Your explorations pick up in their pace from being on foot, but you're still nimble. The ride of choice would either be a single speed or fixed gear bike. No fuss, just focused engineering. Visually arresting, too.
The first time I locked eyes on a Viks bike, made by Velonia Bicycles, it was in a picture shared by Tommy Cash, known for his sometimes scandalous imagery. But the only thing you might have considered scandalous here was how few parts the bike had.
Though minimalism isn't always called for, being sparse and light are appealing qualities that make a Viks bike what it is. At first glance, the neon colours of the simple stainless steel frames remind me of a kid's playground, as if it were made by a rocket engineer. To be honest, the prospect of riding a Viks bike makes me a bit nervous, because of how sparse it is.
However, there is reassurance in knowing how the design came to be. Velonia Bicycles make bikes that are inspired by the linear forms and low handlebars of lightweight café racer motorcycles. Then there's the Viks GT, which mimics the forward lunge of an Italian sports car.
Co-owner of Velonia Bicycles, Indrek Narusk has said that he “wanted to create something entirely new for the daily commute.” Indrek studied mechanical engineering and applied his knowledge of working with metal into bikes, a passion that had been apparent to him from the age of 13.
A Postimees interview from 2017 reveals how, back in 2012, he started sketching a city bike that was “reminiscent of a motorcycle.” Explaining the structure, Narusk said “I thought that maybe I wouldn't put a saddle tube in the middle of the frame…” He wanted to make sure that the bike was strong, though. Sharing his idea didn't make the decision easier. The plan drew skepticism, with friends suggesting that it wouldn't be possible to ride the bike. Maybe it would bend under pressure.
He decided to try it anyway, relying on the strength of two side-by-side metal tube frames that are welded together at the front of the bike, “at the head tube, seat tube and bottom bracket.” Velonia Bicycles explain in their information about the bikes that “Thick tubes and strong welds keep Viks feeling stiff in all circumstances.” The experimental design caught on as soon as Narusk shared photos of the first Viks bike he made for himself. Orders came in. And now, Viks is the crowning achievement of Velonia Bicycles. Narusk builds the bikes by hand in Tallinn with Tarmo Maibak and Kristo Riimaa.
In the words of co-founder, Kristo Riimaa, “Viks wasn’t created to be an attention seeker, but it still turns heads everywhere you go… In Estonian ‘viks' means classy, gentlemanlike, polite. At the same time it sounds ‘fixed' like fixed gear… this was the initial idea at first – a fixed gear commuter.”
The bikes are made of approximately 60 laser cut pieces of steel, which are shaped and welded into place by the three men according to the specifications of the purchaser. The bikes can be made to one's specific size, and they welcome inquiries about custom orders. Colour choices are abundant, which can be selected from the RAL colour matching system. And despite its unorthodox design, each of these bikes is compatible with parts that you would find on sale in bike shops.
The frame alone for a size small Viks bike weighs 6.5 kilograms with a fork and headset. At its largest, the standard model of Viks bikes, complete with a coaster brake, weighs 14 kilograms. Front rim brakes or disc brakes (Shimano Deore M615) are also available options, to make it easier when you need to stop.
Although the timing of a build depends on the demand, it can take between two and four weeks to complete a Viks bike and ship it out from Estonia to wherever a customer lives.
Seeing the “diaries” Velonia Bicycles put together about their bikes, like one where they zip around Copenhagen's streets and bridges with ease, you can see why some cyclists choose to ride a simpler bike. Uphill cycling may be harder, but if there isn't too much climbing to do, you are less encumbered by moving parts that add weight and require maintenance. One less thing between a rider enjoying stunning views, peaceful gardens, and the cozy cafe at the end of a ride. This is all part of the romance of cycling.
This article was written by Vincent Teetsov as part of the Local Journalism Initiative.