How many of us sit for hours every day in front of a computer screen? We’re all connected — except for those who choose to live ‘off the grid’ — by the internet, and many of us rely on the digital workspace to cater for our modern lifestyles.
One of the greatest things about bicycles is the chance they offer us to escape our online addictions. Julien Derreveaux works as a designer in an advertising agency and as a relief from the screen, turned this Batavus Old Dutch into something much more beautiful than the original.
The Batavus Old Dutch is a mainstay of transportation in Amsterdam, and is an integral part of Dutch heritage. It would be rare to find a local that hasn’t ridden one at one point, or a visitor that has cavorted hazily upon through the city’s straats.
The Old Dutch isn’t the most finely constructed bicycle, barely a steel Boris bike, but it is a cultural institution, and hard not to love. The ‘Dutchie’ is comfortable and nearly indestructible — an ideal bike for the city.
Julien lived for six months in Amsterdam last year, and fell in love with the ease of riding the Dutchie offered. Upon his return to Paris, he found one in a state of complete decrepitude — “Most of it was either rusty or broken,” he tells us.
He decided to turn it into a project that would provide respite from his daily digital designing: “Turned out I only kept the frame and the front wheel, everything else was replaced by new items.” With no room in his small Parisian apartment and an existing interest in leatherwork, Julien set to work.
Using old boxing gloves as inspiration, he visited the well-known tanners, Les Cuirs Chadefaux, off the Boulevard Saint-Martins, and explained his vision of a bicycle encased in leather. They laughed, but supplied him with the necessary materials and advice. The project began.
Following months of pattern-making, Julien spent countless hours learning how to hand-sew leather, before coating it with a mixture of brown teint and wax protection. The Dutchie moved with him to to San Francisco, where it was completed with the assistance of Swell Bicycles on Irving Street.
Velo Orange supplied most of the parts required to get it rolling, topped with a Brooks B66 saddle. Sure, it took a bit of cash and hours of time to complete, but what a joy it must be to ride and, of course, look at. It’s a valuable contrast to the rest of Julien’s portfolio.