Go Dutch with plain bicycles


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This article was published 23/02/2022 (392 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Dutch bicycles are a new trend in Winnipeg cycling and their introduction is being spearheaded by a social enterprise located in West Broadway.

Some people have found these bikes, with their upright riding positions, very comfortable and more suited to a casual style of riding.

West End resident Janis Thiessen ordered a Dutch bicycle through the Plain Bicycle project two years ago.

“It’s comfortable and has been great to bike downtown. I’ve used it to go to The Forks and take my dog to the park” Thiessen said.

She said using her new bike has been an improvement over her past experiences with biking. Road bikes she used in the past forced her to lean forward and she found them very uncomfortable.

Dutch bicycles, also called plain bikes or omafiets, are more upright, heavier, and feature wider tires and fewer moving parts. They are easy to maintain and intended for everyday uses, such as grocery shopping.

“It started at the very early stages of the pandemic” said Dan Reihl, a co-manager with the Plain Bicycle project, of the decision to set up a storefront for the initiative. The move was a response to high demand for Dutch bikes.  

The Plain Bicycle project began in 2017, involving pre-orders of plain bicycles from the Netherlands.

The project was crowd-funded, with 200 people contributing for the first order. A container of bicycles was delivered to Winnipeg and distributed to the crowd-funders in a warehouse. In August 2020, the Plain Bicycle project set up its first storefront on Sherbrook Street and project managers plan to establish another location in the Forks.

Thiessen obtained her Dutch bike through a crowd-funded pre-order, but has gone to the shop for accessories such as seat covers and lights.   

“They have so many neat things that are common in European cycling culture, less common here, but they make your experience so much easier. It becomes biking as a natural part of life, as opposed to an athletic sport,” she said.

Thiessen has visited the Netherlands and was impressed by how much more practical and accessible biking culture was there. Extensive, physically separated bikeways and plain bicycles meant the biking experience was more relaxed than in Canada.

Plain Bicycle is a non-profit social enterprise operated by the Winnipeg Trails Association. It offers bicycles, accessories, and repair services at its shop and future plans include manufacturing Dutch-style bicycles.  

Plain Bicycle’s store is located at 267 Sherbrook St. or  find it online at www.plainbicycle.org

Dylon Martin is a community correspondent for West Broadway.

Dylon Martin

Dylon Martin
West Broadway community correspondent

Dylon Martin is a community correspondent for West Broadway.

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