On a cold and wet Sydney afternoon I took a trip to Marrickville to visit the store who won our recent survey to find Sydney’s best bicycle store for female cyclists.
I can confess, I had never heard of them. And what or who is Omafiets??!
‘Omafiets’ is a Dutch word that literally means ‘grandma bike’. No this doesn’t mean they only sell bikes for grannies – it’s referring to a style of bike that has been widely copied for its ease of riding, good looks and reliability.
The majority of bikes at Omafiets are second hand, upright, comfy bikes.
Ollie, Maurice and Chris opened Omafiets in 2010 and their ethos is simple. They just want to get people cycling and provide great bicycles for transport and getting around.
Having met them, I can now understand why they won. What a nice bunch of blokes who just want to get you cycling! They are relaxed and friendly but clearly know a lot about bicycles and cycling. No macho BS here!
Here is my interview with them.
Congratulations on your win, why do you think you won?
Maurice: “We believe everyone can cycle. I guess our store has got away from the male dominated, sports side of it, most of our bikes are more for getting around. Even our road bikes are more for day rides.
Also Chain Lynx started here which was all about teaching women bike maintenance skills.”
Do you have any female employees?
Maurice: “No! We want some! We are trying to find them!”
So most of your bikes are second hand? Where do they come from?
Chris: “We actually import second hand bikes from the Netherlands.”
How old are the bikes?
Chris: “They range from the 1980s to 2000s. Some are more vintage than others.”
So why are there so many second hand bikes in the Netherlands?
Maurice: “The Netherlands actually has a tax incentive in place so residents can literally write off a new bike through tax every few years.”
How often do you get a new shipment of bikes?
Ollie: “About every six to twelve months we get about 100 to 150 bikes.”
Do you check each bike?
Chris: “Yes, we want to be able to tell people you can rely on these bikes.”
How much are your bikes?
Ollie: “They range from about $400 up to $1000 or more.”
Do you only have commuter bikes then?
Ollie: “No we have all sorts of bikes – road bikes, cargo bikes, electric bikes, kids bikes, tandems… There is a bicycle to solve every problem.”
What sort of new bikes?
Maurice: “We stock the Dutch Gazelle range, Allegro bicycles, and Jamis commuter bikes.”
Do women ask more questions when buying a bike? Is that true?
Chris: “Yes, we think so. We find that women tend to have lots more questions than men.”
Who are your usual customers?
Maurice: “Mostly we get local people or some will come specifically to us because they have heard about us. We often get people who are trying to get back into cycling. And then we try and find them a comfy bike and tell them to go do a City of Sydney cycling course.”
I heard you do something with old second hand bikes?
Ollie: “Yes, Chris and I are part of the Bicycle Garden, a volunteer group that fixes them up and gives them to asylum seekers through St Vincents de Paul.”
So there you have it – our winners for 2013!
I can confess I’ve never recommended buying a second hand bike, but having met these three, I think you could trust them to sell you a reliable second hand bicycle.
Well done to Omafiets! Go and visit Chris, Ollie and Maurice at 117B Addison Road, Marrickville (on Agar St). www.omafiets.com.au