Sunday, June 3, 2012

How Upright Is Upright?

There is a tendency to group all upright transportation bicycles into the same general townie/cruiser-ish category. And when we see the description "upright bike" we imagine whatever it is that fits our own definition of that idea. But differences in what are commonly referred to as "upright" positions can be considerable. Above are three classic examples side by side: a traditional Dutch bike, an Italian city bike, and a French-style mixte - all three of which I have owned and ridden.

To a large extent it is the placement of the handlebars that determines how upright a bicycle is set up. But while the Dutch bike's handlebars can be lowered and the bars on the other two can be raised, it's not entirely as simple as that: The design of the frame itself assumes a particular range of positions; the frame geometry is optimised for it.

90s Gazelle A-Touren
The Dutch bike is designed to enable a bolt-uright posture. The handlebars are high. The stem is so short as to be practically non-existant, bringing the bars even closer to the rider's body. The seat tube angle is slack. Altogether, the cyclist is "pushed back" on the bike into what almost resembles an armchair position. The epitome of "upright," this posture is not for everyone. But it is supremely comfortable for short trips and it allows cyclist to observe their surroundings from a greater height.

P's Royal H Mixte (Formerly Mine)
The traditional French mixte is typically more aggressive than other city bikes. The frame design is frequently not very different from that of a road bike - steep angles, head tube not much higher, if at all, that the seat tube, comparatively lightweight tubing. When built up as upright bikes, these bicycles are at their best when set up with long stems and handlebars at or even below saddle level. With the cyclist's weight pushed forward, the bicycle is extremely responsive and maneuverable. But the "upright" posture with this set-up can be quite aggressively leaned over.

Bella Ciao with House of Talents Basket
Somewhere in the middle, the Italian city bike is really a variation of the so-called "sports roadster" design (the ubiquitous Raleigh Sports and Lady's Sports were examples of these): swept-back handlebars at or moderately above saddle level, combined with a short stem for a generally upright but slightly leaned-forward position. The seat tube is not as slack as that on a Dutch bike, but still relatively relaxed. The cyclist can lean into the bike if they wish to apply more power, or they can sit back. I personally find this to be a very versatile position - though others might call it "neither/ nor" - neither as regally relaxed as a Dutch bike, nor as maneuverable as a roadish French mixte.

While definitions of "upright bike" run the gamut, my personal definition requires that the bicycle pass the Camera Test. That is, I must be able to ride the bike with my large camera staying put on my back, strap worn across my chest, without the camera rotating to the front. I can't do it on a roadbike with drop bars, not even when I am on the hoods or the tops. But I can do it on all three bikes shown in this post, which makes them all different variations of "upright" to me. What do you typically think of as an upright position, and which do you prefer for everyday cycling? 

70 comments:

  1. If I am cycling in a suit or tailored jacket, I find only a full upright (dutch) configuration works. Most of the time I'm commuting or running errands in everyday clothing and shoes, so any configuration works.

    My go-to bike has its saddle even with the bars, which seems to be an optimal compromise. If I had just one bike, that's the way I would set it up.

    P.S. If a person commutes 20 miles in one hour on a touring bike with a milk crate zip-tied on back, while wearing Levis and a t-shirt, is he/she "roadcycling"?

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    1. I have tried to explain why I feel more comfortable on a completely upright bike if I am wearing a suit and some really don't get it, so I am interested in your explanation.

      Milk crated touring bike... It depends how you're riding it I guess. Some combine their commutes with training rides. Others take it easy. I sometimes commute 10-12 miles one way and when I do it on a roadbike the 20+ miles total feel completely different than when I do it on an upright bike. The former gives me a certain workout that the latter does not, despite the equal distance over the same terrain.

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    2. A couple of years ago I was talking to my tailor about whether he could make me a suit that would work well for ballroom dancing. He said that he couldn't because normal suit jackets are basically designed to only give your arms free motion for 90 degrees directly in front of you while you are sitting or standing upright.

      I.e., if you stand or sit upright and put your hands by your sides, the jacket will allow you to freely raise your arms, extended, to about a 90 degree angle. But if you raise your arms out to your sides, or higher, the jacket will be constricting at the shoulders.

      However, if you tailor the jacket to allow for more motion, the jacket will be baggy, especially around the shoulders. (Which is why suits for ballroom contain a lot of spandex and also attach in unconventional ways).

      On a non-upright bike, you will typically raise your arms above 90 degrees from your waist and arch your back, and well tailored men's suit jackets really don't have enough room to allow you to do this without constriction. But on an upright bike, particularly a "bolt" upright bike, you are essentially in a coventional sitting position with your arms ahead of you within the 90 degree arc.

      Even so, I'd still be concerned about wearing out the suit pants (although this is less of an issue if you are just wearing a blazer).

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    3. Weren't "Norfolk Jackets" ("A Norfolk jacket is a loose, belted, single-breasted jacket with box pleats on the back and front, with a belt or half-belt. The style was long popular for boys' jackets and suits, and is still used in some (primarily military and police) uniforms. It was originally designed as a shooting coat that did not bind when the elbow was raised to fire." -- Wikipedia) designed to alleviate this binding? I wonder if they would work. 'Course, if you show up to work in a Norfolk Jacket -- with Ascot! -- they might think you as weird as if you showed up in lycra.

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    4. Andy

      Fred Astaire.

      You are correct about wearing out the seat of the pants. Most of my suits can be worn on most any dropbar bicycle. Get a better tailor.

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  2. After years of riding "road bike" style, i.e., with drop bars, whether racy bikes or touring models, I have aged into being an 'upright' senior cyclist. The old French touring Gitane has had a Northroad bar fitted and the Italian Colnago has a Velo Orange Belleville bar. (This 30 year old Colnago is the only one I have ever seen with eyelets and standard reach brakes/clearance for fenders and racks.) Both bikes also have carrying capacity for shopping and longer day rides. Like you, I still have other bikes with drop bars - including my mid-80s Mercian Professional, currently set up as a fixed wheel/single speed. Different setups for different uses.

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  3. My mixte (Bobbin Madam) seems to be based almost exactly on a Raleigh mixte (in terms of geometry, the frame is built in a more sturdy manner). The seat stem seems the same angle as the French mixtes, but the head tube is set a little higher. I like it; you can cruise or you can zip!

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  4. I am confused about Dutch handlebars as you refer to them. The ones I have purchased in Holland are at a fixed angle and welded to a long stem. They are very similar to Flying Pigeon handlebars and well-suited to a strict, upright riding posture

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  5. Recumbent Die Hards call all up rights, "Up-wrongs"

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    1. I thought recumbent die hards call _all_ non-recumbent bikes "wrong". ;)

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    2. To be fair, I've also heard 'recumbant' used as a derrogatory adjective by other cyclists. Like 'That guy just kicked himself in the face. So recumbant.' :)

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    3. Dave - I am guessing this is Portlandian vocabulary? : )

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    4. This was a guy I know explaining how the guys at his bike shop (a super high-end racing shop) use the word recumbent :)

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  6. Whilst they are upright, and I agree with your points, have you ridden a Pedersen / Dursley-Pedersen at all?

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    1. No, but I would love to. I have a post abut it here.

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    2. Herself and I saw one of the few local D-P riders while out and about yesterday. We both mentioned you within seconds of each other.

      It was this one here

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  7. Everyday cycling may mean different things to different people, so the description is rather ambiguous. Some may be traveling a considerable distance for commuting or only 2 miles to the store. I ride a mountain bike or touring bike for my 22 mile round-trip work commute. If you mean "everyday" as in shopping, short errands, in general someone's primary commuter for lesser miles, then yes, I prefer the upright style bike. It's easier to get on and off. For everyday rides I pedal a women's style mountain bike with flipped up mustache bars. According to your description, this is obviously in another class by itself.

    Wouldn't it be interesting to to capture, gallery style, all the versions of upright bikes? I think it would be a fascinating comparison.

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  8. The Italian one reminds me my Schwinn a bit. I ride on it in upright position yet not as upright and relaxed as on a Dutch bike. Helps on hills. http://bostonbybike.blogspot.com/2011/12/coffee-with-sugar.html

    It would be good to mention that Dutch bikes are a bit tough to ride on hills since you can't really lean over handlebars nor stand on pedals. It doesn't matter for Dutch, of course. Holland is flat.

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    1. "Holland is flat". Along the coast, yes. Elsewhere:
      http://cyclingwithoutahelmet.blogspot.nl/2011/10/hills-of-netherlands.html

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    2. I knew someone would point this out, and therefore did not mention hills : ) There are stories out there of Dutch people touring across the Alps on upright bikes... though I'd argue that the average person would nonetheless not enjoy a traditional Dutch bike outside of the flat areas.

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    3. My mom's ex-husband was a Dutchman, and I remember being really into MTBs and track bikes when he finally brought his old city bike over from Amsterdam. At first, I was puzzled and unimpressed by the very heavy frame, endless array of gadgetry (chaincase, bells,SA 3spd w/ drum brakes, etc), but I thought the dynamo lighting was pretty b!tchin'. He was 6'6", and the bike was too large for me to ride comfortably, but in retrospect, I wish I'd gotten a bike kinda like that, back then. (This was, I dunno, 1998?)

      What struck me as best about the bike, however, was his stories about riding it in the Alpine regions, where he says that he couldn't climb well at all, but being close to 300lbs with a VERY heavy bike+luggage, he was capable of extremely fast downhill speeds (with fade-prone brakes, a shame). He swears that he angered some roadie-types by blowing by them downhill at 50mph on his town bike, but i imagine they were mostly concerned for his safety.

      The moral of the story is, dutch ppl do enjoy riding their townies in the mountains, but I suspect that other styles of bike would be a better choice for sane ppl.

      (FYI- he had never ridden a mountain bike before coming to the states, although he swore he knew they were "popular in France." He really loved riding mine on trails, even though it was far too small for him.)
      -rob

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    4. I ride a bakfiets cargo long (bakfiets-adelaide.blogspot.com.au) up and down a 130m climb with 10% grades each day, usually with way too much stuff in it (including children).

      For the past 19 years I rode it on a mountain bike, which was by far easier. But I do enjoy the convenience of the Dutch bike, with lock, lights and everything built in, and my ride is only 6km, so the extra work is helpful for avoiding diets. I now look at "regular" bike riders getting splattered in road grime on even a slightly damp road, while I can ride through the rain, and stay dry with an ordinary rain coat, and never need to try to remove road grime from my t-shirts. My back never liked the forward posture on a normal bike, so the upright posture is just much more comfortable for me, as well as moving your eye line up to the horizon so you can enjoy the trees and sky, instead of looking at the grey road.

      There is also some perverse joy in riding what amounts to a pedal powered station wagon in a country full of bikes built for speed.

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    5. "It doesn't matter for Dutch, of course. Holland is flat."

      I see this comment a lot, and really like a response to it I saw on another forum . .

      Ever tried cycling in Holland?
      Flat, yes.
      But headwinds, yes.
      Always.
      Even coming back the other way...
      Headwinds!
      And...
      No uphills mean...
      no downhills...
      which means...
      no freewheeling
      which means...
      pedalling all the time...
      Into the headwind.
      Did I mention the headwind?
      Cycling in Holland is hard work!
      It's because of the headwind, you know...
      But I don't recall ever seeing an obese Dutchman.
      I wonder why?

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  9. I don't lump all uprights together. I like the term "semi-upright" to describe the more aggressive riding position of a bike like, for example, your mixte or my Jeunet.

    I would call your Bella Ciao "upright".

    I generally refer to the riding position of a Dutch bike with the handlebars a foot higher than the saddle as "bolt-upright"!

    My personal favorite riding position for an all-around city bike is semi-upright.

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    1. Some of the roadies I've ridden with think of an "upright" bike as a bike with drop bars where the handlebars are even with the saddle, as opposed to 4" below it... When I asked what they'd call a bike with swept back handlebars, one woman said "Well, that's not really a BIKE. That's more like a cruiser." Oh!

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    2. Ugh, those roadies should read Grant's new book :)

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    3. Yes, everyone calls my mixtes "cruisers"

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  10. I use flat bars and moderately rinsing stem on my city/ tour bike which has rando style geometry. Never had the chance to ride a French Mixtec, but suspect what you describe is close to my daily rider.

    The house I stay at on Nantucket has a couple of aluminum Trek bikes that ape the Dutch geometry. These are nice to ride with groups of friends on paths chattering away and for running errands on the compact island. I don't think they would work as well for my eight mile commute, although I would want to try the real thing first before making up my mind.

    Now where would the old Schwinn middle weight cruisers fit in the mix?

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  11. In my process of searching for the 'perfect' bike, I used the technique of using profile photographs in photoshop to compare their geometry.

    I take each bicycle and then place it on a separate layer in photoshop. I change the sizes of each bike until they all match, so variations caused by the photo are eliminated. Then I reduce the opacity of the various layers.

    It is interesting to compare the critical points of the wheel - seat - handlebars - crankshaft.

    I'd imagine that an engineer might easily come up with a formula that figures in the basic geometry along with the weight, angles of the frame and fork to arrive at some useful figure. I mentioned this to the LBS and one suggestion I got was that longer stretched out bikes don't do as well on hills. No doubt that relates into the seat height and handlebar position.

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    1. jn, you might like this photoshop experiment I did awhile back to compare the geometries of a racing bike and a touring bike:

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/7516215@N03/4377035591/sizes/o/in/photostream/

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    2. Yes, that's quite interesting. I find many bikes look almost the same. In some cases, such as the Electra Amsterdam vs. Trek Allant there is a very noticeable stretch of the wheel distance.

      Anyhow, it's fun to do... but I guess it's the riding where the real test comes. I'm still riding my vintage Fuji Cambridge.

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    3. jn: curious what you mean by "stretched out bikes"? Do you just mean ones that are long, or ones that are long in contrast with some other characteristic (thus making them 'stretched')? By wheel distance, do you mean the distance between the wheels?

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    4. I mean the distance between the two central points of the hubs. Comparing the Electra Amsterdam really shows off this difference. It's probably great for comfortable upright pedaling, but not so great on hills.

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    5. I'm not sure if the wheel-base has any direct bearing on hill-climbing, except that bikes with long wheel-base tend to also have fairly slack seat-tube, high hand-bars, etc, which are all not ideal for hill-climbing. The Electra would be an extreme example of this (the Townie even more so than the Amsterdam), as it is designed to have a crazy laid-back seat tube, so you can put a flat foot down easily while sitting on the seat.

      I can attest from personal experience (I owned one for a couple of years), that the Electra Amsterdam is *not* a good bike for hills. My Raleigh DL-1 and the WorkCycles Omafiets are both easier for hill-climbing (and both have similar to longer wheelbase, I think).

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  12. I feel in the end after all your bike exploring comes to its natural conclusion you will recognize that the original Raleigh Sports was in fact the platonic ideal of a bicycle.... :-)

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    1. Sort of, yes... until I discovered a bike in Ireland that's even better. 1940s and that bike blew my mind; will write about it soon.

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    2. I would say the DL-1/Tourist over the Sports maybe... but eager to hear about Velouria's new discovery :)

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  13. Kathy (kayakcycle24)June 3, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    I'm not an afficionado of uprights so this blog was simply enlightening. And the bikes were morning eye candy. Thank you.

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  14. You mention slack seat tubes... Do you know the st angles on each of these bikes?

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    1. If I remember correctly, they are: 66.5deg on the Gazelle A-Touren, 72deg on the Bella Ciao Donna, and 73.5deg on the Royal H. mixte.

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  15. curious to know where on this continuum would you place the M type Brompton?

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    1. It depends who is riding it. Since the handlebar height is not variable, the rider's saddle height determines how upright the bike is. My husband and I are essentially riding identical Bromptons, but his positioning is considerably more aggressive than mine because he is taller and has his saddle 3" higher.

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  16. Would you say that your DL-1 is most similar to the Bella Ciao? It's interesting, because the Raleigh Sports I had was a small enough bike, that I had to raise the seat above the bars to have the seat high enough (the stem was quite short, so I couldn't really raise the bars more without them being in danger of coming out while riding), and that gave it a considerably different feel than the DL-1 I'm now riding, which in turn feels quite sporty compared to the WorkCycles Omafiets I just had for a couple of weeks.

    I also think the gearing setup has a lot to do with how easy or hard these bikes are to ride in different conditions. For instance, my wife's WorkCycles Secret Service had the rear cog changed out (before we got it) to lower the gearing range, and it's actually difficult to ride on any kind of downhill, because you end up just spinning the pedals. I basically start in 5th gear, and immediately shift to 7th unless I'm going up a hill (it's an 8 speed). My wife has basically the same experience with it. We're getting that fixed next week, finally. The Raleigh Sports had a 4-speed hub, which, along with the setup with the seat higher than the bars, made it feel (relatively) very aggressive and zippy, and with the 4th gear, you could really get screaming down hills, and it was a pretty good hill-climber as well. I actually found that gearing range absolutely ideal. The current 3-speed on my DL-1 is great almost all the time, but I do sometimes wish I had just a slightly lower gear for a couple of hills I have to go up. The Omafiets with the NuVinci hub was awesome, really. You could really cruise on flats, and the gearing range was fairly wide, so even pedaling up pretty decent-sized hills, while slow, was completely do-able. There's no way I'd be able to ride a single-speed Omafiets in Portland, though. I could *probably* do a 3-speed.

    I think the suitability of a particular bike for longer trips also has some to do with your sense of time, as I've ridden the DL-1, the Sports, an Electra Amsterdam, and an Omafiets for upwards of 20 miles in a day in the city, and I've found them all perfectly feasible for those kinds of things - as long as you don't need to feel like you're going fast all the time. I've also, with my Raleigh Sports, ridden as hard as I possibly could to work (still stopping at traffic lights and generally obeying the law), and also just completely relaxed, meandering. The time difference, on a ride that usually takes me 25-30 minutes at a moderate pace, was about 5 minutes between the two. This is a lesson I think a lot of people who only drive could learn - no need to floor it in between stop lights, your average speed evens out anyway, no matter how fast you go in-between :)

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    1. No, I guess the DL1 would be somewhere between the Gazelle and the Bella Ciao on this scale.

      Speed depends a lot on terrain. When I am in Vienna I ride a bike that resembles the DL1 in its positioning, but is 10lb heavier and it is really fast because the terrain is mostly flat. I have done 35 miles in the countryside along the Danube on it easy. In Boston, there is nowhere I can go for that distance where I would not encounter hills, so it is a different story.

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  17. The other thing that kind of goes along with all of that, is that each of these types of bikes works a different set of muscles (or rather, they focus on a different set). So if you're used to, say, a mixte, and you just hop on an omafiets, it's going to feel more difficult, because you're primarily working a different set of muscles. We really noticed this phenomenon when we had the Electra Amsterdams and then got our Raleigh Sports and DL-1. There was a notable difference there in terms of which muscles each bike focused while riding.

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  18. Fun to see all three of these bikes together. As someone who has followed your blog for awhile, I am struck by the contrast in aesthetics between these bikes and the Brompton. Each of the bikes in this post are different, but all three of them are also beautiful. By comparison, I actually WINCE when I see the pictures of you and the Brompton. It looks like a clown bike, with crazy mismatched proportions between rider, seat post, wheel size, frame, and front bag. I realize it may be very functional, and you have said the ride is very comfortable as well. However, my very favorite bikes are those that combine both form and function, something you have written about beautifully in the past. If you sell off many of your other bikes and keep the Brompton and a road bike, perhaps you should also change the name of the blog? I hesitate to recommend "UglyBicycle", though that summarizes my own reaction to the Brompton. How about "Lively Bicycle"? It's only a one letter change from Lovely and may better capture your evolution as a rider and writer over the last few years.

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    1. Loveliness is in the eye of the beholder. I have been writing about the Brompton here for a while, and think it an adorable bike.

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  19. This is great! I like the "camera test." My Betty Foy does not always pass the test, unless I adjust my bag straps to be shorter and more snuggly fitting (snuggly, that's a fun word). My Dutch and Danish bikes are so different when it comes to posture and uprightness, but most people assume they are the same. My Dutch bike is so upright, it's almost leaned back, while I do have to lean forward a bit on my Danish bike. So while the bikes may seem redundant, each has a unique feel that I can match to my mood. :)

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    1. "almost leaned back". That's sorta how I feel about my DL1, especially after months of commuting on my semi-upright, and long weekend rides on my road bikes. I get on that DL1 and I feel like I need to grasp the handlebars tightly else I'll flip backwards off the bike!

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    2. I definitely got that feeling sometimes riding the WorkCycles Omafiets the last couple of weeks. In comparison, my Raleigh DL-1 feels downright sporty (small, relatively aggressive, etc). Of course, it's all relative, it's still a very upright bike, but it's leagues different than the Omafiets in many ways.

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    3. I always keep the camera strap tight, as Dottie describes, which is why it works for me as long as I am "semi upright."

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  20. I don't know if I have any clear-cut definitions for the term "upright" in regards to bicycles, but I'd say it's one of those "I know it when I see it" types of designations. I'd say that, in all likelihood, ones tendency to use the term "upright" in regards to a bicycle without further qualification would probably change depending on to whom s/he was speaking too. All of those bikes in the post are upright if you're talking to road ppl, but not so much if you're talking to cruiser ppl, for instance.

    -rob

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  21. Upright bikes -- it must be horses for courses, because I find even Raleigh Sportses and clones awkward and frustrating -- I took my last Sports on a 6-7 mile rt to a local library and before I had covered one mile I was telling myself, "Never again." DL-1 clones are even more so (I believe -- can't prove, but am searching evidence) that the saddle/bb/bar position of the traditional English roadster was patterned on that of the Pennyfarthing). I did 50 milers (hilly ones!) on Indian versions when young but can't say they were in any way ideal. Dutch bikes -- I am completely mystified, tho' I admit I've never ridden one. My many Sportses and clones and the DL-1 clones I've ridden were all setup properly (whatever that means in the context) and in good mechanical condition.

    That said, I am trying to come back to upright bikes with a Goodwill "Parliament" folding bike that I hope soon to restore in a rough and ready way. The folder is at least similar to the bikes you mention in that the grips are higher than the saddle.

    OTOH, the historical fact that these bikes are still being made after 100 years is a sign that they are good for something.

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    1. Dutch bikes are really sort of an extreme version of what English roadsters used to be in the 1940s and earlier. So if you've ridden one of those you might already have an idea.

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    2. "Extreme version of ... English Roadsters ..." The mind boggles. (For some reason that puts me in mind of a Bertie Wooster comment. I suppose Bertie would ride an English Roadster if he had to stoop so low as to ride a bicycle. Me, I'm more like Aunt Agatha -- facial hair and all.)

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    3. Bertie Wooster did end up on an English Roadster a couple of times throughout the series - typically not by choice.

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  22. I would absolutely love to be able to compare the 3 degrees of upright bikes but in my area the most upright bike you can find in shops is similar to the French style. It would be great if we had a location one could try the different range of styles.

    With back, neck and arm problems, I think I need a good upright bike, but am unsure if I could adapt to the Dutch style or not. I suspect the steering would bother me and make me feel insecure, but having never ridden one, what do I know? I'm pretty sure the Italian style would work, but again, I need to try it for several hours.

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    1. Those who aren't used to such upright bikes often complain of "light steering" at first, but most get used to it after a short time. The biggest problem, to me at least, is hills.

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  23. @Peter, I have extensive aches and pains that make most bikes uncomfortable - bad elbows, wrists and knees - and ended up buying a Pilen Special. It rides kind of how Velouria describes her Bella Ciao. I swapped out the handlebars for upside down moustache bars and it feels quite zippy, at the same time as being kind to my recurring injuries. I think Box Cycles distributes them in the United States - worth a test ride.

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  24. I love the Raleigh Sports geometry, but I felt that the original North Roads on my Sports clone made maneuvering both cumbersome and unwieldy. The addition of Dutch town bars somehow makes it upright and very nimble at the same time. For me, it's the best of all styles. I can still get out of the saddle quite comfortably on big hills.

    Very curious to hear about this mystery 1940s Irish bike!

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  25. This post is one example of many of how your observational and imaginative sensibilities inform and entertain with thoughtful and rich insights that increase our appreciation for biking and its delights. It's so cool that you let us come along on your journey of discovery. Thank you. Jim Duncan

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  26. I have a vintage loopframe, a Speedwell, an Australian brand, and comparing pics of it to yours, its geometry is between the Bella Ciao and the Gazelle, but closer to the Gazelle. The handlebars are not the same as the Dutch ones but they provide a similar hand position and the seat tube is at a very similar angle to the Gazelle too. I love riding it around town, the relaxed feel of it is so comfortable, and I can stand up on it to get up hills no problem. There is a pic of it on the header of my blog.

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  27. Velouria wrote: "I must be able to ride the bike with my large camera staying put on my back, strap worn across my chest, without the camera rotating to the front. I can't do it on a roadbike with drop bars, not even when I am on the hoods or the tops."

    Just curious, this includes your Sam Hilborne as set up when you first got it? Seems like on the tops, that would be at least as capable of keeping your camera in place as the mixte shown here.

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    1. You know, I don't remember. It must have been possible in the very beginning when the bars were waaay up, but I moved them down every week so it wasn't a position that lasted very long.

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  28. Regarding the "camera test" - I always ride with my SLRs in front of me, actually (as I will sometimes shoot photos while riding) - so in that case, I guess the test would just be that it's upright enough to hang relatively calmly and not hit the bars :)

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  29. MelissatheRagamuffinJune 4, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    Anyone got any suggestions for a Mixte that you can put 38mm tires on? I've discovered the Soma Buena Vista frame won't accomodate that.

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    1. It will fit 38mm and wider with 650B wheels, have you considered that? Also there's the Rivendell Betty Foy.

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  30. I wrote an article for the bike trade "Cycling posture - upright is right" : http://issuu.com/mark77a/docs/upright_is_right-the_view_ahead/1

    Check out the X-Ray picture (as it too ages to do :-) .

    Since writing that, I expected a barrage of disagreement from the 'enthusiast' trade, but no .. I got broad agreement: Unless you ARE an enthusiast or racer, who, basically is effected by airflow, then upright is indeed right ! Even the lungs and cardio system work best upright and not so good curled up.

    Going away from the upright position is simply a function of better aerodynamics - which are important if you ride over about 12mph, but for the 90% 'blue ocean' everyday and potential utility riders, aerodynamics are not important.

    If we (cyclists) really want to get more people using bicycles for transport, we might want to stop promoting it a sport/religion, and as in Amsterdam, just a super efficient means to get from AtoB.

    My favourite phrase is:
    Bicycle - the perfect 'Human Amplifier' For the same energy as walking, goes 4x distance and 4x speed, no sweat ... the new 4x4 ?

    This along with almost a century of Marketing brainwashing (BS), that suggests its best to be a racer is the reason for so many ill suited, bent backs, necks and poor view ahead.

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