Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Dutch Treat---- The Kaptein Dolphin

(click photos for large view)

I've finally found an authentic Dutch city bike. Where did I get it? Ebay? Craigslist perhaps? Nope. Found it at a second hand shop in Oakland, sitting atop an old desk, its handlebars twisted, tires flat, a layer of dirt graying its colors. But I knew what it was and bought in on the spot. Oh Joy! Like finding treasure.

After transporting it home to the Flashco workshop, I discovered it would need more than just cleaning. Two rear spokes were broken, the shifter would not shift, the lumpy old road racer saddle would have to be replaced, and the tires needed inspection. To my surprise, the Victory Supreme tires and tubes held air. (these would soon de-laminate) After an hour long search mission in the dark recesses of Stone's Cycle shop I found matching heavy duty spokes and installed those. I purchased new shift housing and cable which was all that was needed to fix the 3 speed shifter. I adjusted the drum brakes, greased the chain, set the dynamo clearance and fixed the loose wire to the front headlight. Ready to roll!

Front drum brake and metal fender, halogen light, 700x 38 tires

Interesting Dolphin graphics, pink and gold over the dark metallic green paint. Note the pinstriped rear fender

Front fork details include brazed on dynamo hanger. Reflective stripe on the tires is a nice safety touch.

The business end of the bike. Lots going on back here. Integrated 3 speed drum brake hub, totally enclosed chain guard, fender attachments and other bits make removal and re installation of the rear wheel feel as easy as pulling the transmission in a '92 Volvo.

Here's the cockpit with the twist shifter and a classic bell. Note the stem and handlebars are one piece, the bars cannot be adjusted for angle, but the stem is super long for height.

The view cars see. Heavy duty painted rack with bungee eyelets, and Basta light. The light is only 2 LEDs, rather puny by today's standards, the rest of the housing is just reflectors.

So how does it ride? Like a Bentley, I'm guessing, having never ridden in a Bentley. Smooth, stately, composed. It gets to the speed it wants to go and we go that speed. Which is very civilized, not too slow, but not fast either. 2nd gear is just a tad too low for the flats, but 3rd is noticeably too high. The drum brakes are smooth and effective, but not powerful, but then they don't need to be at these low speeds.

This bike is unlike any other bike I've had. It feels grown up and utterly sensible. It is solid and well made, the parts are all high quality, it is an all weather, day or night machine. It might be 20 years old or 100 years old, for this is truly a timeless design enjoyed by generations of cyclists. I feel very lucky to have it.


  1. Very nice find and post.

  2. Hi there, my wife has a very old Kaptein Omega and it requires a back wheel. How do I go about getting one?

  3. Hi Navillus,can you send me a photo of your wife's bike please, I'd like to see it. I would guess your chances of getting an original wheel in good shape is slim to none, so I would look for a similar wheel (3 speeds or whatever it needs)from a similar type Dutch bike and install that. Hopefully you are good with bike wrenching because just replacing the original rear wheel is a lot of work. Good luck! Flash

  4. Hi Flash,sorry for delay in responding. It is currently in a bike repair shop and it was their suggestion(cost reasons)that I should try the web. I appreciate your suggestion about a similar wheel (i.e. 3 speeds), but my problem is that I cannot locate a website for second hand dutch type back wheels. Any suggestions?Regards,

  5. Navillus, I would internet search Dutch bike shops and contact them via email as to availability of a used wheel. If you find one chances are they can send it to you.

    Good luck