Because 95% of Holland is flat a pancake the classic upright Dutch bikes feature 28-inch wheels with tyres of 37 mm or wider, risen handlebars a single-speed back-pedal hub brake. Typically, they come fully equipped with mud guards, lighting, enclosed chain guard and a sturdy rear carrier. A standard item that causes some surprise to foreigners is the factory-installed bicycle lock below the saddle, that passes through the spokes of the rear wheel when locked. The Dutchman’s second bike is a more sophisticated travel hybrid or a fancy road bike. While the classic north American hybrid comes with straight mountain bike type handlebars, derailleur gearing and no fenders and chainguard, the upgraded Dutch hybrid bike is equipped with handbrakes, ergonomic slightly rising handlebars and a 3-8 speed gearbox or 21 speed derailleur gearing system.
This is called ‘fietsverhuur’ in the Netherlands. Bicycles are available for rent in practically every city, town and village at either bike dealers, repair shops or rental agencies. Some tour companies also provide more exclusive rental bikes. About 100 railway stations also rent out bicycles too, these are the so called ’OV-fiets’ [public transportation bikes]. Local tourist information offices (VVV) will also supply you with a list of local rental companies. Some tour companies provide more exclusive rental bikes.
Basic (one speed and hub-brake) recreational city bike [stadsfiets].The rental price is around Euro 10 per day.
More luxurious upright 3-8 speed hybrid bike with hand brakes for which you pay up to Euro 25 per day.
E-bike. Very popular but not available at al rental shops. Rental prices vary from Euro 25 to Euro 35 per day.
Road bikes. 21-27 speed and drop down handlebars. Rental prices vary from Euro 25 per day for an aluminum bike to Euro 60 per day for a full carbon high-end model.
Rental prices vary according to location and the quality and brand of the bicycle. Often cheaper rates for week long rentals are offered. Most dealers require a deposit or a credit card guarantee. Furthermore, sometimes you will be requested to show your passport for identification purposes when renting a bicycle.
Using your own bike for a Dutch bicycle tour
You can transport your own bike to the Netherlands and use it during your cycling tour. Another option is to buy a bike, bicycle parts or cycling accessories in the Netherlands and take it home after your tour. The many bike shops offer a range of bike models and accessories. And moreover, they sell brands that you might not be able to purchase in your home country.
When you travel to the Netherlands by ferry you can just cycle it aboard for a small charge. To let your bike fly with you as (extra) luggage requires some more preparation. The regulations for taking a bike differs from airline to airline. Some take bicycles as part of the luggage allowance of 20 kilograms and some charge you nothing, while other charge extra. Check your airline for the most recent information regarding regulations for the transportation of bicycles. For air transportation you must pack your bike in a carboard box, a bike travel case or a bike bag. For a single air transfer use a cardboard box. These are available at most bike shops and airports. If you travel frequently, consider purchasing a (hard-shell) bike travel case or a foldable bike bag. They are more durable and include wheels on the bottom for easy transportation through the airport. Bike travel cases are more expensive than bike bags, but they offer more protection. Before you start packing, take a few pictures of the bike. If any damage occurs in transit you might need these pictures to make your claim.
When you use your own bike during an organised bike tour in the Netherlands please ensure that it is in good condition. The tour company staff will of course help you with a break down, but they do not take care of deferred maintenance.
For luggage transportation during a self-contained bike tour there are two options: in panniers on your bike or a daily transfer of your luggage by courier service.
Panniers on your bike
Luggage carried on a bicycle is stored in panniers. These are bags (usually a pair) that are attached to an alloy rack and hang alongside the wheels of the bicycle. The normal English pronunciation is: "PAN-yer". Additional to rear panniers, a low-rider front rack with panniers is advised if you are going to be carrying heavy loads - definitely if you’re camping. These racks attach to the front fork so that the panniers are centered over the front axle. Using this front low-rider, the weight on both sides of the front wheel have to be balanced equally. Instead of a front rack with panniers, you can also tow a luggage trailer. With regard to actually packing your panniers, line them with heavy-duty plastic garbage bags to keep the contents dry in case of rain, even when using waterproof panniers. Waterproof nylon covers that go over the panniers are also available and these can be used as an alternative solution when it’s wet. Panniers come in many models and variants. There are 'drawstring' or ‘folding’ pannier closures, although the flap that covers the opening and secures with Fastex buckles seems to be the best system. Packs that use a zip fastener to close the main compartment are more prone to mechanical problems. A handlebar bag is advisable, being the ‘control centre’ containing all your valuables.
Cycling with a heavy backpack (other than a hydration bag) is not advised. Backpacks raise your centre of gravity, often causing you to overheat, increasing fatigue with your back and worse still, the weight of the backpack will multiply the effect in case of high-impact accidents.
By courier service
During a organised tour with one of the tour companies in Holland daily luggage transfers are almost always included. For a self-supported tour, you can also arrange daily luggage transfers from accommodation to accommodation by using the services of a Belgian courier service. Investigate and arrange this ahead of your arrival in the Netherlands.