From omafiets, to mamafiets, and bakfiets — Dutch bikes, explained

The stereotype is true; the Dutch bike everywhere, every day, in all sorts of weather. To help navigate the sea of options, here are the most stereotypically Dutch bikes, explained!

There are a bunch of different options to choose from when picking out your first (or second, or twentieth) Dutch bike.

Do you want an omafiets? A Mamafiets? Or how about a bakfiets? Maybe you don’t want a Dutch bike at all?

Either way, here’s a handy overview of the three most quintessentially Dutch bikes on the market. 🚲

Omafiets: not just for grandmas

My first bike was a so-called Omafiets, translated to “grandma-bike”. This Dutch bike style is known for being easy to ride as they have a higher seat and a diagonal-curved frame.

I used it to bike from the experimental farm I worked in to the office and was quite proud I managed to bike over slippery frozen snow (only falling a couple of times).

I painted it a metallic minty green, and I loved it until it was removed (stolen) by the city for being parked too long. 😅

If your bike looks abandoned, the city reserves the right to remove it, pimp it, and resell it!

It might be called a “grandma-bike”, but don’t be fooled, you can still go pretty fast! Image: Depositphotos

Mamafiets: for easy transport

When our little daughter was around two years old, it was time to transition to a mamafiets (mummy-bike). That’s essentially a bike with a child seat attached, at the back or at the front.

Who even needs a car? Image: Depositphotos.

I was very scared to bike with it, I am so naturally clumsy, and the thought of falling with my child on it was my own personal nightmare. I quickly got used to it though, and although we’ve mostly used it for fun or short errands my daughter loves it too.

Bakfiets: for the travelling circus

With the arrival of our second daughter and the travelling circus that we have to carry around every time we go out of the house, I started thinking more and more about finally graduating to the ultimate parent bike, and get a bakfiets (bucket bike?).

The bakfiets has a large box-like container in front — perfect for transporting anything from groceries to children. 😉

The ultimate parent-bike! Image: Depositphotos.

I started my research and asked friends about the famous bike. There are so many brands and types to pick from! First, you must decide if you will get a three-wheeled one or a two-wheeled one.

Then you have the choice of getting an electric variant. And then you have to look at the vast array of brands available. 🤯

And so we embarked on the journey of finding the perfect bakfiets. When testing the bikes, however, I completely lost my balance and control, and the bike was going everywhere.

I didn’t fall, no, but I could not for the life of me drive the thing.

My husband, who’s 100% Dutch, and has been riding a bike pretty much since birth, also had trouble with it. He said it was completely unnatural.

READ MORE | How I managed to finally learn to ride a bike.. (in Amsterdam no less!)

Nevertheless, we pulled the trigger. We went on Marktplaats, joined the national Dutch sport of finding second-hand deals, and found one.

photo-of-babboe-city-bakfiets
It might take up a bit of space, but the bakfiets is great for both city and countryside terrain. Image: Depositphotos

We chose a Babboe-city, non-electric one, and I am so happy to be going places with my kids and my junk all in one place. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll let you know if I fall in the canal.

Let’s talk business: the brands

In terms of brands, we heard that Troy ones have the best quality-to-price ratio. Made of (treated) wood, Babboe, Bakfiets and Gazelle are some of the most popular, and are in the middle range in terms of price.

Then you have fancy design brands like Urban Arrow; Butchers & Bicycles; Riese & Müller, sleek, pretty and made of the best lightweight, wind and rainproof materials, for a very different price range.

Dutch-woman-riding-children-in-a-bukfiets
With an extra seat in the back you can transport even more! Image: Ballenbak/Wikimedia Commons/CC2.0

Tips from real Dutchies

If you decide to get a three-wheeled bakfiets, many of my friends recommended going electric, as they are significantly heavier than two-wheeled ones. Also, when the wind is going against you, with the added weight of the children and groceries, it’s quite the workout to move them. 💪🏽

If you go electric, do not get them second-hand. There is a cute, smaller red-and-blue two-wheeled one called Nihola that has a special part that stabilizes the bike when you turn — way easier!

photo-of-Dutch-bike-in-tulip-field
Ah, the Dutch dream!😍 Image: Depositphotos

As a final tip, make sure to pimp yours by painting it, or adding stickers, as this dissuades thieves. Also, consider getting insurance! For the price of such a fancy bike, it’s usually worth it. 😉

Which Dutch bike is your favourite? Tell us in the comments!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2018, and was fully updated in June 2022 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Freepik
Amanda Steck
Amanda Steck
I am a Mexican girl, born to a Swiss father and married to a Dutch guy, living in The Netherlands for 9 years (oh how time flies!). I have a background in Biology and Veterinary medicine and a passion for travel, writing, baking, reading, discovering bookshops jumping around like crazy and red dresses. I also blog at Poppies and Ice-cream.

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