This is my Monark Balloon Tire bike made in the former Kroon bicycle factory in Vansbro, Sweden. It was the military version of this bike (and not the similar Kronan bicycle) that was used by the Swedish Army to fight off the ferocious Dutch Bicycle Army. It is a very robust bicycle and the front rack can carry a 40 liter canister of flamethrower fuel should you choose to use your flamethrower in urban traffic situations, cycling to work and so on.
Forget about the pansy-assed weight limits on your flimsy aluminum pannier rack. The rear rack on the Monark is made of 1″ flatbar steel and has a capacity of 200 kilograms (probably, I suppose). Should you choose to carry another 200 kilos on the front rack there is a steering damper spring so you will still be able to weave in and out of traffic with one hand and have your other hand on your coffee mug (or ready on the flamethrower trigger). The nice thing about the front rack on this bike is that it is attached to the headtube instead of the fork so you can carry really long objects, like 8 foot long 2 x 4’s (longitudinally) and the front rack will not turn when you turn corners.
The Monark has the most awesome steel kickstand ever made (see photo). It will never break or fall over. It’s really handy when loading up the bike with 6 months worth of groceries, livestock, bales of hay or bags of cement. The basket is the really large Wald basket with the mounting hardware removed. I ziptied it to the rack with about 80 zipties and I ziptied some yellow Ensolite foam sleeping pad to the bottom of the inside of the basket to keep stuff from bouncing around too much. I keep a couple of bungee cords on the basket to hold stuff down. For grocery shopping the basket is far superior to any pannier. The back of the rack has two pieces of flexible marine water hose ziptied on to carry a kayak paddle. I have had at least 100 people ask me what those things are for so I put half a paddle in one for the photo to demonstrate.
The basket is handy for carrying the 55 lbs of chains and locks I use to slow down the swarms of rabid bike thieves in Vancouver, which is the undisputed property crime capital of the world.
Judging from the gearing that came with the bike (a three speed) the Swedish army is definitely on steroids and they probably do not need to carry any weapons other than their disproportionately large pumped-up steroid legs. The gearing was so high that Lance Armstrong himself could not have propelled this bike from a standing start. I switched out the ridiculously large 46 tooth crankset for a 36 tooth one which unfortunately did not clear the lovely steel chainguard that came with the bike so I had to remove the chainguard and wear pant clips.
This is not the first Scandinavian bike I have had that was geared too high. It may not matter when cycling in the Dutch Alps but in hilly places it’s quite important to have low gears on this type of bike because this type of bike is very heavy. There’s lots of heavy-duty steel on it. Even the rims and mudguards are steel.
I got the bike from Rain City Bikes in Vancouver, British Columbia. You can see the Rain City shop in the photos. Rain City specializes in Dutch bikes, workbikes, English roadsters and bakfiets . Dutch bikes like the Azor Oma are very popular in Vancouver and people use them as fashion accessories. The Monark Balloon Tire bike is also available in a step-through frame which I would recommend. It is a very attractive bike and the step-through (ie girls) frame makes it much easier to get on and off whether you are a man or a woman. It’s not called a Balloon Tire bike for nothing. Those are 584-54 Nokian Balloon tires on that bike in the photos and they really help raise the top tube to toe-catching height.
—David Cambon, Vancouver, BC