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A glimpse at what we have in store for the guy's.

Finally we have something to show everyone!  This bicycle we created to test out a few idea’s we had in mind for the first couple of models for the gentleman.  We wanted to offer a simple, elegant alternative to the modern day fixie.  We drew inspiration from the great images of the first half of the 20th Century featuring men in wool, smoking cigarette’s as they rode over the Alpine passes’ of Europe.

We started with a old track frame which features intricate Nervex lugs, and a chrome fork and added a pair of wheels from Australia’s own wheel manufacturer, Velocity.  We went a slightly different way with the brakes by including a Shimano coaster hub brake in the rear wheel to allow us to achieve the brake-less look.  Japan dominates the drive train with a set of Sugino GP cranks and MKS pedals.  We have used a variation on the Nitto North Road Bar – choosing the slightly narrower Nitto bar.  Finally, to sit on we have the classic Brooks saddle.

When I took it for a ride this afternoon I couldn’t stop riding it ’till my hunger got the better of me.  When I first jumped on the bike it was quite twitchy compared to my Reynolds 853 steel road bike as it is a true track geometry frame we have used.  But after you adjust your subconscious to the steering inputs necessary it all worked for me.  For production models we will be using almost identical geometry as my steel road bike, so it will feel much more stable which is going to make the bike more enjoyable to ride leisurely.

Want to be the first to win one of our Vervaart Bicycles?  We are going to run a ‘cycle chic’ photography competition over the next 6 weeks to find a great photograph of stylish cyclists here in Australia.  The winner will receive a shiny, new Dutch 3spd ladies bicycle or a Mens 3spd Roadster depending on preference/gender!

Any photograph’s that have a bicycle involved and are taken in Australia are welcome!

The competition is open to Australian residents with with their own original photographs and entry closes 29th January 2010.  The winner will be announced 1st February 2010.  Good luck!

Today marks the start of the UN Climate Change Conference and reminds of what is important to us all.  The conference reminds me of a core motivation of the creation of our range of bicycles – more people on bicycles!

I don’t want to just see more Lance Armstrong’s and Cadel Evan’s, nor more people decked out in reflective clothing from head to toe.  I want to see a real Critical Mass of cyclists every day of the week swelling around the cities of Australia. I want the motorist to become jealous of those damn cyclists riding past with a smile on their faces. We need to change cyclings perception to the general public, we need to change how it is sold to them.  We need to see people sitting upright in their normal clothes using their bicycles to get from A to B.  As those who know me well could vouch, I love the automobile, but I know that we need to ration its use if we are going to fit into our cities and respect the environment.  I find no greater pleasure than riding my bicycle for my short trips around town, and rate those same trips by car as a pet hate!

When the world leaders are scrapping over percentages of Co2 reductions in Copenhagen they may just be missing a great example of cheap tool to help us prevent climate change.  Copenhagen is a city which has made great efforts to promote the humble bicycle as a tool for transport and has sold the wonderful image of beautiful people on bicycles to the the wider world.  The benefits of the bicycle to our communities functions on many levels, but the city of Copenhagen calculates that for every km driven by a motorist it costs the Danish community more than a $1, whilst riding puts the government 65 cents ahead!

Australia also suffers from an epidemic of obesity which costs the economy $1.5 Billion per year in direct health costs, and again the bicycle is a great tool to fight this growing problem.  If we all cycled for one hour a day we would burn approximately 1800kj, which is 3 times that of driving a car instead – and for most people might see them steadily lose those extra kg’s that have crept on over the years.  An active lifestyle filled with bicycle rides helps to prevent the onset of high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

So as our politicians, NGO’s and other delegates spend their time in Copenhagen I hope they can get outside and see a great tool in our fight pedal straight past their noses.  Come back Kevin and give Australian’s the incentive to get on a bicycle!

I found this trailer over at copenhagenize.com about a soon to be released documentary produced in the UK.  It asks the question “Why do British girls stop cycling?”

“By simply asking this basic question, the film reveals the damage that has been done by 50 years of car-centric transport policies. Whilst we fill our lives with debates about risk assessment, cycle helmets, cycle training and marketing strategies to try to persuade people to cycle more, the basic barriers to cycling remain untouched – generous urban planning towards the car, and the resultant poor motorist behaviour towards cyclists. Is it any wonder that most people find cycling unattractive in the UK, but attractive in cycling-friendly towns and cities? It’s the infrastructure, stupid!”

The documentary has great parrallels to our situation in Australia and clearly spells out the barriers to cycling that are faced by the young woman of the car-centric countries such as UK, USA and Australia.  We clearly need to change the way cycling is sold to young people, and that is at the core of Vervaart brand, and why we want to see Australian’s sitting upright on our elegant bicycles.

Well after a slight break of approximately 55 years, the Vervaart name is back on a bicycle.  My Dutch surname, Vervaart, seemed like a fitting name to use when I felt the need to start manufacturing my own bicycles.  After many discussions with fellow cyclists, students, mothers, and time spent stuck running a bicycle store, I realised that the Australian public really does have a skewed range of bicycles on offer to them.

When you enter a bicycle store today in Australia the bicycles are all pretty much the same.  There is basically a fair split between racing bicycles for fitness, mountain bikes for fitness and hybrids for fitness.  Notice a pattern?  If you want a bicycle that looks like the one you rode in Amsterdam during your backpacking trip last year – your out of luck.  Well, that’s not 100% true, you can buy a Gazelle now in Australia.  For over 116 years Gazelle has been making great bicycles for riding to and from what ever places life makes you visit, and the brand now is available here in Australia.  BUT!  I am not too sure that I know too many university students who feel like spending $1500 + on a Gazelle bicycle, no matter how nice it is!

I wondered why Gazelle and other “European” transport bicycles where so outrageously expensive?  The problem lies in the method they get to our shores.  Yes, the vast majority of all bicycles are now made in China, and as such they then go through a couple of hands to get back to the “Manufacturer” in Europe.  After everyone has taken their cut and the freight has been paid, the shiny bicycle now has to make its way back to Australia on yet another slow boat.  Once in Australia, its distributor has to warehouse it until the retailer orders one into his store, and then finally you end up with it sitting in his showroom for $1599.

Vervaart Bicycles was re-started because we didn’t think this was acceptable if we really want to become a cycling nation.  We feel that if we can offer a bicycle with Style, Reliability and Affordability, then we can make a valuable contribution to Australia’s cycling culture.  We went to great lengths to source products from a factory in China which provides 1.5 million bicycles to the western European market every year. This ensures that our product is first class and follows with our 2nd ethos of ‘Reliability’.  Through careful selection of our model designs and asthetics, we were able to accomplish one of our other fundamentals – Stylish.  Finally, by sourcing the bicycles directly from a factory with our own Product Manager, we are able to price our bicycles at an Affordable price.

At last a chic bicycle for the masses!  Coming soon…