This is (well one of the reasons) why I love old Bicycles. This video showcases the early production methods used at the Gazelle Bicycle Factory in the Netherlands. This is what I would consider some “rare” footage, not only of bicycle production, but of times gone by; a way of Life, a way of thinking. The end of the video being proof: the factory workers all riding off to their homes or the pub on their Bicycles. As the video shows, almost every component of the Bicycle was manufactured from scratch, in-house, by hand. Machines have knobs, dials, and levers all controlled and adjusted by hand. No CNC machining here, no robots. What does this matter, you may be asking? Well, we get out of Something only what we put in, and when you happen to stumble upon old Machinery, which was produced by Human Hands, you can sense almost, it giving off a sort of Life Force of its own. This is widely believed and accepted in certain Food preparation niches where terms such as “slow cooking” and “Macrobiotic” are used and understood. “Energy” is put into the food. Many believe that when you eat something prepared with Love, and “intention” is put into the meal, more Energy can be gained by eating that food. Well, I believe that Machinery can have the same effect; and not only metals, but woodworking, and masonry as well.
I am not going to denounce modern manufacturing methods here, as there really isn’t any reason to anyway. Everything has it’s place and purpose. An objective here, is merely to help communicate any reasons there may be as to why more and more people seem to not only be recognizing, but becoming slightly obsessed with vintage bicycles, and Dutch Bicycles. When you meet someone riding Vintage or Dutch Iron more often than not they are extremely eager to talk about their bike, and they just light-up in general whenever bicycles are around or being discussed. Internet sites are multiplying week by week. I’ve heard it said that the Old British Steel is so magnetic that it draws in Bicycle Mechanics, and then there is no escaping…..At least for me, I know that my Passion has turned into an Addiction. Seeing this video only adds more fuel to the already out-of-control fire. Old Bicycles are pieces of History, as well as Functional Art, as well as Personal Transportation, and having personal transportation is one the strongest senses of Freedom we can attain. Few things invented by Humans accomplish this.
To me, “Dutch Bicycles” mean much more than just what currently may or may not be “In Style”–they mean more than the sum of their mechanical parts. “Dutch Bicycles are the classic bicycle “Idea” if you will,–Classically-styled Machinery for a Classically-styled lifestyle with hints of Romanticism thrown in for sure: leisurely transporting yourself through the World, at a leisurely, stress-free pace. The reasons that Dutch Bicycles are gaining popularity is two-fold. The first being that they are comfortable, functional Machines; the second is that they are Stylish. The Style however, is purely incidental. These bikes, these Ideas, originated 100 years ago with Function being the Objective. The fact that now, such a functional and useful device becomes extremely Stylish means that the “Philosophy” has come around full circle: We have finally caught up with the Machine. There are quite a few stories, books, and movies about this phenomenon: The Human Population inventing Machines which eventually replace Humans. But as long as we Humans keep catching up to our Machines’ Greatness, we’ll survive….I think. As this video documents Classic production methods of Bicycles, it illuminates a Philosophy of Life, at least for those who can squint and see between the frames as they roll by at 18 frames per second.
So, if you’re wondering who the “I” is in this little piece, my name is Josh Boisclair and I am the Mechanic here at My Dutch Bike. I’ve been working in and out of bike shops since I was 16 years old. I raced BMX, and then, while riding road bikes to recover from a broken collarbone, decided to race road bikes instead. I did that for a while, but became fed-up with driving around in SUVs to races all over the South East. I quit racing. I sold my car. I worked at what was literally the original Importer of Workcycles bicycles and Bakfiets cargo bikes. We were very small, starting out in a small shop in St. Augustine, Florida. I moved with the company to Boston Massachusetts but couldn’t deal with the cold. I sold everything I owned and hopped on my fixed-gear bike which I found in a dumpster, pulling a BOB trailer. I made it to Chicago and ran out of money. Hopped on the California Zephyr and here I am: San Francisco! My hobby was always restoring old things: typewriters, printing presses, cameras, Volkswagen Beetles and Buses, motorcycles, and of course, Bicycles. The Hobby turned into my Passion, now, it is an Obsession. So that’s my story, hope you enjoy the video as much as I did! Cheers.