When we tell our friends abroad that we have just purchased a new Granny Bike they wonder: ‘What on earth has gotten into them?’
Unrepentant we reply: ‘Because it is the best way of getting around’
Here are the 5 reasons why we prefer an Omafiets:
- A good Omafiets is virtually indestructible. Our previous bike lasted 15 years and we expect our new bike to last longer. No wonder they are the bike of choice for teenage boys who are notoriously brutal careless with any bike they posses.
- Easy to ride. A good Omafiets is well balanced, even with a passenger on the rear carrier or loaded up with freight.
- Comfort: they are comfortable and sturdy. The perfect solution for getting around town with several days of family groceries in the saddlebags or in the front carrier. Riding a woman’s bike we have always believed to be an advantage for men. No need for a high-kick to dismount and little chance of a crossbar induced injury to a man’s dangly bits.
- The flywheel factor. A flywheel is a heavy wheel which once started continues in nearly perpetual motion. So is the Omafiets! Once up to speed in the Netherlands’ famous flatlands the bike will practically pedal itself. We prefer to have a few gears, but have found an Omafiets can be easily ridden without.
- Easy to repair. Not only are most parts exceedingly robust, but repairs are easily done. Which means they can be affected at home or for a low cost at your local fietsenmaker (bike shop). Even changing the rear tire can be done in half an hour with simple tools.
While a bargain priced new Omafiets can be acquired for €200-300, it is well worth paying twice that amount for a good name brand: Old Dutch, Batavus, Giant and Gazelle are some of the better known makes. Alternatively a second hand bike via Marktplaats can be gotten for less than €100. Better a second hand brand name than a new generic, is our view.
Gears: nice to have but not necessary in our opinion.
Foot vs handbrakes. Basic Omafiets models are equipped only with footbrakes (you backpedal to stop the bike). These take a bit of getting used to but are ultimately more robust and require less maintenance than handbrakes.
Kickstands: some of the more basic models of the Omafiets are equipped with a stand that folds up behind the rear carrier. Avoid these; not only are they heavy but the clips holding them eventually come loose causing the stand to fall down mid-journey. A solid side mounted kick-stand is vastly preferable.
Do not worry if the front and rear lights stop working. Battery operated, easily mounted lights are available nearly everywhere for less than €10. Friction driven lights are notoriously unreliable and costly to repair.
This article has been previously published in HilversumToday