The Swedes are smart. Following a policy of neutrality, the country has successfully stayed out of any armed conflict for over two centuries. Instead of fighting themselves, the Scandinavians rather produce weapons for the rest of the world. Saab, Bofors and JAS are or were global players in the defense industry and Sweden currently ranks among the TOP 10 exporting nations of army equipment worldwide.
But not all the gear produced goes into export, as the story of Kronan shows, a bicycle brand with a serious military pedigree.
The ancestor of today´s Kronans was the m/42 military bike used by the Swedish army from the 1940s and produced by various national manufacturers (e.g. Husquarna and Nymans). It was a massive steel frame vehicle, equipped with a single speed coaster break hub and a weight just under that of a tank. The m/42 was a sought-after vehicle in civil life, too. When the army sold bikes as a military surplus, they were highly appreciated as robust, reliable and cheap, especially by students.
And it was precisely the conversion from uniform to university that gave birth to the civil Kronan bike. In 1997, three former students from Uppsala, experienced in repairing and selling old army bikes, got hold of the specs for the m/42 model and decided to start producing a slightly modernized version of the classic. Kronan was born – with parts (including three speed hubs for some models) bought from Asia and assembled in Malmö.
Six years later, the Brunsted family bought the company and still produces the massive roadsters based on the original design from over half a century ago. However, the bikes with the patriotic link in their name (Kronan means “crown”) are not assembled in the Kingdom of Sweden anymore, but just across the Baltic Sea in Poland. Reviewers all over the world praise Kronans for their comfort and robustness, while agreeing that the weight of 26kg might be a challenge for some cyclists without sound military training.