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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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