11 December 2008

Worksman Industrial Bicycles

Thanks to Alex in NYC for letting us know about Worksman Cycles. He was doing a bit of research about NYC's pizza delivery bikes - the ones with a box on the front - and stumbled upon this company.

Founded in 1898, Worksman Cycles call themselves the oldest bicycle manufacturer in the USA. They produce human-powered transport for industrial and recreational use and it is wonderful to see all the cargo bikes and trikes they build.

The photo above is from their Photo Gallery, featuring an IBM repairman ca. 1957 on his cargo bike.

Here's an interesting variation on the kid carrying theme. I love the cosy canopy. Worksman Cycles state on their website that "Worksman Cycles has long been known as the world-leader in Industrial Cycles (Bicycles and Tricycles)".

A bit farfetched perhaps... what is the yardstick? Most bicycles sold? The most recognisable cargo bike brand in marketing surveys? Who knows. Maybe they could follow Carlsberg's lead. Their 'Probably the Best Beer in the World...' slogan is an advertising legend.

But let's not let a bit of exageration get in the way of what it a fine fleet of industrial bikes. Ice cream tricycles with umbrella and bell options, pizza bikes, 'hot rod' trikes and even cruisers.

About the cruisers they write; "These incredibly durable Worksman Cruisers are used by all major Downhill companies in Maui with over 40,000,000 miles (that's right...40 million miles) of tough use over the past 20 years". I don't know what a Downhill company is, but that's a lot of miles.
The bike above is equipped with coaster brakes. None of those high-maintenence, cumbersome cable thingys.

This is one of their 'hot rods'. Interestingly, you'll see versions of these in Denmark but they are usually used by elderly and handicapped citizens:

It's impressive that an American bicycle company has been around since 1898 and that it survived the car boom. Perhaps their ice cream trikes - a staple feature in neighbourhoods in North America for decades - were the key to survival. The prices of their bikes and trikes seem quite affordable, too. The website has an old school charm that signals these people are more content with making their bikes than worrying about navigation and graphic design. No nonsense. Just elbow grease. Which is quite lovely.

Check out their accessories page, too. Flashing pedals, bike racks, ice cream bells, baskets and stuff.

Cargo bikes are booming all over the place. New brands are popping up and that's great. It's also great that Worksman Cycles have been around the whole time and are still making their bikes.


0tt0 said...

The cruiser looks nice. I´d love to see this combined with a frame mounted front rack like on a Kronan bike.

Mikael said...

Indeed. Or a Short John

2whls3spds said...

I have ridden many a Worksman cycle. they are built like proverbial tanks (heavy as one too) and last forever. The ones I am acquainted with are used in an industrial setting. Large, flat factory sites. Biggest problem IMHO is the lack of frame size choices.


JPTwins said...

As far as I can tell a "Downhill company" is one of the many groups on Maui (Hawaiian island) where you can join a group that takes a 4am sunrise ride down the volcano. It's pretty easy, since you don't really have to pedal much, but it goes from really cold and dark at the top to sunny and beautiful at the bottom.

as for the history of bikes and the part that America played in the old days, this is a great book: "Bicycle: The History"
by David V. Herlihy. Sadly, over here, our golden age of biking is long past (like 90 years past) but hopefully we can come back.


amsterdamize said...

"But let's not let a bit of exageration get in the way"

That's why I have no problems with 'The World's Cycling Capital' slogan *snark* :-p

Mikael said...

haha... you can have World's Cycling Nation... we're number two on that list.

How's the Green Wave that you're borrowing from Copenhagen going? Let us know when this brilliant piece of Copenhagenizing Amsterdam shows up on your blog... :-)

Kiwehtin said...

The cruiser is rather unusual for a US design: the ones by Phat, Electra and other imitators tend to be overall quite curvy and swoopy in their lines, whereas this one is much more rectilinear and strikingly like the ones produced by Hawk Classic bikes in Germany, designs inspired by old motorcycles.

I don't know who they are produced by, but in the summer here in Montreal, the parks are full of ice cream tricycles. Much nicer, with their little "ting ting!" bells, than the ice cream truck that used to tool around my little town of Mount Rainier, Maryland when I lived there in 2003-2005, farting its hydrocarbon waste into the air with a gratingly nasal recording booming "HEL-LOOO-OO!" followed by jarringly unseasonal recorded Christmas songs in the most condescendingly "for the kiddies" style.

Ice cream tricycles any time!

melancholic optimist said...

These guys have come up a couple of times recently (Marc recently posted about them at amsterdamize too), and I have to say, it's nice to know that somebody made it through the car boom and continued making bicycles in America (not importing Chinese parts and assembling them here). Let's hope that in the near future more and more people will be wanting this kind of thing, and perhaps we'll see more bicycle manufacturing come back to the US.

Adam said...

The letter carriers here in St. Petersburg, Fla., ride Workman bikes.

Anonymous said...

There was a nice story on National Public Radio about Worksman in mid-November. Here's a link:

Love the blog. I miss Kobenhavn.

Jytte's dreng

amsterdamize said...

lol, I never took you for a revisionist, but I guess I need to re-calibrate that :)

Glenn said...

Anyone who's served in the American military will have seen or used a Worksman on a large base. On Kodiak all the Coast Guard Air Station departments had one.
Checked their site the other day. They import one suspiciously cheap model, the rest are built in the U.S. Including a decent tandem.


Lester@Adult Tricycle said...

I always find Worksman cycles are the best. They are solid built and last you a lifetime.