Beautiful Bicycles: Gouden Leeuw Oma

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.

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32 thoughts on “Beautiful Bicycles: Gouden Leeuw Oma

  1. Ms.Ding says:

    Yay!Someone finally rode and reviewed one of these bikes – I haven’t made it over there yet. Sounds like an OK bike, but at that price, yes, there are definitely a lot of other options. The handlebars are certainly shaped more like those on our WorkCycles Omas than say those found on a Gazelle or Pashley, but I can see even from the picture how much higher up you appear to sit. Thanks for the review!

  2. Thanks for the review, I’ve been wondering about these bikes! It looks nice, and it’s neat how there are two connectors between the top loop and the downtube, as opposed to the typical single connector.

    This is not meant as a provocative question, but are coasterbrake-only bikes street legal in Chicago? In Boston I don’t think that they are. I love coaster brakes, but have trouble riding a bike without an additional front handbrake.

    As for the price, a Gazelle Basic 3-speed with coaster brake and dynamo lighting (basically a less fancy version of the Toer Populair) costs $850 or so, and has brand recognition. The basic Batavus is, I believe in the $700s. Ultimately it might be a matter of preference and perhaps there is something unique about the Lewe.

    Oh, and I’m 5’7″ and ride a 57cm Gazelle, so I agree that you would have been fine on the larger size, too.

    • Mr colostomy says:

      I was just about to ask the same thing, I know single-brake bikes are not street legal here in the UK, which is a bit of a barrier to companies who wish to sell certain Dutch bikes here unmodified. In the kind of traffic we have here I wouldn’t feel safe with only a rear brake.

    • Dottie says:

      That’s right, the basic Gazelle and Batavus Old Dutch are other options from well-known companies that fall within this price range. I like the GL Oma much better than the Batavus Old Dutch I test rode a while ago, but a 3-speed Gazelle with dynamo lights certainly gives this a run for its money.

      Coaster brakes are legal in Chicago, as far as I know. I looked up the Chicago Municipal Code and here’s what it says about bicycle brakes: “Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake that will enable the operator to make the braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.” – Note: this is not intended as legal advice and I did not throughly research the issue. :)

      • Just to clarify – the coaster brake itself is absolutely fine and street legal everywhere as far as I know, as long as the bike also has some sort of front brake. Some city/country bicycling codes specifically require “a brake on the front wheel”.

      • bongobike says:

        That legal lingo must have been copied by state and local governments everywhere. It’s the exact same language you will find in the Texas code and, I believe, city of Austin bike ordinance.

        • dukiebiddle says:

          Bongo, around WWII the U.S. Dept of Transportation distributed some sort of advisory legal bicycle code mumbo-jumbo to all the state legislatures, with the recommendation that they adopt advised laws & language.

          • dukiebiddle says:

            Or whatever was the equivalent of the Dept. of Trans back then.

            • Maureen says:

              Just read the comments, I am shocked coaster only breaks are illegal places! Why?

            • bongobike says:

              They just aren’t very effective, Maureen. Try makeing a panic stop with a coaster brake on a fast downhill. You’ll find out all you need to know about coaster brakes. They are fine for pootling around at slow speeds on flat ground (like they do in Amsterdam), otherwise forget them, unless you couple them with a good front brake.

          • bongobike says:

            I see, that makes sense. Thanks.

            • Tara says:

              I also purchased one of these from the Groupon, even though I live in upstate NY. Jon was awesome in answering my questions before the purchase, and arranging shipping (which was super cheap, actually) to my house – along with the Yepp mini I purchased alongside it. I really like the bike (even though I’m new to the scene, really) because it’s comfortable and practical for me just riding around BUT I can fit my kids on it as well, whereas my hybrid just wasn’t up to the task. My little one can ride in front while groceries/books/whatever sit on back or in panniers, and there’s no need to take the car out.

              It is a bit “heftier” than I’d imagined, but it’s mainly getting used to it, and I imagine any bike that I can do what I’m looking for will be the same. The coaster brakes are also a bit weird, and I will be adding a front brake, but otherwise I’m in love. It’s gorgeous, rides well and comfortably, and Jon and the shop were fantastic with communication and shipping.

              Her name is Maggie, by the way. ;)

  3. Frits B says:

    Gouden Leeuw = Golden Lion (so add “fietsen” to the name when Googling it or you get a long list of Chinese restaurants) is a brand owned by a trading company, Louis Verwimp BV, in Valkenswaard, in the South of the Netherlands. They sell oldfashioned Oma and Opa bikes, plus generic stepthrough and diamond frames much like the ones offered by Gazelle and Batavus. The one Dottie rode is their absolute bottom model; in Holland it would at least have a bottle dynamo, and the same model is also available with a 3sp gearhub and SA drum brakes. I suppose the price would then be rather less competitive.

    The “modern” frames have Shimano hub dynamos and are either single speed or 3 speed, the latter with roller brakes. Specificationwise, these are very basic city bikes. Well made but no frills.

    Website: http://www.goudenleeuwfietsen.nl (Dutch only).

  4. Nicola says:

    I love the uncluttered handlebars. I’ve never used a coaster brake so don’t know whether I could trust a bike with one, especially if that’s all it has, but I love the look nonetheless.

  5. bongobike says:

    I don’t consider a coaster brake alone to be safe. But even if it were a caliper or disc brake, you can’t be safe with a rear brake only. You really need to have a front brake. I think it’s probably pretty easy to add a long-reach front caliper brake to this bike. It just bolts to the hole in the fork crown, just like the fender.

  6. neighbourtease says:

    I, too, like the clean look of the handlebars so much.

    Re size — The relaxed oma geometry makes it easy for people of different heights to share a bike. My husband and I can both comfortably ride a 57 cm Workcycles oma and I’m just shy of 5’3 and he is about 5’11. It’s nice to share a bike.

  7. Ryan says:

    I had been looking for an inexpensive Dutch bike for a few years and jumped on one of these (57 cm) during the Groupon deal ($499). Definitely worth that price. I had concerns about the coaster brakes as well — I’m used to riding a single speed road bike I threw together with used parts with a hand brake. I’ve found the coaster brakes to be effective, though I haven’t tried them out in wet conditions.

    This bike makes my commute one hundred times more relaxing. I don’t feel unsafe riding through Chicago with the coaster brakes because of the more leisurely pace.

    If you have concerns about the braking, Jon (J.C. Lind Bikes) will certainly let you take it for a spin. He’s been extremely helpful. Dropping it off to put a front rack on it today.

  8. Maria B. says:

    I got one of these bikes with the Groupon deal as well. I was in the market for a Dutch style bike for riding in inclement weather (sturdy frame, enclosed drivetrain) and this fit the bill.

    Dottie, like you, I find myself wanting to do a country club style wave to people I see. The posture is so different than any other bike I have ever ridden. I feel like I ride with decorum, as odd as that sounds.

    The single speed kind of bugs me because I top out on speed so quickly. I’m a big shifter, even in Chicago, and I feel like I’ve lost control over how fast I want to go.

    The coaster brakes are also a little scary. I haven’t had any problems yet but I don’t feel like I can stop on a dime like I can with my other bikes.

    So, while I am happy I own the bike, I haven’t been riding it a ton. I still kind of see it as my “bad weather” bike. Or my date night bike, because it looks so classy.

    • dukiebiddle says:

      Perhaps you can have a single pivot side-pull brake installed on your front wheel. I cannot think of any reason why one would not fit on the fork crown bolt. I may be well worth asking a local shop how much it would cost to install one. I suspect it would be under $50 for the brake, pads, cable and lever.

  9. Brooke says:

    Thanks for the review! I am the proud owner of a Workcycles Secret Service step-through, and am always on the look-out for reviews of other Dutch bikes that have a smaller price tag – and are LIGHTER… as you might also encounter while riding the WC Oma, folks tend to ask you all kinds of questions about your bike and it’s nice to be able to offer up some other suggestions! :) Happy Riding!

    • Shaina says:

      Brooke, I’ve been looking at Dutch bikes and am somewhat stuck between the Workcycles Oma (like Dottie’s) or the Secret Service. How do you like your Secret Service, and how hilly is the area in which you live? My city’s hardly flat…

  10. Karen says:

    Thanks so much for reviewing this bike! I went to J.C. Lind a few weeks ago on my quest to find my perfect dutch bike. I went to Dutch Bike on Armitage, Copenhagen in Wicker Park and J.C. Lind over on Wells and I have to say I couldn’t bring myself to buy one of these bikes new yet. I sort of kick myself for not jumping on the chance back in December with the Groupon for the Gouden Leeuw, $499 is a great price. I ended up buying a used Gazelle Solide from a lady on Craigslist. It’s a dutch style but a little more modern style, it’s not as pretty as a Toer Populair or one of these GL Oma’a, but the price was right. I just wanted to add that if there are other people looking for deals on Dutch bikes, I saw one posted on craigslist for $260 in Pilsen. It’s a Hollandia bike with racks, fenders, chain and skirt guard and lights. It looks like a gentleman’s style, but hey, I’m sure there are plenty of guys out there interested. Also, Jon at J.C. Lind sort of hinted around to me that he may do the Groupon thing again, meaning more Dutch bikes on the streets of Chicago! yay!

  11. Julie says:

    You and that skirt/dress/bicycle are textbook Mary Poppins Effect. It’s cute!

    I rented a cruiser bike that was coaster-brakes-only in DC and it was a little tricky, especially since I had no basket and was carrying my purse on my shoulder. I needed more hands or Hey! Hand brakes!

  12. Maureen says:

    First – you look very sharp on this bike, with your matching cardigan! This would be a great bike for someone who prefers coaster bikes (I love them), and doesn’t need any gears! I also prefer powering my light by pedaling, as I can with my pashley.

  13. Eco Mama says:

    Very cool looking bike and love the big headlight!
    xo
    Eco mama

  14. Angelo says:

    Several comments:

    I think the coaster brake only is legal, but not advisable if you have to deal with hills or traffic – stopping is weak.

    For adding a front brake – what size and shape rims are on the front wheel? My Gazelles and Raleigh DL1 have 28″ rims that don’t have a side surface for caliper brakes. It would be a significant hassle to rebuild the front wheel for hub brakes.

    However, my understanding is that many (all) of the newer Dutch bikes like your Oma have 700c rims (so you can get studded tires; 635ISO studded tires are not available for my 1960 Gazelle). In this case, adding a front brake should not be hard.

  15. Charlie Blaum says:

    A tad OT, maybe, but I love those triple flat bungee straps! I’ve googled with no luck — any hints on where I could buy them?

    Thanks!

  16. Anonymous says:

    I always love to see this typical Dutch bike in other countries. Here you can buy these bikes (no brand and made in China) at the local DIY stores for less then €175. I have two (old and abused) of them for normal every day use (I lived in Amsterdam for many years). But for more examples look at this site http://www.paysbascyclechic.com

    By the way … they are also available with factory calliper brakes / 3 or 7 speed gears

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