It is no secret that we are huge fans of Azor bicycles and Bakfiets, so being able to visit the factory while we were in the Netherlands was a treat and an honour. Heading to the industrial area of the Netherlands is nothing like any industrial area in Canada, the huge difference, there are bike paths!
As we headed into the building, the first thing to see is the showroom of beautiful bicycles, and there are a LOT.
Pick a frame, any frame!
As you will notice Azor does not spend money on marketing – they put all of their efforts into building the highest quality and longest lasting bikes – and they have done the best job we have ever seen.
The first stop heading into the factory portion, learning how the wheels and spokes are made. A great deal of thinking and care is behind these wheels to make them ultra strong, unlike other manufactures, Azor uses thick spokes for strength and they magnify that strength by having spokes fit precisely into the wheel hub and use specific spoke patterns to give the maximum possible strength. This is very important to both support the weight of the rider, passenger (s), and cargo. In addition it makes the bikes very low maintenance even with our roads covered in pot holes!
Andrew is watching the wheels being calibrated below. This is a very important step, which most manufactures skip because it is an expensive investment. What this machine does is puts pressure on the spokes while they are being tightened and this is very important because when you skip this step, wheels will often go out of true even after just one ride as weight is put on them.
Jan (the owner of Azor), always lights up when he shows this demonstration, he takes two forks and then right in front of you smashes them together with great force. Your first reaction is to want to say stop, but he wants to demonstrate a very important point, and a key differentiator of Azor bikes, the quality of the paint job. Azor uses a tough three layer powder coat with a zinc primer for anti-rust and it is so strong that when he smashes those two front forks together, the forks bend, but the paint does not chip! This is incredible and he acknowledges that this is the first place most manufactures cheap out because it is difficult for a customer to notice the difference when the bike is sitting on the shop room floor. This premium paint job, adds about $150 to the cost of the bike, but Azor prides itself on quality and cares what your bike looks like years down the road so, for them this is the only right way to do it.
Azor prides itself on quality, and simplicity. Even the smallest details for longevity are thought about. Fenders start off flat and unlike many other manufacturers, Azor puts a coat of zinc primer (anti-rust) on them before they are bent and then painted. Fenders are usually the first to begin rusting, and Azor, priding themselves on the longevity of the their bicycles, puts effort into this extra bit work keeping those fenders looking great, even when stored outdoors in a salty environment.
Now to the bikes being built. The first thing you notice about the frames besides the stunning paint job is the thickness of the tubes and the lugged frames. Azor uses oversized tubing for added strength and rigidity so not only does it make the bike ready to carry the rider, passenger(s) and cargo, it also makes the bike more efficient because the bike does not absorb as much energy of your pedal stroke so it transfers directly to driving you forward. It seems counterintuitive but it also explains why everyone is always amazed at how easy rolling these bike are.
You may have noticed from the photo above that most of the parts such as the handlebars, stem and even all of those nuts and bolts in the bins are stainless steel making the bike as rust resistant as they can possibly be.
What really inspired us about the visit, is how much Azor cares about the details, that are extremely important for the long-term enjoyment of your city bike, which most people don’t think about when they are purchasing a bike.
We have only just outlined some of the outstanding quality of Azor Dutch bikes from our visit, so if you want to see a bit more, check out this video from Azor: