Bicycles have always played an important role in the life of Patrik Widmer, owner of Switzerland’s 47 Degrees North (47 Grad Nord). He bicycle toured with his parents, raced mountain bikes as a teenager and later became a bike messenger. As an adult he worked for an international environmental organization and then as an electrical engineer, but bicycles remained his passion. When his bike was stolen, he worked with a frame builder to build a new one and learn the craft.
In 2008, Widmer opened his own frame building studio in the Swiss city of Biel/Bienne, at the southern end of the Jura Mountains. Biel/Bienne is a bilingual city where French and German are spoken, and it is known for its watchmakers including companies including Rolex and Omega, as well as DT Swiss. The region also offers many great rides. Widmer commutes to work daily on his belt drive gearbox bike and frequently pedals around Lake Biel in the early morning. Once a year he hits the road for several weeks on his bike loaded with camping gear. He has toured Norway and the North Sea coast of England.
Pictured here is Widmer’s Frigg touring bike with a low-step frame for easy mounting and a Pinion gearbox and Gates Carbon Drive system for low maintenance. “It gives me great pleasure to work with customers to envision their dream bike, and then to work closely with them to implement this dream. A 47° Nord bike is a reliable companion, smart and built to last.” 47grad-nord.ch
The past meets the future at Rose Bikes, a family-owned German brand with a long tradition of innovation, artistry and cycling excellence. The photographs above tell the story: a historic headbadge that evokes the fine craftsmanship of an earlier era, juxtaposed with the new Activa Pro-V Carbon Drive bicycle, a state-of-the-art example of modern cycling design and performance.
The Rose story begins more than a century ago in 1907 with Heinrich Rose and his tiny bicycle shop in the town of Bocholt. Now in its fourth generation and run by Heinrich’s great grandson, Erwin, Rose Bicycles has grown into a company with more than 350 employees, a massive bike catalog, award-winning shops in Bocholt and Munich, and dealers across Europe and the United Kingdom. The Rose BIKETOWN concept store in Munich was recently named the best bike retail shop in Germany by the German Retail Association. Heinrich Rose would be proud. For 2015, Rose has created a line of trekking and city bikes with the Gates Carbon Drive belt system. Gates is pleased to be part of the Rose legacy, a sweet story that began with one man’s dream and continues today with many chapters to come.
ACTIVA PRO-III Carbon Drive
BLACK LAVA-2 Carbon Drive Trekking Men
BLACK LAVA-2 Carbon Drive Trekking Unisex Sport
BLACK LAVA-5 Carbon Drive Trekking Men,
San Francisco is one of America’s most beautiful cities, but its hills are a challenge for bicyclists. Enter the Faraday eBike, which provides an electric boost to get you home or to work, no sweat. Want to test one? If you live in San Francisco or plan to visit the Bay Area, Faraday has a demo program that allows you to test a Porteur eBike for up to a week. Free. If you are too busy to visit the Faraday office, they will deliver an eBike to your home or office for a small charge. “For most people this is their first time experiencing an electric bike and Gates belt drive,” says Faraday founder Adam Vollmer. “The demo program is a fun way to see how our bike fits into your life, test your commute and also feel the smooth and clean advantages of a Gates Carbon Drive versus a chain.” It also means you can pedal this most beautiful city, enjoying its sights and culture, with ease and style. faradaybikes.com
The Chimera is a fire-breathing beast from Greek mythology that has the head of a lion, the body of a goat and a serpent’s tail. In modern science, a chimera is a laboratory animal with DNA from multiple organisms. Woodrup Cycles named its belt drive touring and commuting bike the Chimera BD because it contains DNA from many bicycles. It is a city bike, an all-weather commuter and a long-haul trekking bike. It comes equipped with a Rohloff hub and a Gates belt drive–hence the BD.
Located in Leeds, England, Woodrup Cycles is a historic British brand well-known among bike aficionados. Legendary British cyclist Barry Hoban is said to have won a stage of the Tour de France on his Woodrup. The company was founded after World War II by Maurice Woodrup, whose son, Stephen, took over in the 1970s and has been the chief frame builder ever since. Now, Stephen’s children have joined the company to carry on the family tradition.
Maurice and Jean Woodrup with son, Stephen.
Woodrup’s Chimera BD shows that this historic brand continues to innovate. In addition to its Chimera frameset, Woodrup makes the FAB, which stands for Fixed and Belted. Check out the bling on the joinery of the FAB below, as well as several more configurations of the Chimera BD.
In addition to its custom bikes, Woodrup Cycles operates a large retail shop and service center in Leeds that supplies police cycles for local constabularies and a paramedic unit. Woodrup likewise participates in several bike-to-work programs that allow Brits to buy commuter bikes tax-free. No doubt, Woodrup is a proud brand with a tradition of excellence, and an eye for modern technologies, embedded in its DNA. woodrupcycles.com
In 2013, Elmar and Ellen van Drunen quit their jobs, sold their house in the Netherlands and flew to Brazil to embark on a multi-year journey from South America to Alaska. Fourteen months into their adventure the Dutch couple have pedaled 10,500 miles (17,000 kilometers) on their Santos Travel Lite bikes with Gates Carbon Drive. They’ve battled stiff Patagonian headwinds (see photo above), hauled their bikes up muddy trails, crossed 16,000-foot (5,000 meters) mountain passes, watched King penguins waddle on the coast and enjoyed fresh popcorn, which was first domesticated in Central and South America, given to them by villagers in the Andes. “We have pushed our bikes through deep sand on the Bolivian Altiplano, endured temperatures of minus 21 degrees Celsius (negative 6 Fahrenheit) and didn’t take a shower for 12 days in a row,” Ellen wrote us by email from Peru. Sound difficult? Hardly. “We are living our dream,” Ellen writes. Read excerpts from our email conversation below.
Fietsjunks Hit the Road
Ellen: We met in 2003 and began bicycle touring every chance we got, so we nicknamed ourselves “Fietsjunks,” which means “bicycle junkies” in Dutch. We cycled through more than 30 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and America (all documented on www.fietsjunks.nl), but the dream to undertake a long-distance tour stayed with us. In 2013 we decided it was time to go.
In his previous life Elmar was a mechanic for a bicycle touring company. I am a freelance photographer (www.ellenvandrunen.com) and used to be a communications manager for a big company.For now we are just cyclists, adventurers, dream-chasers, travelers and happy people.
Santos Travel Lite Bicycles
We had no doubt in our mind about which bicycles to ride: it must be a Santos, it must have a Rohloff hub and it must have a Gates Carbon Drive belt.
With the experience of our previous cycling years and the fact that we’ve tested many bikes for a Dutch magazine, we know what makes a good touring bike. We like the stiffness and geometry of the bikes and we love the low maintenance of both the hub and the belt. In the 17,000 kilometers we’ve cycled there have been no issues with the bikes aside from the occasional tire puncture. The belt shows no sign of wear and tear and needs no lubrication. We wrote an article about it here.
Camping Beneath the Stars
There have been many memorable moments during this trip. It’s not just the scenery, it’s also the people we meet along the way. But, honestly, we really enjoy the silent moments in the middle of nowhere. Camping alone at the foot of a huge mountain, underneath countless stars, listening to the water lapping the shores of a lake–that’s when we are happiest, because we realize how lucky we are.
Follow the adventures of Elmar and Ellen on Facebook.com/fietsjunks and read their travelogues and see photos on http://www.fietsjunks.nl. Read their gear reviews and travel tips on http://www.traveltheworldbybicycle.com. Maybe you, too, will be inspired to become a Fietsjunk.