The Dutch Bike Manifesto

Welcome to my new page devoted to the Dutch Bike.  A Dutch Bike will change your life.  I will attempt to tell you in what ways that change occurs.

Currently Under Construction...Please check back often for updates

Essential things to know about Dutch Bikes, also known as Omafiets (grandma bikes) and Opafiets (Grandpa bikes)

1. Every Dutch bike needs a center 2 leg kickstand.  (if you don't already have a rear wheel centerstand, which is very cool)  An essential feature of Dutch bikes are their rear and sometimes front racks.  These heavy duty racks are great for installing panniers---bags that hang on either or both sides of the rear wheel.  You can load considerable weight in your panniers, and the first thing you notice after you do is that your bike will fall over when it is leaning on a one-legged kickstand.  Very awkward and undignified.  The solution is a two-legged kickstand such as the Pletscher I installed on my Kaptein.

click photos for large view

The Pletscher is a very nice unit made in Germany.  It comes a little long, but has centimeter markings for cutting each leg shorter.  More on that later.  When the kickstand is up, both legs are on the left side of the bike, just like the one-legged traditional style stand.  When you deploy the Pletscher, it is necessary to lift the rear of the bike with the right arm, and kick downwards on the stand, which deploys in a wide V shape beneath the bottom bracket.  Very stable!  Depending upon the weight balance of the bike, either the front wheel or the rear wheel will be lifted off the ground.  I prefer the look of rear wheel lift, but on the Kaptein the rear is heavier so the front wheel lifts.  This does present a problem as the front wheel, in the air free of ground friction, will turn to either side, almost 180 degrees!  That looks weird.  There is a solution:

2.  The Defloppilator.   I noticed in photos of Dutch bikes that some of them had a spring thingy between the backside of the front fork and the downtube, obviously to prevent the front wheel from spinning around when up in the air.  So, not able to actually find one for sale, I made one out of a spring and an aluminum grounding lug used by electricians.  I used the existing fender bolt and nut on the fork, and an existing metal screw holding on the cable guide beneath the downtube.  Convenient!  It took me all of 5 minutes to design and install it, and it works great!  You would think it might interfere with steering control but its like its not even there when riding.  Now the Kaptein sits proudly, front wheel pointing dead ahead in the air.

How to cut the kickstand to proper length:  Deploy the long kickstand and place wood or other objects under the front and rear wheel until the wheels are the same height off the ground.  Measure the distance from the floor to the tire.  This is your overlong distance, on the Kaptein it was around 1-5/8".  However, I still wanted a wheel to be up in the air a bit, so I cut less than this, I cut 1" off, which on the Pletscher scale is about 2 notches on the centimeter markers.   Also, don't forget that if you park your bike on lawn or other soft surface, the kickstand is going to sink in a bit, so a little extra helps in that regard as well.  So remember, MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE.  Remember to cut on the angle of the centimeter notches so your kickstand legs will sit square on the ground.  It is only a $45 kickstand, afterall, but if it ends up too short it's just a cool looking bottom bracket ornament that will result in your bike falling over even faster than before.

On the blocks with a piece of tape on one leg showing me where to cut

After marking, take the stand off, and using a fresh hacksaw blade, cut the ends off.  Its fast and easy as you are cutting aluminum, not steel.  Install the kickstand tightly and admire the new lowered-down raised-up look.  Now 1.25" off ground with Defloppilator wheel holder.  Nice stance!

3: Your Dutch bike has to have panniers.   Because you will use it to run to the market, the produce stand, the hardware store, almost any excuse to get out and ride it.  These are by M-Wave, are found on, and are really well made for very little money.  Each bag holds a brown  bag and a half of groceries or a 12 pack of beer, depending upon your destination.  There is a handy handle grip on top of the bags so you can remove them easily and carry them by your side.  The bags remove almost too easily, so I locked them to the rack with a small cable lock.  Once you get the hang of panniers there is no going back, it is so easy to throw stuff into them.  The downside is you can make your heavy Dutch bike much heavier in no time at all.  Not a problem on the flats, but watch out for any hint of a rise in the road!   On the plus side, panniers come in a vast array of styles and colors, including leather for the tre chic crowd.  Try Basil for a good idea of whats available.  A well designed bag set will have a tapered leading face to allow room for your feet to avoid heel strike on the bags.

4. You will repair flats with the wheels on.  This is mainly a rear wheel issue but it can apply to the front as well.  The rear wheel is so hard to get off and back on again that a different method is required.  That method is to pull the tire off the wheel while it is still on the bike (see video below)   You will have to find the puncture and PATCH IT, so get used to the idea that you will have to learn this skill.  Or get really good tires like Schwalbe Marathons.  I took the more economical route and purchased Continental City Ride tires and installed Mr. Tuffy type polyurethane punture proof strips as a way to avoid flats.  So far its been a perfect combination, the City Rides are nice tires.  I do carry a full patch kit with me just in case.  Better than pushing your bike for miles.

5. You will ride at night...BE SEEN!  Almost every Dutch bike comes with a dynamo powered front headlight and a rear tail light.  The dynamo light is barely adequate to see where you are going, let alone be seen by motorists, and it goes dark when you stop! Oh man, not too safe.   I am of the mind that more is better when it comes to lights, so I have been experimenting on the Kaptein, making it a true ship of the night.  In the photos below, you can see three different lighting effects...1) the green electroluminescent BikeGlow wire which wraps the entire frame triangle 2) a Cateye LED headlight covered with a red filter, pointing down at the front fork and creating a red orb on the pavement, and 3) a small blue LED pen cap aimed at the front hub.  These lights make the bike very noticeable, and beautiful at night.  There are also two more red LED tailights, another blue LED light for the rear hub, a blue LED shining on the white reflector tape on the rear fender, and a Planetbike white LED headlamp for head-on alerting.  I do use the dynamo light, which is halogen, and it puts out a weak yellow light which is not worth the extra pedaling effort resulting from its rubbing on the tire.  Unfortunately, I can't capture the brightness with my camera, you have to see it in person.  The Bikeglow in particular is a real crowd pleaser, with both cyclists and passersby alike.  I've also installed white reflective tape on the fenders, crankarms, and stem.  Red and orange spoke reflectors complete the side defense, and  built-in red/ white reflectors cover the front/rear as well.  The only thing I really think I need now is a really bright white LED "torch" up front so I can easily see the road in total darkness.

5.  Chainguard and fenders:
Perhaps the most distinctive visual difference of a Dutch bike is its chainguard, or chaincase if you prefer.  Usually made of plastic in upper and lower halves, the chainguard fully encloses the chain protecting it from the elements, both dry and wet.  Sand, dirt, and water are all locked out of the chain's rotation.   This means the chain is always clean and your pants are protected from grease. In fact, because the chain is protected from dirt, you can apply a much heavier viscosity of grease to the chain, as I did.  The thicker the grease, the better the protection.  This option is only available with a chainguard and it will make your drivetrain last forever.  Almost.

6.  Bells and Horns:  I think an essential on any bike that uses mixed pathways.  I have a very nice steel bell that rotates round and round;  it sounds like an old ice cream truck.  Pedestrians appreciate the warning, they have told me so.  I also have a brass bulb horn from India, that sounds not unlike an excited goose.  It's louder and I use it for cars or pedestrians with music devices in their ears.

7. Reflectors:   Serious night riders want all the protection they can get.  Dutch bikes come with reflectors built into the headlight lens and taillight lens.  They sometimes feature reflective stripes on their tires.  Good basic protection from all four approaches.  I put red and orange reflectors in the spokes of each wheel for increased side visibility.  I also put white reflective tape on the rear fender, front fender, crankarms, and stem front.  You might wonder why I didn't put red on the rear fender--- in my opinion white is much brighter from any angle thus the rear shows red and white to an approaching car.  Certainly that should get their attention.

8. A strong lock:  Many or most Dutch bikes come equipped with a built in rear wheel lock that is mounted to the bike frame.  When you park the bike you use a key to activate the lock which has two spring loaded arms that snap between the spokes of the wheel, rendering the bike unrideable.  However, the bike can still be lifted up and carried off, so it is only partially protected.  I carry a U-lock, the long version, and slip it around a pole then through the frame and rear wheel.  The front wheel is bolted on with axle nuts, and could be removed pretty easily with a crescent wrench.  Hopefully thieves of opportunity aren't carrying this tool or they simply have no interest in a heavy Dutch bike front wheel.  You could carry a light cable and lock to secure the front wheel to the frame, but then you are ever increasing the weight of the bike.  The U-lock itself is around 3lbs and is noticeably felt when riding.

9:  Tools you need:  a patch kit.  See item #4 above.  Tire removal levers.  A pump to pump your tires.  Possibly a small crescent wrench to remove the wheels.  Possibly a small multi-tool for minor adjustments.