Upon arrival in the Netherlands, getting a bike is often one of the first things on a student’s mind. In fact, when you’re constantly making your way through herds of cyclists, desperately trying to get to the other side of the street in one piece, it’s difficult not to think about.
Nevertheless, finding a bicycle in the Netherlands is not as simple as you might expect. Whether you’re confronted with a language barrier, an apprehension of cycling or simply being overwhelmed by your new life abroad, finding yourself a bike may indeed be one of your initial challenges.
Don’t worry though, here are some tips and tricks to help you find the perfect travelling companion:
Buying or renting?
Firstly, one of the main factors you should consider is the length of your stay.
Although investing in buying a bicycle requires a small budget, averaging 50 to 100€ for a second-hand city bike, it quickly pays itself off if you plan on staying in the Netherlands over 6 months. Furthermore, reselling your bike online afterwards is easily done in a matter of days.
For a short-term stay, a rental bike can be a suitable option. Bike rental agencies such as Swapfiets offer monthly contracts of 16,50€, and in certain student cities, a discounted contract of 13,50€ is available for students.
Secondly, you might want to consider your bike-fixing skills.
As the odd flat tyre or skipping chain is a frustrating experience we can all relate to, you might want to learn some basic bike-fixing skills if you consider buying a bike. Don’t be scared though, cycling mishaps put your skills to the test and are always awesome ice-breaking stories!
Nevertheless, if you’d rather opt for the safer option, rental bikes can often be fixed for you by your provider, free of charge.
How to buy an affordable bike
We would recommend opting for a second-hand bike: they are much cheaper and are still reliable. They are also less likely to get stolen.
Online is generally a good place to start; many Facebook groups or second-hand websites like marktplaats.nl have offers for cheap bikes in your neighbourhood almost every hour.
However, you should keep an eye open for scams or stolen bikes. We recommend taking a look at the bike before buying it and asking about the bike’s history.
Many people also go to second-hand bike shops, there are often several in each city and you get the reassurance of buying a quality product. Most of them also offer a guarantee in case the bike needs repairing.
If you would rather invest in a brand new bike, sports shops such as Decathlon offer quality city bikes from 150€ upwards.
How to rent a bike
Rental bikes are also a practical way to get around. Our recommendation would be Swapfiets, as they are affordable, particularly as they offer a student discount in certain cities, and as the name indicates, they can be swapped in a shop as soon as you have a problem with your bike.
In the Netherlands, it is compulsory to have:
- A bright white light at the front of your bike
- A bright red light on the back of your bike
- A bell
We would definitely recommend you having
- A solid lock on your back wheel
- A chain to securely attach your bike to things
- A basket elements
- A yellow reflective cycling vest for when it’s raining
- A helmet if you are still an uncomfortable cyclist
In the Netherlands, it is common to paint and decorate your bike to make it unique, personal and put your confidence to the test. Furthermore, the more extravagant the bike is, the easier it is to find when it is parked amongst thousands of others.
Bike-painting is also an awesome and original activity to organise with friends on a sunny day, so get to your paint!