a total range from top to bottom which is similar to a Shimano Nexus 7-speed hub, and should be adequate for moderately hilly terrain.

Batavus Fryslan - Classic
By Rain City Bikes
Generally the Fryslan is priced at $950, compared to about $825 for the 3-speed Old Dutch. This is more than what you will pay for a modern-styled, aluminum, made-in-Taiwan bike with these components. However, it is several hundred dollars less than the price of a Gazelle or Pashley in this style. Batavus keeps the price lower by using cheaper components, and by partially welding the frame and fork, instead of using labor-intensive lugwork as on more expensive steel bikes. Lovely Bicycle has an detailed post about these aesthetic compromises on the Old Dutch (which shares the same frame).


The Old Dutch 1-speed or 3-speed, the Fryslan 5-speed, the Favoriet (3-speed with hand brakes), and the 1-2-Have (3 speed with coaster brake) can be seen in this catalog by Fourth Floor Distribution catalog, the most official source I've seen. But note that this year the Old Dutch is a 3-speed, and there is no photo of the Fryslan, only a sketch:



Specifications:

Josef at Flying Pigeon LA was kind enough for confirm the components, which changed a little from the catalog. Right now, the Fryslan step-thru is on sale for $850 at his shop.


Frame:  Galvanized High Tensile Steel
Fork:  Hi Ten Steel, unicrown [Sorry, Lovely Bicycle]
Rims:  28" Van Schothorst stainless steel, 635 mm
Tires:  Cheng Shin Traveller Puncture Resistant [Cream]
Spokes:  Stainless steel
Front hub:  Shimano hub for front roller brake
Rear hub:  SRAM Spectro P5 [5-speed internal gear hub, with coaster brake]
Shifter:  SRAM 5-speed twist shifter
Handlebar:  Chromed steel, Dutch-style
Stem:  Chromed steel
Grips: Batavus comfort
Front & rear Brake:  Shimano Front roller brake, rear coaster brake
Saddle:  Paddled plastic sprung saddle
Seat post:  Chromed steel
Chainguard:  Full vinyl and steel chaincase
Kickstand:  Single
Fenders:  Painted steel
Rack:  Painted steel rear luggage rack, 60 lbs capacity
Lights:  Battery powered LED headlight and taillight
Extras:  Rear wheel lock (Trelock RS420), Bell, vinyl coat guard / skirt guard
Colors:  Black with gold highlighting
Sizes:  Step-thru 50 cm (20") and 56 cm (22"); Classic 60 cm (24")
Weight: 19.2 kg (43 lbs)
Price: $950 ($850 on sale)

With addition of Brooks leather saddle
Photo by Adeline Adeline

Frame Geometry

The Fryslan has the same frame as the Old Dutch, which copies the classic Dutch omafiets and opafiets (grandma and grandpa bikes). The seat tube and head tube angles are both around 67 to 69 degrees, which puts the seat far back from the pedals and leads to very stable handeling. The handlebars very high and far back, facilitating a bolt-upright seating position The wheels are 28" tall (635 mm) and heavy steel, and the frame is also large, leading to a smooth and steady ride. Shorter riders may be put off by the 56 cm "small" frame, which is more of a "medium" size, but riders as short as 5'2" should fit the smaller step-thru frame. Tall riders over 6' will be happy with the imposing 60 cm classic frame.


These are bikes meant for riding moderate distances in the city, in all kinds of weather, where good visibility, comfort and stability are more important than weight, twitchy steering or rapid acceleration. They are quite the opposite of a modern (racing) road bike. 

Reviews

Los Angeles Cycle Chic compared the Gazelle Toer Populair vs the Batavus Fryslan
Cecily Walker bought and reviewed the Fryslan, and has nice photos too. She also wrote a second review 2 weeks later .

Please leave any other reviews in the comments, and I will add a link or post here.

Gazelle (Front) and Batavus (Rear)
By Cosmo at Los Angeles Cycle Chic


Someone at Fourth Floor Distribution, the North American distributor, needs to take better photos of these bikes. In the meantime, check out Josef's Flickr page for a few more shots.


This one is nice, but a simple drive-side studio photo would be great:

Batavus Fryslan Classic
Bespoke blog, Fourth Floor Distribution

5 comments:

Velouria said...

Just wanted to say that the Fryslan is quite a bit nicer than the standard Old Dutch I had been so negative about earlier. And to be fair, I believe that even the classic version has now undergone some improvement for the US market (stronger brakes, for instance). I think that both this one and the classic version are good bikes for the price. And a little hint... they seem to frequently go on sale, so it is very possible to pick one up for $200+ below retail if you stalk your local bike shop.

Anonymous said...

Thank you,Joseph E, for your blog (commentaries & information ) on the various brands of bicycles.

We wish you a Merry Christmas & a joyful New Year.
L&Friends

cecily said...

Thanks for the links and the compliments on my photos.

I can honestly say I love the Fryslan, but removing the coaster brake in favour of handbrakes and upgrading to a 7-speed definitely made me love it more. I still wonder whether the Breukelen might've been a better bike for me, but this bike feels more solid and sturdier, and rides better than any other bike I've ever owned. I think this may be my forever bike.

And Velouria's right - Batavus models go on sale more often than Pashleys or Workcycles Omas/Opas.

Stranded said...

That last photo--how to ride when the saddle sores ae acting up? Thanks for the reviews.

Anonymous said...

I think it was those Fourth Floor guys who actually designed the Fryslan and Breukelen specifically for North America. And I am so thankful. I love my Breukelen, and am still consistently shocked at how well it rides even after I abuse it with slushy wet winter rides.

http://www.yongestreetmedia.ca/features/Fryslan0224.aspx