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Is this the most comfortable motorbike in the world?

By Adriana Stuijt     Feb 28, 2009 in Business
With the gloomy reports whining on and on about recession and unemployment, it's always a relief to stroll through Dokkum here in Friesland - and realise that the small entrepreneurs will always remain optimistic and just keep plugging away.
Saturday, as always, was a hive of activity, with the shops filled with bargains. Having just had my 15-year-old Maytag flood my kitchen, this was great news: after some bargaining, I picked up a brand-new, top-brand, energy-saving German washing machine for less than 350 Euros.
They're installing it for free on Monday and taking the old one off my hands as well. My rusty, faithful old Maytag is being taken apart in the local recycling plant - there will be no dumping it on any third-world dump sites, the salesman reassured me. The shop is having a clearing out sale of their warehouse, he added helpfully while we were bargaining down the sales price. My heart sank: 'you're closing up then, is it the recession," I asked, not really wanting to hear any bad news today.
"Naw,' he laughed cheerfully, "We 're just making room for the new stock, spring's coming, people will be buying more...'
Street organs: the world's first computers
And I see this same optimism everywhere. The local street-organ owner was playing cheerful Dixieland music today, in keeping with the spirit of carnival, and he'd brought his neighbour to help him rattle their copper cash-boxes. Shoppers strolled past, and I noticed that they all were keeping in step with the exact cadence of the music. The neighbour, old-age pensioner Hans van den Linden of the nearby town of Holwerd, loves street-organs and has turned his hobby into a nice supplement to their pension, selling DVDs he shoots of their performances on the internet.
These DVDs are hugely popular among Dutch emigrants all over the world, he said. Has been doing it for years and has an impressive collection by now, too, he added.
Street organs actually are the world's first computers: the musical instruments are guided by large punch-card rolls - and these very same punch-cards were also used in IBM's very first computers.
Carver One - space-age motorbike
And then I spotted something even more interesting parked just metres away -- in fact the exact opposite of the 19th century street organ: a beautiful space-age machine called the Carver One. Bike enthusiasts were all crowding around it, admiring it from up close. It really is a very pretty design. And, several young bikers assured me, it's totally fabulous going around corners. They couldn't keep their eyes off it, they wanted it so much...
Indeed, the Carver One is even described by its manufacturers as the 'cornering genius'. So what is it? A bike or a car? it's neither: you steer it just like a car and it reacts just like a motorcycle: when cornering, it banks. But unlike a motorcycle where the rider adjusts the tilt angle by shifting their weight and/or countersteering, the tilt angle of the Carver One is adjusted automatically.
As an experienced passenger on my late husband's gorgious Harley-Davidson, I could see that this automatic tilt would be a great advantage - but it 's that terrific shell with its heating, those comfortable car-seats and handsome body enclosing the three-wheeled bike which really makes the Carver One very appealing to northern-European cold-weather bikers.
And in our country's spirit of entrepreneurial tradition, the Carver One is not in mass production: it's a hand-made specialty item, they only make 500 of these exquisitely-crafted vehicles a year. It's also becoming very popular: despite its sales price of a rumoured 45,000 euros, depending on where one lives, there's a 14-week waiting list...
More about Carver one, Dutch street organs, Dokkum, Friesland, Recession
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