European Bike Style

Inspired by my meet up this past week with Bike Pretty, I decided it was time to share some observations from our  honeymoon about the bike style we saw in Europe.

As we all know, European approaches to style differ significantly from us. Speaking from our experiences in Zurich, the Bodensee area, Brussels and Bruges, and Amsterdam, I was surprised to notice several differences in each area. Cyclists in Zurich and Konstanz, for example, primarily use rear baskets to chart stuff around. This surprised me – I initially had a rear basket and didn’t like not being able to keep an eye on  my stuff. Of course, it looks very elegant, and Germans and Swiss definitely have much more trust and security when it comes to their bikes and accessories anyway.

In Belgium, we noticed something else – people still just locked their wheels up, not necessarily to the bike racks, but everyone had matching panniers that they just left on their bikes. I’d be too paranoid to do that here, but I was in awe of all the fun, lovely, colorful panniers! And totally jealous.

Most of the fun panniers were in Bruges, and it seemed as if every woman I saw on a bike was wearing a cute dress or skirt. And no wonder – there was a store not far from the town center with fun bike accessories! No, it wasn’t a bike shop, just a women’s clothing and accessories store, full of great shoes, fun purses, funky jewelry and clothing, and yes, bike bags, bells, stickers, and so on. This is what we need in the US – cute bike stuff sold not always in bike shops!


Plenty of bike style in Amsterdam, too, of course.  I expected that.


Style aside, there were many practical accessories that we don’t have easily available to us. I think my favorite was the stroller attachment, so you could hook your baby’s collapsible stroller to your bike, then have it handy when you and your child reach your destination. How smart!


Once again, I am in awe of the cycling culture in Europe, or at least in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands (I’d say Denmark too, but I think I covered that when I blogged about our trip there in 2012). Practical, yes, highly functional, yes, highly stylish, yes. And I haven’t even yet written about the infrastructure, and how the bike lanes we saw and experienced have forever changed my opinion on bike lanes in America. Stay tuned for that blog post!

In Brussels

huh. (In Brussels)

5 thoughts on “European Bike Style

  1. Very diverse, colourful bike panniers. When we cycled-travelled (+ train) in southern Germany, Copenhagen, etc., we individually took photos of cycling activity, massive crowded bike lockups but I never thought to look at the panniers.

    No, we couldn’t lock up our wheels without fastening to North America without a bike gone. Not in the big cities.

    Make take on Copenhagen when we were there:

    • I couldn’t *not* look at the fashions and styles, since that’s such a huge part of cycling for me – and I have colorful panniers myself. We were surprised to see so much Lycra in Germany, but it seemed that people who were bike touring were in sports clothes (well, we weren’t) but everyday riders were in, well, everyday clothes. Copenhagen was amazing, wasn’t it? Even in the winter, when we were there a few years ago, the masses of people out biking was stunning, and although we felt we’d observed the behavior enough, once we got our rental bikes, we were totally overwhelmed by the throngs! It was great. Sigh. Can’t wait to go back.

      • Assuming the lycra clad were German …if basing on what they were speaking.

        Culturally Germany is quite organized…to me. I also worked for a German global engineering firm for a few years in Vancouver for a large construction project. The ‘best’ or even mediocre post high school folks, are organized and go-go-go….there are parallels between them and university educated Chinese from China…a very strong work ethic, on time, doing stuff right, etc.

        So dressing up in lycra for long distance cycling by Germans is not surprising.

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