History of Batavus Mopeds
Batavus is the leading manufacturer of bicycles and mopeds in Holland, a country which has more than two million mopeds on the roads. The company originated in 1904, when Andries Gasstra opened a shop in Heereveen, selling clicks, watches and sewing machines. Bicycles were soon added to the catalogue as two-wheeled transport gained in popularity, and the original business was discontinued when Gastra acquired the sole Dutch representation for the German bicycle, Presto. He later started selling bicycles under his own brand name, Batavus.
In the 30's, Batavus began maiking three-wheeled transport bicycles equipping them with an engine a few years later. At the same time they produced their first motor cycles. By 1940, when Holland was invaded, Batavus employed some 120 people.
Post-War, the company made rapid strides and a new project which had started out as a bicycle with a motor was soon developed into a functionally designed motorised two-wheeler, with front and rear-wheel suspension for riding comfort and a creditable performance. Long-distance rides on Batavus machines through the United Stats and to places like Morocco, Alexandria and Baghdad, helped to popularise the name outside Holland.
By 1954, the company was operating from an assortment of buildings, producing a variety of machines, but in 1956, just 52 years after Andries Gasstra opened his shop, a new factory was opened in the industrial park in Heerenveen. The new factory had an area of 6000 square meters and the workforce had grown to 300. Further extensions and developments became necessary and today the company employs about 650 people in a modern factory which uses advanced design and manufacturing techniques. After the new premises were opened the company continued primarily to be a bicycle manufacturer and benefited from the growing demand for bicycles, not only in Holland, but all over the world. However, in 1969, Batavus acquired the bicycle and motor-cycle production of another Dutch company, Magneet, and in the following year took over an amalgamation of three famous three-wheeler factories in Germany. Although their sales of motorised two-wheelers were subjected to increasing fluctuation, with various model and style changes, there was steady growth every year. Today (1977), Batavus make more bicycles and mopeds than any other company in the Netherlands.
They are the biggest Dutch exporter of machines, with 55 percent of their total production going outside Holland. As early as 1972 their total production of bicycles was 250,000 and that of mopeds 60,000, within that year. Of these, 60,000 bicycles and 27,000 mopeds were sent abroad. Sales are particularly strong in West Germany and the company has done well in Switzerland. Other important outlets are Iran, Israel, Belgium and Greece. In Turkey, Batavus mopeds began to be manufactured under license in 1972.
In 1970, Batavus joined the Dutch Laura industrial group, which includes Laura Motoren, and Laura engines are now used on all Batavus mopeds in the UK, except the Sachs powered sports machine, the Mk 4S. First imports to the UK were in 1973, with the setting up of Harglo Ltd by two former BSA/Triumph executives, Wilf Harrision and Peter Glover. Their primary function as sole concessionaires to Batavus is to import and distribute Batavus mopeds in the UK and Ireland.
The early Go-Go V was a rigid frame machine, which has since been discontinued, but after the introduction of the Go-Go VA, four new machines were added to the UK market in 1974 and two more in 1976. The company has won a reputation for the manufacture of good quality, well made and well finished machines, which, while not the cheapest, are good to look at and give little trouble.
At the Earls Court, London, Show in 1976, Batavus showed their seven-model range; six of those machines were powered by the well known 48cc Laura engine, with V-belt primary drive and automatic clutch. The exception was the top-of-the-range Mk 4S, being the Rolls-Royce of sports mopeds with motor-cycle styling and the famous Sachs four-speed power unit. Specifications for that machine include an electronic tachometer, battery-operated turn signals and heavy-duty suspension front and rear. This model, which has the overall dimensions of a full-sized motorcycle is the biggest machine sold by Batavus who are essentially bicycle and moped manufacturers. The HS 50, although still incorporating a 48cc engine, also has motorcycle styling with the tank positioned between the knees. This model is of Anglo-Dutch design and was built by Batavus to a Harglo specification for the British market. It's success has resulted in the machine being introduced into several other Common Market countries, including the Netherlands. For some time the Batavus range was based on the popular Go-Go model. From this was later developed a two-seater version (called the Go-Go 2) and the Starglo, an economy priced version of the single-seater Go-Go and considered by many authorities to be on of the best machines ever to come out of Holland. A stylish machine at a competitive price, the Starglo was impressively finished and had a tireless performance.
In addition to the Go-Go VA, a single-seater luxury moped, the Batavus range included the Bronco, built on semi-chopper lines with a high-rising back to the seat and motocross style handlebars, and the Compact, a small-wheeler with heavy-duty frame and forks. In Holland, close to the factory, Batavus have set up a unique collection of veteran bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles, cars and carriages in their own museum, and the collection of antique bicycles there is said to be one of the largest in Europe.
Batavus is Holland's leading manufacturer of bicycles and mopeds, and 55% of production is exported. Apart from the top-of-the-range Mk 4S (which is powered by a Fichtel & Sachs engine), the Batavus mopeds use Laura engines of 48cc; these two-stroke units produce 2.4bhp.
Heerenveen, Holland, Home of BATAVUS INTER-CYCLE, a member of the strong Laura Industrial Group. Here, thousands of miles from America, 700 dedicated craftsman assemble 70,000 BATAVUS MoPeds and 250,000 bicycles a year. Erected in 1904, this impressive structure covers over 350,000 square feet and houses the largest, most modern MoPed / bicycle manufacturer in Holland.
Batavus has been making small motorcycles and mopeds since at least the 1930's and began exporting mopeds to the UK and North America in the early 1970's.
Much has been borrowed from several old motorcycle and moped books, and Batavus advertising literature.
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