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What is a Dutch Bike and what should you be looking for when purchasing one?

What is a Dutch Bike and what should you be looking for when purchasing one?
Category: Info & Tips
Posted: 24-01-2014 12:19:00
Views: 15264
Synopsis: Good question. They are increasingly popular, and not always the real deal, so it’s important to know what to look for. Here we highlight what we think the basic requirements are for a bike to qualify as Dutch. And of course this will become an unapologetic plug for our Dutchie range of bicycles which of course tick all the boxes below…

First and foremost of course, it needs to be made in Holland

An obvious point, sure, but one worth mentioning. Does it actually say ‘made in Holland’ somewhere on the bike? Dutch style bikes are not Dutch. They might sit you up straight (more on this in a moment), share a few similar features, but they are not made in Holland. And if we are honest, they are never as cute and endearing as a Dutchie.

Posture

Getting on a Dutchie for the first time is a completely new experience if you are used to riding mountain bikes, or pretty much any other style of bike for that matter. They sit you up straight, provide excellent posture for your back and don’t bend you over the front of the handle bars as if you were about to compete in a downhill championship.

This riding position takes almost all the weight off your wrists and onto your rear (they come with very comfortable saddles of course). This not only changes the feel of the ride - you glide along on a bicycle like this - but because you are sat up straight, you have a great view of the world around you as it passes serenely by.

Cycling is no longer just about getting from A to B on an exercise machine, head down with eyes focused on the tarmac just in front of you. It’s about enjoying the journey too.

Clothing

Lycra, bicycle clips, gym gear – all become thing of the past. A traditional Dutch bike is designed to be used for everyday journeys and adventures. That means you can hop a Dutch bike in your work attire - your Savile Row suite, or billowing summer skirt will all be perfectly safe. An enclosed chain casing protects trousers and skirts from all the messy cogs and grease whilst the removable skirt guards (the large black oval pieces that cover the top half of the rear wheel) keep skirts, jacket tails and children’s feet out of danger.

Lights

These come in all manner of shapes and sizes, but as a minimum expect to get two bright lights fitted front and back as standard on a proper Dutch bike. Often these are dynamo lights powered by a small bottle shaped dynamo that runs of the side of the tire wall. Whilst very green and cheap (you never need batteries) the trend today is toward LED battery powered lights.

Today the new LED lights are so bright and consume so little power that the argument for dynamo lights no longer applies. These new LED lights require almost zero maintenance and the batteries last for ages. We fit these new, very bright, very efficient LED lights to all our bikes as standard.

Brakes

This is where even we might not be 100% Dutch. Believe it or not you can still buy a bike in the Netherlands with only one brake. A rear back-pedal brake, and no front brake! With the sheer number of cyclists in the Netherlands, and the vast, all pervasive Dutch cycle network built after the end of the Second World War, Dutch cyclists are far less mixed in with the rest of the road traffic and just the one brake is perfectly legal in the Netherlands!

In the UK however all bicycles must be sold with two independent brakes by law, and rightly so in our opinion. We add a front v-brake to all our bikes – this is a very light and extremely effective brake found on most modern bikes sold today. But be very carefully here…some Dutch bikes have an aftermarket front brake fitted to them just so they can be sold in the UK. This is usually a cheaper calliper brake and trusts us – this simply does not work as well, and is not as easy to maintain as a v-brake.

To fit a v-brake to a Dutch Bike, you actually need to completely change the front forks in order to mount one. Here at Dutchie we have specially made front forks just for the UK market complete with the mountings so we can fit a front v-brake to our bikes. The result is a lighter bike with more effective brakes.

The rear back-pedal brake is always a curiosity to new riders. Not really seen since childhood bicycles in the UK, we were never sure that people in the UK would take to it again in later life – how wrong we were! We fit back-pedal brakes to our entire Single Speed and 3 Speed Models. And for those who want ‘normal’ brakes both front and back (both handle bar operated) these can be found on our all our 8 Speed models.

Traditional Look

Dutchies are known as Oma (Grandmother) and Opa (Grandfather) bicycles in the Netherlands, reflecting the long tradition of this style of bicycle. It has to be black, vintage looking, and with just a touch of white on the rear half of the mudguard to qualify. Around 10 years ago this style of bike underwent a renaissance in the Netherlands, particularly among the young and fashionable, which continues this day. It’s the only bike to be seen on in the Netherlands. To date, our UK customers could not agree more!

Frame Material, Ride Quality and Weight

Two of the questions we get asked the most are: What is the bike made of? How much does it weigh?

A traditional Dutch bike will have a steel frame, as do our Dutchie models. This is slightly heavier than aluminium frame bicycles, but does not make it any harder to ride, as most people first imagine it might. In fact, a steel frame enhances the ride quality. Without wishing to get too technical on this point, a steel frame will absorb bumps and vibrations from the road far better than aluminium. This results in a much smoother, gentler ride and the little extra weight only adds to this.

That said, the Dutchie is still one of the lightest bicycles in its category.

Locks, Bells and Skirt Guards

A Dutch bicycle must come with all three to qualify. Without a bell you cannot show off, or clear the tow path along a canal. That said, from the feedback we get from our customers you will be stopped anyway by passersby and asked where on earth you got such a beautiful bike.

The integrated lock is great for nipping into local shops or the bakery, but you probably need and additional one for long periods and overnight to ‘cling’ it to something (check out the one on our website to the right).

Skirt guards (removable for those that prefer their bike without) are great for keeping your clothes clean, but also serve to protect children’s feet from the spokes if they are riding in a rear mounted seat. They also allow you to hang all manner of panniers either side of the rear wheel without risk of entanglement in the spokes. Our large cycle panniers (shown on the right) can carry as much as 4 bags worth of supermarket groceries.

Hopefully this article provides some guidance on what to look for when purchasing a Dutch bike. Looks are very important, and Dutch bikes are the height of fashion right now, but make sure it also performs as well as it looks.

All these features and more can be found on the Dutchie range of bikes. If you are curious to find out more, you can check them out here.
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