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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Batavus Intercycle Folder

Looking back over this blog for the last couple years, I've noticed a trend.  I have a big thing for small wheeled and folding bikes.  The Raleigh Twenty started me off and since that time I've dabbled with Raleigh RSW's and have a couple Brompton's that the wife and I get out on when traveling.   So it wasn't too much of a surprise when I came across a Batavus Intercycle "Batafold" on the local craigslist the other day and the first thought across my mind was… "whoa, that is pretty wild looking."  The next thought was "I wonder how much trouble I'd be in if I got it?"

Turns out the answer to the second question was "not too much…"


This is the bike.  I picked it up from a very nice gal who, along with her husband, owned a bike shop nearby.  They are both semi-retired and still do a lot of work with bicycles, mostly vintage mixte and road bikes.  This bike was bought for her son who was a lighting engineer for a local indie-rock band (Fleet Foxes) and this bike helped save him legwork while setting up shows.

The Batavus was a product of Holland.  This bike is unique in that it uses (for the most part) square tubing.  The main frame is actually folded heavy sheet metal that is welded along the bottom of the tubing seam.

This bike has a few unique bits to it.  There is an integrated "lock" mechanism on the front fork.  The photo above shows it disengaged.  There is a key which is bent at a 90 degree angle to the lock bar.  It does not come out when the lock is disengaged.  To engage the lock, you push the lock bar into the spokes.  It will click there and stay.  At this point you can remove the key.  To disengage the lock again, insert the key and give it a push.  the lock bar will snap back to the original position and the key is now set.

On the other side of the bike on the fork is a plate that had a bolt on pop-bottle generator that powered the lights, front and rear.  This generator is missing on this bike.  I'm on the hunt.  Also, the fender on the front is not the original.  I made it from an old Raleigh Twenty rear fender that I cut to shape and painted aluminum.


The rear fender is original and made of aluminum.  It has an integrated light on it.  The seat post is square.  It is CRITICAL that the seat post stay lubricated.  If it seizes in the shaft, you can't spin the post to free it.  The clamp system for the seat post is unlike anything I've seen before.  There is a "U" shaped bit of metal that tightens down onto the seat post (on one side) and fits in a slot in the frame on the lower side.  As you tighten the clamp, the upper part of the U just pushes into the seatpost and wedges it there.  Not the most stable of systems and you need to reef on it pretty tight to keep it from slipping.

The rear rack is integrated, but has come loose in this example.  To re-attach it, I'll need to remove the rear fender which has all the wiring integrated into it.  The chain cover is actually attached to the frame by the fixed bearing cup of the bottom bracket.  The chain guard is pretty mashed on the front under side… I guess it'll stay that way!

I've already put about 20 miles on this bike.  The folding mechanism scares me a bit.  The clamp does not sit very snug and it seems like a good bump at high speed would basically separate it.  So I don't go fast or hit bumps!  I need to see if there is a reason the clamp is so off.  It seems like the frame hinge may have been bent slightly at some point so the two halves don't sit flush.  This bike may end up just being a curiosity hanging off the garage ceiling.

Links:

The Folding Cyclist: http://www.foldingcyclist.com/Batavus-Batafold-folding-bike.html
On Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39875295@N00/4991494038/in/photostream/

Anyone else have info on these?

~charles

14 comments:

  1. I own two of these bike (in red) but can't enlighten you any as to their history. I was researching it myself when I came upon your blog.
    I can say that the clamp mech that you have may be damaged slightly as mine do seem to be acceptably snug but i agree that they seem to instill a lack of confidence in their design.
    My two are in pieces and are destined for a full rebuild as some indeterminate point in the future but I'll try and visit again if I find out anything interesting.

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  2. Thanks for the comment Tymm. It's funny how these bikes just pop up out of the woodwork once you get one. There are a few of them for sale down in Portland, OR by two different sellers. But like you, I could find very little out about them on the web.

    My current hunt is for the generator. Do either of yours have one? I'd love to know what make they are and any serial numbers of model numbers on it. Even a picture of the mount would be helpful as I could probably fashion something to work.

    Anyway, best of luck with yours.

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  3. I bought one of these in Orange/white last month. I replaced the seat on mine as it too rough on my butt. As I understand it these bikes were 60s and 70s vintage. A friend of mine is originally Dutch says his grandma had one like mine when he was a kid.

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  4. Hey Howie, thanks for the comment. Yes, the saddle on these takes a pretty strong back end! I haven't really been riding this bike much due to weather and the fact I've got a raleigh Twenty as my main ride. I'll be out more this summer!

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  5. I have one within Blue color, good article of you.

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  6. Thanks for the comment Asep! The blue is beautiful, isn't it. This one is a deep royal blue that really stands out against the pavement. I get this bike out only rarely now, but it sure is fun to ride….

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    Replies
    1. you can see my bike picture on instagram @gochunk
      ;)

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  7. Hmmm looks a lot like the Columbia Commuter II that I have that was built by Magneet. Interestingly enough Magneet got taken over by Batavus...

    It has a square seat post. The generator is a JOS IIRC. Need to get some better pictures of it and update my blogs

    Aaron

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  8. Hey Aaron, great to hear from you again. Yeah, that's one way to get innovative ideas - buy your competitor!

    The guy with the Columbia bikes in Vancouver, WA still has them for sale at $399 each. I was tempted when they first went up, but thats too rich for me… I do like the look of them though. I'd love to see more pictures of yours, not just the one that guy lifted for his craigslist post.

    Hope all is well- charles

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  9. I just got one of these bikes in a barter trade. I am going to resell it. Is $175 too much? It is orange-red and in very rideable condition. The tail light lens is gone but the headlight and all are still there. I have not been able to find any in my area to try and price against.
    Thank you
    casey

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  10. Hi Casey. I recently sold this bike in the Seattle area for around $100 and felt pretty happy about it. Personally, I think the bike is worth $175, but I didn't want to wait the long time it typically takes for that rare buyer to come along. Depends on condition, market and frankly luck. You can always gauge the asking price against eBay SOLD listings to give you an idea what it might be worth too...

    best-
    charles

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    Replies
    1. Nice-looking red Batavus available at North Vancouver BC Canada Salvation Army Store (Capilano) auction (Nov 28 2014 I think) starting at $59.00. Takers?

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  11. Hi! I'm a 20 year old kid from Amsterdam, and these bikes just became one of my favorite gimmicks. My grandma used to ride a brown one, and she later passed it on to my dad. Then I came across another brown one at a flea market which I picked up for about €15. Today I just found out that there are multiple (crazy) colors, and I bid €40 on an orange one right away! All I know is that Fongers, a Frisian business, designed the bikes, and then Batavus, a bigger bike brand from Groningen, produced them. From what I read on other forums it is inspired by the Moulton F-model from the late 60s. The click lock is just too cool, but probably what I like most about the Fongers Passan Twin is the specific sound it makes when you ride it due to the square tubing. Here is a link of an old advertisement: https://www.flickr.com/photos/grrrl/5543050763/

    Cheers,
    Laurens

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  12. Hi Laurens,

    Welcome and thanks for the comments. Be careful, my friend! It is a slippery slope buying bikes of all colors! I collected Raleigh Twentys for a while and tried to get all the colors too. My kids called it "The Rainbow."

    I really liked these Batavus bikes, I unfortunately do not have one any longer. The kick back two-speed was very intuitive and just right for the terrain around my place. There were a lot of "moulton-inspired" bikes back in the 60s and 70s. It was a real craze. I have a Royal-Enfield Revelation coming into my shop pretty soon, I'm excited to see that one get fixed up.

    And thank you for the advertising too. I love to collect old memorabilia about these bikes as you can see on other parts of the site... Keep riding!!

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Let me know what you think!