It’s not made from paper; just steel, tradition and a touch of magic. This bicycle is beautiful to look at, lovely to ride, easy to look after, and made to last you a lifetime.
Enjoy the journey
The absolute stand out thing about the Paper Bicycle is the magic of how it feels when you ride it. I put ride quality at the heart of my design for the very simple reason, if you don’t enjoy riding the bike you won’t , and then the bicycle will simply sit at the back of your shed and be wasted.
Obviously Dutch – Lets start with the obvious, an upright riding position so you’re comfortable. There’s little weight on your hands as the Dutch have been doing for years, and as we Brits forgot about in the ’60s. Next we added fast rolling balloon tyres that smooth out the realities of city streets, thanks to the Germanic dreams of Schwalbe for this. Then comes the frame design, which is where the real magic lies.
Upsides down frame – The frames stiff, or at least your feet tell you so when you’re pedaling; sure-footed and rock solid. But your butt thinks otherwise, it finds all the brilliance of a springy alive steel frame at its best, and its right, they’re both right. This seemingly contradictory combination comes from a very very stiff down tube and rear triangle, combined with a seatmast that is designed to be springy and alive. This is the opposite of a traditional diamond frame that tells your derriere its stiff (too stiff) and tells your feet its springy (too springy).
Combine this predictable stability, and the light nimbleness of a low center, and the springy stiffness of steel tubes and you have something magical.
Inertia what? – The center of gravity is 10cm (4 inches) lower than a regular bicycle, so? Well, this literally cuts the rotational inertia of leaning in half, in english? Well, its difficult to believe until you’ve ridden the bicycle but by placing the weight low to the ground it makes a 16kg bike feel like its 8kg when you ride it. Essentially we “feel” a bicycles weight when we lean it into a corner by its resistance to lean, and a 16kg Paper Bicycle leans as quickly as a 8kg diamond frame bicycle, so “feels” like it weighs the same. Don’t believe me? ride one, then you’ll believe. If you ride motorbikes you’ll already know.
Motorbikes inspired me – I hungered to create a bicycle that rides like my motorbikes. If you ride motorbikes you’ll recognise the handling. Lazy head tube angles make a stable predictable bike that holds its line over any surface and is perfected for steering from the hips. So this is a bike that follows your eye without your hands being involved. Next I reduced the rake of the forks slightly so the bike wasn’t leaden, and tweaked it again so that you could walk along side the bike and steer it from the saddle because… well why not.
Practical means ordinary clothes stay clean and dry. It means few punctures. Practical means enough luggage space to carry your friends/shopping/children. It means a carry handle for stairs, and an excellent locking point so your bike stays yours. Practical means it fits you and all your friends; and it means a kickstand so your bike stays standing when not in motion.
It fits everyone – Well almost. Unisex is an ugly word, but this bike is Unisex. Owned by as many women as men, and a few couples share theirs. How about calling them Open Frames? But the world sticks with the word step-through, and well its time step through frames caught on. Step through suit old bones and old knees, step through suits mountains of luggage, and stepthrough suits your 6yr old daughter who needs a lift home. Paper Bicycles are height adjustable from about 1.55m to 1.95m tall. Or in weight terms up to about 110kg, though we’ve adapted bikes up to 170kg rider weight.
Fit is more than about height or weight, it’s about fit, it’s about feeling like you belong on your bike, and in that this bike fits everyone, young or old, big or small, fat or thin it will fit you, it will become your bike.
Carry it, lock it – Ever wondered why the frame loop on the right side is repeated on the left? It’s not just artistic choice; it also creates the perfect carry handle which is exactly balanced for one-handed carrying, just like a heavy shopping bag. The locking point makes it easy to attach a small D lock to anything vertical, and makes it near impossible to break without also destroying the frame; keep your bike yours.
Babies, shopping, passengers – In the real world a bike needs to carry stuff. Stuff means panniers of shopping, babies, boxes of beer and occasionally lazy friends. The Paper Bicycle does all this as you’d expect, in a simple, practical and understated way. The kickstand is exactly where you need it if you need to park with a trailer, or fully laden panniers, and its strong enough to cope.
I couldn’t resist styling the kickstand to look like a motorbike exhaust, a nod to the inspiration for styling and handling.
Wear ordinary clothes – Hands up who wears driving gloves? If you walk down the street in them, then you should be able to cycle in them, cycling should not need a uniform. Wear a ball gown if you want to, our mudguards and chain guard keep your clothes clean and dry, the pedals are perfect for bare feet or thin soles shoes, the upright posture keeps your back un sweaty. Everything about the bike says “I’m not a tribe apart”
Two feet down – When the saddle is the right height for pedaling, it’s also the right height for getting both feet down onto the ground at traffic lights. If you’re new to cycling or lack confidence or balance, then this works; and even if you’re not it’s a nice thing to have. Also thanks to the step through its easy to scoot the bike to a start, or if your showing off you can step off the bike while its rolling at walking pace.
Durability is everything
If it doesn’t work you can’t use it. Dirt never reaches the mechanics of this bicycle, so it simply wears out slowly. All the parts are good quality and put together with care, so they just work, day in day out, they just work.
This is the five bikes you’ll never need to buy…
Hidden Chain – Maybe its an engineer thing, but watching an exposed chain getting needlessly ground down by dirt is painful. Our frame and chain panels completely hide the chain, and a hidden chain gathers no dirt.
Just for good measure we wax lubricate the chain, and zinc plate it to go the extra mile. You might need to lube it on its birthday, but gone are the days of chain life stretching to weeks. And being open at the back is deliberate, it lets you check chain condition, and allows the chain to breath to reduce condensation. Most dirt thrown onto a chain comes from the front wheel, and here its completely protected.
Hidden brakes, hidden gears, hidden dynamo – Why stop at the chain? Well I didn’t. Everything mechanical and sensitive is hidden away from the rain and dirt, and so it just lasts. This goes for the hub gears safely in their grease; its true for the hub brakes that work the same wet or dry, its true for the hub dynamo that you will simply forget is there.The lights are both LED, so you’ll never need to replace bulbs or batteries.
Grease, love grease – Ever tried to remove a bottom bracket from a 40 year old bike? Well I have, and its a horror, unless off course someone at some point greased the threads. Michael doesn’t just grease the threads he copper greases ’em. Great, so what? Copper grease leaves particles of copper, so that if the grease ever gets washed away then the copper still lubricates. It’s a tiny detail this, but it points to the bigger picture, these bikes are build to last, and build them to be kind to the future.
Stainless mudguards – The mudguards are stainless steel, yet still painted. Painted because it makes the bike look better and more visually unified. Stainless so they never rust through. Again in 30 years you’ll thank us because your mudguards won’t have rotted away, in two years you’ll thank us that their not Chromoplastic that’s now disintegrating in the sun. Durable means durable.
Plastic seat post sleeve – Galvanic corrosion, ever heard of it? Well it’s the reason there is a plastic liner between the seatpost and the frame, in practical terms this means your seat post will never seize in the frame, never ever get stuck and always be willing to come out or be adjusted however badly you treat your bike.
In case you’re interested, Galvanic corrosion is when two different metals touch and get wet; one sacrifices itself to save the other from corroding. Zinc lays down its life for steel, hence zinc plating; steel lays down its life for aluminium, hence seized seatposts.
Hand made in your image
Until you choose the bike you want it won’t get built, good for you good for us.
This gives you more choice over the way your bike is, its colour its panel design and its specification: no need to compromise you can simply choose the right bike and get it. This takes time though – usually 3-4 weeks, but it’s well worth the wait.
Michael builds bicycles to a standard, not to a schedule
One at a time – Michael builds your bikes on work stands one at a time, one maker one bike. This raises the quality, and it really shows on the detail. Michael (it’s almost always Michael) has built 100’s of Paper Bicycles, its the only type of bike he builds, he knows every intimate detail of how (and why) to put your bike together, and he cares that he gets it right. If somethings not quiet right he’s got the time to make it right, he’s not against the clock he builds to a standard, not to a schedule.
Conveyor belts – Most bikes out there get assembled on conveyor belts, each assembler has a set time for a set task, and 200 bikes might take an hour. This is great if their all the same, and it works brilliantly as long as everything runs smoothly, but what happens when a job needs more time that is allowed? Where’s your pride in your work if all you ever do is bolt in bottom brackets? Conveyor belt bikes work, indeed for big fleet orders it’s exactly what we do, but they lose something of their soul along the way. We’re building a bike that we want you to love riding for the rest of your life, a few more minutes on the assembly to get it just right is somehow worth it.
A Paper Bicycle costs a lot of money, but it’s not expensive.
Not expensive – Our bikes cost a lot of money, it’s what puts most people off buying one, on paper the same bike can be bought for less money elsewhere. But in reality you ride on tarmac not paper and over time a cheap bike often costs a whole lot more to keep working and its not as nice to use.
Basically most of our bike’s price is put into good durable components, and good durable components simply cost money. We could easily trick you and use cheap things where you won’t notice (until you get home), but that’s simply not what we’re about. Fleet buyers know this well, sometimes paying more for a thing means that in the long run you end up paying a massive amount less because your thing just lasts longer, costs less to maintain and the whole time its lasting longer its nicer to use. Our agent in Taiwan phrased it as “buy cheap, buy twice” and we think he got it about right. It’s a tough unfashionable message:
buy a good quality machine that just works; to buy it costs more, but in the long run its much cheaper.
Don’t take our word for it, read the reviews, test ride a Paper Bicycle, and wonder about how many bikes you’ve owned and how you wish them all a little bit better, and how they wish they’d been used a little bit more.