Posted on 12 October 2008
Editors note. Whether it was the 2008 recession, the growth of the "creative class" or some deep commonality between Scandinavia and North America (it's true that they love big American cars there), but Copenhagen suddenly replaced Amsterdam as the world's "bicycle city." And, supported by streetstyle blogs like Copenhagen Cycle Chic, Brand Copenhagen was turned on. Since some of us are of Dutch origin we sniffed a little at this (the Dutch, as usual, really didn't care), but if there was a commonality between Copenhagen and North America it might have been that their bike culture was relatively new, brought about through a massive citizens movement, and very self reflexive - which meant it could innovate on the Dutch-style bicycle. For years we imported bicycles that were fused with Danish design. They were beautiful, but they were also insanely expensive. And, as North American design swung to a recession-chic waxed canvas heritage Americana, an ostentatious Marc Newson Biomega just didn't look good with your peers. This year we bring Biomega back as well as amazing cargo bikes like Butchers & Bicycles and Nihola. Glad to have you back, Copenhagen!
- February 2016.
Copenhagen, home of one of the world’s most diverse bicycle cultures. Cargo bikes, fixies, dutch bikes, and then bikes that are beautiful yet highly functional design objects like CykelMageren, Sogreni, and Biomega. The Danes, says Rasmus of CykelMageren, are some of the most critical people on earth, that is why their bicycles are so functional and so beautiful - nothing is implemented unless it is perfect. While this is certainly true for companies like CykelMageren, Sogreni, Biomega, and Nihola, most people (about 70%) are riding department store commuter bikes which is interrupted by the occasional Batavus Dutch bike. When department stores start producing bikes with chaincases and upright riding positions, the bicycle industry responds with higher quality and in Denmark, beauty.
Thomas, the CEO of Biomega Philosophy states proudly that his bikes don’t compete with other bikes, but with cars. With a shaft drive co-designed with BMW motorbikes, the Biomega takes function a step further by decreasing maintenance drastically and contributing to a design that is pure Danish minimalism. A Biomega can be stored outside under snow drifts and will continue to work just fine. You can't say that about any bike made for the North American market. But if you want to get people on bikes, says Thomas, you must create objects of beauty. Pushing function is necessary, but form is an emotion. Who gets noticed, asked Thomas, the person in the BMW or the person on the Biomega? The Biomega, totally. Status today is not what you own, but how you think - and we agree. This year Biomega introduces the Copenhagen ladies, which is a smart looking bike, the Ross Lovegrove Bamboo bike, and a new little project called the BioLove - which we cannot tell you about.
One out of every hundred person owns a Nihola, says Niel, founder and CEO. With its lightweight and strong frame, children and cargo are protected from impacts and the bike moves with the swiftness of a good city bike. There are many cargo bikes on the market in Copenhagen, but the Nihola is the one that has achieved the best critical response - and its completely made in Denmark. The future king of Denmark - who, incidentally was eating smorrebrod two tables down from us at Ida Davidsen’s - rides one with his little kid. Spend five minutes on a street in Copenhagen and a Nihola rides by. You can ride it by yourself, with kids, or with cargo. It’s a bike with trunkspace.
Rasmus at CykelMageren is up to his old tricks. This time we walked into his beautiful little store (the most beautiful bike store we have ever seen) to find that he has been dreaming RAL colour charts. With some of the most beautiful paintjobs on the market, CykelMageren bikes are pure function packaged beautifully and logo-free. Meanwhile, at Sogreni down the street, Søren has been designing some new pedals to compliment his lovely handmade bells (we watched them being made), lights, and etc. etc. Søren is trying to get us to bring some Sogreni bikes in (we’ll pass on the silver plated models made for Georg Jensen). But, with the beautiful Sogreni fenders, bell, and rack on their clean handbuilt matte frames, we may just find them too irresistable.
And that was København, proof that cycling makes you pretty, and perhaps the reason why the Danes are the happiest people on earth (it sure ain’t because of the Akvavit).