One of the first things you should do after arriving in Maastricht is buying a bike. As when looking for housing, it is good to consider a couple of things before your purchase. How much money do you want to spend? How often do you plan on using your bike? Where can you store your bike? You can visit one of the many bike shops to buy a new or secondhand bicycle. Alternatively, you could go for buying a secondhand bike online, volunteering for a bike, or bike rental and sharing. We discuss all of these options, and more below!
Where can I buy a used bike?
It’s quite easy to pick up a secondhand bike through Facebook. Popular places to search are Buy / Sell a bike in Maastricht, Bikes and Furniture in Maastricht and Secondhand bikes Maastricht. But these are by no means the only pages. Also other secondhand pages have bikes on sale.
Another option is Marktplaats, which is the Dutch equivalent to Ebay. There are plenty of offerings which, unlike those on the Facebook groups mentioned, could be from any part of the Netherlands but you can set a maximum distance from your postcode to get the nearest options. Marktplaats is unfortunately only available in Dutch, but if you search fietsen (Dutch for ‘bikes’) and use an online translator, you should be fine.
While both of these options can be great (and cheap!), there are some rules of thumb to keep in mind whenever buying a secondhand bike online.
How to safely buy a used bike?
It’s always more risky to buy second hand bikes from a person you don’t know, either because it’s easier for them to sell you crap disguised as something nice, or because they could be selling you a stolen bike. Buying a stolen bike is illegal, even if you weren’t aware it was stolen. So how can you avoid this?
Check the serial number
First, you can check whether the bike’s serial number is registered in the database on the RDW website. It’s a good sign if the bike is registered on the database and it has not been reported as stolen. If you do find the bike on the database, take a screenshot so that (if necessary) you can prove that you did your best to not buy a stolen bike!
Ask the seller for a guarantee
If the bike doesn’t come up on the database, you can ask the seller to write and sign a document guaranteeing that s/he is the rightful owner of the bike. This document should also state the serial number of the bike, as well as the date, location and price you bought the bike for. This way you cover yourself against any legal liability in the event that the bike you bought in good faith ends up being a stolen one.
Check the bike before buying
You should always try to see the bike in person before you decide to buy it. That way you can check if the bike is in a good state, and you can write down the seller’s contact details just in case something goes wrong. Be sensible when visiting a stranger’s house: take a trusted friend with you, or tell someone where you’re going.
What should I look for in a bike?
When you’re looking into buying a bike, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:
- First, your bike should have working lights and reflectors, both for the front and back – without these, you risk getting a fine.
- Next, before buying, you should always check that the brakes are in good working order, for obvious reasons.
- It is also a legal requirement for your bike to have a working bell.
- Make sure that the tires stay inflated before buying the bike.
Gears are definitely not a must but some people do opt for them (although Maastricht and the Netherlands in general are so flat that you will be just fine without them). Lastly, there is so much turnover in Maastricht that you will almost certainly be able to get a decent second-hand bike for a fair price; this is one of the cheaper options for bikes, and we think it’s reasonable to expect (if you start searching on time) for a used bike to cost you around €50-100. Bikes are the most expensive in September when university students arrive and cheapest in June/July when many students who are moving away want to sell their bikes.
A useful tip
The moment you buy a bike, it’s a good idea to take a photo of it (preferably with you in the photo) and write down the bike’s serial number. These two things will come in very handy if your bike ever gets removed by the municipality or stolen.
Another option you can look into is getting a Swapfiets. Swapfiets is a company that provides you with a leasing bike for a fixed monthly price; you pay every month and the bike isn’t yours, but it gets delivered to you once you order it, and the company guarantees that your bike will always work – this means that if you get a flat tyre, or any other problem, they will replace / fix your bike within two days. Many students opt for Swapfiets because it is easy to use and you do not have to pay for the repairs of your bike. However, Swapfiets is not the cheapest option for a bike so consider what you want to spend your money on. Swapfiets also has specific rules for example, the bike is not covered from theft if it is left unlocked. You can read more about their rules on the website.