27 April 2016: Our new hybrid sport bikes have arrived!
This year, Viking Biking will increase both its number and diversity of bikes, meaning it will be possible to hire either city bikes (see the post below) or sporty hybrid bikes perfect for the surrounding forest or longer tours. These bikes come from Merida, one of Europe's best know bike manufacturers. So far, the customer service with them has been amazing and the reviews on these Freesport 100 bikes have been great.
We have both unisex and men's frames, ranging in size from 48 to 58 centimeters. For the bike nerds like we are, you might want to know some of the specs on the bikes: Shimano Altus 27 gear and crank system; Tektro Auriga hydraulic disk brakes; reinforced 28" wheels to reduce likelihood of flat tires; adjustable handlebars; total weight of 15.5 kilograms.
As always, our bike rentals will include an optional helmet, lock and mapping service. We expect these bikes to be popular for customers looking to rent a bike for a longer trip like along the Oslo Fjord to the South Coast, or perhaps for the ambitious Oslo-Bergen ride. These bikes are also a great fit for use in the Oslo forest, which has hundreds of kilometers of riding on well maintained dirt paths through Europe's largest urban forest.
Our bike mechanic will be very busy in the coming days putting these bikes together, getting ready for the upcoming May 1st holiday weekend. These bikes came just in time and we can't wait to start offering them to our customers!
23 March 2016: what a great day!
Our new bikes arrived yesterday! We have 40 city bikes, small and medium frame sizes, for use on both guided bike tours and bike rentals. Another 30 larger bikes will arrive by the end of April -- a mix of mountain bikes and touring bikes. Add in the 15 bikes we still have from the last couple of seasons, and that means we will have 85 adult bikes this year, plus 8 child bikes.
All bikes have baskets, back racks, comfort saddles, grip shift gear system, lights, step through frames and mud guards to keep you clean :-)
We are also very happy that these bikes are produced in the EU, with our new vendor "Eurosport DHS". Hopefully 2016 will be the first of many seasons we work with them.
15 March 2016: a downtown reborn
I found an interesting picture of Oslo and Viking Biking from the sky. Our bike shop is in the pink building at the top centre of the picture. It made me think about the neighborhood where we are located, the most central area of the city, called "Kvadraturen". We are in the heart of the downtown, but until recently, the downtown was actually quite quiet. People worked here, but very few lived here and even fewer came here in the evenings and nights.
Oslo is a city of neighborhoods, so that tends to be where vibrant nightlife, cafes, restaurants and bars are located. Perhaps the best known neighborhoods are the hipster Grünerløkka and the posh Frogner (we have tours which go to both). But the city center was often overlooked and became a place to work from 8am to 4pm, and not much more.
That is finally changing. More businesses (including Viking Biking of course), cafés and restaurants are opening in our neighborhood. Most notably, a new mixed-use venue opened, called Sentralen (www.sentralen.no). Just around the corner from Viking Biking, it offers an interesting restaurant of mostly local food, as well as an informal café and numerous bars which are popular before the concerts that take place in Sentralen's various concert halls. There is even a bar specializing in the local spirit aquavit -- the best bottles travel around the world by boat before returning to Norway for our drinking pleasure :-)
With Viking Biking's proximity to the harbor area of Aker Brygge, the new Opera area called Bjørvika and now our own neighborhood, there are tons of good places to recommend within a 10 minute walk of our shop. And with the weak Norwegian kroner, everything is suddenly affordable for the international traveler. So come to Oslo, take a bike tour and then enjoy the great café and restaurant scene we have in the downtown, along the water and in the various neighborhoods!
24 February 2016
I write this blog posting from an empty Viking Biking shop. It is official: nearly all of our bikes have been delivered to the Oslo Red Cross and WayBack, our two partners who will certainly find good use for our old bikes. We hope they live a long and happy life post Viking Biking :-)
Now the shop is ready for a good spring cleaning before our new bikes arrive in March. Our new bike vendor is DHS, and we will offer a variety of quality bikes ranging from city hybrids to mountain bikes to long-distance touring bikes.
We are so excited to offer our various guided bike tours and quality bike rentals on the new bikes. Once we get them in a few weeks, pictures will be posted of us riding around on them like happy children riding their first bikes!
06 January 2016: donation of our used bikes to the Red Cross
As mentioned in another blog posting, Viking Biking will buy new bikes for 2016. Instead of selling our old bikes, we decided this year to donate them to the the Oslo Red Cross' project called "Red Bike": https://www.rodekors.no/nyheter/nyhetsarkiv/2014/juli/oslos-tryggeste-sykkelverksted/
For those of you who do not understand Norwegian (ok, that is nearly everyone in this world!), it is a project to teach prisoners bike mechanic skills so they can get a job once they are out of prison. It should help with re-integration back into society. But this year, the project is going to do something extra cool with many of the bikes they receive from us: they will be given a new life at various asylum centers around the city.
The two founders, Curtis and Ben, met while working at the Red Cross so we are thrilled to partner with them for this initiative. We might be bikers now, but we have Red Cross running through our veins and in our hearts.
01 December 2015: new bikes in 2016
As we have done in the past years, we will aim to have a variety of bikes in various frame sizes, allowing each customer to find a bike that feels right. The new bikes should start to arrive in March and we will post pictures of them as they arrive!
25 November 2015: Downtown Oslo to be car free soon
Oslo elected a new city council a couple of months ago, and their policy proposal getting the most internatonal press is for the city center to become car free within the next four years. You can read more about it here: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-norway-environment-oslo-idUSKCN0SD1GI20151019
With the Viking Biking shop in the heart of the downtown, this proposal is of course great for our business. I fully support the initiative. However, at the same time, I read a few alternative ideas floated by some politicians and organisations in the city, and I also think they deserve consideration.
Perhaps the best was the idea to stop focusing only on city center, but to start focusing on the various neighborhoods of Oslo. It might be sexy to make the city center car-free, but what if every neighborhood instead had a considerable pedestrian area with plenty of car-free shops. Perhaps that would do more to develop a city on a human scale -- the city center does not have that many inhabitants, but instead lots of office space. Wouldn't it be wise to bring the human aspect of good urban planning to all of the neighborhoods?
In any case, we are not complaining because it is overall a good initiative that will not only benefit Viking Biking, but air quality, health, safety and general human interaction. Hip Hip Hurra for more bikers and pedestrians!