5 ways to find a bike in the Netherlands
So, you’ve just arrived in the Netherlands, or maybe you have been here a while, and you have noticed that cycling is pretty much the main mode of transport in this small country. But where can you find your own set of wheels? Here are a couple of tips to help find a bicycle.
Types of bikes in the Netherlands
First things first, it's a good idea to know what kind of options are out there for you to choose from. You might think buying a bike is simple - after all, how many different kinds of bikes can there be? - but as any cycling fanatic would know, there are plenty of different kinds and models out there:
Omafiets ("grandma bicycle")
The most commonly found bike on Dutch roads is the traditional omafiets ("grandma bicycle") - a classic steel-framed bike that is typically low-weight and low-maintenance but doesn't have any of the fancy features other more high-tech (and more expensive) bikes have. They're easily customisable, and can have baskets or child seats added if necessary. The omafiets is a kind of stadsfiets (city bike or utility bike), which are bicycles designed for frequent and short trips in urban areas.
Dmitry Kalinovsky via Shutterstock.com.
Bakfiets (cargo bicycle)
Vouwfiets (folding bicycle)
These foldable bikes might be noticeable when travelling on public transport, as they're more portable than the traditional bike and are easy to store at home if you don't want to leave your bike on the street.
The OV-fiets is a kind of stadsfiets, but is notable as they're rental bikes that can be found at train stations in the Netherlands, and can be used through your OV-chipkaart. The frames are blue and yellow, making them easily recognisable.
Racefiets (racing bike)
As the name suggests, this two-wheeler is designed for competitive road cycling. While they're certainly aerodynamic, they're probably not ideal for everyday use.
If you're at all familiar with the geography of the Netherlands, you likely know that these bikes probably aren't really needed here (although there are a couple of hills dotted about).
Last but not least, the electric bicycle has become increasingly popular among people in the Netherlands over the past few years. As they're motorised, they're ideal for travelling longer distances or for trips when the cyclist is also having to battle against the pesky Dutch weather.
Lea Rae via Shutterstock.com.
Average cost of a bike in the Netherlands
How much you pay for a Dutch bike depends wholly on the kind of bicycle you decide to buy. Unsurprisingly, buying a new e-bike or bakfiets could easily set you back over 2.000 euros, while buying second-hand could save you a pretty penny.
If you're not looking for anything fancy and are just after a good-old-fashioned stadsfiets, then you should be able to find a second-hand bike for anything between 50 and 250 euros, depending on the age, condition and quality of the model, as well as where you decide to buy it from (buying online or from a friend will typically be cheaper than buying from a bike shop).
A new stadsfiets, on the other hand, will cost you quite a bit. Prices typically start at around 250 euros, and can reach as high as 700 euros, depending on the model you're looking at.
Where to buy a bicycle in the Netherlands
Now that you have a better idea of what to expect from bike shopping in the Netherlands, here are five different options for buying your very own set of wheels.
1. Go to your local bike shop
This is probably the most obvious option, albeit perhaps not the most cost-effective. Every Dutch city and town will have one (if not many) bike shops. Bike shops tend to sell a mix of new, second-hand and refurbished bikes. And you never know, they might have an amazing deal helping you to find the perfect bike.
Just a tip: usually bike shops have a repairs section, so if your tyre gets punctured or your brakes need replacing, just pop on over to fix these problems. Prices for repairs vary per shop, so it’s a good idea to compare shops before you choose the one you want your bike to get repaired at.
2. Browse Marktplaats
Marktplaats is basically the Dutch eBay. From cars to clogs, you can find almost anything on this website, including dozens of second-hand bikes. Make sure you remember to add your search radius - nothing worse than finding the perfect bike, only to find that you have to travel the length of the country to pick it up.
Also be aware that some bikes on the website may have things that need fixing - it's best to check what these are first, as fixing your bicycle may cost just as much as the purchase price.
3. Try looking in Facebook groups
Increase your chances of finding a bike by becoming a member of several “selling / buying a bike in...” Facebook groups. The best time to find a bike in these groups is during August and January, as this is when many international students finish their studies and will be selling their stuff before leaving the Netherlands.
Facebook groups are great for finding a bike, but make sure you check the bicycle out first before paying for it. Another thing to be aware of is that no one regulates the prices, so you may find an awesome bike for not a lot of money, but you are also likely to come across hunks of junk for extortionate prices.
4. Get a second-hand bike from the municipality
Some Dutch municipalities hold a regular sale of all of the unclaimed bikes left at depots in the city. This is not true for all municipalities, however, as some will sell the old, unclaimed bikes to businesses willing to refurbish them. Of course, if your municipality does not directly sell its unclaimed bikes, you can always buy one through the company refurbishing them.
In some municipalities, there are even bike sales where residents who have had their bikes stolen and have reported this to the police have the chance to buy a cheap second-hand bike before other residents. Buying a bicycle from a municipality is a good idea, as you know for sure that it has not been stolen.
So, be sure to check your municipality’s website to see whether they sell unclaimed bicycles at the bike depot or whether they are refurbished and sold by another company. One tip: if there is a municipal bicycle sale, get there early! Otherwise, when you turn up, all the good bikes will be gone.
5. Consult your colleagues and noticeboards
Lastly, it might be a good idea to consult your colleagues. People you meet at your new job may have lived in the city you have just moved to for a while and will, therefore, likely either know the best place to get a bicycle, have a spare one, or might know someone who is selling theirs.
Buying a used bike: Hints and tips
Of course, buying a brand-new bike is always a possibility, but if you're not keen on the idea of spending that much money then going second-hand is certainly a viable option. If this is the road you intend to go down, then there are a couple of things worth bearing in mind:
- Always make sure the gears and brakes work properly (and double-check to see what kind of brakes the bike is fitted with).
- Does the bike come with a bell?
- Does the bike come with any locks or lights?
- Is the bike the right fit for you (i.e. is it comfortable, is it the right size, can the seat be adjusted to your height)?
- Don’t buy a bike from a stranger on the street offering it to you for 10 euros (the bike is likely stolen).
- If you're buying online from a stranger, let your friends know and / or take someone with you.
If you notice anything that doesn't look right, or feel - after inspecting the bike thoroughly - that it isn't worth the price the seller is offering you, then you can have a go at haggling for a discount. This is generally a fairly common practice, especially if you're shopping via Facebook or Marktplaats, so don't be afraid to go for it.
Do remember, however, that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. 20 euros for a new race bike? Either this is a scam, or someone is trying to get rid of a stolen bike, which, if you purchase, you are then liable for. It’s best to avoid getting into trouble with the police. If the bike deal sounds shady, just don’t purchase it!
Words of warning when bike shopping in the Netherlands
Buying your first bike might feel overwhelming, and it's always a good idea to keep your wits about you so you don't fall victim to any scams, but buying a bike is not all doom and gloom - it’s actually a fun experience.
The second step after buying a bicycle is making sure you have the right lock(s) so that your nice new set of wheels isn't stolen by someone else!