Berlin Part 1: The bikes they ride

Now the latest destination is Berlin, whilst Germany isn’t seen as big a cycling mecca as somewhere like Copenhagen or Amsterdam I spent a week there getting around by bike a lot, it’s a relatively flat city with reasonably large streets; much of the city was destroyed in WWII by Allied bombers.  Cycling is very much an everyday activity for all people in Berlin, compared to Paris, Lyon, London, and Barcelona it has better infrastructure and more space and budget dedicated to cycling.

Cycle hire shop near the hostel I stayed at

Nice old roadster

One of the first things I noticed is the use of postal bikes by Deutsche Post, this one is obviously filled to the brim with post waiting to be delivered.  It’s not too dissimilar to the one I saw in France, in fact they’re even the same colour.  It follows the same formula for serious cargo bikes, the front load is independent of the steering and features an integrated heavy duty kickstand, it sits lower due to a smaller front wheel and a step through frame assists quick dismounting and mounting for deliveries.

Now I spotted this bad boy outside a currywurst stand, it looks like the big brother of the one before.  Not only does it have a chunkier frame and kickstand, it also has a detachable trailer for hand deliveries, electric assist and hydraulic disc brakes!  Not a bike meant for speed, but made for serious hauling.

Berlin has it’s own public bike hire scheme run by Deutsche Bahn (German railways); This would sound absurd in Australia, a rail company running a bike hire scheme but I guess in Germany they can see the forest for the trees; bikes and trains work fantastically in concert.However I didn’t get a chance to try these out, as you have to be a resident to use it.   They are slightly odd looking compared to the other bike share schemes around the world, the design of the bike makes it look a bit like a sporty mountain bike with a tray on the back rather than a city bike.

There are many different types of bikes ridden around Berlin, and like many places where cycling is utilitarian the predominant type tends to be very practical, typically fitting into the “city bike” type of bike.  More than half the bikes were typical roadster type bikes, it’s quite common to see both men and women riding these bikes, usually with panniers filled to the brim with shopping.  The second most common bike you would see would be a sort of flat bar hybrid type bike, however they were very different from the typical flat bar road bikes you see in the UK or Australia.  Typically they would have derailleur gearing, occasionally front shocks but always with a rack and full mudguards and usually with panniers attached.  Maybe the sportiness and lightness of the bike appeals more to Berliners than the more relaxed and heavier traditional city bike.

Obligatory fixie shop 
 You know that it is reasonably safe once you start to see a lot of people hauling children around by bike, child seats and trailers with kids in them were pretty common as well.  The infrastructure in Berlin is very good which makes doing things like dropping off the kids and doing shopping all by bike something very everyday and convenient.

Haulin' kids on one of those typical Berlin
flat bar city bikes

Again I saw some more cargo and utilitarian bikes, even a mobile poster bike complete with posters in the front rack and paste in a big bucket on the back.  Perfect for doing some clandestine gig promotion!  Also I spotted a bike courier on a Bakfiets, not something you’d see all that often.

Mobile poster machine

Bike Polizei
And finally I spotted one of these 7 seater bikes, mostly rented out to tourists and drunkards, I bet it’d be a bit hairy going down a hill, good thing Berlin is flat.   In Berlin Part 2 I’ll cover the cycling infrastructure in Berlin.


  1. Fun and informative. Thanks.

  2. Hey there... I like your blog very much. Especially enjoyed the Berlin posts... been living in Germany for 4 years now and Berlin is one of my favourite places in the country

  3. Thanks! I loved Berlin, great people, music, art and also bikes!