The Batavus BuB
Posted on 10 September 2009
Editors note: today in North America it is still hard to find a high quality, fashionable city bike at a decent price. While many city bikes seem riff on the fashion element - and often do a great job - you end up paying for style rather than substance - which means you're being ripped off. Style is fine if you're riding on a boardwalk in Santa Monica, but not so good if you ride on pothole covered streets of a city like Toronto. The BuB was a great bike, probably a little ahead of its time. When the BuB launched, the North American city bike market had shifted from European bikes to faux-European bikes like Linus but the one thing that remained the same was the "classic look." The BuB came out with a hyper modern "paperclip" design that just didn't read in a post-recession world of flannel, waxed canvas and big beards. However, the BuB remains a very thoughtful moment of the Dutch innovating on a Dutch bike.
- February 2016
The Batavus BUB is the classic omafiets-meets-Rem Koolhaus. Expressively modern, the Batavus BUB (Batavus Utility Bike) deconstructs the classic Batavus omafiets while constructing a more cosmopolitan - yet equally iconic - iteration of the classic Batavus bike. True to the essence of the original, classic Batavus bike, the BUB keeps clothing clean, the rider comfortable, and maintenance to an absolute minimum while eschewing nostalgia. The Batavus BUB design presupposes the currents present in Dutch architecture, urbanism, and contemporary design and establishes itself as a new icon.
Shaped like a bent paper clip, the BUB incorporates a single bent tube representing the top and bottom tube of the bicycle. Front and rear carriers are optional extras that are custom built for the BUB, integrating function into the pure form of the bike. Like the first Smartcar design which allowed an inter-changeability of panels for personal expression, the BUB has several non-essential areas in the frame that can be colour-coded for the pure fun of it. But frivolous extras are hardly the point. The BUB is pure Dutch function incorporating a radical new form. This interplay of function and form pays homage to the classic Batavus bike while representing the need for a lighter, affordable, and urbane solution. Whereas the North American bicycle industry is still playing catch-up with the classic Batavus bike from 1905, the Batavus BUB is a stand-alone product and an instant icon.
The BUB is not for everyone, yet it remains a bike that is fundamentally missing in North America. Unlike the suburbanite, the North American urbanite is a creature who occupies a small space of intense activity - easily multitasked by bicycle. The BUB is not a commuter bike for suburban-to-urban cyclists, it is a tool that negotiates one's tightly packed urban radius, from brunch to shopping trips, formal events, late night bike-abouts, and yes, work also. It's a bike for the urban flaneur and the practical no-nonsense urbanite who wants to maximize enjoyment and health - in minimalist style.
Best of all, the BUB is affordable. At a mere $550 the BUB is pure Dutch quality. Everything is present. The chain is completely covered. The gears and brakes are completely internal. The riding position is straight-up, allowing for clear safety sightlines and less visits to the chiropractor. The frame is light enough to take indoors, but durable enough to be stored outside all year in a tough Northeast winter. Like an Eames chair, the design is thoroughly urbane, recalling the clever tricks of Dutch architects and a measure of frivolity admist stern Calvinist practicality. A smashing success in previews throughout Europe, the BUB challenges North American designers to innovate function into form while pushing the native Dutch bike industry to challenge its inbred insularity.
The BUB will be available this Spring at a bicycle store near you. Orders are already being placed. The North American launch takes place on September 22 at Interbike in Las Vegas. For more pictures, check out our travel photos from our recent trip to Utrecht.
UPDATE: more photos from the North American debut at Interbike can be seen here!