These dinky blue bikes keep Frankfurt Airport moving

Meet the perfect terminal hopping task wagon

I spend a lot of time travelling as part of my role at BikeRadar, which invariably involves a lot of time kicking my heels during layovers.

While I normally spend this time penning bicycle related wit for your perusal, I was delighted to be distracted by the sight of staff buzzing about the massive expanse that is Frankfurt airport aboard a fleet of cute little blue bikes on my way back from Rose last week.

I’ve always been fascinated by utility bicycles and wanted to take a closer look at the bikes, so I got in touch with the airport’s press office who sent around Mathias — within forty minutes of my original message, talk of German efficiency! — with his bike for me to photograph.

GCS — a subsidiary of Fraport, Frankfurt airport’s operating company — maintains a fleet of 276 bicycles for use by the staff at the airport. There are two different types of bike in service; a 28” Dutch-style bike and the pictured 20” model.

The quirky bike is unashamedly uncool
The quirky bike is unashamedly uncool

The bike looks like a fairly normal dinky-wheeled shopper at first glance, but a thoughtful build actually makes this little blue bike the perfect terminal-hopping beast.

As there are no inclines to tackle within the airport — well, unless you want to try riding up an escalator — the bikes have been built around an easy to maintain single speed drivetrain.

A Sturmey Archer drum brake is fitted up front
A Sturmey Archer drum brake is fitted up front

A dynamo hubs powers a small head light and tail light
A dynamo hubs powers a small head light and tail light

Braking is taken care of by a Sturmey Archer drum brake equipped hub up front and a simple coaster brake at the rear. The front hub is also equipped with a dynamo that powers a small headlight and taillight.

A basket is fitted up front
A basket is fitted up front

No hopping on this to get to your gate
No hopping on this to get to your gate

Each bike is equipped with a sturdily-mounted front basket and a cute little trunk box on the rear rack. A wheel lock is also fitted to each bike, sadly meaning that late-running passengers can’t hop on an unused bike to hasten their journey to their gate.

A chain guard will keep trousers looking fresh
A chain guard will keep trousers looking fresh

Mudguards will keep clothes clean during any outdoor jaunts — or on a cruise across a treacherous freshly mopped floor — and a chain guard stops trousers from snagging.

The bike is built for practicality
The bike is built for practicality

A stupendously upright position coupled with a quick release seatpost clamp should mean the bike will fit the majority of airport staff with ease.

Each bike is marked with a unique number plate
Each bike is marked with a unique number plate

Despite its quirky looks, I’m actually quite fond this bike — it’s the antithesis of cool, but in an unashamed kind of way.

What the bike lacks in good looks — though I think any bike would look good beneath the smiling beauty that is Mathias — it more than makes up for with the sheer novelty of being one of few bikes you’ll see grown ups riding around an airport.

Jack Luke

Staff Writer, UK
Jack has been riding and fettling with bikes for his whole life. Always in search of the hippest new niche in cycling, Jack is a self-confessed gravel dork and thinks nothing of bivouacking on a beach after work. Also fond of cup and cone bearings, skids and tan wall tyres.
  • Discipline: Long days in the saddle by either road or mountain bike
  • Preferred Terrain: Happiest when on a rural road by the coast or crossing a remote mountain pass. Also partial to a cheeky gravel adventure or an arduous hike-a-bike.
  • Current Bikes: Custom Genesis Croix de Fer all road adventure wagon, Niner EMD 9.
  • Dream Bike: A rigid 44 Bikes Marauder, all black please.
  • Beer of Choice: Caesar Augustus
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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