Amsterdam, often referred to as the “Biking Capital of the World,” is a city where bicycles are more than just a mode of transport – they are a way of life. As an expat new to this charming Dutch city, navigating the labyrinthine streets on two wheels can be an exciting and convenient experience. In this guide, we’ll take you through the ins and outs of finding a bike, whether it’s through local bike shops, online platforms like marktplaats.nl, or even community message boards within supermarkets.
Buying a bike from a shop?
If you are staying longer in Amsterdam, renting a bike may not be for you, you may want to buy your own. We sometimes get questions about where to buy a bike, that’s why we’ve created a page with some interesting tips! Ofcourse, it’s easy to find a new bike online or in a store. But where to get that ‘je ne sais quoi’ typical Dutch barrel, that you will come to love like a local?
Why a second hand bike is a great idea
Buying a second-hand bike can often be a great idea over purchasing a new one for several reasons:
- Cost Savings: One of the most significant advantages of buying a second-hand bike is the cost savings. Used bikes are generally much more affordable than brand-new ones, allowing you to get a good quality bike without breaking the bank.
- Depreciation: Bicycles, like many other consumer products, experience rapid depreciation in value once they are purchased new. By buying second-hand, you avoid the steepest portion of this depreciation curve, meaning you can resell the bike later with less or no loss of value. Even if you maintain at a shop, it’s a still great deal compared to the long term rentals offered around town.
- Higher Quality for the Price: The same budget that might only afford a basic new bike could potentially get you a higher quality or even a premium brand bike if you opt for a used one. This is particularly beneficial if you’re looking for a bike with advanced features or components. Low quality ‘supermarket’ bikes sometimes even last for only 2 years and will rust quickly, whereas premium bikes can stand outside for 10+ years and still maintain sturdy.
- Reduced Theft Concerns: Bikes are unfortunately common targets for theft. While it’s still important to take precautions, having a second-hand bike definitely make it less appealing to thieves than a shiny new one. Especially if you use two locks, which is always recommended.
- Environmental Impact: Opting for a second-hand bike contributes to reducing the demand for new bike production, which in turn can lower the environmental impact associated with manufacturing and shipping new bikes.
- No Waiting Period: When you buy a second-hand bike, you can take it home immediately. There’s no need to wait for assembly or delivery, which is often the case with new bikes, sometimes months!
- Proven Performance: With a used bike, you have the advantage of knowing how it performs in the real world. You can look for reviews, talk to the previous owner, or even test ride the bike to ensure it meets your expectations. You can expect it won’t rust away within a year. If you want to be sure, look out for the brands mentioned in this article. No-name bicycles can sometimes deteriorate really fast.
- DIY Customization: If you’re interested in bicycle maintenance and customization, a second-hand bike can be a great canvas for your projects. You can modify and upgrade components to suit your preferences and learn more about bike mechanics. Customizing a bike is a way for a lot of locals to help prevent theft.
Marktplaats.nl: An unexpected Bike Shop
For the tech-savvy expat looking for a budget-friendly option, marktplaats.nl is a good option. This online platform is akin to eBay, where individuals can buy and sell goods, including bicycles. When using marktplaats.nl to find a bike:
- Do Your Research: Take your time to browse through listings, compare prices, and read product descriptions. Look for bikes in your size and with the features you desire.
- Meet in Person: Arrange to meet the seller and inspect the bike before making a purchase. Ensure it’s in good condition and fits your requirements.
- Negotiate Responsibly: Bargaining is common, but be respectful and fair in your negotiations. It’s an opportunity to find a great deal while respecting the seller’s efforts.
- Avoid criminals: If a bike deal is too good to be true or something seems shady, look elsewhere. Signs of illegal practice may be: A lot of super cheap bikes from one seller, who doesn’t own an official store. See further down this page for our information how to check if a bike has been stolen.
Community Message Boards: Supermarket-Sourced Bike ‘Shop‘
In a unique Amsterdam twist, expats and locals alike often use community message boards located within supermarkets to buy and sell goods, including bicycles. Supermarkets like Albert Heijn and Lidl often host these boards where citizens post advertisements for items they wish to sell. Keep an eye out for these postings as they can offer unexpected and affordable biking options.
What frame height do I need for my bike?
- Size Matters: Ensure your bike is the right size to make your rides comfortable and efficient. Many shops have staff who can help you find the perfect fit.
Although we use the meters and centimeters for body length in the Netherlands, we use inches for bike frames. Here’s a list of body length grouped by frame height in inches for city bikes:
- Frame Height: 22 inches
- Suitable Body Heights: 147 – 155 cm
- Frame Height: 24 inches
- Suitable Body Heights: 155 – 165 cm
- Frame Height: 26 inches
- Suitable Body Heights: 165 – 175 cm
- Frame Height: 28 inches
- Suitable Body Heights: 175 – 185 cm
- Frame Height: 30 inches
- Suitable Body Heights: 185 – 195 cm
As always, these are general guidelines, and factors like bike geometry and personal preferences play a role in choosing the right frame size.
Look out for these quality bicycle brands that are common in Amsterdam
n the Netherlands, there are several well-known and popular bicycle brands that are commonly seen on the streets due to their quality and suitability for the Dutch cycling culture. Here are a few of them, you can use their names when you are looking for second hand bikes online:
- Batavus: Batavus is a Dutch bicycle brand that has been around for over a century. They are known for producing a wide range of bicycles, including city bikes, commuter bikes, and e-bikes. Batavus bikes are designed with comfort and practicality in mind, making them ideal for everyday cycling in the Netherlands.
- Azor: Azor is a Dutch brand that specializes in custom-built bicycles, particularly heavy-duty city and transport bikes. Their bikes are known for their durability and suitability for carrying heavy loads.
- Gazelle: Gazelle is another long-standing Dutch bicycle brand with a history dating back to the late 19th century. They are renowned for their comfortable and durable city bikes, which are popular choices for commuting and everyday transportation in the Netherlands.
- Union: Union is a Dutch brand that focuses on creating affordable and reliable city bikes. Their bicycles often feature classic designs and functional features that are well-suited for urban cycling.
- Sparta: Sparta is a Dutch bicycle brand that offers a variety of bikes, including city bikes, e-bikes, and touring bikes. They emphasize innovation and comfort in their designs, making them a common choice for Dutch cyclists.
- Koga: Koga is known for producing high-quality bicycles, including touring, trekking, and e-bikes. Their bikes are often chosen by cyclists who are looking for reliable options for longer journeys and tours.
- Roetz: At the Amsterdam-based Roetz Fair Factory, men and women returning to the job market make new bikes from discarded ones. Yellow Bike cooperates with Roetz for our Yellow Bike e bikes.
- Cortina: Cortina is a brand that focuses on trendy and fashionable city bikes. They offer a variety of designs, colors, and features that cater to a younger demographic of urban cyclists.
These brands reflect the Dutch emphasis on comfortable, practical, and functional bicycles that are well-suited to the country’s cycling infrastructure and lifestyle. When choosing a bike, consider your specific needs, riding habits, and preferences to find the best fit for you.
How to check if a bike in your shop has been stolen
- Check the Serial Number: Most bikes have a unique serial number, usually located on the underside of the bottom bracket or below the saddle. Ask for the serial number and run a quick online search to check if the bike has been reported as stolen on local or international databases. Websites like the Dutch bike theft register, and Stop Heling‘ are legit website to check for frame numbers.
- Meet the Seller in Person: If you’re buying a used bike from an individual, arrange to meet them in person to inspect the bike thoroughly. Meeting in public places, such as a well-lit coffee shop or a park, is safer and can provide you with an opportunity to assess the situation.
- Ask for Identification: Ask the seller for identification, such as a driver’s license or ID. This information can be helpful in case you need to verify their identity later on.
Locks, Rules and Maintenance
- Lock it Up: Bike theft is a concern in Amsterdam, so invest in a sturdy lock and always secure your bike properly, even if you’re just stepping away for a moment. Somes reliable lock brands are AXA, ABUS, but locks from the Dutch store HEMA are also widely used.
- Learn the Rules: Familiarize yourself with Dutch cycling etiquette and traffic rules. Amsterdam’s bike lanes have their own set of unspoken norms that you’ll quickly learn.
- Maintenance: Regular maintenance is key to keeping your bike in tip-top shape. Many bike shops offer maintenance services or can guide you on basic upkeep. Keep some WD40 spray in your cabinets to maintain your locks, it’s just a few seconds of work.
In conclusion, getting a bike in Amsterdam as an expat is a perfect step into the local culture. Whether you choose to explore the offerings of local bike shops, dive into the world of online bargains on marktplaats.nl, or keep an eye on community message boards in supermarkets, the city’s cycling infrastructure is sure to make your experience smooth and enjoyable. So, saddle up and pedal your way through Amsterdam’s charming streets!