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 five options to help get you mobile.
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, maybe they have an amazing deal and you find the perfect bike.
The cost of a bike at a shop tends to be dependent on the city and the type of bike you want. A simple bike without gears will cost you much less than a racing bike, of course. E-bikes are becoming extremely popular in the Netherlands; however, they come with a rather large price tag.
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 / app! You’ll find dozens of second-hand bikes on this website. 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 bike may cost just as much as the purchase price. It goes without saying that if you buy something on the internet and go to pick it up, you should be cautious (i.e. let someone know where you are going) before you journey to get your new bike.
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 bike out first before paying for it. Another thing is 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.
Again, stay safe when meeting up with someone from the internet, and remember: if a deal is 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!
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 bike 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 the 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 bike, have a spare one, or might know someone who is selling theirs.
Words of warning when bike shopping in the Netherlands
Don’t, we repeat, don’t buy a bike from a stranger on the street offering it to you for 10 euros! That bike is very likely (i.e. definitely) stolen and you buying it means you are buying stolen goods, which is illegal. Don’t meet up with someone to buy their bike if they seem shady to you. If you do meet up with someone, let your friends know and / or take someone with you.
Of course, buying a bike is not all doom and gloom - it’s actually a fun experience, but it’s good to keep these words of warning in mind. Good luck!