Deciding on a new Dutch Bike

I’m thinking about getting myself a new Dutch-style upright bike, but I’m not exactly sure which one I want.  I’m considering both the Pashley Roadster Sovereign and the BSP Barista, which both appeal to me for different reasons, but I’ve not really fallen in love with either of them.

It’s difficult to pick a new bike, especially when there’s no bike that I know of currently on the market that jumps out at me as “the one”. I suppose it’s because my tastes don’t exactly match the main-stream market here in Ireland.  I’m not interested in 100km spins dressed in lycra, and I’m equally uninterested in throwing myself down a mountain my my bike – and therefore about 80% of the bikes on sale are not suitable for me.

My list of requirement are:

  • I want a transportation bike, that’s solid and reliable and good for riding in all weathers.  I don’t need it to be ultra-lightweight, as I’m not lightweight myself.
  • I want to be in an upright seating position, such as you find in a dutch-style bike. I like to have a commanding view of the traffic and scenery around me. I also feel more stable and comfortable sitting upright.
  • The bike needs to have hub gears. I’ve had these on both my last two bikes, and couldn’t ever see myself going back to those complicated derailleur gears.
  • The bike needs to be available for sale in Ireland.  It’s been five years since I last took advantage of the Bike to Work scheme, and so I’m now eligible to use the tax-saving scheme again – but it only applies to bikes bought through Irish bike shops.
  • Ideally the bike will have a Brooks leather saddle, but that’s not a mandatory requirement, as I have a spare one hanging around.

You can see my problem can’t you? I have some very specific requirements which are somewhat contrary to the mainstream bike market. And so my options appear to be quite limited.

I suppose I should just bite the bullet and go out and test-ride some bikes. After all, the experience of seeing and riding a bike if often very different from the perception you can build up from reading about it online.

Richard Bloomfield

Richard is the founder of Dublin Bike Blog. He commutes to work every day by bike, come rain or shine, on his Dutch city bike. You can read more from Richard on his blog richardbloomfield.ie.

5 thoughts on “Deciding on a new Dutch Bike

  • 20 January, 2015 at 10:05 am
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    Hi Richard,

    The Pashley is a solid machine. I’ve had one for a few months and the only things I’ve changed are to add a longer 400mm stem to give myself a fully upright posture (the existing stem was too short I found). Also, I added a crate (which also required the handlebars to be raised) on the front for better carrying capacity. A childseat on the rear completed my kit out. I find it great, I commute to work daily (8km each way) with no problems. On the negative side, the child seat was hard to fit, and I’ve had to remove the headlamp to fit the front carrier for the crate, but there you go. The saddle is a brooks and is excellent as you’d expect.

    I haven’t ridden the BSP but it looks good. Let us know how you get on!

    Murf.

    Reply
    • 20 January, 2015 at 10:15 am
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      Hi Murf,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with the Pashley. I like the idea of getting a longer stem to lift up the handlebars, and also the idea of crate on the front! I’m also considering switching over the gears to use a Shimano Nexus 8 hub, which I already use on both my current bikes. I used to have a 5-speed hub on one of the bikes, but had no end of trouble with it.

      Regards,
      Richard

      Reply
      • 21 January, 2015 at 1:11 pm
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        Hi Richard,

        The longer stem does reduce the space between saddle and handlebars, so I tend to brush them when standing off saddle. Not too bad though. I got the bike second hand, and have had trouble with the Sturmey Archer 5-speed, I think the selector key is toast ( I currently have only 3rd and 5th, which is fine for commuting, so I haven’t gotten around to fixing it). I’ve heard that the Shimano hubs are better, but I’ve no hard evidence.

        cheers,
        Murf.

        Reply
  • 27 January, 2015 at 11:13 am
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    Do you know workcycles? they seem to tick all the boxes you mentioned. maybe not the Fr8 but the secret service might be just what you are looking for. Has a brooks saddle, an option for 8 gears and is a genuinely nice bike that will last for ages, or if you want something special check out the cross frame

    @Murf sturmey 5 speed are notorious for giving trouble, 3 or 8 speed on the other hand are fine, the good thing about sturmey hubs is that they can be taken apart and serviced.
    I do prefer shimano

    Reply
    • 27 January, 2015 at 2:52 pm
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      Thanks Astrid – I was just in contact with you the other day about the Workcycles Opafiets or Secret Service models. They are currently front-runners in my bike selection, and I just happen to be heading over to Amsterdam in a couple of weeks, and so I plan to check them out!

      Reply

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