Jacqueline in the Light of Day

Hopefully these daylight pictures of Jacqueline will do her more justice than the blurry ones from the previous night. These were taken yesterday in my courtyard. I rode her around Vienna all day in a state of disbelief. She rides wonderfully and the folding basket-panniers are amazingly functional. It does not matter what I am wearing, what I am carrying, and where I need to go - this bicycle is ready for anything.

As mentioned previously, Jacqueline is a lady's Steyr Waffenrad - which is one of the oldest (if not the oldest?) Austrian bicycle manufacturers. In my previous post someone commented that this is "the Austrian version of a Dutch bike", but while it's true that these are generally referred to as "Hollandrads", I do not think that is really the case. Waffenrad was established in 1895, and was influenced by the British roadster manufacturer BSA rather than by anything from the Netherlands. It later became a generic name used to describe a certain kind of bike, and the most popular manufacturer of these was Steyr. I have been told that at one point Austria had over 180 bicycle manufacturers. Sadly, most are no longer in business.

Jacqueline is a 1980s model, though its components are from a variety of time periods. The frame design is a "swan frame": The downtube curves around the front wheel and the top tube forms a complimentary curve. Put together, they form a "swan's neck" shape.

To my eye, the lugwork on the headtube resembles swan as well, though I may be imagining things.

Lugged connector between the downtube and the toptube.

Is the bicycle equivalent of "hood ornament" a "fender ornament"? This bike has one in the shape of a wing-like art deco "W" - appropriated from a German Wanderer bicycle.

Both the headlight and tail light are dynamo powered. I have never ridden a bike with a bottle dynamo (only hub), and based on what I'd heard about old dynamo bottles I expected it to be pretty bad. In fact it works splendidly. There is a distinct hissing sound of the bottle rubbing the tire, but it does not feel any harder to pedal. To de-activate the light during daytime, simply push the bottle sideways away from the tire. To activate it at night, press the release switch and it pops back into place. Easiest lighting system I've ever used, and the bottle feels extremely durable.

The beautiful tear-drop tail light. I very much want one of these for one of my bikes. You can see the little wire coming out from under the fender and running along the rusty stay, zip tied to it. The winged "W" logo is once again from a Wanderer, though the fender itself is native. Notice the holes that have been drilled into the fender for the original dressguards. You can also see the double kickstand (I prefer this one to the Pletscher) and the rear coaster brake hub. It is not a Sturmey Archer; in fact I saw no markings on it at all.

The coaster brake functions extremely well, but the front (hub) brake is mostly decorative - It works when you're stopped at an intersection and want to prevent the bicycle from rolling forward, but doesn't really make an impact when the bicycle is in motion. The coaster brake is plenty though, and I quickly got into the habit of simply ignoring the front brake lever. The hub gears are operated via the "Torpedo" shifter. The gears are widely spaced, similar to the Sturmey Archer AW hub on my Raleigh. Parts of Vienna are quite hilly and I anticipated using the 1st gear a lot - if not getting off the bike altogether in some areas. But to my surprise, I have mostly been using the 3rd and 2nd gears. I by no means have legs of steel, but old 3-speed hubs seem to be magically versatile.

The handlebars are what people today usually refer to as "Porteur" style, but actually they are similar to the version of North Roads that are put on Raleighs with rod brakes. The bar is mostly flat, with the grip areas curving sharpishly upwards and towards the rider. I prefer these to the classic North Road/Albatross bars, which are curvier and more flared to the sides. The plain grips are also surprisingly comfortable. That stuff in front of the handlebars is a folded-up front rack, with a beefy cable lock hanging off it. It all looks like a tangled mess here, but I find it a very comfortable set-up.

Here is the view from the front, with the rack unfolded. The rack is bolted to the stem and strapped to the handlebars with aged leather belts. It is not supported enough to carry heavy loads, but it is a convenient place for things like extra layers of clothing that might be removed and then put back on during a ride.

The rear basket panniers, on the other hand, can pretty much take anything you want to put in them. My large work bag fits into these perfectly, as do grocery bags (2 in each). The ride quality is hardly effected when the basket panniers are loaded. I think I need to install these on one of my bikes. The tires are 28" cream Schwalbe Delta Cruisers, just like on my Raleigh at home. They roll fabulously and swallow cobblestones without a peep - wonderful.

The one thing I would change about this bicycle is the saddle (just looking at these plush Selle Royals is painful!), but that of course is an easy fix (if only I'd brought one of my vintage Brooks from home!). Ideally, I would also like a full chaincase - but the chainguard here has been effective so far.

Overall, I feel that every part of this beautifully rusty bicycle has been extremely well thought out by its owner Wolfgang. Everything from the puncture resistant tires, to the super-stable kickstand, to the self-sustaining lighting set-up, to the roomy collapsible panniers, has a feel of perfectly functional design to it. I love Jacqueline. How will I give her back?


  1. Such pretty bicycle! I need to find a folding front rack like that. I've been keeping an eye out for one. I know what you mean about using mostly 3rd and 2nd on the SA AWs. Even in the mountains, I find that I mostly just use 3rd. It's as if I don't have to pedal as much, or that there is more of a chance for leg muscles to relax since, I'm not sure if I'm saying this right, there is a wider orbit around the crank? Whatever it is, 3rd just seems to be the most relaxing gear. I only ever use 1st if I'm trying to get up a hill that I should probably just walk up.

  2. What a gorgeous bike! Thank you for sharing!

  3. I'm so glad to hear good reports about the side basket panniers. They're what I've been thinking of adding at some point. Looks like a very practical and lovely bike. And the lugwork does look very swan-y.

    Did the original dress guard cover the whole top half of the back wheel?

  4. the emblem on the fenders, rear and front are from a wanderer bicycle, a famous german brand. i guess they are from the 30ties, in these days almost all german and austrian bicycles had emblems on the front fender.
    steyr is not the oldest producer in austria (but very famous - every black old bicycle in austrias slang is called waffenrad), puch and albl in graz for example started earlier, puch was once in the eighties the worlds oldest bicycle-producer, who made bicycles all the years... (i hope this is understandable :) )
    in the 30ties steyr waffenrad stopped producing bicycles in steyr (which is a town in upper austria) and dislocated the bicycle production to puch in graz - from that day on all austrian bicycles were produced in graz.

  5. Max, thanks for the information. It's funny that Wolfgang used fenders from a different bike, but also with a "W" emblem.

    Do any independent bicycle manufacturers still exist in Austria? Or independent frame builders? I do not count KTM, since I assume these are now made in China.

  6. Emma - The standard dressguard covers the wheel as if it were in the 10:15 position on a clock, if that makes sense. The coverage is the same as on a 28" wheel Azor, Gazelle or Batavus.

    Amy - Yes, that's the feeling. I am still mystified by how the 3-speed SA hub on my vintage Raleigh can feel better than the new 7-speed Shimano hub on my Pashley.

  7. the fenders are original i think, wolfgang only attached the emblems. puch stopped bicycle produciton in the eighties and sold the name etc. to italy (those stupid styrians!) - now puch bicycles are produced in italy. some retro waffenrad bicycles are available in ebay, the are called vagabund, but i do not think that these are austrian products. frames are only built in very small numbers in vienna for example - you sure have seen wolfgangs transport bicycles... he knows more about the builders.

  8. Great, that you enjoy Jaqueline !

    First, I´m really sorry, that she got during the Winter bit of rust. The viennese city council covers streets with salt to prevent icey streets in winter, that makes condions for rust excellent. In spring I polish jaqueline that she gets shiny. She is one of my bikes i use all year.

    I just want explain a bit about her. It´s a STEYR (Brand) Waffenrad (Type). This one, I changed a lot, because it was one of my bicycle dreams to own a Dutch Bike - Omafiests, like they call it - But I wasn´t in Holland that time to get one.
    I just created my PatchworkCustomDutchbike :-)

    This is how a original Steyr Waffenrad from the 80s looked like:
    I gave a "Dutch" Handlebar, the rear light is an old from 50s, the front defender and the two "W" are from a 30s Wanderer (German Brand) Bicycle like Max rightly mentioned. Putted the dressguards on the bike and I had my Dutch Bike !!

    Years later, I decided to life for bit time in Amsterdam and since, I got a real one:

    Jaquelines gear hub is a "Fichtel und Sachs", a German Brand, its called Torpedo 3 Gear, its the german version of the Sturmey Archer of England.

    A crossectional survey through the history of Steyr Waffenrad:
    They produced from 1895 till 1987 this type of bike in Austria, first in Steyr (Upperaustria) later in Graz (Styria)1987 they sold the Bicycle Production to Piaggio in Italy which continued producing the Waffenrad (later they sold it too), here one of the italian ones:

    The Frame changed during the 100 Years of making "the same" bike, just compare the differences on this site:

    my favorite womenframe they did is this from the 20s, 30s:
    or the Steyr Cosmos:

    I love these vintage bikes, after you started to bring bike running they rollrollrollrollrollrollrollrollroll that makes biking perfect with a hugh smiley on the face :-)

    Yes there are still austrian Bicycle Builders like http://www.mcsbike.com/, Paris, a friend makes cargobikes, scooter etc bikes in the 8th district in Vienna , Simplon a Bicycle Producer in Voralrberg in the west of Austria http://www.simplon.com/ another in Vorarlberg:
    Steelframes done here, all alloy, or carbonframes done somewhere in Asia, but this is even with US Bikes and all over the world the same.
    A friend designes Bikes in Vienna in this company http://www.bezdeka.com/

    And even big bike culture is happening in Vienna, hope you, Velouria, are in Vienna when we organize on of the Bicycle festivals

    Wish you great, sunny, funny time with Jaqueline


  9. very nice bike, with lots of interesting little details. the rear taillamp is especially nice.

    the handlebar shape is indeed found on a lot of french porteur bikes, but it's not generally referred to as a porteur bar-- the prototypical "porteur" bar is flatter bar with a slight drop, not rise, and has a slight north-road-esque forward sweep on either side of the stem. the bar style on your borrowed waffenrad is more commonly referred to as a promenade bar, and velo orange also have their own name for it.

  10. Höfi - I did not realise you made quite so many modifications to this bicycle. I think they were well worth it, because the overall feel is great. I have stopped using public transport entirely and did not buy a new weekly card this week. Bike only for me from now on, thanks to you. I think having the right bike is crucial to whether a person feels comfortable or not riding around the city, and the little details are very important. Also it just so happens that this bicycle is exactly my size!

    Somervillain - Hmm. I have seen it referred to as a Porteur bar. Is it not the same bar here? The VO Promenade bar is nice, but too wide for me, which is a problem I have found with many modern bars. I prefer the narrower bars on vintage bicycles, as those are pretty much the same width as my shoulders.

  11. velouria, yep, many porteurs did in fact have the bars you are describing. yet, somehow the term "porteur bars" got assigned to the more aggressive, flat bar style, which got put on many porteurs:
    from http://www.blackbirdsf.org/courierracing/velos.html

    "Bicycles of the Porteurs des Journaux"

    ..."Though many of these are shown/drawn with more upright "trials" handlebars (which come straight out from the stem for a bit, then make a simultaneous right angle turn back and 45 degree angle upwards, and then flatten out), many of the racers seemed to prefer the flat version "porteur" bars."

    they seem to refer to your bar as the "trial" bar.

    as an example of the porteur bar, this is a photo of alex singer's personal porteur bike, and it has the porteur bar:


    it's possible that the name has been used interchangeably to some extent, but this is how i've come to know it. i'm also not going to argue with a website titled "Bicycles of the Porteurs des Journaux" ;-)

  12. Regarding the ease of riding an old 3-speed hub, my guess is that it probably has both to do with the specific gearing and range of the hub, as well as something to do with the frame geometry of the bicycle. Clever Cycles has a nice rundown of typical bicycle frame geometries here, and the relative advantages/disadvantages of each http://clevercycles.com/2007/06/26/dutchness/.

    My Raleigh actually has a 4-speed hub, which is kind of unusual, but I find I almost always use 2nd and 3rd, unless I'm heading down a hill, in which case I'll use 4th. I pretty rarely use 1st.

    Having had an Electra Amsterdam, which has a very laid-back seatpost angle, and this Raleigh, which is closer to the Touring bike angle shown in the Clever Cycles post, I can say from experience that the Electra feels like I'm putting notably more effort into pedaling, even on flat ground. My wife has a Raleigh DL-1 with a closer-to-dutch setup, and she has said the same thing about hers in comparison to her Electra Amsterdam. I haven't really looked closely at how the Pashley compares to the DL-1 in terms of frame geometry, but I have a feeling that probably plays a part in the whole thing, as well as the hub.

  13. It's an awful lot of fun to read these "bike geek" posts, and even more fun to catch the evolving comments.

    -Velouria, that bike suits you well!
    Glad to see you're feeling so much better, too.
    It'd be great to get a photo series of you and Anna out on Jacqueline and Paula.

    -Höfi, you've done all of us a kindness, not just Velouria.
    (and you have some *great-looking* bikes. The "Wanderer" fender badges are genius. What beautiful design work.)

    Corey K

  14. I love all the technical detail comments too : ) Sadly for me, Anna has gone off to India for the rest of my stay here. I also wish that we could ride together now. But I'll be back, and maybe I will be reunited with Jacqueline and Anna and Paula then.

    I am also sad that I can't go to the Vienna velodrome this Thursday (I was invited), on account that I will be traveling for work. But next time, next time! (What bike would I ride at the velodrome I wonder?)

  15. interesting about the gearing of the waffenrad. since you find yourself in 2nd and 3rd gears mostly, i wonder if the front chainring is smaller than what's typically found on a raleigh 3-speed? most raleighs have a 44-47T chainring and an 18T cog in back. a stock 46/18T setup, as found on the majority of raleigh sports models, would be geared fairly high, whereas a 44T ring matched to a 22T rear cog would be geared so low as to allow one to remain in 2nd and 3rd most of the time.

  16. @Corey K
    thanks for the really nice words, even i´m glad to bring such a highlight in velouria´s stay in Vienna, think its a great expierience for her to be on a bike here

    @ velouria
    think, i´m at the velodrome at monday as well, that your last evening here, maybe you have time. For riding there you need a permit and a track bike. but its well worth to see. maybe you take for the next indoor season a permit then. track bike you can have from me.
    After we can park jaqueline in her home.
    thats another invitation


  17. Höfi - You mean I can't take Jacqueline on the track? : ))
    I am here until next Wednesday, so depending on the time I might be able to go. I will give you a call when I get back from my trip this weekend.

  18. Very nice bike. I'd guess the hub is a Sachs Torpedo, a 3-speed coaster brake hub made in Austria. A lot of Sachs hubs showed up in the US on bikes made in Austria for Sears. The Torpedo, however, is pretty hard to find here.

    Most of the Sachs 3-speed hubs have Sturmey-Archer internals; at least the parts will interchange. The Torpedo was always reputed to be superior to the Sturmey 3-speed coaster hubs. I wonder if there is any basis for that.

  19. You are constantly surrounded by (and ride) beautiful bicycles!!

  20. Beautiful bicycle - such a delight to see it is still in action. I love the attention to detail and little practical features like the lights. And I agree that the old 3-speed hubs must contain some fairy dust or something - they can glide up any hill and go as fast as you want!

  21. the sachs torpedo is a german hub, but thre did exist a hub made in austria : styria they´ve been called, they did exist as normal or 3 gear hub.
    the styria 3 gear hubs quiet rare, is similar to the sturmey archer.
    these styria ones ´ve been produced in Graz/Austria

  22. "someone" needs to do a photo treatise on taillights ;-) The one on Jacqueline looks like an old JOS. They were an off the shelf part in their day. We have one bike with a very similar one that dates from the mid 1960's. Much nicer looking than than the ones that are available today.

    Enjoy your riding in Vienna!


  23. Vienna is one of my favorite cities anywhere.

    Just wanted to share, V-- my plain little bike got a brand new Brooks B67S today, and she feels so fancy!!

    Hope it's as lovely there as Cambridge is (apres le deluge!).


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