If you choose to get a bike when you arrive in Groningen, your bike in Groningen will be your best friend. You will love it and you will hate it. So, let’s get to know some essentials together.
First thing to get out of the way is buying or renting. I have personally done both and there are upsides to both.
One of the big pros of buying a bike is that you do not have to bother about monthly payments. You can buy a good bike quite easily in the city from Facebook to bike stores literally all around the city for €70-100. I got my bike on Facebook for €75. If you do choose to buy a bike, there are some things you have to consider. Firstly, you need to get a good lock or two. Having more than one lock makes it harder for your bike to be stolen which is a common occurrence in the city. When you lock your bike, try to lock it to something sturdy like a pole, a bike stand or a friend’s bike. These types can be found in stores like HEMA, Action and any bike shop in the city.
When I rented a bike I used the Swapfiets service. I can’t speak for other services in the city, but I know that there are. Upon research, outside of Swapfiets, Cheapfiets Groningen is the next best option for a student.
Renting is beneficial for those who are going to be in the city for a short period of time typically exchange students. However, you don’t have to be an exchange student to rent a Swapfiets bike. I liked the service because if ever I encountered a problem with my bike I could just pop into the store, and they would either fix the problem or give me a new bike as part of my rental cost. Additionally, the bike came with 2 locks.
On the downside, if your bike gets stolen and you locked it properly and have your key you do have to pay a €40-60 fee. If you didn’t lock the bike properly that cost is astronomically higher. Another downside is that in a sea of bikes and Swapfiets’ yours can quite literally disappear in a sea of blue and black tires. You can customise your rented bike but with nothing permanent as it alas is not yours.
Types of Bikes
The most common types of bike in the city are Damesfiets or Omafiets and Herenfiets (ladies bike and men’s bike). Again, I have had both. Think it is a matter of preference which bike you get. I personally prefer the damesfiets as I am a woman and that bad across the middle can prove rather painful in some situations.
Customise your bike
This is where you get to go crazy. You have the right to do to your bike whatever you will. Some people intentionally colour their bikes hideous colours to avoid them being stolen. This also makes sure that the bike is easily identifiable which is killing two birds with one stone situation.
One important thing to remember is that it is now illegal to cycle with your phone or any device in your hand. If the police catch you, you risk €95 fine. If you need to use your phone which I know many will for navigation purposes you need to have your device in a mobile phone holder which you can buy cheaply on Amazon, Bol.com, Action and many stores around the city. Another illegal thing is to not have working back and front lights on your bike. This can be bought cheaply at HEMA or my favourite store Action.
Finally, a fietstas or fietskrat. I find these are beneficial additions to my bike. Again, whichever you get is a matter of preference, but I find that they are beneficial for carrying around heavy loads of shopping. Through experience I know that balancing your grocery bags on your handlebars can prove dangerous and just plain uncomfortable. In the case that your shopping does not fit into your bag and your bike is equipped with the attachments for a crate or a bag, I recommend getting one or both.
So, we have established that your bike is pretty crucial to student life in Groningen. Here are some other important things you may find you need
- A good bike pump. Again my favourite store Action has got you covered.
- A tire repair kit. This can be purchased for really cheap at Action or HEMA.
- YouTube tutorials for bike repair. It can become a bit expensive to fix a bike problem. You can try to fix these problems yourself before going to a bike shop.