We were in Copenhagen recently for a big biking event and took tons of photographs of Danes and their bikes. My favorite photo, however, is bikeless – just a café table top on the main drag, right across from Tivoli Gardens. The table was occupied by an old guy who looked like he might be a WWII veteran or a character out of some post-apocalypse movie. Gaunt face, old guy ears. He even had his aluminum crutches sprawled on the sidewalk next to his table. Not wanting to invade the moment, I just snapped a quick picture of his carefully laid-out table and another from behind him.
His table styling was better than any professional could achieve because it was real. It was a still life emblematic of the Danish character, soul, and culture. Morandi could not have done better. The guy had arranged his beloved objects just so, creating a strong sense of order and control: wool hat, tobacco pouch, coffee, corncob pipe, beer, plastic lighter, ashtray. The palette was impeccable as if worked out in advance with the café owner. It was a mixture of old and new cultural artifacts, made elegant and timeless atop a classic Danish teak table surface. It was a study in materials, simplicity, practicality, and self-sufficiency. Resourcefulness and design run deep in Danish culture.
Here it was, 11AM, and this man was alternating sips of beer and coffee, preparing for the day. There was such a sense of pleasure in the little things in life — the ones that we can take control of and author for ourselves. This guy was doing his part. It was a study in dignity, tradition and comfort — a reminder that these little things are a huge part of our lives.
What does this have to do with bikes? Everything. This is a study in the pleasure of independence and self-sufficiency — the qualities that first drew us to bikes when we were kids, and that still attract us as adults. We don’t need much to be happy.
If this guy were riding a bike today he would probably be on a single speed because of its simplicity and Copenhagen’s flat terrain.
Our Single Speeds Are On Sale
We sell two basic modern lightweight single speeds: our classic D1 and a foldable Dahon Mu Uno. Why choose one of these over our geared bikes? Lots of reasons. First, they are easy to ride and will take you almost everywhere. For almost 70 years (from 1880 to 1950) most bikes had only one gear. In fact in the early Tour de France competitions, racers would have to change wheels to climb the mountains. There are different reasons today. They encourage us to ride more slowly and to look around more carefully. Stress levels are reduced when you are not concerned with speed. You do not race — you cruise. Think of our D1 as a modern cruiser.
The Dahon is less a cruiser than an ultimate utility bike. You’ll find numerous uses for it depending on your habits and needs. For example, I strapped it to my Vespa (with our Swiss bungee cord) when I dropped the scooter off for a tune up and needed a ride home. It’s perfect for short trips around the city. It fits almost anywhere: a car trunk, closets, narrow elevators, on public transportation and takes only 10 seconds to fold up. Works if you are 4‘6” or 6’4” and anywhere in between, so it is a great guest and family bike.