Stefan and his girlfriend were kind enough to brave the chill and shoot some photos of his beloved Utopia Roadster. I still find it fascinating to discover the emphasis Europeans place on their urban and commuter bicycles, enough to develop them to this level of construction and detail. They are function driven, understated and utilitarian, and in being so, are fine examples of excellent Design.
This is a stock Roadster which, in Stefan’s words, “includes Rigida wheels, 60mm Big Apple tires, stainless steel touring handlebars, a Racktime carrier and sks mudguards that were chosen for their sturdiness and size, not for their looks. German regulations request that at least the front one is mounted so that it can be flung off should something block it. One item that I have come to love is the ‘Speedlifter’. This makes the handlebar adjustable in height without tools. Combined with the A-Headset that makes for an abundance of possible settings. After 400 km I use three main setups: the fully extracted one I call ‘Hollandrad’ (Dutch Bike) height at about 11cm, which makes it a citybike. The ‘Touring’ at about 5cm, that lets it cruise at high speed and the all down ‘MTB’ setting, shown here, that makes it as fast and effective as a sports bike.”
“Utopia is a German company, founded in 1984 and situated in Saarbrücken, near the French border. They were the first to use the Rohloff Speedhub and developed their frames accordingly.”
“OK, I have to mention the hand-made pinstriping. It is available at an extra cost of about 100 €. A gentleman that is now 90 years old applied it. My bike was to be one of the last to sport the striping, as he is retiring soon. Requests for his work are still high so he has agreed to come in to work for few hours a week. He does so at a company named ‘Van Raam’, where he has worked since he was 14 years old. It is a Dutch firm that has made bicycles, frames and vehicles for the handicapped for many years. The frame is powdercoated and sent to Saarbrücken and completed to order. The frame layout, called ‘Kruisframe’ (cross-frame in Dutch), seems to have been quite popular in Europe in the early 20th century.”
You can browse the complete Utopia range on their website. It’s in German, unfortunately for those of us who can’t read it, but if you have more information or you own a Utopia yourself, leave your feedback in the comments. Big thanks to Stefan for taking the time to bring us his story.