Sold out: the Netherlands goes bicycle-mad in the face of a pandemic

When the pandemic hit, the Dutch didn’t turn to religion, bargaining, or doomsday prep. Instead, they turned to what they know: bikes. 

Unlike neighbouring countries Italy, Spain, and France, the Netherlands’ ‘intelligent lockdown’ meant the Dutch could still hop onto their trusty fiets. Soon, the bicycle replaced not just public transport, but gyms and sports clubs as well.

In that period, some electric bikes companies experienced a bump of 38% in sales, compared to the same time the year before. “I’ve never experienced anything like this,” owner Jeffrey Goudswaard of the Amsterdam speciality store Kaptein Tweewielers told RTL Nieuws.

Out of stock

Beginner bikes, priced from €700 to €1300, were in the highest demand at the peak of the lockdown. Queues formed outside stores, while supplies inside dwindled. Some items couldn’t be delivered for three weeks straight.

READ MORE | Cycling in the Netherlands: “Fiets not feet” — an outside perspective on Dutch Cycle Culture

Even today, almost five months after lockdown began, wait times for beginner race bikes are normally at least one month. “We are temporarily unable to supply the price range up to €2000,” explains Goudswaard. “Everything has been sold. But if only a quarter of the people we have helped recently return, then we have a nice customer base.”

Highs and lows

The first hint that bicycle stores in the Netherlands had that this year would be different came at the end of January when supply chains from China became interrupted. Production scaled down to just 30%. As the lockdown came into place, some distributors feared the worst.

But already, many bicycle shops have equalled their total 2019 turnover just halfway through the year. One shop director expects the ‘extreme demand’ for bicycles, clothing, and accessories will mean 50% growth, reaching €56 million by the end of this year.

The international bike bandwagon

Recent years and COVID-19 has prompted other countries to look at the bike as a solution to congestion, pollution, and getting people moving. In England, the government has put aside £2 billion for walking and cycling projects, while Italy and France have created subsidies for bicycles.

Did you spend more time on your bike during the pandemic? Tell us in the comments below!

Samantha Dixon
Sam isn’t great at being Dutch. Originally hailing from Australia, she came to study in the Netherlands without knowing where the country was on a map. She once accidentally ordered the entire ice-cream menu at Smullers. She still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike. But, she remains fascinated by the tiny land of tall people.


  1. Yes i did. I am using my bike even more than i already did. I also got a race bike (wielrenfiets) from a family member to enjoy some different leisure time. (Hooglanderveen, the Netherlands)


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