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.

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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
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

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
Jack Luke / Immediate Media
A dynamo hub powers a small head light and tail light
A dynamo hubs powers a small head light and tail light
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

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
Jack Luke / Immediate Media
No hopping on this to get to your gate
No hopping on this to get to your gate
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

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
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

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
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

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
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

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

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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.