Home Bicycles Why Some Bikes in Amsterdam Have a Blue Front Wheel?

Why Some Bikes in Amsterdam Have a Blue Front Wheel?

by Rafal Sulowski

Amsterdam is well known for its bicycle culture. In this city, there are more bicycles than residents and I can’t imagine living here without a bike. Lately, you can see many bicycles with a blue front wheel. I didn’t know what’s that all about so I did some research and here is the answer. Why Some Bikes in Amsterdam Have a Blue Front Wheel?

All bicycles with a front blue wheel in Amsterdam are owned by Swapfiets company. Swapfiets provide bicycle leasing services. For a fixed monthly subscription fee you get a bike and a full service. If your bike gets damaged they repair it and if it gets stolen they replace it within 1 day.

Swapfiets || Photo courtesy of FaceMePLS

In this article, I will describe Swapfiets services and I will share with you the most important information when it comes to bicycle leasing. I don’t take part in the Swapfiets affiliate program and I wasn’t paid to write this review. It’s just a description of what they do and it’s my private opinion on Swapfiets.

How Does It Work?

You pay a monthly fee that includes a bike, free repairs, and a double-lock. If anything gets damaged they come and repair it within 1 day. If your bike gets stolen, they immediately provide a new one. You can cancel your membership a month in advance. The Swapfiets selling point is that, if your bike is damaged they provide a new bike within one day. It’s a quite a good deal if you cycle on a daily basis. Things like flat tire happen often and with Swapfiets subscription you can be sure that they take care of it.

Swapfiets started their business back in 2014 and each year it grows rapidly. Today they have over 130 000 subscribers in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Germany. Business keeps growing and I see more and more bikes with a blue front wheel.

Is Swapfiets Worth it?

I think it’s definitely worth it, especially if you visit a city only for a few months or you aren’t a handy guy. For everyone who doesn’t really want to worry about changing tires or damaged lights that’s definitely a way to go. Do I have a Swapfiets? No, because actually I like repairing my bike when it’s needed, so I always carry with me some spare tires etc. But I have some friends, especially girlfriends who have Swapfiets subscription.

You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a good bike in the Netherlands. I bought a second-hand bicycle on facebook Marktplaats a few months ago for 80 euros. That’s a very good bike “Holandia”.
I would say that for some people it’s better to get a Swapfiets and for some people, it’s better to have their own bike. Keep in mind that if you buy a bike you have to pay for repairs. Repair services in the Netherlands can be very expensive. If you buy a second hand 70 euro bicycle, sometimes it’s not worth repairing.

Also if you cycle every day, just like I do, you will have some problems with your bike. That’s 100%, but I don’t mind because I can repair my bike. It’s an old bicycle so there is not much that can be damaged and repairs are easy.

How Much Does It Cost To Get Swapfiets?

Swapfiets || Photo courtesy of Guido van Nispen

To be sure it would be best to visit Swapfiets website and check their current offer. As for today, they have 3 offers:

  • Original – a basic bike with a backpedal brake for 16,50 euros per month
  • Deluxe 7 – a bike with 7 gears, hand and backpedal brake for 19,50 euros per month
  • Power 7 – an electric bike with hand brakes and gears for 75 euros per month

What Happens If Your Swapfiets Gets Stolen?

If your Swapfiets gets stolen they will provide a new bike within 1 day. Additionally, you have to pay a 40 euros fee for a basic bike and a 60 euros fee for the Deluxe 7 bike. It’s not clear how much you must pay when an electric bike is stolen.

How to Get a Swapfiets?

You can order it directly online. You just sign up on their website, choose a city where you live, which bike you would like to get. There are two different bikes, a basic one for 16,50 euros and a deluxe for 19 euros. In the end, you can pay by iDeal and that’s it. They will deliver it to your address. You can also visit the office.

Swapfiets || Photo courtesy of Johanna Coenjaerts

Can I Get A Bike Only For 1 Month?

Yes, you can do that. The shortest subscription period is exactly 1 month, but it varies in different cities, so it’s the best just to contact Swapfiets. I think that Swapfiets is just perfect for people who want to get a bike for a short period of time. If you plan to stay in Amsterdam much longer, from a financial perspective, it’s better just to buy a second-hand bike.

Blue Tire Business Model

I’ve done some research and I have found that 60% of Swapfiets website traffic comes from organic search. Many people search for the phrase “lease blue tire bike”. People out of curiosity google what this front blue tire means. This branding strategy creates a viral word of mouth. I also learned about this company because I asked my friend what this blue tire means. She told me that it means that the bicycle is leased but back then I wasn’t aware that all of these bikes belong to Swapfiets.

More and More Subscription-Based Businesses

It’s very interesting how business models are changing and how companies focus more and more on subscription-based businesses. Gym, Netflix, and now even bicycle membership take over the market. It’s a very smart move from a business perspective.

First of all, companies that have subscription-based customers can estimate much better their future income. Also, it’s much easier to spend 16,50 per month than to pay 198 euros at once right? Most people who sign up for the gym say, it’s only 15 euros per month… Of course it only 15 euros but you pay for it the whole year and you rarely visit a gym, or you don’t go there at all.

Wrap Up

So this article is for you to know what are these blue wheel bikes all about, but I must also admit that I am impressed by the idea of Swapfiets business model. Swapfiets was created by 3 students with a little investment and now it’s a thriving company with headquarters in 4 countries. Great job guys! I hope this article will be an inspiration for other young entrepreneurs.

If you would like to learn some interesting facts about bicycles in Amsterdam I encourage you to take a look at this article.

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