View our latest offers and deals on our offers page! See all offers

When we talk about boating and biking vacations, we usually talk about the ship: its size, what type it is, and what facilities it offers. But at least as important are the bikes, because the fact is you spend a lot of your time on a bike during your tour. Most of Boat Bike Tour’s bicycles are from the Dutch brand Azor, based in the eastern town of Hoogeveen. Director Jan Rijkeboer was happy to tell us about this business that he founded 25 years ago.

Plan your trip

Our bikes

The bicycle brand Azor was founded

Tinkering with motorbikes and assembling radios: in Jan’s early years these were his favorite pastimes. After a vocational training to repair bicycles and some time working in a bike factory, he started to feel restless. Jan explains, “I thought, maybe I should try to start a bike factory of my own.” So that’s what he did. “We started with just two of us, putting bikes together. When the telephone rang, I put down my tools and wrote down what the bike shop wanted to order. In the evenings we did the bookkeeping and refilled our stock. That would go on until we had no more orders; then I’d get in my car and drive to the bike shops to sell bikes. Now I haven’t had to do that in 23 years.”

Personnel testing new parts

Since then, Azor has grown to a well-respected brand that assembles its bikes in the Netherlands. The company wants to ensure that it doesn’t sell any poor-quality items that break down quickly. That’s why they only use the most reliable parts that have been tested extensively by their own personnel. “I’m a ‘test pilot’ myself; every day I bike 21 kilometers (13 miles) to my work, so 42 kilometers (26 miles) round-trip per day. It’s an e-bike. If there are, for instance, new pedals to try out, I put them on my own bike. If they break within a month? Then they’re trash,” he says. Abuse-proof testing is also part of the process: throwing headlights against the wall or banging them with a stick. If they don’t survive? Then they belong in the garbage, not on an Azor bike. “Parts have to be really good quality; otherwise we won’t use them.”

Special bikes for Boat Bike Tours

That counts for the bikes that Boat Bike Tours rents to our guests too. “The touring bikes and e-bikes are made according to Boat Bike Tours’ specifications, including colors and parts,” Jan explains. All of the bikes are equipped with seven Shimano speeds, roller brakes and Schwalbe puncture-resistant tires. E-bikes have a Shimano Steps motor and a 418 Wh battery with three power levels. “The bikes have been assembled collaboratively with Boat Bike Tours. Every single one has to be useable for as long as possible with as few issues as possible. Because there’s nothing more annoying than a rental bike breaking down. That’s why it’s important that the bikes give as little trouble as possible.” Read more about Boat Bike Tours’ bikes.

Bikes with a long life

Many typical rental bikes have a limited lifetime of two or two and a half years. That’s not the case with the Azor bikes that Boat Bike Tours supplies to guests. Their lifetime is about five years. Because of that doubled lifetime, they’re more sustainable: the frame has to be melted down half as often, for example, and bikes need to be lacquered half as often. Fewer bikes end up in the dump. It’s much better for the environment, something that is important to Azor: “To me it’s important that nothing gets wasted and that we are conscious of how we treat the planet. We have only one Earth and we need to leave something to our children that isn’t totally ruined.”

Assembling your own bike

When Azor began, it had a small selection, but they received more and more requests from dealers, Jan remembers. They wanted a different handlebar or seat or something else; more and more demand to stray from the standard. “Eventually we had a host of different options. That’s how we developed the ‘configurator.’ We put it on the website so that people could see what was available besides the standard assortment. There are more than a billion possible bikes.” In the online tool clients can assemble the bike themselves down to the smallest detail, which gets Azor lots of clients in the United States. “There you mostly only see mountain bikes and racing bikes. But there are people there who want a simple bike. They want to carry their children or groceries, that you can’t carry on those kinds of bikes. They look for something different and find us.” Jan is happy to see this. “Our goal is not just to make good bikes, but also to find a solution to every problem. Short, tall, mobility-impaired, low instep, or taking the dog along; if someone wants something that they can’t do with their current bike, we try to think of a way to make it happen.”

Feel like a bike ride?

Great! We’d love to welcome you on board one of our ships so you can hit the road on a touring bike or e-bike – whichever you prefer. Our travel experts are ready to find the perfect trip for you. Do you have questions or do you want to know more about our trips? You can mail us or call at (203)-814-1249 or, in the Netherlands: +31-20-72-35-400. Or ask for one of our e-books!

Plan your trip