February 17, 2012

Why I Love My Dutch Bike

On my way home from work last week my gears stopped functioning properly. I pulled over to see about adjusting them to discover that the drive side axle nut was hanging on by a thread and was stripped. Luckily, a friend came to pick me up and my bike fits perfectly in the back of her car.  We went straight to Machinery Row, my neighborhood shop, for what I thought would be a quick fix.

The friendly mechanic scoured the place for a bolt that would fit my SRAM internal gear hub, but found none.  I was disheartened that I would have to leave my bike there until they could get a part from a supplier- I had to get to work in the morning.  "Isn't that why you have two bikes?" my friend asked, confused.

Yes, I do have another bike- a Fuji touring which is great when you want to carry a bunch of gear and supplies for a long camping trip or for a speedy ride on the Military Ridge trail to grab lunch in Mt. Horeb, but ride it to work?

Of course I did, I had to get to there somehow, but I arrived covered in soggy grime.  I love my Selle saddle but it wasn't a good match with jeans.  Most of all, I felt more vulnerable in a lower to the ground, harder-to-see-what-cars-are-doing position.

I couldn't wait to get my Dutch bike back!

Riding a Dutch bike is a more convenient form of transportation and limits the amount of thinking required before peddling away.  The features of the bike that make cycling a breeze are:

An upright step-through lugged steel frame.

A lugged steel frame is durable and makes for a smooth ride.  The riding position is super comfy and the rider is at a level to make better eye contact with drivers and be seen.  The curvy step-through frame makes it possible to wear long coats or skirts.

Fenders, chain-case and skirt guards.

Avoid the stripe-of-mud-up-your-back look and wear your nicest clothes without a worry.  With a chain-case your pant leg is free to flutter and your shoes will stay grease-free.  The skirt guards keep flowing dresses or coats from getting into the spokes - saving clothing and preventing accidents.

Dynamo lighting.

Never forget your bike lights again or fear light theft.  Sure, the generator adds some resistance, but not enough to matter.

Coaster brake. 

I love this feature!  I use the front rim brake infrequently, usually only right as I put my foot down coming to a stop.  The coaster brake also allows for one hand riding, freeing up your left hand to hold onto a cup of coffee, six pack of beer, or the groceries you thought would fit in your panniers but didn't. 

Internal hub with a twist shifter.

The hub requires minimal maintenance and reduces the amount of exposed greasy components.  The twist shifter rests under the right hand making shifting comfortable and simple.  I find three speeds are all I need to get around town.

Heavy duty rear rack with spring arm.

Whether it is a bundle of laundry, leftovers, a couple six packs, or a friend on the rear rack, the bike handles beautifully.

I couldn’t contain my grin when after four days I went to pick up my bike from the shop.  The good people at Machinery Row gave it much love - it was clean and riding great.


  1. Totally agree, but: my Dutch CARGO bike (Cortina Transport Heren) is even better - bags or groceries in the front basket, passenger on the back!