Where to buy a bike in the Netherlands: the ultimate beginner’s guide

Your two-wheeled life begins now 🚲

You’ve landed, two-footed and nervous in the Netherlands, hoisted your suitcase up the narrow Dutch stairs, and now there’s just one question on your mind: “Where can I buy a bike?” 

Perhaps one of the most important things you need for life in the Netherlands is a bike — or in Dutch, a fiets. It might take you a while to get used to Dutch cycling culture, but in the meantime, here’s where you can buy a bike in the Netherlands. 

Types of bikes in the Netherlands

Wait, wait, wait! Where are you going? Before you decide where to buy a bike in the Netherlands, you’ve got to figure out what type of bike you need. 

Here are the most popular contenders: 

  • Oma-fiets (granny bike): a light-weight bike that looks like the classical ‘Dutch bike’ you might be picturing.
  • City bike: these are pretty typical looking and are great for just getting out and about.
  • Bakfiets: these are cargo bikes; you’ll usually see parents cycling around with their children in the massive baskets at the front of these.
  • Mamafiets: similar to the oma-fiets, these bikes have an attachment for a child’s seat.
  • E-bikes: these bikes are motorised, and make for easy travel especially when fighting the Dutch wind.
  • Road bike: this one will take you speedily down the bike lanes! 
  • Folding bike: if you need a bike you can take with you easily on the train, go for this one.
  • Mountain bike: designed for mountaineering, you might not make this kind of bike your number one choice in the Netherlands.
  • Hybrid bike: these bikes are combination road bike and mountain bike. Great for a bit of on- and off-roading!
infographic-showing-six-bikes-in-alegria-style-city-bike-oma-fiets-racebike-electric-bike-mamafiets-cargo-bike
Choose your weapon. Image: DutchReview

Do you know what kind of bike you might need based on these bikes? 

Good! Now we can get the real work done. 👷‍♂️

How much does a bike in the Netherlands cost?

The thing is, there’s a bit of nuance to this question. How much you spend is dependent on the type of bike you get. 

As a general guide, most people spend between €75 and €200 on their first Dutch bike. This is secondhand, and probably a little rusty, but it’s ideal to get you from A to B.

If you want to buy new and are eyeing a pretty basic oma-fiets, you can expect to drop around €200 to €500.

Specialist bikes often cost a lot more. A brand-new bakfiets, for example, could cost you up to €2,000, depending on the model. And if you want an electric one? Better get saving, because you could spend double that! 💶

mother-with-her-kids-in-cargo-bike-netherlands
The Dutch have come up with some inventive ways to bring their kids around. Image: Depositphotos

Where should I buy a bike in the Netherlands?

Just like the rest of the Netherlands, bikes aren’t part of a hierarchy. That person riding the squeaky rust-mobile? They might be a CEO.

Basically, no one’s going to judge you based on the quality of your bike. 

That being said, there are a number of options when buying a bike in the Netherlands.

Buying a brand-new bike in the Netherlands

If you’re the kind of person who’s willing to take the very likely risk of having your wonderful set of wheels stolen right from under you, a first-hand bike is surely the way to go.

But there are benefits! While a first-hand bike is certainly a luxury purchase (and a dream for thieves), it can also mean no squeaky brakes or stuttering lights. But, where should you buy a brand-new bike?

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #19: Bike while holding hands

Where to buy a brand-new bike in the Netherlands

Once that you’ve got the cost of the bike down, and an understanding of what you’re looking for, you’ve got to climb the final hurdle — where to get it from!

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #125: Throw bikes into canals (usually while drunk)

With nearly 3,080 bike shops (oh mijn!) in the Netherlands, finding a bike shop can be a bit of a task. 

Some of the most popular bike stores are:

Aside from these stores, you can always get a bike in one of the many thousands of stores across the wetlands. You can go in and look for more established brands, such as Gazelle or Cortina. Plus, some bike brands have their own stores — such as Trek

But, always check reviews first, and make sure to compare before you spend your hard-earned moolah. 💰

Buying a second-hand bike in the Netherlands

Perhaps the more popular choice, buying a second-hand bike in the Netherlands can also be a bit of a challenge. 

But, once you have all the details, going out into the world to retrieve the fiets of your dreams can be an easy task. 

Facebook Marketplace and buy-and-sell groups

Buying from Facebook Marketplace and other online buy-and-sell groups can be a great option when buying a bike in the Netherlands.

But, do be careful of buying a stolen bike; this is illegal and could end up leaving you in a bit of a mess. 

man-stealing-bike-netherlands
That brand-new ‘second-hand’ bike you’re looking at might actually be stolen. Image: Depositphotos

Does the bike look too good to be true? A brand-new pink beauty with a shining basket and not a speck of rust for a measly €60? Perhaps think again, for that might be some poor soul’s birthday present, snatched off the street.

A little bit of caution goes a long way — does the person seem trustworthy? Is their Facebook profile legitimate? Are they posting 20 different bikes for sale, claiming they’ve been riding them for two years? No? Then you’re likely good to go!

Marktplaats

Marktplaats, the Dutch holy ground for secondhand goods! 

This is an excellent place to go if you want to buy a bike. Dust off those Dutch skills, and see if you can grab yourself a good deal. 

READ MORE | Best options for selling your stuff in the Netherlands

Lots of people on Marktplaats will also sell more expensive bikes, such as e-bikes or bakfiets, so if you desire either of those at a cheaper cost, be sure to download the app and search away. 

Second-hand bike store

Just as thousands of bike shops sell brand-new bikes, there are also many stores selling second-hand ones. 

Many stores will sell both, so pop into a store and ask around. They’ll let you test-drive them, and they often come with a limited warranty or a buy-back guarantee. 

Flea markets

Flea markets are also a great resource when buying a bike. 

If you’re in Amsterdam, major markets such as IJ-Hallen will have a massive selection of bikes by different vendors, giving you the chance to wander around and barter before you settle on a bike. 

flea-market-waterlooplien-amsterdam-where-you-can-buy-a-bike-in-the-Netherlands
You can even find bikes for sale at major flea markets in Dutch cities. Image: Depositphotos

The market at Waterlooplein in Amsterdam is also an excellent place to buy a bike in the Netherlands. Open Monday to Saturday from 9.30 AM to 6 PM, you’ll find lots of secondhand bikes on sale here too. 

Ask your friends and co-workers

Though it might seem nerve-wracking if you’re new to the Netherlands, asking the people around you if they have a bike they’re selling on, or know of someone trying to get rid of their beloved fiets, is a good option. 

You’d be surprised just how much movement one bike goes through in its lifetime in the Netherlands! 

Under a bridge (just kidding!)

“Buying a bike under a bridge” refers to buying an exceptionally cheap bike, usually from a seller that looks like they’re about to bound away once the sale is done. This is often literally done under a bridge or by a railway station.

Clouded by nerves and a sense of rushing, buying a €5 bike from a person on the side of the street is never a good idea.

Although good for the wallet, the bike is most likely stolen, and the thief is trying to pass it off before they get caught. 

Beware of buying a super cheap bike! It may be stolen, and you might be the person to blame if caught. 

What should you check for when buying a bike in the Netherlands? 

Buying a bike in the Netherlands is a serious duty. Similar to buying a car, you need to check lots of things before you buy your bike and take it home.

photo-of-man-fixing-bike-in-bike-shop-where-you-can-buy-a-bike-in-the-Netherlands
The last thing you want to have to do with a new bike is to bring it for repairs just after buying it. Image: Pexels

The major things you should check for on your new bike are;

  • Do both the front and back brakes work?
  • The type of brakes: are they back-pedal brakes or hand brakes?
  • Is it the right height for you to get comfortably on and off? If not, can the seat be adjusted.
  • Is it comfortable? Do you see yourself being able to cycle for long stretches?

There are, of course, other things to check for, but these are more to do with personal needs and wants than the plain basics. As for accessories, we’ll get to it! 😎

How to avoid scams or buying a broken or stolen bike

Just like with most secondhand purchases, there’s always an underlying fear that the item you’re buying isn’t as good as it seems. 

Our best recommendation is always to always look at the bike in person. And no, we don’t mean taking it for a quick spin; we mean giving it a good, close-up inspection. 

Make sure the gears work, and that both the back and front brakes are in good condition.

It might be a scam if the bike looks freshly painted, as this is a way for thieves to resell stolen bikes.

Is it a bit too good to be true? Less than €100 for a really nice blue bike with a brown leather seat with 21 gears and in perfect condition? If it’s too cheap, too pristine, or looks like it’s been done up very recently, we’d recommend approaching with caution. 🚫

READ MORE | Expats and international students: how to not get scammed in the Netherlands

And, make sure never to send any Tikkies until you’ve seen the bike in person. That way, you won’t get caught out buying a bike that doesn’t exist. 

photo-of-girl-with-legs-out-on-bike
Oi! Before you cycle off, maybe double-check that you’re not buying a stolen bike. Image: Depositphotos

Renting a bike in the Netherlands

Want the thrill of cycling through the city, hair flush with the wind? 

Well, a great option, if you’re not in the market to buy a bike but still want the true Dutch experience, is to rent a bike during your stay! 

READ NEXT | 7 scenic bike paths in the Netherlands

You can get short-term rentals, for a few days or weeks, or long-term rentals for months or years. 

Long-term bike rental options

Long-term bike rentals are great if you don’t want to buy a bike, but yet still want all the benefits. 

photo-of-two-people-cycling-on- swapfiets
Using a rental bike is a temporary solution for bike ownership. Image: Depositphotos

There are multiple benefits to renting a bike: 

  • You pay a fixed cost per month
  • You never need to pay for the cost of maintenance; this is included in your subscription
  • You’re guaranteed a working bike at all times
  • You can get a perfect bike quickly and with ease
  • There’s less of a chance of your bike being stolen because they can’t be resold
  • The bikes are supplied with good, secure locks

So, you’re interested in a long-term bike rental? Here are some places you can go to get this incredible service: 

Short-term bike rental options

Short-term bike rentals are also available. These are ideal if you’re in Amsterdam for a handful of days and you want to get the chance to cycle around the beautiful city. Or, you’re halfway along your commute home and have to choose between a 40-minute walk or a 20-minute cycle. 

photo-of-people-riding-rented-bikes-in-amsterdam
There are hundreds of short-term bikes to rent in the Netherlands. Image: Depositphotos

This is where short-term bike rentals come in! These bikes are usually rented on a day-to-day basis and are relatively cheap (although they can rack up costs over time). 

Some examples of short-term rentals are: 

In almost every city, however, you’re sure to find a bike rental shop. Just walk in, ask if they rent bikes, and double-check the rate. You can expect to pay around €10 for a full day. Then, you can whizz away.

Other things to consider when buying a bike in the Netherlands

Congratulations! You’ve found the Dutch bike of your dreams. But, now’s the other hard part; all those extra things you’ll need.

Before you can journey off in peace, you’ll need to consider a few things, such as:

  • What kind of bike lock are you going to use? 
  • Where are you going to park it daily?
  • Is it likely to get stolen? 
  • And, what accessories are you going to add to it?
photo-of-couple-riding-bikes-through-amsterdam
Before you know it, you’ll be cycling into the sunset (or the Amsterdam bike lanes) with the bike of your dreams. Image: Depositphotos

READ MORE | Take it from a former thief: this is how you can prevent your bike from being stolen

Some popular examples of accessories when buying a bike in the Netherlands are: 

  • Basket: perfect for internationals who aren’t ready to cycle home holding five bags of groceries, unlike the rest of the Dutchies
  • Pannier: a bag that can be attached to the back of your bike for easy storage and carrying.
  • Mobile phone holder: good for those of us who are a bit directionally challenged but don’t want to risk unnecessary fines for using our phones while cycling.
  • A bell: important for alerting everyone in a hundred-metre radius that you are, in fact, on the bike path and they should get out of your way.
  • Something to distinguish it as your bike: because if it’s a basic black bike, it’s bound to get lost amongst the hundreds of other black bikes.

Where to buy a bike in the Netherlands: frequently asked questions

Where can I buy a bike in the Netherlands?

How much does it cost to buy a bike in the Netherlands?

How can I get a cheap bike in the Netherlands?

What is the most popular bike in the Netherlands?

Is it better to rent or buy a bike in the Netherlands?


So, now that you’ve got the tips, tricks and knowledge, you can go out into the world and find your perfect bike! 🚲

Did you buy a bike in the Netherlands? If so, tell us about your experience in a comment!

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in December 2022, and was fully updated in October 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Heather Slevin
Heather Slevin
Heather is a Dublin native, addicted to catching the Luas, the Irish version of a tram, for one stop, and well used to the constant rain and shine. Seeking to swap one concrete city for another (with a few more canals and a friendlier attitude to cyclists) here she is with the Dutch Review! As a Creative Writing student, she can usually be found sweating over the complicated formatting of her latest poem or deep inside the pages of a book, and loves writing, writing, writing.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. My wife and I are looking to bike from Bruges to Amsterdam and maybe Groningen over 4 weeks. We were thinking of buying new inexpensive city bikes. What type of locks do you think we may need?

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