While having Betty Foy serviced last week, I borrowed a Gouden Leeuw Oma from J.C. Lind Bikes (a sponsor of LGRAB) for a couple of days.
Although the Gouden Leeuw may look a lot like my Workcycles Oma, the two are very different bikes. My Oma is a full luxury brick house, while the GL Oma is relatively diminutive, much lighter and $700 less. Also, the GL Oma is a single speed with coaster brakes.
Aside from those factors, there are many similarities. The GL Oma has a powder coated steel frame and all of the accessories that I demand from the best city bikes.
Fully enclosed drivetrain. The full chain case acts as a barrier between the chain and the outside world, meaning both the drivetrain and your clothes stay clean and protected. Fenders! Essential to keeping yourself clean and dry in any weather.
Front and rear battery powered lights. I prefer hub lights that receive energy from pedaling alone, but these battery powered lights help keep both the weight and the cost down.
A wheel lock to provide extra minimum security and a skirt guard to keep your clothes from getting sucked into the wheel.
A comfortable saddle. This Brooks saddle is an upgrade that I highly recommend as the most comfortable saddle ever. A rear rack to carry heavy loads with strong rubber straps to hold down all sorts of packages.
A double footed kickstand to keep your bike upright when parked, especially helpful for loading and unloading cargo. This kickstand model is better than a regular one-footed design, but is not totally sturdy and I much prefer the two-footed center kickstand on my Oma.
A minimalist cockpit features comfy rubber grips and a bell. There are no cables or other distracting elements because there are no handbrakes and no gear shifters. I prefer coaster brakes (where you pedal backward to stop) combined with a front hand brake. The coaster brake set up alone on this bike is not my favorite for city cycling.
The bike comes in two frame sizes. I am 5’7 and I rode the 50 cm frame for riders 5’2 to 5’8. The other frame is 57 cm for riders 5’8 to 6’2. The 50 cm fit me fine after raising the seat and handlebars, but I felt like I could have ridden the 57 cm.
Riding this bike around Chicago was fun, smooth and swift. The gearing was spot on and I never felt limited by one gear (although I never rode up any hills). I felt like I was perched atop one of those European bikes from the early 20th century, on which you sit straight up but keep your hands down low. A jaunty ride that made me want to talk with my terrible British accent. ‘ello!
Overall, I liked this bike. While it lacks the indestructible feel of my Oma, it’s a good choice for someone who appreciates the design and utility of a Dutch city bike, but not the weight or the higher price tag. All of the bells and whistles that make for a utilitarian city bike are there, rolled into a classic and stylish design.
I’m not sure about the price, though. $900 is substantially less than most other Dutch bikes on the market and it’s an okay asking price for a bike with so many features, but at that price point there are other excellent bikes that I would consider, such as the Abici, Pashley Poppy or base Civia Loring. The Gouden Leeuw may be as good as those bikes, but without the name recognition and reputation, it’s impossible for me to say. I don’t know if this is the kind of bike that can be used and abused and still counted on a decade later. I’m also not a fan of the coaster brake set up and would want to add on a front hand brake.
I would love to hear from any Gouden Leeuw Oma owners out there. I know of some who were lucky enough to snap them up during the Groupon deal at an amazing price.