WalMart selling cheap dutch-style bikes

Wageningen bike
A real dutch bike that is probably worth saving … maybe. Wouldn’t say the same for a Hollandia from WalMart. Image from Jacek.NL on Flickr.

Well, it was a nice run but now that WalMart has started selling crappy knock-off dutch bikes I guess we’ll have to close up shop and find another niche to fill in the cycling market … or not.

WalMart’s “dutch” bikes are (like all the bikes they sell), made in china and priced to sell. The bikes come through the insufferably unhip Cycle Force Group – the same polo shirt wearing corporate types that sell “Smith & Wesson(tm)” bicycles and other brand-named chinese-made rolling hunks of crap.

I had a chance to see the Hollandia house brand from Cycle Force Group at last year’s Interbike and I’ll tell you now what I thought then: “It is about damn time.”

Are these bikes low quality? Yes. I wouldn’t trust them to hold up to the elements … at all. I wouldn’t rely on the craftsmanship invested in these cheap knock-offs to get me through even a single season of everyday riding.

However, unlike most of the junk on wheels that WalMart passes off as a bicycle, these things are designed using tried and tested frame geometries stolen straight off the streets of the world’s cycling capital: the Netherlands.

These bikes also come with clothing neutral fenders, chain guards, rear and front racks (depending on the models), internal gearing, and a classic European look.

I can’t tell you how many hulking, piece of junk, triple suspension “mountain” bikes we have had the unfortunate luck to attempt to repair over the last couple of years, but we’d be happy (as would most mechanics) to never fiddle with a $0.59 rear derailleur again.

Most WalMart bikes don’t work by design – shifters are made of plastic so cheap they snap after a few successful shifts, brake levers come apart after a dry spell. Their shortcomings would require an entire post, nay a 10 part series of posts. As opposed to a crappy “mountain” bike, a single speed dutch-esque bike has very few components that need maintenance – which means these crappy WalMart bikes have an advantage over other crappy WalMart bikes. Other than all the inevitable annoying clanking and rubbing noises the bike will develop as plastic guards snap and shake free, these bikes are designed as beasts that can actually handle the brutal realities that their triple-sprung “mountain” bike cousins are forced to deal with (and quickly fold underneath the force of) on a daily basis on the streets of the US of A.

Having the largest (in terms of numbers of bikes sold) retailer of bikes in America selling Dutch-style bikes is a great thing. These are the entry point for even the most casual of cyclists (the once-a-year-type) to toy with the idea of using a good work bike to do everyday things. Once Americans come to understand the deeply troubling quality issues that all WalMart bikes have, they’ll switch up to something a bit better or “go git a new one” and cast the spare Dutch-style parts into the grey market world of bike collectives and homeless dudes.

Dare I even suggest the unthinkable? Autocentric mass retailer WalMart is creating a more bikeable America by taking a risk with these Dutch-style bikes?

Your views on this matter are sincerely appreciated.

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  1. don nisley
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Well, like you stated, the more the merrier! After a year on WM ‘s bikes I have referred many people to our local bike shop, to get themselves a real bike.

  2. Posted July 12, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    buy nice or buy twice.

    spend your money local.

  3. Alice Strong
    Posted July 14, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    From somebody who actually once owned and rode a Magna, you can probably guess my position…:)

    Yes, my “bike store” bikes were much more fun to ride.

  4. Norms
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    The Dutch ‘Walmart’ HEMA also sells cheap opa and oma bicycles.

    This bicycle did quite well in the Omabicycletest of the Dutch cyclingunion.

    Anyway, Dutch people ride cheap Dutch bicycles too. If you only use the bicycle every now and then I don’t see why you should spend so much money on it.

  5. Posted July 25, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    From what I can tell, these Hollandia-branded bikes are only sold by Walmart online, not at the physical stores.

    Once Wal-mart gets rid of their “fully suspended” bikes and starts selling a classic 3-speed with a chaincase and fenders for $200… then that will be something.

    Wal-Mart certainly has the purchasing power to sell a medium-quality 3-speed at that price, if they realized there is a market for it.

  6. J
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Walmart sells excellent bikes. Their Avalon is a high quality bike which we’ve had for years.
    Bike shops are overpriced. Walmart saves you money.
    It is not our obligation to support mom and pop shops by throwing our money away and not saving it.

  7. Posted July 28, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink


    Your opinion that “WalMart sells excellent bikes” is just that – your opinion and you’re welcome to it.

    This article is about how WalMart is, in their creepy corporate way, potentially affecting the average American’s bike buying options in profound ways.

    Once question I have for you, and all WalMart loving bike owners out there: where do you take yours to get fixed when it is broken? I know a good bunch of you are DIY types, but is that really what happens to most WalMart bikes – their owners are scrappy home mechanics that somehow have obtained all the tools and spare parts they need to affect repairs?

    Or is it instead that a network of small bike shops allows people to maintain their machines, and that enough bike repair collectives are there to aid you in learning how perform said maintenance?

    There is more to this WalMart is good/WalMart is bad debate than price.

  8. Tony
    Posted August 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    How is the Flying Pigeon better than this bike? Both are Chinese made.

  9. Posted August 14, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure that Flying Pigeon bikes are better than Hollandia bikes – both are made in China to a not-so-high standard, both are inexpensive. I guess with the Flying Pigeon you kind of know what you’re getting: a classic communist Chinese bike made to move millions of people daily. With Hollandia bikes you get the illusion of a $1,300 Dutch import. Either way, it is mass-appeal transportation cycling on fairly low-grade bikes.

  10. James
    Posted August 25, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I just bought a flying pigeon bike (it arrived yesterday) and would like to leave my feedback. It was relatively easy to assemble, except of course the front and rear brakes took a bit more time and effort. While assembling it I knew it was cheap and it seemed very unreliable/unsafe. Riding it feels like it will fall apart.

    I think this bike is meant more for a window display than for actually riding. I cannot stress enough how unsafe this bike is to ride (mainly because of the poorly designed brake system). Furthermore, I honestly don’t get how Flying Pigeon LA has grounds to even discuss the quality of Walmart bikes when they are selling the ultimate “rolling hunk of crap”. Its a joke really.

    I can’t even use this bike – I just threw $260 bucks down the drain. I shouldn’t complain too much though, its cheap and its made in China – you get what you pay for. Still though, one would think it would at least be safe to ride – after all it is meant to be a means of transportation – a bike. I hope I’ve learned my lesson – to never buy any bike via the internet… especially something made in China. One really needs to test it out in person at a bike store (or Walmart even) before purchasing.

    I guess I will throw it in the dump since I would have a guilty conscience even giving it to someone (since its not safe). 🙁

  11. Posted August 25, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink


    It isn’t a joke, or a suggestion, that you have a competent professional assemble your bike. These bikes require a substantial amount of work, using special bicycle specific tools, to be street ready. There is a reason we sell them for $400 in-store, With that said, once they’ve been properly assembled, they typically require next to zero maintenance.

    You have bought a bike that has carried untold millions to work and back every day since 1951. They are simple devices once they are assembled correctly.

  12. James
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    It even states on this website that it comes 80% pre-assembled.

    While I’m no professional bike mechanic I am competent and know how to put things together. I had the tools and followed the overly simplified instructions on your website. I also went carefully step by step using the photos on Flickr. I ran into no problems when assembling and it was simple – except the brake system which I soon figured out and it works fine now.

    From what I learned, its not the assembly that is the issue here. Rather, its the poor quality of materials in how the bike was constructed. It’s literally the cheapest build I’ve seen on a bike – even compared to Walmart bikes. No “fine tuning” would change that.

    On top of that, when I received it the frame was all scratched up, the front wheel and both benders were bent and the “leather saddle” doesn’t seem to be leather at all (you can tell by the underside).

    All in all, I would still sooner trust a Walmart bike to be a safer ride than the Flying Pigeon, even after a professional mechanic has assembled it. You can’t convince me that a bike shop’s assembly would make the bike safer to ride unless of course they replaced a bunch of components with ones of significantly better quality.

    The real joke is when I hopped on the bike after I had it all assembled and fine tuned. It rattled and squeaked its cheap self all the way into the dumpster.

  13. James
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Oh, and there is no way this is the same bike that “has carried untold millions to work and back every day since 1951”. It must be a knock off version of the original Flying Pigeon. Perhaps its a similar design but cheaper materials and components rendering it virtually unsafe to ride.

  14. Posted August 27, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink


    The Flying Pigeon bikes we sell came directly from the Tianjin Flying Pigeon Company in China – that same company that was founded in 1951 after the communist takeover of China a year or two prior. They were re-privatized in the late 1980’s, but have maintained production of bikes like the one you now own during that entire long period.

    The bike you have is built to the exact same standard that millions of other Flying Pigeons have been built to for several generations – go to China and see for yourself.

    Regarding assembly of the bike, yes the bikes come with 80% assembled – but they require both wheels to be trued, headset adjustment, re-setting of crank cotters, and a great deal of fine tuning of chain tension and rear wheel alignment that is best done in a bike stand.

    I have been building these bikes for several years now, and to do the job right you need a professional set of tools and a shop to work in.

    I am not sure why you felt this post was going to be your place to sound off on the low-end bike you just bought. WalMart’s low-end dutch bikes are doing two great things: introducing people to this style of riding; selling a sub-$300 bike that isn’t a POS “mountain bike”. Whatever the faults of the Flying Pigeon, I’d take them any day over a WalMart mountain bike.

  15. chris
    Posted January 6, 2012 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    It is sooooo very obvious that you would like people to buy your flying pigeon bikes over purchasing WalMart bikes that it is painful to hear you complain about it… you are a terrible actor.. even on paper.. I drive a Humvee and will run you over on your dumb bikes if you get in my way..

  16. Posted January 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink


    It is sooo obvious that we want people to buy our Flying Pigeon bikes … because it is plastered all over our site! Hello!

    WalMart bikes are generally junk, but the spirit of this article is in praise of what WalMart is doing (which is essentially what we are doing too!): bringing low-end city bikes to the U.S. That is a noble cause, and that is what this article is all about.

    You do a great job of making your point by threatening to kill me with a vehicle. I don’t see where that kind of comment has a place in this discussion but this is the intarwebs, so go for it, I guess.

  17. Matthew Duhamel
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    I took the advice of places like this and bought nice bikes for commuting previously. Both of them got stolen inside of a couple months (the second time through two u-locks) and the combined cost was such that I could have bought a cheap used car.

    Walmart bikes for me from here on out. Yes they suck but humanity sucks more and I can’t risk a better bike with the people that exist in the world today.

  18. Jen
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Can anyone recommend a reasonably priced better Dutch-style bike? I love the classic Dutch bicycles, but on a teacher’s salary, I can’t afford them. I don’t want to support Walmart’s “hollandia” brand, but can someone provide other alternatives?

  19. Posted May 6, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    We just got some bikes from Beater Bikes that are tough enough to get our thumbs up and comfortable enough to stand proudly side-by-side the premium Dutch bikes we sell. They start at $299, and are well worth it.

  20. Ravi
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    I am curious to know – when someone shows be a bike, how do I tell if its a genuine dutch bike or a cheap WM bike ? In what aspects do they differ ? Also, can someone comment on the quality of the the original “Flying Pigeon” brand which is made in China. Is it comparable to a genuine dutch bike ?

  21. Ravi
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    …shows me* a bike…

  22. Richard Latker
    Posted April 5, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    For what it’s worth, I think there is a great deal of value in ultra-low-cost production bicycles made for working class consumers in Asia. Most of these are based on extremely intelligent European designs. Having lived in both China and India, I have a great deal of experience with these bikes. The Flying Pigeon isn’t my favourite Chinese clunker — the Shanghai Pheonix, in my view, is a much better build — but the FP is a reliable workhorse easily maintained by a low-income person with simple tools.

    Whether it makes sense to import these bikes to the US is another matter. For one thing, I’m no fan of “free trade”. I fail to see why the US has exported its productive capacity to countries (like China) that are hostile to its interests. Expecting us to “compete” with disenfranchised labourers working 70-hour weeks, earning $120 a month in concrete factories with no ventilation or climate control, is civilisational suicide. What a spectacle, watching Congress squabble over crumbs, while even the wealthiest Americans no longer earn by producing wealth.

    But leaving all that aside, it’s irrational to expect US consumers to pay a transport & tariff premium on a bicycle that simply isn’t designed for American realities. The FPs are very high maintenance, and the parts are built to fail frequently. To pay someone to grease & repack your bearings will cost you about $3.00 in Xiamen or Guangzhou. Replacing the entire front rod brake assembly might cost $6. Assuming you can get the parts, these jobs will cost you at least $100 in the US, using the same pot metal Chinese parts.

    The Wal-Mart Chinese crapsters are very different — and they are designed by American production analysts, not the Chinese. The parts are cheap, but production is integrated (and automated) in such a way to ensure minimal failure rate for a year or two (8% is typical), after which “utility extinction” quickly ensues for the vast majority of units. It makes common sense that the fake Dutch bikes would last a bit longer because there a fewer parts. But common sense does not necessarily apply. “Built-in obsolescence” must be part of the equation, or Wal-Mart would not be sourcing them.

    I agree with Admin that the fake Dutchies are ultimately a good thing, no matter how badly they might be made. But one shouldn’t confuse these with the Flying Pigeon. They are different beasts entirely.

One Trackback

  1. […] WalMart is selling cheap dutch-style bikes.  If you’re gonna sell cheap bikes, it makes a lot more sense to me for them to be simple and utilitarian (like the Flying Pigeon bikes of Tianjin), instead of double suspension 27 speed pieces of crap with lots of junk parts to break.  If the bike is simple, for the same price point it can be more reliable.  I hate WalMart, but I gotta say, I’m glad to see they’ve gotten on this particular bandwagon. Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailShareStumbleUponDiggReddit This entry was posted in linkstream and tagged bicycle, economics, market, walmart. Bookmark the permalink. ← Recycled buckets for panniers […]

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