Sunday, December 21, 2008


So yesterday Wifey and I were walking down Madison Ave giggling at the fur coats, when across the street we saw an interesting bicycle in the window of a store.

Georg Jensen, a flatware/jewlery/design store had what at first appeared to be an elegant, silver single speed bicycle in the window. Upon closer inspection, the bike was not only unimpressive, it was offensive.

Its standard steel road frame appears to have first been embossed with the Georg Jensen logo, then powdercoated high gloss silver.

Stainless fenders aside, all of the other components looked to be spray painted matte silver. including the coaster hub + cog, the stem, the 0° sweep bars, the seat post. The cranks appeared to be Shimano road copies, the chain was cheap and non plated again sprayed silver.

What bothered me the most was the rear rack, and chainguard.
Surely these are the meticulously crafted items that make this 'art nouveau' bike worth the $5500 price tag. Right?

Ugh. The rack is attached only to the fender, with some bizarre set of stacked washers. Its curved platform and translucent rubber tiedowns make it barely suitable for strapping your Louis Vuitton purse to. And it didn't sit level due to assembly. Similarly, the minimalist steel rod chain guard did NOT follow the line of the chain!!!

This bike was making me angry. Georg Jensen would weep if he saw the craftsmanship his name was being appended to. I don't even really need to mention that the rear tire was mounted backwards.

So how could this happen?
What makes this bike worth more than a Vanilla, Naked, Bilenky or Sachs?

I had to research it further when I got home. It turns out that the bike was built by Sögreni, a Danish design house that specializes in bicycles. I had a look at their site, and they all seem to follow the same aesthetic.

The 'Dirty Harry' mountain bike probably pissed me off the most though.

1992 Marzocchi air/oil shocks with seals that are not only impossible to find, but have probably turned to dust? With an unused cantilever brake hanger? A steering damper? drillium cranks? A road cassette and derailleur? 110/130 Rocket Ring? Bonded Aluminum frame? This is the ultimative mountain cycle? What the crap?
Where is the mud guard, luggage carrier and chain guard?

Clearly the only answer is to move to Copenhagen and market items towards the non cycling public. I wonder just how much the Georg Jensen corporation paid Sögreni for each bike.

Back on the topic of luggage racks and mud guards.. I've been racking my brain trying to figure out a way to make the Spicer/Flite100 the 'ultimative' city bike. I had my bike out in the snow the other night, and the lower gearing and slightly more upright posture afforded by the riser bars really helped in navigating the snow. However, my 35mm fenders were packing with slush the entire time, and it added quite a bit of resistance.

I would like to be able to mount CX tires for more traction/float, but I can't fit them along with the current fenders. I would have to get some 45mm wide hybrid fenders and modify them in order to fit the bike. I'll report back if I do go this route.

DFL_Nick is finally seeing the light, and is looking into getting a Flite100 as well. He wants a porteur rack though. A cargo rack built onto the low rake track fork. Hrm. That might not work. Besides, the bike already has provisions for a super sturdy rear rack (unlike the Sögrenis) built right in.

I think in 2009 we'll start to see more and more performance oriented city/utility bicycles. Perhaps even some courier designed ones. I can only hope these designs take shape and the design house fashion bikes get left behind.


mander said...

I'm strangely intrigued by this. Working in the luxury goods industry, I've seen some audacious salesmanship, but this is something else. I'd like to know how many of these things Sogreni sells in a year.

nikcee said...

a couple of the lads here took advantage of a quiet boxing day to make a front rack... much discussion has ensued.,5610.0/topicseen.html

i prefer the front rack over the rear rack...

simon said...

ugly clip on plastic fenders dude. I swear by the things. Never jam up, never get knocked out of position. Only downside is that they're ugly!

((lyledriver)) said...

Yes, but those do not provide full drivetrain coverage.

I have a Flamingo clip on, and its great for stopping the cycling 'skunk stripe'.. but my feet and legs still get soaked without an adequate front fender.

I am of the mind that full fenders should stop all spray from the rear wheel from hitting the seat tube and BB. The front fender should extend far enough to protect the chainring and BB from spray as well.

Unlike Vancouver, this city uses incredible amounts of salt. When I arrive home, my forks are WHITE from the overspray. I'd rather not have that in my chain.

neil said...


Sögreni bikes are beautiful. It's no surprise that a NY bike nerd doesn't 'get' them (I'm from London, and I didn't at first either.) They're incredibly well made.

The Georg Jensen Sögreni's a bit foolish, and this one doesn't seem to have been assembled very well, but dude, there's never 'spraypaint' on a Sögreni. For heaven's sake. Its components are anodised, etched and coated but no, not 'spraypainted.' All the fixings and bolts are hand made in the shop, and unique. The reason that the rack sits on the mud guard ('fender') is because the mud guard's made from stainless steel. So it can, and it looks really great, and it's not supposed to fit level, because it doesn't have to.

You have to understand that cycling culture in Denmark is very, very different: Søgreni's bikes aren't bike nerds' bikes. They're cyclists' bikes. We have bike nerds, yes, but everyone in Denmark is a cyclist. There's no such thing as a 'non-cycling public.' Everyone has a bike. There's a bike shop on every corner. No one cares about the stuff that bike nerds care about. Bikes aren't a hobby, or a cultural statement, they're a way of life.

Sögreni makes bikes for riding around cities. He's not famous for his 'mountain bikes' (because if you're actually going to go on trails you'll buy something with carbon forks and Magura brakes that doesn't weigh a ton) and that one you posted isn't representative. Most of the stuff he makes isn't on his website but in his shop.

He's kind of out there.