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We are a french couple visiting the Netherlands (starting tomorrow) by bike. We have few questions:

  • are there specific places / city where we have better chances to find cheap bikes ? (except amsterdam, since without bike it will be too big to start with).

  • we heard about police bike auction but according to some website it seems reserved to the community or people whose bike was stollen, at least in Amsterdam and Hardenberg (which is understandable). Do you know if they is a website listing all the police auction dates (we can go anywhere in the Netherlands to buy the bikes)? We did try googleing this "Fietsenverkoop bij politie + city-name" (translate with google translate) but we didn't find any info except for the auction in Amsterdam, Hardenberg (where being french resident we can't go), and Groningen (the next auction is too late for us)? Are there other keywords we could use?

  • what should we do if we find a good bike (not suspiciously cheap and from a private person : we found out about marktplaatz) without any serial number on it (in France there is no identification number on bike so we don't do if it's mandatory in netherlands to have a serial number, or if all the bikes have one). Is there a way to ensure it's not stolen? Would a photo of the ID card + the address of the seller will be enough?

  • are bikes cheaper in Belgium ?

Thanks a lot for your help!

closed as off-topic by Móż, Batman, Gary.Ray Sep 12 '14 at 12:42

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    You could always just steal a bike when you pass through Belgium? – vikingsteve Sep 12 '14 at 12:41
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    I disagree with this question being off-topic: it asks for general places to buy a cheap, second-hand bicycle, not for specific products. This information would be relevant for anyone who would like to buy a cheap bicycle in The Netherlands. – Jaap Eldering Sep 12 '14 at 16:49
  • you will find free bike by visiting the french community dumps areas called "décheterie" (you will find many of them close to the belgium border). Visit them at closure time (since it's insanely forbidden to recycle). Many french won't bother to merely give their old bikes for free (it cost time...) they will just throw it away. – JinSnow Jul 21 '15 at 8:26
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There are several places to avoid if you are looking for a cheap bike, and several places to seek.

First to avoid:

  • Generally bikes tend to be pricier / lower quality in all towns with a big university because demand is high and many bikes are "consumed" by the buyer. Lots of exchange students buy a bike and discard it after a year rather than resell it, and most other students use their bike untill it falls apart with as little maintenance as possible and discard the wreck. So you're less likely to find a good value bike here: Groningen, Enschede, Wageningen, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Nijmegen, Maastricht, Eindhoven, Tilburg, Delft, Leiden.
  • Regular bicycle shops (they usually charge a high markup for secondhand bikes).

What to seek out:

  • As a counterpoint to the point about university towns above: in many of these university towns you get people who collect the wrecks and combine them into working bikes that they sell for a nice price. You'll find these people through marktplaats and they offer reasonably priced bikes.
  • the "Kringloopwinkel" or "tweedehands winkel" in whichever town you select (second hand store). They are quite often the party that receives "left over" bikes from the police and bikes removed for being "in the way" (which I explained in my answer to your previous question)
  • www.marktplaats.nl (with an "s") is a good source of cheap secondhand bikes. There is no requirement for serial numbers on bikes though insurance companies sometimes require it. You should probably go with your gut feeling when going this route, I think legal sales are the norm there though. You can do two things to improve your odds of staying on the right side of the law:
    1. Check other ads on marktplaats from the same seller, check how long they have been a user on marktplaats longtime users are less likely to be fraudulent.
    2. Dutch police has a tool to find "suspect" sellers. Fill in the sellers' username and/or e-mail address there to check if "reports" have been filed about that user (bikes are in the category "overig").

As to your final question: I think the dutch market for secondhand bikes is very liquid and very large. My gut feeling tells me secondhand bikes will be better value in the Netherlands but I never tried buying a secondhand bike in Belgium.

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    Thanks so much Jilles! You are a gold mine of information! I will remember to avoid the big university towns, and I am already looking into the "Kringloopwinkel" or "tweedehands winkel" (it's so difficult to get those keywords when you don't speak a langage!) Thanks again a thousand times! – MagTun Sep 10 '14 at 10:16
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If you really want to be sure the bike isn't stolen: The Dutch Police also has a tool called Fiets diefstal register (fdr). All bikes that are reported stolen to the police are put in this register. You can either search for a chipnumber which can be found on higher quality locks (long number starting with 999 or 975), or you can search for the framenumber, which all Dutch bikes have (mostly under the bracket). If the bicycle is not in this database, it is not reported as stolen.

If you wan't to buy a good and cheap bike, but you don't know a lot about bikes: buy a bicycle from marktplaats.nl, and stick to the quality brands (Dutch: Gazelle, Batavus, Sparta; or international: Giant, Trek, etc.).

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In Amsterdam, bikes collected by the city (gemeente) are stored in the fietsdepot. Summary information is available in English. I would call them to get the latest and most accurate info, but according to their website, the bikes can be purchased in two ways:

  1. If one has a Stadspas, which is a city pass obtainable by lower income folks, then you can go to a particular bakeshop, Pantar, and get one with a lock and lights for €55.-
  2. If one is a student, then you can contact the Algemene Studenten Vereniging Amsterdam (ASVA - a general student society).

Nevertheless, the grapevine's rumor led me to believe that they also sell off bikes once a year; again, I'd call the fietsdepot.

If you're near a MacBike rental store, they give a slight discount on rentals (10% I believe) if you're a resident. They also sell their old rental bikes.

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