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