Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Dutch Bikes" - build 'em yourself

Hello, and thank you for linking to Chicargobike. Many people are coming to our site from the Amsterdamize twitter feed. We are a family biking blog based in Chicago, where we take our 3 kids and ourselves most places by bicycle. Chicago is not a very friendly place to do this - we don’t have cycletracks, we have only a few painted bike lanes compared to other US cities like New York, and few children or retirees ride their bikes. We try to encourage other people here in Chicago to get on a bike they like and ride somewhere. 

So have a look around, enjoy our site, and leave a comment if you’d like.

The post which you are looking for from the link is here. The first few comments are below this post. As you will see if you read it, there are stereotypes about Dutch bikes on the post (heavy, steel, skirtguards, locks that are useless in Chicago...), and also links to modern manufacturers’ sites that expose these stereotypes (Azor, Gazelle, Batavus...). We do say, without a shred of evidence, that it rains in Holland. Sorry. And we forgot to mention the tulips and cheese, so here they are now.

Come ride in Chicago sometime.


  1. Great post, well-detailed. To go "full Dutch" it's helpful to slacken the virtual seat tube angle with a layback seatpost or Brompton seatpost adaptor, especially with a Brooks saddle that is challenging to push back as far as others.

    My version of this:

    That bike is an xtracycle now, but still loving the practical, upright, laidback geometry. And the fat franks.

  2. There's no definitive argument regarding bicycle helmets and improving safety, and '80% in most studies' is a lie. Please show me all the studies you looked at to make that generalisation! Only a handful of researchers have come anywhere near to that figure using their own primary data, most merely re-cite Thompson, Rivara and Thompson's report ( - a report which no set of primary research has been able to match in the decades since its original publication.

  3. wow, you didn't leave a single stereotype out, did you?

    If you ever decide to use a bicycle as part of your daily life, not just "commuting", you'll discover how practical and safe those frame locks MOST Dutch bikes have are.

  4. I'll have to back up Joe Peach here, the most recent review (Rune Elvik) of the relevant research showed a zero net benefit to helmet wearers in the even of a crash. In addition, other research shows that a helmet cyclist is more likely to be involved in a crash due to the effects of risk compensation on both them and other road users. At best they do nothing to protect cyclists and at worse they may even increase the risk they are exposed to.

  5. You complain about the cost of the bike then waste money on a helmet? Get the facts, cycle helmets do NOT "your risk of serious brain injury by about 80%", this spurious figure comes from one study over 20 years ago. Since then no one, including the original authors, have ever got near that figure again. At best, cycle helmets, reduce your risk of minor injury and in the worse case they can increase you risk of injury. If you are serious about safety stop blaming the victims...

  6. You may wanna check out what @copenhagenize and @amsterdamized have to say on this... inevitably, they are going to be derogatory about making a silk purse from a sow's ear :-). And any cycling blog that cites Thompson-Rivara is doomed from the start.

  7. Please feel free to post comments on the original post, now moved.

    Please also see our now somewhat old page about helmet data, which cites the major articles on both sides of the issue and which doesn't tell you what to do yourself. It tells you how to find more articles yourself. Feel free to comment there about the research, perhaps suggesting a new article to link.

    The IIHS site,
    is an independent source of data about bicycle fatalities in the US and is interesting for people on both sides of the issue. I wish it included a chart for bikes with functional lighting versus bikes without.

    As for the nice little Dutch back wheel locks, they are convenient but they aren't adequate in Chicago and they aren't adequate in Amsterdam either. Ask any bike rental company there. In a perfect world they'd be enough. They're costly in the US and not worth the money.