RIH is one the great C&V brands, and now production has ceased (per June 1st 2012), I think it deserves its own thread. How many other brands can boast of a total of 63 world and olympic titles?
I thought it would be nice if there were one place on the interwebs where one could find everyting there is to know about RIH bicycles. Let this be the place. This first post is dedicated to dating a RIH. Below is a chart with frame numbers and build dates. I will update it as information becomes available.
Please post your RIH here, along with any information you may have. And you know, knowledge is like love: the more you give, the more you receive!
Joop and Willem Bustraan started producing bicycles in the Westerstraat in Amsterdam in 1921. They were very successful and in the early 60's when demand was starting to exceed supply, they outsourced part of the production of to Fongers in Groningen. Mainly sports bikes, but Fongers made some fine racing bikes as well. This deal ended when Fongers was taken over by Batavus in 1969. Subsequently the production of RIH sports and utility bikes was licensed to Cové in Venlo in 1972. At about the same time the shop in Amsterdam, that was still producing the high-end competititon bikes, was sold to Wim van der Kaaij, who had been working for Bustraan since the late 60's.
Since then Cové has been producing the more mundane models (and some nice road bikes, such as the Elan and the Mistral), whereas the Amsterdam shop produced the high-end handmade stuff, such as the bikes for Leontien van Moorsel's world titles in the 90's. Not all wins were credited to RIH though. Many a Gazelle or Flandria ridden in anger was actually a repainted RIH.
Per June 1st 2012 the production of racing frames in Amsterdam has ceased. RIH sports and utility bikes are still in production at Cové, who have owned the RIH name since 1982.
Famous Dutch singer Willy Alberti holding his Fongers built RIH:
The RIH name
Not Rijwiel Industrie Holland, but named RIH (supposedly meaning "faster than the wind"), after the black stallion of Kara Ben Nemsi, a literary figure from the books of German author Karl May.
Dating a Fongers RIH
Fongers added a letter to the serial number identify the build year. For the period that they built bikes for RIH, from 1964 to 1970, the following codes were used:
1966 Z (letter following the serial number from this year on)
Until 1966 the letter preceded the serial number. From '66 onwards they started reusing the letters, but put them behind the serial number.