Simplex headbadge


1887: Foundation of the "Simplex Automatic Machine Company" in Utrecht at the Stationdwarsstraat by the Englishman Charles Bingham, one of the initiators and first president of the ANWB (Royal Dutch Touring Club) in 1883.

1890: Simplex stops making small automats and starts producing Simplex-branded bicycles. The company is now situated at the Leidscheweg.

1892: Simplex moves to a bigger location at the Amsterdamschestraatweg. The staff increases from twelve to sixty workers.

1893: Piet Leeuwenberg from Delft joins the management. In the same year, he is one of the initiators of the RAI (Association of Dutch Bicycle Manufacturers). A few years later he will take over the whole company. The Leeuwenbergs were on the Board until 1959.

1896: Simplex moves to the Overtoom in Amsterdam. The company now employs 100 workers and soon produces about 5,000 units. Later Simplex produces not only bicycles but also motors, cars and railway-vehicles. But bicycles remain the most important production section. Simplex is now one of the biggest bicycle manufacturers of Holland and will keep this status for a long time.

1899: The company is renamed "NV Simplex Machine-, Rijwiel- en Automobielfabrieken" (Simplex Machine-, Bicycle- and Carworks Inc.).

1908: The Simplex stretcher, a tricycle for carrying patients, is the first type of carrier-bike not directly derived from a common bicycle.

1909: Simplex develops the Cycloïde-bearings (groove ball bearings for wheel-hubs and bracket with less friction), which will be a feature of the more expensive models of Simplex for the next fiftyfive years.

app. 1927: Simplex offers bicycles with Simplex-made drum-brakes instead of the common rim-brakes. These drum-brakes were used widely on Simplex bicycles until the late sixties.

1936: After some difficult years the production facilities are being modernized to reach the capacity of 35,000 units per year.

1939: Simplex introduces an alloy cycle which weighs 12 1/4 kg.

1943 - end of 1945: The production is greatly reduced because of the war.

1952: Simplex merges with Locomotief. The new combination is quite successful. Around 1960 Simplex/Locomotief produce some 55,000 bicycles per year, which is 10 % of the Dutch total production.

Simplex "gliding bicycle"

Simplex "gliding bicycle"


1952/53: Simplex moves to a bigger plant in the Pilotenstraat in Amsterdam with a capacity of 70,000 units. By 1954 the production facilities of Locomotief are completely transferred to the Pilotenstraat.

1955: The cumulated production of Simplex bicycles reaches the numer of 1 milion.

1965: The sixties are a difficult period for the bicycle industry in general. In 1965 the production of Simplex/Locomotief is contracted out to Juncker in Apeldoorn. In Amsterdam only a sales department remains.

1967: Simplex, Locomotief and Juncker merge to form the Dutch Cycleworks Union (Verenigde Nederlandse Rijwielfabrieken - VNR).

1968: The attempted rescue through merging does not produce the desired result and Gazelle takes over VNR in 1968. The Apeldoorn site is closed-down around 1971 and the three famous brands continue only as B-brands of Gazelle.

2000: Gazelle sells the Simplex brand to ZEG, a German bicycle retail purchase co-operation which is active in several countries.


Simplex and Burgers were the biggest Dutch cycleworks at the turn of the century. As early as 1891 an American customer ordered 100 bicycles from Simplex. Export destinations at that time were Denmark, France, Germany, England, South Africa and South America. In the early years of the twentieth century Simplex was a supplier of the Dutch army, together with Fongers and Burgers. Most of the mounted parts were made by Simplex itself.

     One of the special models of Simplex was the "gliding bicycle", introduced in 1953. The seat of this model is fixed via a leaf spring, and the forks are constructed with suspension as well. However, the gliding bicycle was no big success and was only made a few years.

     Another typical Simplex construction are handlebars with the brake-rods mounted inside.

Simplex handlebars for rod-brakes

It is difficult to estimate the bicycle production of Simplex. There are still many old Simplex bikes from before the merger with Locomotief, especially bicycles made between about 1949 and 1951, when they obviously sold very well. Many of these are black, heavy ladies' roadsters with loop-frame, Simplex drum-brakes and brake-rods.

     The only known milestone is the celebration of the number of 1,000,000 sold Simplex bicycles in november 1955, almost two years after Gazelle established the same production figure. Having started making bicycles very early, it is very likely that in total numbers Simplex was the one but biggest Dutch bicycle manufacturer at that moment.

Frame numbers

Simplex is known to have used a very obscure system of frame numbering. Since about 1930 they used a series with six numerals in ascending order. Simultaneously Simplex used at least three more series before 1953: one with a letter followed by numerals and two or more different series usually consisting of five numerals. After the merger in 1953 with Locomotief both used the Locomotief system (6 numerals, not in ascending order). When the Simplex plant was closed-down in 1965 all files about frame numbering were shredded.


Simplex cross-frame

Simplex fine men's cross-frame (1935 - 1957),
frame size 68 cm, built in 1941


On this page you can find some more information about dating a Simplex frame. However, this page is only available in Dutch language. After visiting the page, click the back-button of your browser to get back to the English version of this homepage.


Have you got an old Simplex bicycle? Then add the bicycle to the bicycle database and get feedback about your bike. For more information click here.


Click on one of the brands

Batavus Empo Germaan Magneet Sparta
Burco Fongers Juncker Phoenix Union
Burgers Gazelle Locomotief Simplex Veeno


Copyright by Herbert Kuner, © 1999 ...
All rights reserved.


Last update: 09/19/2003