Monthly Archives: March 2016

Stalen Ros and Fietsenbörse


So I went to visit two bike fairs over the last few days, and both were special in their own ways. Let´s start with Fietsenbörse (Bike Exchange) which took place in Osnabrück on Sunday 13 March. The idea is that in the morning you bring your bike, pay a small retainer fee, go back home, or wherever, and come back in the afternoon to collect your money, minus a hefty percentage. Or your unsold bike.  Good idea, really, but the problem is: Who wants to sell bikes this way? Are there really that many people disgruntled with internet auction sites as Fietsenbörse organizers say?


They started with a small fair in Münster some years ago and now want to make Fietsenbörse a regular event all over Northern Germany, so there should be a considerable number of potential sellers.

Admittedly, all which now follows are personal impressions gained on one fair and may not be representative, but what I saw was that the vast majority of bikes were attended by their sellers who had partly brought dozens of them and driven hundreds of kilometers, so you can call these people dealers in bikes. They quite openly said that they were attending many Fietsenbörse fairs. So if you´re a pensioner with tinkering inclinations, you´re on a state pension you can´t live off and want to make some money on the side, fine. However, when your tinkering leads to no usable bike, the buyers have a problem as you´ll be gone to some far flung place the very same day you flogged the bike.

So what bikes did I see? Dozens which had been picked up cheap in neighbouring Holland (to which two of the sellers admitted freely) where used bikes a worth next to nothing, and sold for up to fourfold the money spent on them. Horrible bike boom “racers” which you can pick up in the Netherlands for a song were advertised for up to 250 Euros.


FRoadreiheFKogarotThis Koga was top of the range, relatively speaking.

Then there were items like this el Cheapo, formerly a Dutch roadster, palmed off on the unsuspecting public as a top fashion single speed.

FCheapo FCheaporear FCheapodetFBunteSpcheaphubColourful spokes, but look at the hub.

FBatdet FBatfolderOf course there were some unusual bikes, too, even a rather nice early 60s Gazelle, but prices were what I would term as outrageuos.

Stalen Ros

Oh for the comparative heavens of Stalen Ros. What a difference, and what a relief, even at the greatly reduced state of things compared to what it was years ago.

Is it a law of nature that the number of visitors of a fair determines the quality of the goods for sale? The more people the less nice stuff? This time there were no, and I mean no, unusual things, nothing 1930s I saw for sale, but 80 per cent of the goods offered and the bikes displayed were uniform Italian and during the morning the event was so packed that one couldn´t move, literally, in places. Perhaps I was too late as I naively arrived at 10, the advertised opening time, when dozens, if not a hundred visitors had already been admitted.

XNArray XNSaddles XNpeloton  XNMasi3V XNMasi XNdecals XNClothing XNBSA XNBlackCampag XNBitsTrue, there were some really wonderful machines; Masis, some Dutch frames, but the general taste seems to go more and more towards 1970/80s mainstream.

Some unofficial dealing also went on outside, supposedly because the official space available inside had been taken up, but some hard feelings resulted nevertheless.

XNoutsideBut there`s also the social side of Stalen Ros. Of course there were the usual chinwags with stalwarts like John Barron or Hilary Stone who arrived in his great Citroen BX Commercial (wagon), the rarest item in all of the event, two- or four wheeled*. I met people from an unbelievable seven nations: The Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, the US, France, the UK and Germany. BTW, two randonneurs from Germany covered 150 kms to attend. The communal lunch at the chippy/diner on the other side of Neerkant´s main street has become somewhat of a fixture over the last few years. Wonderfully Dutch chips/French fries are munched, plans for the upcoming season exchanged, finds evaluated, missed opportunities cried over silently in a corner. Wonderful.

And back in the community hall of course there was this machine, prominently displayed:

XNSTfullSorry about the snap, but there was no way to shoot this paced speed record tandem any better. The beast was built for/by Schauff in Germany and showcased some interesting features.

XNSTbb XNSTheadb XNSTdoubletube XNSTchainwhchainstay XNSTbrakebrAnd then it was tot volgend jaar again. It will be the tenth time – time flies.



*And the only nicer BX imagineable would be the 1988 Heuliez Surelevé prototype.