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My new bike, superfluous rental bikes and other stories.

I talked a bit in a recent post about a new bike I had spend months obsessively collecting the parts for. Well, it’s finally no more just a collection of obsessed-over parts, but rather something that I can actually ride. And ride very well, it does. Still, that’s not quite enough to stop me obsessing about how I can further optimise it.

Here’s a very Berlinesque picture of it, outside my very Berlinesque graffiti-covered apartment building. Isn’t it beautiful? If you see me riding it, say hi. You can’t miss it.

In related news, I came across this interesting story on the internet recently. It talks about a Turkish woman who divorced her husband, claiming that her mental health was been negatively affected by her husbands all-consuming bicycle obsession. She says that her husband abandoned her, instead devoting all of his attention to cleaning and fixing his bicycle. Thoughts? Is this really a valid reason to divorce somebody? Jury’s out on that one.

In other news, I also came across this incredible photo essay of China’s huge bike share graveyards. 1.5m shared bikes on the streets of Shanghai (London, in comparison, has only 11,000 Santander shared bikes) has lead to pavements being literally filled with unused, superfluous bicycles. Consequently, huge ‘graveyards’ of said bikes exist, as city authorities are forced to take the initiative and clear the pavements of them; the bike share companies refuse to do it.

The pictures are incredible, and raise a number of questions. Do we really need so many shared bikes on the streets of our cities? Is it not better just to own your own bike? Will this happen in Berlin? You have probably noticed a huge increase in remote rental bikes parked (dumped) carelessly on the streets of Berlin (Byke, Mobike etc.) What should we do about this? Is it a problem or is it good to have so many shared bikes available?

As always, happy and safe cycling.

Ben

 

 

25th February 2018 0 comment
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Stories: French teacher Pauline Gillet

I use Diamanda every day. To get from home to the station at Potsdamer Platz. At the other end, to get from the station to the school I teach at. To go shopping. To meet friends. To get to my sports classes. Everywhere. 

Here are some selected anecdotes about Diamanda. 

The acquisition

I bought her on the 21st of June 2016. Before Diamanda, (BD) I had (and still have) Mars, a bike I bought on eBay. It’s light and has thinner wheels. I love Mars, but the problem with him was that I have to ride the bike to go to work even if its snowing or raining. Mars wasn’t stable at all on the snow and 

very slippery when it was raining. Not to mention having no (functional) gears. 

Diamant bikes are everywhere in Berlin. I fell in love with the design, so I did some research and finally decided on the Topas DLX26. I found a shop in my local area in Kreuzberg and ordered it. Unfortunately the experience with the shop was less than wonderful: a tiny place, and the staff were impatient  and moody.  

At the beginning, everything was fine with the bike and I was very satisfied. After one month I came back to have the free and ‘obligatory’ check up after buying the bike. I picked it up the day after and the problems began. All the screws on the bike seemed to simultaneously start falling out. I almost lost my rack, lost the front light and even  pedal while cycling! 

When I went back to the shop, the staff tried to put the blame on me for not having come for the check up – which I did! Anyway, they fixed it, but the light quickly broke again. So while it says in the documents you get with the bike “Diamant bikes are guaranteed for life”, in reality they mean “if your bike breaks, send it back to us and we’ll send it back to you 2 or 3 months later”. For this reason, I decided to pay for them to change the light immediately. Unfortunately, the problem wasn’t solved. The light broke at least 3 or 4 times more until they eventually replaced it with a completely different one, which still works. Now the only problem with the bike is the back light, which doesn’t work when it’s raining due to water or something  getting into it. So, I always carry a clip-on light with me.

I wouldn’t buy this bike again, and I definitely wouldn’t buy another bike from this brand. I still like the retro design, but the quality is very poor and the after-purchase service miserable. Even after only 3,5 years of riding it, the gears have started to fail. The only positive thing are the wheels and tires. I have never had a flat tire. 

The naming

The design is quite girly, and this is what I like about it. The seat is very comfortable and I like the upright riding position, the detail on the front of the light and the weird child’s face on it. 

I called my first bike Mars, because of the name written on it so I used to called this bike simply Diamant and use ‘she’ when I was speaking about ‘her’. (Mars is clearly a ‘he’.) I guess calling her Diamant wasn’t girly enough for my boyfriend, so he rebaptised her ‘Diamanda’. 

Cycling in Berlin

I think cycling in Berlin is safer than in many other European cities or capitals, but it can still be quite dangerous, especially when cars turn to the right and don’t look if bikes are coming from the cycling lane. Often I have to cycle between the cars parked on the cycle lane before turning, or I have to brake before being killed by one. 

The two biggest enemies of cyclists in Berlin are taxi drivers and trucks. Taxi drivers often use the cycle lane as a fast car lane. They drive really close to you and don’t care at all about right of way. 

The worst experience I’ve had was with a big truck from Luxembourg close to Potsdamer Platz. I was going to work and he turned right without looking in his mirror. I managed to break in time but the body of the truck came towards me as it turned. I had to jump off my bike and drag it behind me. It was terrifying. All the cars were honking, but the driver didn’t realise what was happening. He parked a few meters away and I went to talk to him. He said he hadn’t noticed at all that he had almost killed me. He realised he hadn’t looked before turning but also said that he was on the phone and preoccupied. What a great excuse. 

​Pauline Gillet 

18th February 2018 0 comment
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Berlin’s bike flea markets

The Berliner Fahrradmarkt are periodically-held bicycle flea markets, held on Saturdays and Sundays.

Where are the flea markets?

​The locations vary: markets are held in Kreuzberg, Moabit and Schöneberg. Check their facebook or google to find the next location and date: there are usually two per month between March and November.

Important to note: there is more than one group organising these flea markets.

Tips​

It’s worth getting there early to find the coolest bikes. Prepare to haggle, the bikes sold are often listed at inflated prices and you can usually pay significantly under the displayed price if you’re prepared to bargain a bit.

It’s also worth bringing someone along who knows a bit about bikes if you intend on buying something.

What’s on offer?​

As well as bicycles, you’ll usually find a selection of accessories: helmets, locks, baskets, tires and spare parts. Pop-up bike repair shops are also often on hand.

​As you can see in some of the photographs, some of the vendors attach a document to the bicycle: this contains information pertaining to the original seller of the bicycle so as to give you peace of mind that the bike hasn’t been stolen. It’s unlikely that a vendor would risk selling a blatantly stolen bike at a Fahrrad Flohmarkt: the police are often also in attendance.

​These markets are a good place to find a vintage Rennrad (racing bike), although we feel that you can definitely find a better deal if you invest some time looking on eBay Kleinanzeigen, especially if you want something with a clean frame. However, for the sake of convenience, or purely just out of curiosity, checking out a Fahrradmarkt is not a bad idea.

​Here are some photos from one of the Fahrradmarkts at Winterfeldplatz in Schöneberg.

11th February 2018 0 comment
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5 must-ride Berlin streets

We talk in another article about the sketchy roads (not) to ride in Berlin; and there are plenty. But what about good places to ride in the city? Y’know, roads where you can enjoy your bike, stretch out a bit and ride faster than 11kmph. Well, as luck would have it, there are a few of those, too.

1) Strasse des 17. Juni.

 

Strasse des 17. Juni is the western continuation of Unter den Linden, running east-west through the Tiergarten from Brandenburger Tor to Charlottenburger Tor, just before Ernst-Reuter Platz. This is a 3.5km long stretch, only interrupted halfway by the Grosser Stern, the roundabout surrounding the Siegessäule. The surface is pretty good the whole length of the road, and the surrounding scenery is great from start to finish: the Siegessäule in one direction, Brandenburger Tor in the other. Always a pleasant ride, whatever the season, it’s lovely to have the dense forest of the park on both sides of you as you pedal along. Some of our favourite experiences riding along Strasse des 17. Juni have been late at night, riding west-east to east with the lit-up Brandenburger Tor slowly getting bigger and bigger in the distance. Inspiring.

2) Karl Marx Allee/Frankfurter Allee

 

Another iconic Berlin street is Karl Marx Allee/Frankfurter Allee, running roughly 5km from Alexanderplatz east to Frankfurter Allee station. It was conceived and built by the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) between 1952 and 1960 as a monumentalist socialist boulevard and originally named Stalinallee. This vast street offers you a thrilling tour of socialist architecture ranging from plain, utilitarian plattenbau (panel-built tower blocks) to imposing, ornamental 8-storey apartment blocks built in the soviet socialist-classicism style. The riding is also good, offering smooth bike paths and long blocks allowing you to get a bit of speed up before pausing at the various intersections. Highlights include the ‘wedding cake’ towers at Strausberger Platz and Frankfuter Tor, the fantastic Kino International cinema and the aforementioned ornate housing blocks that line the street on both sides.

From Frankfurter Tor east to Frankfurter Allee, the street becomes busier and the pavement narrower, with shops and restaurants lining both sides. You have to pay a little more attention when riding here, as the bike path runs on the pavement, but there are plenty of opportunities to grab something to eat here or stop off for a beer outside a Späti and take in the Berlin street life.

3) Columbiadamm

 

Another favourite street of ours that passes some equally iconic Berlin landmarks, is Columbiadamm. Columbiadamm runs from Platz der Luftbrücke to just before Boddinstrasse U-Bahn, where it becomes Flughafenstrasse. It’s a great road to ride, with a good quality bike path for most of its length with few interruptions for traffic lights and intersections.

Coming from Neukölln towards Platz der Luftbrücke, the first point of interest on the left is the Sommerbad Neukölln, a huge outdoor swimming pool. Directly after this you’ll see the Berlin Sehitlik Camii, an impressive new Mosque. Opposite the mosque and the swimming pool is Hasenheide, a beautiful landscaped park with an open air cinema and plenty of opportunity for nice rides, walks or runs. As you progress towards Platz der Luftbrücke, you’ll soon see the vast Tempelhofer Feld looming on your left. Ride a bit longer and you’ll be rewarded with a fine view of the Tempelhofer Flughafen building, a huge limestone building built by the Nazis between 1936 and 1941. When first opened, the 1.2km long terminal building was one of the largest buildings in the world, and it hasn’t lost any of its impact. It’s a must see in Berlin.

On your right, opposite the terminal building, you’ll see the attractive 19th-century red brick complex of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Neukölln police headquarters.

Finally you’ll approach Platz der Luftbrücke itself. Buildings connected to the airport built in the same style line half of the square, surrounding the small park which commemorates the Berlin Airlift.

4) Gneiesenaustraße/Yorckstraße

 

Starting from Südstern in Kreuzberg, running West to Potsdamerstraße in Schöneberg, the combined stretch of Gneiesenaustraße and Yorckstraße is one of the more pleasant roads to ride in the city.

The bike lane along the whole stretch is in good condition and plenty wide, facilitating some pleasant cycling. Inconveniently, there are several cross streets and traffic lights to slow you down, but the stretch from Südstern takes you along one of Berlin’s finest tree-lined roads. There are multiple shops, bars and coffee shops along this section of the road. The surrounding neighbourhood is also one of Berlin’s nicest, particularly the attractive Bergmannkiez to the south of the street. Halfway along the route, you’ll come to Mehringdamm, one of Berlin’s commercial hubs. Home to tons of shops, bars and famous eateries, not least Curry 36 and Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebab, it’s also a good place to explore.

Continuing west, the road now becomes Yorckstraße. You’ll soon go under the multiple former railway bridges associated with the former Anhalter Bahnhof and past Yorckstraße S/U-Bahn. To the right of these bridges is the new Gleisdreieck Park, also well worth a visit and a ride. All good things must come to an end, and soon you’ll reach the junction with Potsdamer Straße, with the ominous looking Pallasseum housing block looming in front of you. Going further takes you off a safe cycle path and into Schöneberg proper. Well worth checking out is Winterfeldplatz (particularly the weekly farmers’ market) and its surrounding area.

5) Königsweg/Kronprinzessinweg, Grunewald

 

In the west of the city is a great route running south-west from the Messegelände (the area around the exhibition halls) out to S-Bahn Wannsee. A route beloved of cyclists, this isn’t a road per se, so you have to zoom in on Google maps to actually spot it. Start at S Messe Süd, find Eichkampstraße and start cycling southwest, with the Autobahn 115 to your left. You’ll pass attractive suburban terraced houses (not everyone in Berlin lives in an apartment) and eventually get to the intersection on your left which takes you to S Grünewald. Go a little further and you’ll get onto the path. This is a wide, paved path used by cyclists, skaters^, walkers and runners alike, so don’t ride too fast. There are no cars and you have the opportunity to really ride your bike. To your right is the Grünewald forest. You have a good 7km stretch to enjoy before rejoining the road that takes you to Wannsee. Stop here and get a drink and a bite to eat. There are many further opportunities to ride around Wannsee.

11th February 2018 0 comment
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Want to rent a bike? Check out our guide to bike rental in Berlin

Bike rental in Berlin.

Deciding to rent a bike is not always as straightforward as it seems, given the sheer number of options available to you. Berlin has a plethora of different bike rental schemes and systems available, and the choice of bikes runs from humble, well-used bikes to high-end dream machines.

(Disclaimer: this is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the bike rental options available).


You might be visiting the city for a few days and keen to explore on two wheels, or you might be hosting people who want to get out on a bike, but don’t have a spare one to lend them. Either way, even if you’re in the city for only a couple of days, cycling is the best way to explore and Berlin has a range of options for bike rental.

Luckily, the days of crappy rental bicycles are (mostly) gone. Our guide to bike rental in the city will show you a range of options together with some tips to make the whole process easier.

(One thing to note: Berlin doesn’t have an ‘official’ bike sharing system similar to London’s ‘Boris Bikes’ – now sponsored by Santander – or Paris’s Vélib’).


​1. Ask at your hotel/hostel:

Price: free to very cheap

These days, the majority of decent hotels and hostels have a fleet of bicycles available for their guests. At more expensive hotels, the bikes are often pretty good, and invariably free. Obviously, the quality and number of the bikes on offer varies massively depending on where you’re staying.

If you don’t see the bikes parked outside your hotel or hostel, ask if they have any available or can recommend a good rental shop.

​2. Bike rental shops:

Price: between €5 and €15 for 24 hours

There are hundreds of places offering bike rental: from dedicated shops, to the bikes available to rent from outside your local Späti (booze/cigarettes/snack shop). Googling ‘Berlin bike rental’ or ‘Berlin Fahrradverleih’ will provide you with a long list of companies. If you walk down any busy Berlin street you’re also bound to come across a rental shop. We cannot personally vouch for any company, so your best bet is to read reviews on google and find somewhere near where you’re staying.

Prices can be very cheap: we’ve seen them for as little as €5 for 24 hours and very rarely more than €12. Bring your ID to the rental shop. Most firms have their own policy for returning the bikes, but you usually have to drop it off during shop hours.

3. Deutsche Bahn Call-a-bike/Lidl bikes:

Price: €3 annual registration fee, then the first half hour €1.50, each additional half hour €1 upto a maximum of €15 for 24 hrs (€12 for concessions)

The cheap and cheerful discount supermarket giant Lidl has recently started offering bikes for hire, partnered with Deutsche Bahn’s Call a Bike system. The bikes are more or less the same robust and heavy machines that you see in bike sharing systems the world over.

Disappointingly, no English information is available on Lidl’s (or DB’s) bike rental website or app, so here’s how it works: to rent a bike, download the app and register. Find a nearby bike on the map and when you get to the bike, enter the unlock code provided.  You have to return the bike within the Berlin S-bahn ‘ring’, otherwise you’ll be fined €10. You also get a 50 cent bonus for returning it within 25 metres of one the 350 designated return zones – you can find these zones on the map.

​4. Nextbike:

Price: €1 for the first half hour, €1,50 for each additional half hour minutes up to €15 per day. Alternatively, a €3 daily pass with unlimited 30 minute rides free and every additional 30 minutes €1.

Another similar system is Nextbike, offering sturdy bikes available in many cities around Germany (and Europe). You can access your Nextbike in 4 different ways:

One, use the app to locate and access a bike. This works much the same as Lidl’s system: download the app, enter the bike number, get the 4-digit access code and unlock the bike. Two, send off for a customer card and unlock the bike by touching your card to the sensor. Three, phone their customer service for the unlock code and four, enter your customer information on the Nextbike terminal and get the unlock code.

You can return the bike by either slotting its front wheel into a lock at the terminal, locking it manually on a main street or at a ‘station’ by slotting the lock cable into the front hub and confirming the return via the app.

5. Donkey Republic:

Price: €10 per day.

A start-up founded in 2015 in Copenhagen, Donkey Republic offers yet another spin on the familiar bike sharing template. Their easily-recognisable orange bikes have started to become more commonplace around Berlin and they are available in a handful of European cities.

The system works something like a bike version of car2go: download the app, register, find a bike on the map. The lock will then be remotely unlocked after you enter the unlock code on the app and remotely locked when you return it at a drop-off location.

Donkey Republic have partner bike shops you can visit should you have a problem with the bike.

6. Mobike/Byke/other station-free bike sharing systems:

Price: Mobike: deposit then the first 30 minutes free, subsequently charged in 30 minute slots, price depending on frequency of use.

Byke: no deposit, 50 cents per 30 minutes. For €3, you can use the bike 12 times of up to 30 minutes within a 24-hour period.

In recent months, there has been a proliferation of colourful, station-free rental bikes appearing around the city. The bikes work in a similar way to aforementioned systems: download the app, reserve a bike, get a verification code, find the bike, unlock it and use it, simply locking it and leaving it somewhere within a designated zone when you’re done with it. ‘Best practice’ guides available on the companies’ websites advise you the best way to go about ‘locking up’ the bike once you’re finished with it.

​7. I want to rent a really good bike. What are my options?

Not everyone is content tanking around the city on sluggish, ugly 15 or 20kg rental bike. Luckily, help is at hand, although at the moment it seems you only have a few options.

Starting at €50 per day, Berlin Racing Bikes offer high-end Canyon road bikes for rental if you want to explore Berlin and its surrounding areas in your lycra.

​The impressive Steel Vintage Bikes store on Wilhelmstrasse near Potsdamer Platz also offers a range of more luxury bikes from fixed gear to steel and carbon road bikes. Prices start from €17 per day. More here: (https://www.steel-vintage.com/bicycle-rental-berlin/)

​You could also pop in to 8bar bikes in Kreuzberg, who we featured in our 5 Berlin bike manufacturers feature. They have many of their cool bikes (single speed, urban & adventure bikes) available for rental, starting at 20 euros for 24 hours. So, if riding a stylish, well-made bike is important to you, check them out: (https://8bar-bikes.com/rent-a-bike/)

What do we think?

The more traditional process of going into a shop and getting a bike in person appeals to many: you will, theoretically, be provided with the ‘right bike’, fitted to it while also having the pleasure of interacting with someone in the process. These shops usually offer the cheapest bike rentals, although spend a little time reading google reviews of various bike rental shops and you will read dramatically different feedback regarding the quality of the bikes, often extremely bad: pick wisely.

It seems that every other week a new bike sharing system appears, often with the bikes discarded, lying on the floor somewhere. The more modern app-based bike sharing systems can require a little more brain power when accessing and returning a bike, and are often not so simple nor intuitive for less technologically au fait individuals. Support is usually available in case of problems.

11th February 2018 0 comment
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Berlin bike theft: our tips to keep your bike safe

As you probably know, Berlin bike theft is a serious problem. If you haven’t had your bike stolen, you’re in a lucky minority. This number reached a new peak in 2017 with over 34,000 bike thefts reported to the police. (Just think how many people didn’t even bother to report the theft!) The report published earlier in the year described how bicycles are particularly likely to be stolen in front of places like railway stations, schools and shopping centres.

So although stealing bikes is as popular a pastime as ever, there are things you can do to make sure your bike is just a little bit safer.

1) Don’t leave your bike outside

It probably goes without saying, but if you have a valuable bike and you can avoid it, never ever leave it locked up outside (even in your courtyard) where you can’t keep your eye on it at all times. If I can, I’ll always bring my bike inside, or at least chain it to something inside – even if it involves carrying it up a steep flight of stairs to visit a mate who lives on the fourth floor. And let’s face it, all of your friends live on the fourth floor.

2) Safety in numbers.

If you’re with one or more friends, always lock your bikes on top of one another with more than one lock, preferably with the more valuable bike at the bottom of the pile. A lot of thieves will be put off stealing a more expensive bike if they have to get past two other less valuable bikes which are on top of it. More locks also = more security.

3) Always lock through the wheel(s) and the frame.

If possible, use two locks, one through the seat tube and rear wheel and one through the front wheel. It’s amazing how many cyclists, even those with more expensive bikes, only lock the bike through the top tube of the frame, or worse, just through a wheel. Better still: take off the front wheel and lock it to the back wheel and frame.

4) Lock your bike to something strong and unmovable.

Can a thief lift your bike over what it’s locked to? Is it locked to something that’s actually attached to the ground? Be especially careful of locking your bike to scaffolding or temporary street signs. Those poles aren’t always connected to the ground.

5) When using a ‘u/d-lock’ make sure you lock it to the seat tube and the wheel.

Simply putting the lock around the top tube can allow the thief to use the bike’s frame as a lever to pop it open, or just give the thief too much space to work with. Better yet, buy the smallest U/D-lock you can find, giving the thief less space to stick a car jack in it therefore making it more resistant to ‘leverage-based attacks’, as Sheldon Brown puts it here.

6) Invest in the best lock you can.

That is, not the one in the picture. Not all locks are created equally. No single lock is unbreakable, but some locks take longer to break open than others. Why not spend a little money to make sure you have one that is a little harder to crack open?

7) Get insured.

SO MANY cyclists don’t insure their bikes. In a city with as much bike theft as in Berlin, you’d be surprised how few cyclists actually insure their bikes. It really isn’t very expensive and hardly takes any time to do. In fact, I’m gonna go do that right now…

8) Make your bike easily identifiable by marking it.

Good tips here include etching your initials somewhere on the frame or at least writing your initials on each tire with tip-ex or a permanent marker. It’s much harder to sell a bike that has someone’s initials or some other identifying mark on it.

9) Know your area.

I’d wager that 90% of bike thefts could be avoided if people only thought a little more carefully about where they were locking up their bikes. Don’t assume that because it’s in a ‘busy’ part of town that your bike is safer. Forget the idea ’no one will steal my bike around here’.

​What can you do if your bike is stolen?

​Unfortunately, the chances of getting it back are slim. Firstly, report it to the police. The Berlin Police also have a registry of unclaimed bikes on their website – so your stolen bike could be one of these: https://www.berlin.de/polizei/service/vermissen-sie-ihr-fahrrad/

10th February 2018 0 comment
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Choosing a bike to ride in Berlin: what are my options?

Choosing a bicycle is a decision that deserves careful consideration. There are many styles available on the market, and you should think about what you want from the bike before buying one. Is it for short journeys to the shops? For getting from the suburbs to the centre of the city as fast as possible? Riding around Tempelhofer Feld on the weekend? Or is it simply an accessory to help you look as cool as possible?

We’ve compiled a shortlist of some of the different styles available together with their pros and cons to help make that choice a little easier.

The Dutch bike

Dutch bikes and bikes inspired by them offer a relaxed, upright riding position, built-in mudguards/fenders and chain protectors. They also often have built-in dynamo lights. These bikes’ ‘step-through’ frame geometry also means you can get on to them without having to throw your leg over a top tube, which could be impractical, depending on what you’re wearing. They’re also much easier to get on and off for less agile or elderly riders.

On the other hand, the step-through geometry means the frames have to be reinforced with thicker tubing and can be very heavy. There are also fewer places to mount accessories on the frame and a limited range of gears available.

Racing bike/fixed gear/single speed

You’ll see plenty of people riding racing bikes, single-speeds and fixed-gears around Berlin. These bikes are attractive in their sporty elegance, especially vintage examples. They are fast and light, and with a racing bike, you have the opportunity to ride longer distances (fast) for fitness outside the city. In lycra. In the case of single-speeds, maintenance is simple as there is simply not so much to go wrong when you only have one gear.

These bikes have their drawbacks: they are usually better suited to dryer conditions, although mudguards/fenders can sometimes be fitted later, depending on clearance between tire, fork and chainstay. The riding position also puts the rider low, making them less than ideal for city riding where it’s helpful to have a good overview of the street and traffic ahead of you. Not all racing bikes can accommodate racks, so if you want to carry stuff on your bike, one might not be the wisest choice. They are also very desirable for thieves.

Trekkingrad

Perhaps the most popular type of bicycle in Berlin is the venerable German ‘trekkingrad’, seen absolutely everywhere in the city. These are sturdy, heavy bikes, perfectly suited to taking a beating year-round on city streets, whatever the weather. They usually come equipped with mudguards, dynamo lights and a rear rack. The riding position is usually quite upright, but depending on the bike, can be sportier. They are eminently practical, yet not particularly inspiring. Still, if you’re looking for a practical bike that can take you all over the city, (and much further) one of these might be just the ticket.

Folding bike

In our opinion, folding bikes are under-utilised for city riding. They can be stowed away, brought into the office or house, folded up, and can be put on trains and planes with a minimum of fuss.

The smaller wheels take slightly longer to get up to speed and can affect ride quality, sometimes resulting in a bumpier ride. The frames aren’t as stiff as non-folding bikes, and the bikes tend to be on the heavy side due to the extra weight of the hinges. A ‘good one’, like a Brompton can also be very expensive.

Cargo bike

If you need to move stuff or little people around, then you might want to look at a cargo bike, or Lastenrad, auf Deutsch. There are numerous styles available, from bikes designed to carry one or two young children (from the likes of Babboe) to rigs that can carry loads of stuff weighing up to hundreds of kilograms (Omnium, Pedal Power, Larry vs. Harry Bullitt).

Finding a decent cargo bike for less than a thousand (or even two thousand) euros might be a challenge, but one could be the best way to move whatever you need without resorting to buying or renting a car. Think of the environment!

Cons: they’re not cheap. So, weighing up whether you actually need one is the first thing to consider. Secondly, they are big old things, and riding one isn’t like riding any other bike, so be sure you have the confidence to ride one before you commit to buying it. Remember that many are also available as e-bikes.

Mountain bike

Mountain bikes might not be the obvious choice for a city bike, but plenty of people seem to enjoy riding them, especially older ones without suspension. Newer mountain bikes with suspension forks and disc brakes might be a bit over the top for riding in the city, but whatever works for you.

You can usually find a good condition older one cheaply, they take bigger tires, can easily be fitted with mudguards and often with rear racks. They make perfect commuter bikes. They are super sturdy and can be customised to pretty much exactly how you want them.

You have probably noticed that we promote practicality and pragmatism as the key virtues for a city bicycle, so to conclude, we will reiterate that having a bike that is suitable for a variety of weather conditions, comfortable and sturdy is the kind of bike you should be looking to ride in Berlin. As always, eBay Kleinanzeigen and your local bike shop (LBS) are your best friends when looking for a bike to buy, so get out there, have a look around and try a few bikes.

 

10th February 2018 0 comment
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