One year ago I purchased a Workcycles Azor Oma, and that decision has changed my life for the better. I already cycled to work daily, but with Oma I was able to integrate cycling more easily and fully into my life. I no longer needed to coordinate my outfits around grease and chains. I was able to cycle through the harsh Chicago winter with no worries about frozen drivetrains. I left behind annoyances such as falling chains, deflating tires, and compromised braking. Now I simply get on my bike and go. It’s really a lovely way to travel.
Oma is a 45 pound brick house. I’ll confront that elephant in the room. Her size is part of her charm and, in fact, her heft is a fair trade for an incredibly smooth ride and high quality build. Once I adjusted to going a bit slower and my leg muscles adjusted to upright pedaling, the weight became a non-issue.
Many components come together to make Oma the beautiful beast that she is. These bells and whistles are literally foreign to many people, so I’ll break it all down first.
The skirt guard, as the name suggests, guards the wheel from catching my skirt or coat. The fabric and chrome chain case prevents grease from getting on me and the chain from eating my skirt or pants cuffs. I never worry about such problems. Nor do I worry about cleaning the drivetrain, which makes cycling in any weather much simpler. The O-lock immobilizes the rear wheel, and is useful for quick stops because a theif would have to carry Oma away with the O-lock engaged. The pedals comfortably and sturdily hold the soles of my shoes, even high heels.
The Shimano internal hub in the rear wheel keeps the gears clean and out of my way. Oma has eight gears but no derailleur. Everything is tucked neatly in the hub. I change gears with a twist shifter on the handlebar when not pedaling. This is a huge benefit when I come to a stop light and realize that I’m in a gear that would require a lot of effort to start from. The roller brakes are also enclosed in the hubs, meaning they are protected from the elements and not compromised by rain or ice.
The front Shimano generator hub keeps the front and back lights working, battery free. Energy from my pedaling powers the lights. The rear red light stays on for several minutes after I stop pedaling. No worries about running out of batteries or forgetting to attach lights. Both lights are bright, but I attach blinkie lights during the winter for extra visibility.
The racks make Oma a true car replacement for me. The front rack attaches directly to the frame (easily removable without tools, just pull) and is approved to carry 50 pounds. The rear rack comes with strong rubberband straps and is approved to carry 75 pounds. Loads do not affect steering and a spring prevents the handlebars and front tire from swinging around when the bike is stopped. Usually, I attach my big Hershbergers Baker Basket on the front, handmade by an Amish family and purchased from Velo Orange.
The double kickstand is heavy duty. Oma has never fallen over, no matter how much cargo I load on her or how long I leave her standing alone. I never worry about her tipping over.
The fenders provide full coverage from rain, slush, and other road mess. The mudflap on the front fender catches anything that the fender misses. I never get dirty on this bike, and I wore a cream-colored overcoat all winter.
The sprung leather Brooks B67 saddle is pure heaven. After a couple of weeks I broke the leather in and now it is the most comfortable I can imagine my bum being on a bike.
Here is my Azor Oma next to my Rivendell Betty Foy for a size comparison. Yes, Oma is big. I ride Betty Foy when I feel the need for speed or have to ride more than 10 or so miles one way.
The Workcycles Azor Oma is more than the sum of her parts, and my review must extend beyond her technical benefits. Oma makes my daily bicycling lifestyle – in any weather and with stylish clothes – easy and fun. Viewed as a whole, she is bicycle perfection.
Her lights and reflective tire sidewalls get me through lots of night riding, especially during the winter when my commutes are mostly in the dark.
My seemingly endless winter riding is free from worry over frozen brakes or cruddy chains, since everything is covered.
I stack loads on her racks without a second thought, confident that everything will fit securely. The front basket alone holds a 12 pack of bottled beer, two bottles of wine, and a small purse all at once (ask me how I know!). The back rack holds pretty much anything with the freakishly strong rubberband straps.
Oma is simply a beautiful way to get around.
A Workcycles Azor Oma or other Dutch-style bicycle may not be for you if you live in a very hilly area, value speed over comfort, or have to carry your bike upstairs. For everyone else, an Oma may be the bike of your dreams.
I purchased my Oma from Dutch Bike Chicago for approximately $1500 plus $100 for the front rack. (Consider the cost of a car before saying this is expensive.) They have another location in Seattle and will soon be in New York City. They ship everywhere. Clever Cycles in Portland and My Dutch Bike in San Francisco also sell Workcycles. Workcycles is in Holland and its website is here. The owner Henry writes a fantastic blog, Bakfiets En Meer.
I tried my best to cover everything. Questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. I love Oma and love to tell others about her.