Australian cycling company Lekker have been committed to the development and design of Dutch-inspired commuter bikes since establishing in 2009. In this review, we take a look at the flagship Amsterdam Elite 8-speed commuter bike, putting the stylish belt-drive bike through its paces to see if there’s as much function as there is form.
Who’s It For?: The commuter cyclist looking for an entry level belt-drive bike with a sporty, minimalist design.
What We Liked: The sleek aesthetic, solid brake package, and the silence and low maintenance offered by the belt-drive system. Low price for a Gates Belt Drive-equipped bike.
What We Didn’t: Harsh ride quality, avoidable heft, and the budget finishing kit as the result of a no-expense-spared drive system.
Frameset and Design
Inspired by a minimalist Dutch aesthetic, the Amsterdam Elite’s (RRP AU$1,398) sleek modern lines are understated and desirable. A testament to this, I was stopped a number of times during the review period, with complete strangers asking and remarking “where is that bike from”, “what does it ride like”, and “I love the look of that”, a real win for Lekker here.
The 6061 aluminium frameset is both belt drive and chainset compatible and is accompanied with an aluminium fork. All cabling is external, save for a section of the rear hydraulic disc brake that is routed through the top tube, whilst integrated mounts for pannier racks and mudguards also feature. The welds on my tester were all finished with no obvious gaps present, however, appear to be on the raw side, particularly at the fork crown.
As per the aesthetic of the bike, the position and handling (geometry) somewhat more aggressive than rival commuters on the market, with a short 125mm headtube keeping the riding position low on the Medium/Large sized review bike. The short reach (typical of a commuter bike) and meter-long wheelbase somewhat offset the low front-end, offering up a little more comfort and stability respectively.
The Amsterdam comes in three sizes, Small/Medium (51cm), Medium/Large (58cm - tested), and Large/XLarge (62cm), claimed to cater to riders from 155cm to 205cm.
Groupset and Drivetrain
The Amsterdam Elite 8-Speed is outfitted with a Gates Carbon Belt Drive drivetrain mated to a Shimano Nexus 8-speed internal geared hub. Braking comes courtesy of Shimano with proven hydraulic disc brakes.
Belt drive bikes have seen an increase in popularity amongst the urban commuter crowd, and for good reason. Made from carbon fibre, belt drive systems are strong, lightweight, water-resistant and won't rust or stretch, they’re also half the weight of a standard chain and with no metal to metal contact, it's much smoother and quieter too.
Another bonus of the belt drive system is that it doesn't require lubricants like a typical chain and sprocket drivetrains, meaning there’s no chance of getting grease marks on you.
However, there are reasons why they’re not a more common sight. For a start, it’s seen as a premium product and certainly, the Gates Carbon Belt technology is far more expensive than basic drivetrains from Shimano and SRAM. Secondly, the belt drive cannot work with derailleurs and so is limited to singlespeed or internal gear hub use, the latter often being more expensive and heavier than external drivetrain options.
Build Kit and Wheelset
The Finishing kit and components fitted to the Amsterdam Elite are an all aluminium affair, with Zoom providing the seatpost, stem and handlebars. A double-walled 40mm deep disc brake specific wheelset features sealed bearings at the hubs and are wrapped in 25c WTB ThickSlick rubber. A Lekker branded commuter saddle, vinyl grips and VP aluminium flat pedals complete the build.
All told, our size Medium/Large tester tipped the scales at a hefty 13.4kg, well over the 11kg figure claimed by Lekker.
I’ve spent the last month aboard the Lekker, with the Amsterdam Elite serving as my main commuter option to and from work, as well as performing weekend leisure duties such as the all-important Saturday morning cafe run. The overall experience of the bike has been positive, however, it does have some shortcomings.
Starting off with the positives, and the most striking feature of the Amsterdam Elite has got to be the aesthetic of the thing. The stealth matte black frame and components with flashes of red oozes effortless style and charisma. Parked up at the cafe, on the train, or in the urban landscape, the bike just looks the part.
The belt drive system fitted to our tester was a pleasure to ride. The smooth, silent ride offered by the system is arguably the bike’s greatest feature. I’m yet to ride a belt drive system I haven’t enjoyed and I’m continually amazed that they’re not more popular considering the benefits on offer. Equally as adept as the drivetrain were the powerful Shimano hydraulic brakes. The anchors provided ample stopping power in all weather conditions and the modulation on offer was, as to be expected from Shimano, outstanding.
So the bike looks the part, has a silky smooth drivetrain and confident anchors, what’s not to like right?
Outfitted with an alloy fork, 40mm deep v-shaped alloy wheels and firm tyres, the ride quality can only be described as harsh. Whilst the 640mm wide bars and relatively short headtube made for the bike that handled well; pavement cracks, potholes, bumps, and undulations were all immediately noticeable, much in the same regard as they are on an entry-level road bike. In reality, most shopping in this category would benefit from a bike that’s a little smoother in its ways. I’d love to see a more compliant fork and/or a wider and more supple tyre fitted to the bike in the future.
For the price of AU$1,398, I’d prefer to see marginally better finishing kit outfitted to the bike too. For example, the vinyl grips felt out of place on a bike of this price point and had a tendency to rotate on the bars, thankfully lock-on [rubber grips] are a relatively inexpensive upgrade and are highly recommended.
With a full suite of customisation options available, including alternate panniers, saddles, grips and colourways, Lekker provides buyers with the opportunity of owning a semi-bespoke ride for a price that undercuts much of its belt drive competition.
With redeeming features such as a minimalist aesthetic that oozes effortless style, a considered groupset offering, and a silky smooth belt drive system there’s more to like about the Amsterdam Elite than there is to loathe.
Whilst the ride quality and finishing kit issues are bothersome, thankfully they’re upgradeable as the budget allows. And the fact is, belt drives and internally geared hubs are expensive items, and the bike’s shortcomings are somewhat expected compromises given the price point.
Our main tester, Taylor Jones, stands at 186cm tall and rode a size M/L. Want to know more? Check out the full range of Lekker Bikes on offer from leading retailers across the country.