What I’m Riding

I ride a Dutch bike, oma-style.  (This is not the first bike I bought, as she was tragically stolen yesterday, but that’s for another entry.)  This bad-ass girl weighs a lot; she’s a brick house, if you will.  Guaranteed to mess up a car’s paint job when it hits me more than any other bike.  And look good doing it.  Handmade in Holland, she’s black steel, with a skirt guard, chain case, internal gears and brakes, dynamo powered lights (they get energy from my pedaling), heavy duty fenders and mudflaps, thick tires, cute bell, crazy kickstand, back rack that holds 75 lbs and front rack that holds 50 lbs.   (I have not yet come across a reason to load my racks with 125 lbs, but I merely need to be more creative.) If only she were bright pink, she would be perfect.

 That's What Oma Talkin' About
That’s What Oma Talkin’ About

The oma-style Dutch (or Danish or German or whatever) bike is also known for allowing the rider to wear regular, even elegant, clothes and high-heels.  I am not often elegant, nor do I much like high-heels, but I do appreciate my clothes staying clean and grease-free and not being eaten by my chain.  I’ll work on the elegant part one day.    

Oma Style
Oma Style

This bike is not for everyone, due to the weight (all muscle and big bones), relative slowness (relative to walking, it’s really fast!), and price tag (a few months’ car payment – solution: sell your car!) but it works beautifully for me in Chicago, where there are no hills and everything is a few miles away.  Any bike would do to get from place to place, but I could not resist this particular bike for my daily use. When I first started looking for one, there were no dealers in Chicago. I emailed a Seattle shop about shipping one and they mentioned that they would soon open a store in Chicago. And they have and I was their first customer.

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8 thoughts on “What I’m Riding

  1. editrish says:

    You’re right, in pink she would be perfection!

  2. Tad Salyards says:

    I drove to Dutch Bike Chicago from Minneapolis to pick up my Opa a couple of months back. This bike is the single best consumer purchase I’ve ever made. I’m in love.

    Of course this is an aesthetics issue for me, but I don’t think riding “Oma style” involves a helmet. Ditch it. Biking isn’t that dangerous and your elegance factor will increase ten fold.

    Ride on!


  3. msdottie says:

    Hi Tad – Nice to meet another Dutch bike rider in the Midwest! You bring up an interesting point about the helmet. Both Trisha and I wear them begrudgingly; neither of us are fanatical about it. Stay tuned for a post about helmets – I’m interested to hear more about your decision to go sans.

  4. Tad Salyards says:

    Going without a helmet is a personal choice that’s not in vogue amongst bikers at the moment, but I feel a personal responsibility to combat the English-speaking world’s “Nanny State” mentality. To put it simply, anybody who makes the decision to wear a helmet while biking, were they consistent in their risk analysis, should also be wearing a helmet as a pedestrian, and most certainly when in a car.

    Were I riding a nimble-road bike with my feet attached to the pedals while stooped over the handle bars, I might consider wearing a helmet. Such riders will certainly fly over the handlebars if forced to stop (or if they hit something). The ride style of a European city cycle is quite different and not as risky. Similarly, one can’t accelerate or dart into traffic on an Opa or Oma; it takes time to build up inertia on a big heavy bike. The choice of my slow moving ride is part of the reason I don’t use a helmet.

    At the end of the day, biking just isn’t that dangerous and we have overstated its risk and have discouraged bike ridership via irrational helmet laws. The health benefits of biking far outweigh the risk of becoming injured PERIOD. Show me a country with mandatory helmet laws and I’ll show you a country addicted to cars :)


  5. I’m don’t usually join helmet discussions but this one’s too reasonable to resist and I just wanted to mention that I get a warm, fuzzy feeling to see a discussion between happy WorkCycles riders in the midwest USA.

    Wearing a helmet while riding around Amsterdam would be absurd but I do remember that it’s different in the US. The accident statistics show this though they’re heavily biased by the different types of cycling prevalent in the US and Holland (sport vs. utility). I probably still wouldn’t wear a helmet if I were in Chicago or Minneapolis but I would certainly respect that others chose to… whether the danger is real or perceived.

    And that black helmet is pretty discrete anyway.

  6. Chandra says:

    Hey Ms. Dottie,
    Nice bikes you got! Thanks for stopping by my blog.
    I used to know guys from Winter Bike, in Chicago.
    But that was back when I lived in St. Louis.
    Well, nice to read about your bikes and stuff.
    Stop by and share your thoughts when time permits!!
    Peace :)

  7. cyn says:

    I test rode the Workcycle Oma a week ago … since that day I check into your blog and look longingly at your photos..

    I was surprised how simple and ‘right’the bike felt — comfortable, agile…effortless..

    (It occurs to me that my love life could take a lesson from this bike)

    The day I rode it it was freezing and I had no desire to return the bike at all to the poor fellow standing outside the store.

    I was absolutely won by the bike..

  8. […] a way to share our commuting experience with family and friends. We introduced ourselves (and our bikes) to the blogosphere and were off and running. In our first month, Dottie had her bike stolen and I […]

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