24 October 2009

Vintage Cycle Chic from Denmark and Holland


Here are two classic vintage cycle chic videos. This one, above, is from 1937 in Copenhagen. Just feel free to drool over the stylish cyclists.


Here's a video from The Netherlands in 1950's. Brilliant cycle chic.

Both countries had it ALL goin' on back then.

16 comments:

punchcounterpunch said...

I've never posted here before, but I must exclaim that these videos represent a view of heaven for me. Just WOW!

Keith said...

I like the hand signals in the Copenhagen clip. So nonchalant.

kfg said...

I found the Copenhagen one a while ago on my own. I've been watching it a lot.

I saw the Netherlands one on Hembrow's blog already. I suspect I'll be watching that one a lot too: I have a taste for old fashioned trailers, sidecars and velomobiles (and wouldn't mind a ride in a modern Sunrider either).

Heather W said...

I love the instances of friends and couples holding hands as they ride along. So endearing!

Ulrike said...

Just great!
There hasn't changed so much in Copenhagen since then - cyclingwise and architecture, I think.

Kiwehtin said...

I know it sounds kind of mean, but the Dutch were so much more stylish back then in the 50s! If only they had kept that sense of style they'd almost be beating out Copenhagen! I was surprised to see almost all the riders sitting up straight without the characteristic back and forth bob-bob of the upper body that I got so used to seeing as part of the visual landscape when I was in the Netherlands. I finally found a single example at 2:38 with the man riding a cleaning service ("Schoonmakerbedrijf") tricycle with a ladder on the roof. I wonder, do Dutch bikes in general need more effort to pedal nowadays than they used to...? The way he bobbed back and forth from the effort of pushing the pedals - the only example I could find in the whole clip - is what most Dutch cyclists look like nowadays on their regular two-wheelers. Strange.

BTW, didn't you have the Copenhagen clip ("...the laaargest city in Nawwwthern Europe, is a gay and hospitable metropolis...") up on this site or Copenhagenize a couple of months ago? I remember you commenting about the announcer's quote about contributing to the stability of the "White Race"...

Adrienne Johnson said...

That yellow janitor's tank of a cargo bike takes the prize!!! Anyone can look nice on a bike, bit not everyone could negotiate that beast around town all day!

kfg said...

@Kiwehtin: "do Dutch bikes in general need more effort to pedal nowadays than they used to...?"

No.

@Adrienne: And bear in mind that that beast probably has a fixed gear. Most of them did back then. Watch the trash collector's bike as he pushes it to get going; the pedals go round.

Kiwehtin said...

To kfg: I guess my question was more rhetorical than anything else, because I don't see why they would be any different nowadays from the bikes 50-some years back. (I myself rode around on Dutch bikes while living in Leiden.)

What really strikes me though is that that bob-bob bike riding motion that was such an everyday sight when I was in the Netherlands barely ten years ago is practically nowhere to be seen in the clip. That's what has me mystified... why the difference between then and now?

kfg said...

"I guess my question was more rhetorical"

I understood that, but I have a rhetorical sense of humor and my answer amused me.

".. why the difference between then and now?"

Although cycling specific infrastructure has improved, cycling specific skills have notably (as you have noted) degraded. In much of the world "Style" has replaced style. People care about the veneer, not the substance (and even denigrate the very idea of "substance" as a discredited concept).

In some circles it is common to attribute this as an American phenomenon, but I would posit that where this tendency is greatest by DEGREE is actually Japan, so it can't even be rightly called a "Western" problem (although it COULD be argued that Japan is degrading under the INFLUENCE of the West, which, ya know, is why it HAS been so argued).

Although there may be a certain irony in the fact that were are discussing this under the guise of cycling, I don't think it's entirely unreasonable to sum up the cause in a single word: decadence.

Adrienne Johnson said...

I would say it has more to do with how different our lives are now. That generation was strong because they had to be- no escalators, all laundry done by hand, no food processors, no canned foods, no vacuum cleaners... everything took effort and muscle. Riding would have been pretty easy of all of life was about physical effort (have you ever done any serious typing on an old manual typewriter? It is tiring).

Mikael said...

Kiwehtin: Style-wise, you're looking at 1937 vs late 1950's. A LOT happened in fashion in the 20 years in between.

Me, I prefer the 50's look.

Regarding the bob-bob thing... Adrienne's theory gets my vote.

Mikael said...

Kiwetin: yep, it was posted on Copenhagenize a few weeks back.

Anneke said...

I'd like to add another theory, even though our "Dutch" bikes are much more upright than those in most other countries, the bikes you see in the video are even more upright. Their arms are straight down, and sometimes even pushed a bit backward. This means thay can't move at all. Nowadays bikes have different handlebars, making it near impossible to sit with your elbows tucked in. So perhaps this has something to do with it.

Anonymous said...

It's a possibility that most of the bikes were fixed gear/direct drive (I don't see very many people coasting). Once you pick up speed it's very easy to pedal around, it requires little effort on flat land - compared to pedaling around with a free wheel, which can take a bit more effort to keep up your speed (anyhow, that's my experience).

Mikael said...

most bicycles were single gear, but with coaster brakes. they weren't/aren't fixies, in that sense.

you can see many people hopping on and off bicycles in the films.

and coaster brakes are still standard on bicycles in denmark.

if it ain't broke, don't fix it.