Aalt Visscher from the Netherlands describes himself as a stubborn perfectionist who can’t stop in his quest to build the perfect bike. Here are some of his bikes, and his own explanation of how they came about.
I was born on a farm near the village of Luttelgeest, in the fl at NoordOostPolder in the Netherlands, and from the age of fi ve I went to school by bike, 10 km each day, summer and winter. As a boy, I always wanted to overtake the rider in front. I wasn’t one to read a book. No way: I was always too busy taking things apart or building them. My interest in design eventually led to education at art school. Today, I live in a small village, De Glind, in the middle of the Netherlands near Amersfoort, and I am a teacher by profession. But what gives me particular pleasure is my own little workshop in the garage. It is insulated and heated, and classical music is always playing as I work. Every space in the workshop is used to the full. There is an old lathe, a pillar drill, a TIG welder and even a home-made oven to cure carbon components. It is always a challenge fi rst to design, and then to build, your own bicycle. This can be any bike: a load bike, a touring bike, a folding bike or a recumbent. It starts as a line on paper and ends, after almost a year, as a real bicycle. On my bicycles I prefer cables out of sight, and I prefer rechargeable batteries and LED lights to dynamo systems. And I hate the sound of a rusty, dry chain! Building your own bike is a creative process, as you will constantly be searching for solutions to problems in the quest for the perfect bicycle. But every bike can always be improved, so there is no end to it! That’s not a bad thing, but instead a constant motivation for the future.
VELOVISION ISSUE 32 DECEMBER 2008
EARLY MODELS After I moved house in the year 2000, I ended up living 20 km away from my work. Of course, I was still going to cycle to work, but on which bicycle? After some research, I discovered the Flevobike Racer. I bought the plans, and went ahead building the bike from stainless steel. But in the end, I never rode it to work. I just could not learn the strange balance and steering refl exes for the central-pivot geometry. After a month of practice I could just about ride 200 m. The fi nal straw was seeing a 13 year old boy jump on it and learn to ride it in a single evening. So I sold it! I then bought a Challenge Taifun recumbent for daily use, but in the winter the exposed chain required a lot of maintenance. While I rode the Taifun I started building a recumbent trike, with
both front and rear suspension, but it was rather low and not really suitable for daily use. Then, I took a test ride in a Quest velomobile. Straight away, I knew that this was the best possible solution to my transport problem! Today, I ride my Quest to work every single day, and I have covered over 40 000 km in it. But I am hoping that the recumbent which I am currently building, as described later in this article, could eventually replace the Quest for commuting.
ViRVS This bike (pictured below) came about in 2001, when my 15 year old Giant needed to be replaced. I had some stainless steel left over from building the trike, so I thought I would build my own bike rather than buy one.