Friday, April 17, 2009

Dutch Bicycles


This week, the New York Times did a fashion piece in which it declared the glossy black Dutch bicycle "the new It object." Although still pretty rare, I am starting to see these on the streets of D.C., and apparently they have become common sights in Manhattan, Seattle, and Portland.

The Dutch Opa pictured above (Oma is the women's step-through model) is sold by the Dutch Bicycle Company in Seattle for $1589. They will ship it anywhere in the continental U.S., and they estimate that it costs between $330-365 to ship an Opa or Oma. According to the New York Times story, the Dutch Bicycle Company will soon open a store in NYC.

Dutch bikes, of course, have both style and function. Fenders, chainguards, rack carriers, headlights and taillights are standard. Here are the specs on the Opa:

Frame: Powder coated, hi-tensile steel, available in 57, 61, & 65 cm sizes

Hub: Shimano Nexus eight-speed, sealed, internally geared hub

Headlight: Shimano Nexus hub mounted dynamo powering headlamp and tail lamp
(no batteries needed - ever) 

Saddle: Brooks model B67, sprung leather

Brakes: Front and rear roller

Accessories: Center stand, fenders, mud flap, cargo rack and pump, rear wheel skirts/spats - spoke guards (keeps your skirt or suit clean), fabric and chrome chaincase cover, integrated rear wheel locking system

By the way, the Dutch Bicycle Company also sells German Velorbis models like the one pictured in the very first post on this blog.

In addition, Biria has come out with a Classic Dutch Series that includes this 21" Classic Dutch Men's:



The specs are similar to the Opa:

Frame: Hi-Ten Steel, 52 cm (21")

Fork: Hi-Ten unicrown

Rims: 28" steel black

Tires: 28x1.50

Gear: 3-speed Shimano Nexus

Brakes: Rear Roller and front v-brake, Alloy

Colors: black, dark red

Standard: full Chain guard, fenders, front and rear lights with generator, kickstand

Finally, don't forget the Dutch and Dutch-style bikes that we've already discussed on this blog, including the Batavus Old Dutch, KHS Green, and Electra Amsterdam.

13 comments:

Brent said...

Why are these Dutch bikes so expensive? $1,500 should at least get you alloy rims and a lighter bike.

I loved my three speed Dutch-style "Robin Hood" in college, but I don't think I would have paid much more than $300 for it in today's dollars.

2whls3spds said...

@brent,
They are built to last! They use first quality materials and they are made in a country where the people that build them are paid first world wages. FWIW I have a Raleigh Superbe that sold for about $75 back when it was new, today that bike would sell for close to $500. And it isn't nearly as stoutly built as the Oma and Opa that are featured by DutchBikes. Not as well equipped either.

Aaron

Brent said...

Question on "built to last": price often goes hand-in-hand with quality, but I'm curious whether my lightweight $1,000 "Made-in-U.S." Cannondale -- with its low oxidizing aluminum frame, sealed bearings, and non-rusting alloy rims -- wouldn't last equally long. (Or, for that matter, one of the $329 bicycles out of Worksman Cycles: http://tinyurl.com/4pbk4g )

I'm sure part of the price is the unfavorable exchange rate, along with high manufacturing costs. But it sure does make one pause.

Julian said...

@Brent The Dutch bike I have from them does have sturdy alloy rims.

I'd be curious to know how much you spent "accessorizing" your $1,000 Cannondale with items necessary for practical urban cycling? Lights, fenders, rack, bell, pump, seat & pedals that you enjoy using, etc? And what about your specialized cycle-wear? Padded shorts, cycling shoes, blah blah blah.

Seems like if you added it up you might be pretty close to a Dutch bike, which comes standard with better (IMO) versions of the practical trimmings (burlier rack, dyno hub lights, chaincase, IGH, double kickstand) and requires none of the cycle-specific clothing foofery.

Plus, there's the weak dollar and transcontinental shipping.

But to each their own - you may prefer the way a lighter aluminum bike with sporty positioning (or, god forbid, "hybrid" geometry) rides. I don't, but lots of US riders do. Many of them didn't have anything else to choose from at their LBS, however.

Ted said...

It's not a price that'll go down smoothly for most out there, but perhaps pride of ownership overcomes the steep barrier to entry. There are those out there (likely very few) who want a specific "thing" no matter what the price point is. If they've got the matching funds and connect with it on whatever personal, fashionable or societal-based rationale they hold to, then it's an easy pill to swallow.

Personally, I think it's beautiful; absolutely gorgeous, and would love to own one. Realistically, it's as much an over-priced luxury item at that price point in my household as a brand new BMW sedan is compared to our $20k Toyota.

In N. Europe, where a bicycle may be the ONLY personal vehicle one figures into their budget, the price may be friendlier. In the States, for most here at least, our bikes compete against a lot of other personal transportation expenses and lower-priced bicycles. A bike for some of the rest of us, but probably not most.

Anon of Florida said...

Note that the Biria is very much so a cheaper cousin to the Opa, as well as the Gazelles mentioned in the NYT article.

The 21" is the largest model they have. Having test ridden it, I can tell you a few things. One, it is much cheaper than any other Dutch or Dutch-styled import bicycle. The one I tested retailed at ~500-600 dollars.

Two its much cheaper, the overall build of the bicycle was of lesser quality, giving some credence to past jeers of Hi-Tensile Steel as 'gaspipe steel'. The chaincase is composed of plastic panels that are somehow joined together. I feel that after some point the chaincase would deteriorate and fall apart eventually. The handlebars are permanently fixed to the stem, I'm not sure if its a typical thing in Europe, but that was pretty darn weird to see.

Riding it around confirmed many of the things that are said about he ride quality of Dutch bikes. Very upright very erect, can't really stand on the pedals. Personally Biria erred in equipping with a rear hand brake instead of a coaster brake, although that is personal preference.

Its a good starter bike, but probably not up to the snuff presented by Gazelle, Batavus, Azor, Velorbis, and other companies.

David said...

This is actually pretty amusing: Some Americans (I think) living in China created a parody of the NY Times article: Shanghai Style: The Chinese Bicycle, 5,000 Years of Civilized Riding and The 'It's the S**t!' Factor. Good for a few chuckles....

strak said...

Not too sure what makes these bikes Dutch, apart from them being out of the Netherlands. I see the white tail-patch and dynamo, and maybe they qualify with the upright riding position, but to my mind, classic Dutch bikes are single-speed, have roller-brake only for that fantastic bare-bar look, dress-guard (ladies frame), and best of all, tyres with reflective sidewalls. These have to be seen to be believed. Oh yes, and a 'nurses' lock' completes the look. I can't believe these US$ prices. In Amsterdam, the bottoms of the canals are clogged with these bikes. I actually have a classic-style Dutch bike here in London, kickstand and all, and I can confirm that there's no point standing on the pedals - whippin' 'em round is pointless. The fork trail is so long that the steering is noticeably slow also. Just the thing for the cycle lanes of the cycle-city of Leiden, not so good for weaving between black cabs in London.

Anonymous said...

For that kind of money you could fly to Amsterdam, buy an omafiets, and ship it back... I'd still have money left over, too.

Anonymous said...

The Batavus bikes are top-quality and will last forever, so I think they are well worth the price. That said, the prices quoted for Dutch Bicycle Company are a rip-off. I ordered my Batavus through Curbside Cycle in Toronto, Canada (check their website). They shipped it to an American distributor here who assembled and sold it to me for $850 US all-inclusive, no shipping.

kfg said...

I am amused by the phrase: "Dutch-style "Robin Hood"."

Very amused.

Anonymous said...

There is an American bicycle company making affordable ($600) high quality hand made Dutch Style bikes. They're called Bowery Lane Bicycles - www.bowerylanebicycles.com

They're based/made using solar energy in NYC and have been receiving a lot of press.

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