Whatever happened to Kronan bikes?
Posted on 07 July 2007
Editors note: while Curbside can lay claim to importing the first container of Batavus or Pashley bikes into North America, it is more of a story of being in the right place at the right time. Before us were innovators like Richard Diver - who imported pallets of Pashley and Moulton as a side business - and Patrick Renshaw, who was tuned into that pre-millennial, early adopter, creative-class market that was reading Wallpaper* magazine and was interested in living downtown and transportation that would fit their identity politics (which even today the bike industry still hasn't figured out). It was 2006, and Patrick brought in Kronan - which was the darling of Canadian-boy Tyler Brule's Wallpaper* magazine - and we sold the crap out of them. But the story took a U-turn: Kronan was producing bikes so fast in Sweden that they had to shift to a new factory in Eastern Europe and the quality dropped immediately. Rust in less than a year, seat-tubes that didn't fit seatposts properly (!!), and the list goes on. Kronan was pioneering stuff for a little bike store in Toronto, but it certainly proved to us the city bike market was real. So, a salute to all those pioneers that came before us. The struggle never got any easier, but better answers did begin to emerge. And, we still love those old Kronans. They are as timeless now as they were then.
Hundreds of people have called or e-mailed asking about the Kronan bikes. We are sorry, but as North America's (once) top retailer of the popular Kronan's, we can tell you that you probably aren't going to see Kronan's any time soon. We can also tell you that there are way better bikes on the market. The Kronan certainly captured the North American bike with its urban vision: a bike that was at once stylish and functional. However, at Curbside, our tastes have become somewhat more sophisticated, and educated. It simply took one trip to Europe to demonstrate that there are far more bikes than just Kronan that share this urban vision. And, put simply, the Kronan is just not - in our opinion - the best bike out there. This is why Curbside started a conversation with Batavus. Batavus bikes are more upright, more clothing friendly, and more weather resistant than a Kronan bike. Plus, in our opinion, they are far more stylish. After looking at numerous companies, from Kronan to Helkama, to Skeppshult, to Kettler, to Winora, to Tunturi, to Union, to Gazelle, we put our chips in with Batavus, Holland's most prestigious bike company. And that urban vision? Batavus was there long before Kronan. See, we liked the Kronan, but for us it was our gateway drug to a far, far better city bike. And, for those in the know, Batavus has been getting its share of hype. See the threads at Bike Portland. And, check them out on our main website.