We want to go on a cycling holiday. Of course we will keep walking, but to broaden our horizons and explore a different way of sustainable travel, we need a good holiday bike. What requirements must that bicycle meet and how do we make the right choice? And what does it actually cost such a holiday bike?
Any bicycle is possible
You can take a cycling holiday on any bicycle. When I was 13 I went on a cycling holiday to family with a friend. We cycle with a granny bike fully loaded with panniers and a garbage bag on the back with our sleeping bag. It is also possible with a city bike with newspaper bags… everything is possible. But if you want to take it seriously, a stable frame, good tires, safe brakes are quite important and comfortable. So we are looking for a real holiday bike.
Second-hand or not …
We saw a number of presentations about cycling holidays at the Fiets- en Wandelbeurs. We also walked past some bicycle manufacturers, such as Santos. These are beautiful bikes, we were immediately enthusiastic, but oh so expensive! As our ideas for buying bicycles become more serious, we take a look at Marktplaats. This mainly includes traders and few private individuals. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack!
On bicycle forums we read that traders buy all private bicycles very quickly. We also understand that a second-hand bike involves quite a lot of risk. Besides the fact that the bike happens to fit exactly to your wishes (frame size, gear system, color), you don’t know what that bike has been through…. The dealers in second-hand bicycles do not appeal to us. The tone on Jan Hoedje’s website is downright annoying. In any case, we are not enthusiastic about it. We do see that the prices are a lot lower.
The price, what are we willing to pay for a good holiday bike?
When we think of a good holiday bike, we think of a price between 2,200 and 3,000 euros. A lot of money for a bicycle. If all goes well, we will enjoy it for a long time. Second-hand prices are lower, then about 1000 euros can be bought.
The bike we are going to buy has to be satisfying, reliable and we think it is important that we receive good service. And these aspects therefore result in a higher price tag. We also think it is important that the store where we are going to choose our bicycle has a wide range.
There are several brands active on the holiday bike market. Santos has a good marketing machine and is known everywhere for it. Koga, Idworx, Gaastra are other well-known Dutch brands. I didn’t know Tout Terrain, Avaghon and VSF Fahradmanufaktur yet. Many brands have Dutch roots. Koga, Idworx and Gaastra are all part of the Gaastra family and that family once raised Batavus.
Bicycle shops specializing in holiday bicycles
We search the internet and find several shops selling holiday bicycles. Most are not around the corner. Ordinary bicycle dealers rarely have real holiday bicycles and we are looking for that! And we think it is good to orientate ourselves broadly.
Jan Brinkman in Dronten sells bicycles of the brands Santos, Tout Terrain and Cube. He also rents out holiday bicycles. We think this in itself is a great idea. If you are not sure whether you like cycling and whether you like it, you can rent a Santos with bags for a week, two weeks or longer and find out if you like it or not. When you subsequently buy a bicycle from them, you will receive 50% of the rental amount back. A great deal. But the disadvantage is that Brinkman only has those brands and once you’ve ridden a Santos, it seems difficult to step back to another bike.
There is also a holiday bike shop nearby: Bikefeeling in Oudenbosch. But this store is also a dealer of just a few brands: Santos, IdWorx and Gaastra.
Bike4travel is located in Rotterdam, they have a wider range. Of course there are many more things. It soon turns out that we still end up with De Vakantiefietser in Amsterdam. Eric Schuijt sells, with his colleagues, Santos, Koga, Tout Terrain, Idworx and Gaastra.
Koga or Santos
When we orientate ourselves further on the internet, we arrive at Koga and Santos. We think Santos bikes are very beautiful, because of the design of the frame, the beautiful colors and the no-nonsense design. When we look around, we see that most Santos bikes are outside our price range. This also applies to IdWorx and Gaastra. Between 3,500 and 4,500 euros. As beginners, we think that’s too much money. We arrive at a Koga Grand Tourer or World Traveler. It is better in our price range (starts at 2200 euros).
Shop visit at De Vakantiefietser
When we visit Eric’s store, he takes us through the different brands and tells us about the five important choices you have to make when it comes to buying a bicycle.
Chain or belt
I also think of the color, the saddle, the handlebars and the pedals. But Eric immediately makes it clear to us that those choices will be discussed later.
If, like us, you are going to cycle over asphalt, especially in Europe, then a 28 inch is a logical choice. Our preference is for wide tires. They not only look cool, they also offer more comfort. But not all bikes have wider tires. If you want to cycle unpaved a lot, you should opt for 26, 27.5 or 28 inches with wide tires.
By reading on the worldwide web, we are now aware of the differences in the field of acceleration systems. If we had a lot of money, we would opt for a Rohloff hub. This is a low-maintenance gear hub, which is well worth the money if you cycle a lot, and you can also shift from position. That seems very useful if you are at the bottom of a mountain, for example. But with our budget we opt for a Shimano XT derailleur system. This saves about 800 to 1000 euros. If you really have enough money, you can also opt for a Pinion gear system. That is top of the bill, but also 1000 euros more expensive.
Because we opt for a Shimano XT, we also automatically opt for a chain. When you choose the Rohloff you can take a belt. This is 300 to 500 euros more expensive. Seems ideal. No hassle with oil and the belt lasts longer. I think it’s a shame, I would also prefer a Rohloff hub, including belt because I dread the hassle with oil and grease on your clothes.
We choose hydraulic rim brakes from Magura. Joost already has it on his bike and I really like it. If you mainly drive unpaved, disc brakes are a better choice. They are sensitive, says Eric. For example, if you put your bike at the bottom of a bus and a suitcase comes on top, they can start walking.
We opt for a hub dynamo. This is more expensive than battery lighting, but I think lighting is important because we will also use the bicycles at home. In addition, an inverter can be installed with a hub dynamo. We opt for the Cycle2Charge (99 euros), so that we can charge the phone on the go. We are going to use my mobile to navigate.
When we have made all these choices, we arrive at two models from Koga: the Grandtourer and the World Traveler and one model from Santos, the Special. We are surprised that there is a Santos that is still within our price range. The Special is a nice matte black bike, with all of the above items on it, only the Special has narrower tires. This also applies to the Grandtourer. Eric calculates the prices of the bicycles with the same versions and so we can compare well. The Grandtourer is the cheapest, but it quickly falls off for me. The Koga WorldTraveller looks great and has everything I want. I like that the wiring runs inside the frame. You can choose from ten different colors. I choose Vintage Blue. Joost still has doubts. He also likes the Santos Special very much. The price of both bicycles in the version that we want is about 3000 euros. Ultimately, he also opted for the World Traveler, but in matte black.
After we have made the choice, Eric measures all sizes using a fitting frame. He also asks about any complaints. I am afraid that I will get a lot of saddle pain, especially in the front of the soft tissues. This is something to keep in mind. Then Eric will measure everything. First the width of the sit bones. Those sit bones determine which saddle suits you well. Then he looks at the height of the saddle, the distance between saddle and handlebars. The handlebars and handles and the saddle itself. It is quite a study, but it goes in a very nice and calm way and you immediately have the idea that your entire posture on the bike is getting better and better, that there is more relaxation. That can only be nice if we are going to cover all those kilometers! For example, I choose the Terry Fisio GT Max ladies saddle (specially developed for women) and a moonbar handlebar with GP4-L grips.
When preparing the bike, they mount all specific wishes on the bike, sometimes it costs a bit more like the saddle, but usually Eric replaces what is standard on the bike at no extra cost. Very pleasant! The bikes are being ordered and will probably be ready in about 7 weeks. We are on time, because the bicycle market will suffer a lot from a shortage of parts in the coming period. Hopefully we can make our first cycling holiday in the May holiday!
Pick up bike
About eight weeks later we go to De Vakantiefietser collect our bicycles. Exciting! When we arrive we see them already in the store. They are very beautiful! And brand new, they shine on all sides! We receive an extensive technical explanation and tips about, among other things, the tires and the chain. To see if everything is properly adjusted, we also take a test drive . We also purchase the latest items such as a handlebar bag, phone holder and of course insurance. I will tell you all about this in the chapter about the equipment.