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Batavus BUB Review : Initial Thoughts

by Bike Shop Girl

When the Batavus BUB rolled into my bike shop a good amount of thoughts rolled into my head with it.  It looked heavy, was it? Where were the hand brakes or gears.  Could I take it down my 4.5 mile daily commute with a decent size hill in the middle.  (My worry was going up and down on it.)

Riding the BUB

Batavus BUB
I quickly checked the BUB over and rode it home that 4.5 mile commute.  The step through design was very handy and made me crave for one in my daily ride.  Very easy to get on, plus I didn’t worry about ripping my jeans as I didn’t have to throw my leg over the back of the saddle.  The handlebars and saddle seemed to me much like what we consider in the US as a Beach Cruiser.  For the entire first ride I was fighting with finding a position I felt efficient, yet comfortable in.  If I was comfortable on the saddle, it would start to rub my inner thighs.  If I was comfortable with the handlebars I was in a weird laid over position grabbing half way down the long swept back bar.

It took me a week to really grasp the ride of the BUB.  It truly is a bike for folks that maybe don’t ride everyday, or are looking for something on the end of the spectrum from their mountain/road bike.  You can easily hop on this and go, you won’t be going very far or very fast but it is easy and comfortable.

As I mentioned, initially I couldn’t get comfortable on this bike.  Mainly due to the length of my long legs and once I was home I raised the stem a good amount in order to sit more upright than leaned over.  In the end it fit a wide height range, for my 5’10 height down to my 5’5 girlfriend just as well.

The Prototype BUB & What I Would Change

The bike that I was reviewing was a prototype of sorts, it didn’t have the 3 speeds that the standard BUB will.  Gears would of helped keep me in a comfortable seated position on the small climb I have coming from my work.  I also wish it had some sort of rear or front hand brake to assist with the coaster brake, but that was also mainly me as I’m not used to riding a coaster brake bike.

Batavus BUB Rack

All the options were installed on the test BUB.  Front and rear racks, as well as front and rear lights.  The racks had an interesting mounting design, it is non-standard and you’ll have to rig up your favorite rack to work on this bike if you wish.  The racks felt very strong and stable, a small child could sit on the front, but would completely wreck the steering of the bike.  The tubing on the rack is oversize, to the point a standard pannier clip system (of all types) doesn’t fit without bending or modifying.  Out of all my panniers in my collect only the Basil bags that you drape over one side of the rack to the other worked.

Batavus BUB Light

The lights weren’t anything too special.  Yes, a little different in looks but if you already have lights from another bike, save them and reuse them on the BUB.

Small Details

This bike turned heads, and caught many eyes.

Batavus BUB

The unique paper clip design made people ask questions and want to ride it.  The only other bike I own that causes such questions is my Xtracycle.

BUBmood

BUBmood

The “mood meter” seemed like a joke to me.  This little dial under the top tube that you are supposed to move dependent on your mood.

Batavus BUB Pedals

New pedals are needed unless you are rolling this bike in only fair weather.  There is no grip on them and several times when wet I slipped off the pedals.

Batavus BUB Tires

Full Chainguard, good fenders, strong wheels, and reflective Schwalbe tires. The small details that many “commuter” bikes are left off with weren’t forgotten here.  I just fear they over thought the design aspect of the bike, leaving it very limited to accessories.

Interested in a Batavus BUB? Visit our affiliate, Commute Bike Store.

This product was given to me at no charge for reviewing.  I was not paid or bribed to give this review and it will have my honest opinion or thoughts through out.
 
The Chariot Summer Sale - 2013

15 Responses to “Batavus BUB Review : Initial Thoughts”

  1. Seconding the call for front hand brake. I understand these bikes are built in flat countries, but most of us live in towns with at least some hills. Having a coaster brake only is dangerous in these situations. If you chain slips off, you essentially have no way of stopping. That’s why I refuse to build bikes without a secondary braking system for my customers.

    As for the bike itself, it seems a little cheap looking for a brand that is seen at least in North America as a high quality transportation brand. I guess they are trying to expand down the market chain, but I think this is a mistake. Bikes that replace cars for everyday use should be high quality and dependable, not cheap and gimmicky. I think they are undermining their value proposition for their true transportation bikes here.

  2. Kevin Love says:

    I have to agree with Elliott. Batavus should stick to high quality, dependable bikes. Leave the cheap ones to others.

    One thing that I didn’t understand in the review was this bit:

    “It truly is a bike for folks that maybe don’t ride everyday…”

    Given that it was designed as a daily commuter, this comment seems a little strange.

  3. Andy says:

    The comfort problem you mention is a common one with bikes like this. They are more comfortable for people that don’t ride bikes because it feels more like standing up. This is fine if you only use a bike for 1 or 2 mile trips, in flat areas, and aren’t concerned with riding efficiently.

    For anyone looking to commute, you really need a bike that is comfortable for riding. This may mean you sacrifice a few fancy over-designed features, but it means an easier ride when you have to go several miles at a time, without taking all day to do it.

  4. I think that the comments above reiterate why Batavus and other European “city bike” makers are a little reluctant to take on the American market. We, as a cycling culture, simply do not yet “get” these bikes.

    What the BuB (and other European city bikes) are great at is the antithesis of the recreational / performance orientation of the American cycling consumer. These bikes are made for short distance (think <5 miles), loaded, casually clothed urban riding, in a relaxed upright position. You don't have to be a dyed-in-the-spandex cyclist to own one, nor do you need to spend a lot of moeny, you just need the desire to take short casual trips by bike.

    Much like the classic Raleigh Sport, these bikes are not fast, they weight more than a "sporting" bike, they are not expensive, and will last for a very very long time with little attention.

    Having ridden these bikes, I assure you these bikes are not "cheap". They are purposely less expensive than the other Batavus models, but they aren't any less quality. Batavus has been in business for 100+ years — they know that producing an inferior product will hurt their reputation in the long run, so they have no incentive to do so.

  5. Eric says:

    I think if the reviewer was based in a city like New York we would be reading a much more informative review. The BuB is hardly a complex bike to figure out if you are a dyed-in-the-wool urbanite. It would be used for multiple blasts that are fairly short in duration. When you live most of your life within 8 miles of home your rides are short and the bike is used constantly. It needs to be locked up without getting dented, able to be stored outside in inclement weather, and offer efficiency, comfort, and low maintenance. This is pretty straightforward and hardly revolutionary. It’s only revolutionary when one considers that most people continue to commute on mountain bikes. And the BuB is a city bike, not a commuter bike. There’s a difference.

    Why the reviewer thinks the bike wouldn’t be used everyday is beyond me. The BuB was designed for everyday use in Amsterdam, and a Dutchman typically negotiates the same urban radius as a New Yorker. If you have a fair sized hill you ride a different bike (like the Breukelen). And, if anyone has ever ridden a bike while talking on a cell phone (or holding a cup of coffee) they will know coaster brakes are awesome. And, because no one can really ride all that fast in the city anyways (too many stoplights), a coaster brake is all you need on a three speed bike. Plus they don’t freeze up in winter.

    Kevin, it’s a great bike. A real improvement on the classic Dutch bike which were not only heavy, but had strange ergonomics and a fairly hefty price tag to boot. The BuB is an inexpensive gateway drug to city cycling – and God knows Americans need that.

  6. BluesCat says:

    Bryan: Your point is well taken.

    And what folks need to remember is the BuB that BSG was testing is a PROTOTYPE. It didn’t even have the 3-speed drive train the production bike will have.

    I think the comments about the bike needing a hand brake are productive, and I hope Batavus listens and furnishes the production bike with a hand brake.

    I think the comments ragging on the “production quality of a prototype” are more than just counterproductive, I think they are oxymoronic criticisms.

  7. Kevin Love says:

    Eric wrote:

    “A real improvement on the classic Dutch bike which were not only heavy, but had strange ergonomics and a fairly hefty price tag to boot.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    I ride a Pashley Sovereign Roadster. The “classic Dutch bikes” were patterned after the English roadsters for a very good reason: the design works well. I have not noticed any “strange ergonomics.”

    The Pashley was also dirt cheap. I brought it brand new for only $1,300. That’s about one year’s worth of transit passes or six months car insurance. And it will give me transportation for a lifetime.

    What’s it like to ride? Right now, here in Toronto, the roads and bike lanes are wet and nasty with the usual layer of winter salt. The full chaincase, fenders and coatguard keeps my nice work clothes clean and protect the chain from the salt.

    Maintenance? Zero. The Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres have never, ever got a puncture. Never. Ever. I’ve never had to clean and lube the chain. Love that chainguard.

    Internal hub gears and internal hub brakes have also had zero maintenance. The internal front hub dynamo has powered the front light – also zero maintenance.

    The bell is a two-tone “ding-dong” bell. Retro, very nice, I’ve had lots of comments on the bell.

    And everything I’ve described is standard equipment on the bike. I bought it, got on and rode off.

    In the English roadster style, the bottom bracket is rather high and the wheelbase rather long. I like this because it puts me in a nice high riding position with excellent elevated sightlines. I can look over other traffic, “read” what is going to happen and react accordingly. Pashley describes it as “a whale among minnows.” I agree.

    Post-purchase I added 60L Basil panniers. That gave it an impressive load hauling capability. When I’m doing “big” grocery shopping I’ll also put a basket on the rear rack and carry shopping bags on the handlebars.

    I got the large 24.5″ frame with the double top tube because I am rather tall at 6″ 8″ (200 cm). This makes it look somewhat like the Chinese “Flying Pidgeon.” But that’s because the FP was designed and patterned after English roadsters. For exactly the same reason the Dutch bikes were. Because it works.

    Mass bicycle cultures from The Netherlands to China to Japan all tend to use essentially the same vehicle. For more explanation of why this is so, please see:

    http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2009/01/anatomy-of-reliable-everyday-bicycle.html

  8. Eric says:

    Kevin,

    I sold you your bike. I know all about it!

    The classic Dutch ‘omafiets’ may be a co-opted British design, but that doesn’t mean they are the same. Your Pashley and a Dutch bike are very different. The omafiets has a significantly longer headtube and much shorter top tube length. This creates a very tight cockpit that doesn’t always suit everyone.

    When Batavus introduced the Personal Bike a decade ago it shook up the typically conservative Dutch bike industry. The Personal Bike was the first evolution the Dutch city bike had seen in nearly five decades. And there were some issues that needed to be resolved. In the first place, people were carrying up to three kids on the bike (plus groceries) and wanted a more stable platform. The Personal Bike features high pressure, high volume tires that reduced rolling resistance while increasing stability. It also increased the top tube length without rolling the shoulders forward. And it lowered the overall center of gravity.

    But that wasn’t enough. Amsterdam is building higher and higher and with a steady increase in bike theft more and more people wanted to bring their bikes indoors. The Personal Bike was simply too heavy. The BuB is a direct descendant of the Personal Bike. However, it’s lighter for lifting and its a little cheaper to boot.

    As for price. Sure, I agree with you Kevin. Bikes are cheap compared to cars and bus passes. But you and I are people that ‘get it.’ The BuB is a great way for people to discover city cycling while discovering all the other things a bike opens up for them. The more they discover the more they will demand from their bike (for the same reason both you and I ride a Pashley). Most people who buy the BuB are beginner city cyclists who simply want something comfortable, low maintenance and something that keeps their clothing clean. Again, hardly revolutionary. But just try finding that at your local bike store.

  9. Kevin Love says:

    You’re THAT Eric!

    Small world.

    As you know, I bought a Batavus bike for my son from your store. It doesn’t seem to have a tight cockpit. He loves it.

  10. Dwainedibbly says:

    I have not seen one of these in person, but I *really* worry about this frame design, particularly where the head tube meets the paperclip. There doesn’t appear to be any triangulation there. Batavus are relying on one weld to keep things together. If this is indeed supposed to be a “beginner city bicycle”, I can see it being ridden hard (over curbs, through potholes, etc, etc) which can put a lot of stress on the frame in that one area. Caveat emptor to anyone who buys a used BUB unless Batavus decide to add some gusseting.

  11. Eric says:

    Hey Kevin.

    Guilty as charged! Glad you have as much fun on these blogs as I do.

    Dwaine, don’tcha worry, the BuB is fine for strength. ‘Triangulation’ does not make for a stronger weld area. (Just try busting a Personal Bike).

    Remember, the weld is the strongest part of a joint, meaning the more weld the more strength. The BuB has way more weld area than the typical frame creating a very strong joint.

    Finally, gussets are only required on mountain bikes with long suspension forks since the fork ‘crowbars’ as a lever against the frame. Most hybrid bikes lack gussets as do most city bikes. It’s just not needed.

    Just for fun, check this link of the BuB at Flying Pigeon in LA. Great fun!
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-grayson/la-foodies-and-bikers-uni_b_396750.html

  12. This is a very good bicycle all its look and features are very fine.There is simply no bike as durable, reliable, or fashion friendly as a Batavus bike. It’s for the person wanting a true city bike but not all the bells and whistles like full chain guard and generator lights.

  13. Fred says:

    It was real fun and also educational for me reading the review and all the posts. I am working at Batavus in Holland and was at the Interbike in 2009. I like the way you people talk about and experiencing bikes and biking.
    This is very different from the way we do it here in Hollland.
    The Bub is mend for people in the cities, it’s not made for long distances. We started builing them with coaster brake and since January with 3 speed for the US en Canadian market and later for other European countries aswell.
    For the next seasons we plan to make more accessoiries for this bike.
    Have fun with it and don’t question the quality. After all it is a Batavus.

  14. Chen Doj says:

    As a reviewer, you have to utilize correct grammar.
    I’m sure you meant “Gears would HAVE helped”, not “would of”.

    Otherwise, a pretty interesting review.

  15. You should forget about NYC, this bike was bred for Rotterdam!

    Its a miracle and the quote about Koolhaas could not be more spot on.

    I should know, I work everyday in his museum park :-)

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