Pimp My Bike, Dutch Style

The turquoise says it all: I Pimped My Bike!

Half of the fun of walking around the cities of the Netherlands is checking out how individuals deck out their bikes.  While there are some common themes – the addition of color or flowers, different styles of baskets and seats, modifications for children – the Dutch have some very interesting ways of decking out their bicycles.  And, if you’ve been following this blog, bicycles are an essential aspect of Dutch society.  Bikes are not just an ecologically sound form of transport (a very considerable concern here), they are a statement of independence and a (pardon the pun) free-wheeling joie de vie.

So this blog is less about yakking, and more about showing you
some of the more interesting decked-out bikes I’ve seen in my travels around Utrecht, Amsterdam and den Haag.  I do want to point out that the vast majority of bikes are not well-decorated, probably because the nicer the bike, the more likely it is to get stolen.  In the words of my Dutch friend, Corinne, “You don’t want a really nice bike – it will get stolen.”  So here’s to the brave souls who risk theft just to have a unique bicycle that reflects the owner’s personality.

Flower Power Bikes

Probably the most common form of bike decoration is the twining of artificial flowers among handlebars, seats, and other bike parts.

Flowery handlebars. Check out the purple bike in the background.

Flowers front and rear

All decked out in pink

Probably the most common form of functional modification is the different types of additions made to bikes to accommodate children.  I have seen bicycles with 2 and 3 kids strapped into various types of seats, front and aft.  Then there are what I call the “baby barrows” – front end attachments that look like wheelbarrows that can hold up to 4 kids in them. Or merchandise,  plants or dogs.

Family Outing with "Baby Barrow" in Amsterdam

Training wheels with assistance

Gynecologist's baby bike

Check out the wind screen on this babymobile.

Decked out babby barrow

Two-toddler bike

Adding panniers or baskets also expresses some individuality:

Functional but flowery

Universal student all-purpose crate

Colorful Panniers


Porcelain tulips!


And just the smaller touches, adding color, new seating,
bells or even….wheel widgets and polka dots!

Wheel Widgets!

Teenie, weenie, polka-dotted....bike

Definitely a little girl''s bike

In Amsterdam, we saw a number of bicycle taxis.  Probably the coolest looking one was this:

Smokin' Bicycle Taxi

And there is the creative bicycle parking, from en masse chainings to rails and lamp posts to double decker bike stands….

…to multi-plex bicycle garages:

Dead or just parked?

Not for everyone is the pedal-pushing bicycle. There are a few scooters and even — gasp! — motorcycles to be seen, although both are a minute minority compared to the sheer number of bicycles.  

And, wrapping this up, the bicycle bumper sticker, as with bumper stickers everywhere, states a political message.  In this case, to voice support for a national student’s organization, JSVU.  (Still haven’t figured out what the letters stand for.   And even if I could, I wouldn’t be able to pronounce it: go see “Dutch is a Pirate Language”.)

2 thoughts on “Pimp My Bike, Dutch Style

  1. Pingback: By Your Seat Advertising in Holland | Distant Sojourns

    • Thanks for the comment. When I wrote this posting it was 2012. When we returned in 2013, I was surprised to see how many stores were open on Sundays. I had mixed feelings about that, but it certainly was easier to buy groceries on Sundays rather than try to remember which Albert Hijn would be open on a Sunday. Most Dutch people I talked to seemed to like having that greater flexibility, but I can see how it could be annoying, too.

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