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Guido Bartels

Movement, Empowerment, Innovation

Karakour Nation IT

AT-Zweirad / Velo De Ville - a turning point

In 2008 I started using a bicycle from AT-Zweirad / VELO DE VILLE after the Rabeneick Fancy had become to small. This bike looked like the big brother of the Rabeneick Fancy and was produced in Germany as well. The bicycle was not only bigger, but it had a hub dynamo, an aluminum frame and a rear light with a parking light function too. Another difference was that it had seven instead of five gears and the paddle brake was replaced by a handbrake. The price point was about €400,-.

Having used a single hand break and a paddle break for the rear weal for more than 10 years the bike from AT-Zweirad / VELO DE VILLE was very different. Not only both brakes where suddenly hand breaks but also the right hand brakes was no longer controlling the front weal. Therefore I asked the store - VeloGarten - to switch the sides of the brakes so that the brake on the right controls the front weal again.

The praxis test

With the bike being new, not being used to it and having payed for the bike myself, I where careful with it. In addition as we had moved to a different place there was no need to chase a dog across fields etc. The bike was used as it was intended to be, on the road. I also did not cycle extremely fast.

One evening in the first week of having the bike I cycled back from the driving school. It was rainy and dark. The roads where still new to me and I did not know how the bike behaves in different situations. One alley went down hill and was constructed out of cobblestone. So I cycled about walking speed. While I had been at the driving school a dark green pole had been put in the middle of this alley. It was almost impossible to see. Once I saw it I tried to avoid it, but I still side scraped it.
The consequences where shocking. The gearbox had been broken in many small pieces. When I visited the bike store they told me that the fork had a crag as well. If I recall it right the bottom bracket needed replacement too. This damage was considered to be caused due to wrong use and therefore not covered by warranty. The repair costed me €200, half of the price the entire bike had costed me.

A short while later I had another accident with the bike. I cycled down the hill and hat to turn left, up hill again. When entering the side road I hit a small piece of ice. The consequence of the fall was that the handlebar and front wheal had turned 360 degrees. The only issue was that I where now cycling in the heaviest gear as the turned front meant that the shifting cable was stretched. The repair at VeloGarten costed me about €60,- and included a new headlight. The strange thing is that the light was still fine after the crash, but that is rather an issue regarding the shop than the bike (brand).

In 2010 I moved from Germany to the Netherlands and took the bike with me. There I used it until about mid 2012. During that time I had at least two falls with the bike. In both occasion I where taking a corner to fast for that bike. One occasion I remember as I fell on the side withe the bike bag containing my laptop. The other occasion I remember because of the low speed. In that case I where waiting in front of a traffic light. As it turned green I wanted to turn left and slightly up hill. The bike sided out of the corner. One of the causes was probably the high center of gravity as the frame was from aluminum instead of from metal and due to the size. It appeared that the bike survived both of this falls without damages. 

In the Netherlands I did cycled about 6 km without air on the rear tire one time. After that I had to replace the rim.

Mid 2012 I visited a bike repair shop in order to get the shifting fixed which had suddenly stopped functioning a while ago. He told me that he can only determine weather the gearbox or the hub is broken by exchanging one of the parts. So in the worst case I would have to buy an entire new rear weal and gearbox. When I visited the repair shop another customer noticed that the frame started breaking near the bottom bracket.

Conclusion

There is not much good one can say about that bike. It seems that the additional parts such as the lights etc. are of better build quality than the bike itself. The bicycle has a very poor performance when taking corners and after just 4 years of use the frame broke.

Lessons to be learned

There are some lessons one can learn from this.

One is that gearboxes on the outside are very vulnerable and expensive to repair as one may need to replace the entire system, including the wheal. In the case of derailleurs it is possible to determine the failed part and to replace that. A good alternative with less gears might be the old hub gears with just a chain and no outer gearbox.

The experience with the repairs in Germany contributed to the decision to learning more than just fixing a punctured tire or changing a chain guard.

The experience with that bike gave me the impression that heavier metal frames are better. They are stronger, can be re-bend and the center of gravity is lower which means a better performance in corners.

After that bike I went back to older bicycles with more metal even so they are heavier. In addition I switched to derailleur shifting. I might still have used and use SACHS Penta Sport 5 hubs and shifters, but those are increasingly hard to find.