THEN... We could easily wind this long and twisted tale, but without a fire and eyes to look into, best to keep it succinct.
We started our company just after September 11, 2001. Dan grew up in New York. It was personal. We had to do something, we decided to seriously curb our dependance on petrol.
Now, Dan liked to say that he had no interest in two-wheelers unless they had a motor. I knew freedom in the form of a bicycle nearly every day. In fact, went to see Dan the day after I met him, as a detour from my morning mountain path ride. That's another story.
We headed for Amsterdam to ride Dutch bikes. Dan admitted (it showed on his face) to being impressed by the comfort. Me too, I couldn't ever remember sitting so upright, even at my Grandmother's table. We continued ahead with our plan and created The Dutch Bicycle Company (The DBC). We brought over some of the first Dutch city bikes available in the US. Then Danish bikes, then trikes and even a certain 7 seater.
Over the years as we imported and rode many models, many miles, incompatibilities with our environment became apparent. European designs are for a different type of city infrastructure. Boston, and other US cities are often hilly, with lots of car traffic and people tend to travel longer distances regularly. We like to store our bikes in the safety of our homes - in Boston that often means up stairs. We've been listening to riders and observers; compiling detailed lists. We've modified many types of bikes to perform as a city bike should. With each new customer it became increasingly clear, a bike for American cities would have to be designed and by people who were using them. It would have to be built here, by local craftspeople. And it would be welcome here, by any rider.
Boston has presented us with many opportunities. We're surrounded by people who Do. We've been able to make real Our design; addressing weight, handling, the riding environment and the elements. Our city bike is still a practical appliance, maintaining a very traditional appearance yet the ride and the experience is brand new and unique. This model of urban transportation is meant to be ridden, not looked at, although they do come in color. Check out the first, the Swift
A NOTE ABOUT BRANDING, HEAD BADGES, STICKERS ETC
We don’t do it. We have a head badge, it’s optional- nobody ever wants it. As for stickers and other artwork for the bikes, we simply don’t waste our time with such stuff. We are bicycle designers and engineers, we are also artists. To cover a bike with logos and stickers not only takes away from the overall presentation of the bicycle, but it is also counter intuitive to advertise what you paid- as we build commuter vehicles.
We are much more concerned about making the bike rust proof and extremely efficient then we are about graphic design. It’s where our priority lies as we all use our bikes every day to go everywhere, and no matter how cool a sticker may be, it does nothing to improve or enhance the riding experience. Good geometry and balance on the other hand are crucial.
We simply rely on our clients giving favorable reviews of their cycling experience, this is how we sell bikes.
You may already know that we were in St. Augustine, Florida when we started importing. We were on cozy Aviles Street - cobblestones, bougainvillea and horse drawn carriages. Test rides on that bumpy surface sealed many a deal. Comfort was obvious.
But we were shipping our bikes all over the country. The majority of our customers were vacationing. It's a beach town after all (and the oldest city in the country).
We made quite a few friends, and sold more than a few bikes to folks from the Great Northeast. It was clear. In December of 2007 we packed up our business and our lives and moved to Somerville.
Now it's clear Boston is a city for cycling. Plenty of trees, visual interest, nice streets, bike lanes... wait, Boston? Trees yes. Beautiful squares, architecture, greenways even (the designer of the Emerald Necklace was the same man behind Central Park) We are constantly improving the cycling situation. Our mayor cycles. Since he appointed bike czar Nicole Freedman we've had potholes repaired and miles of sharrows painted. MassBIke - the oldest Advocacy for Cycling group in the country - is getting people to cooperate on the road. Come, let's take a ride.