Ideas for a challenging google-based rescue mission
September 11, 2009 12:21 AM   Subscribe

You're on an island in the middle of nowhere. You need to locate a used motorbike in a faraway country (Netherlands) where you don't speak the language for a next to nothing price. All you have is the internet. How do you proceed?

A friend of mine was awoken in the middle of the night to find her 17 year old son crying in the bathroom. He had set his sights on a used motorbike he found advertised for 100 Euros. He took too long getting the necessary paperwork together and the owner had sold it before he could pick it up. He was devastated. In his mind, this was like the start of a new future for him. I offered to help set his mind on the right path again. Recently lost his father.
posted by vizsla to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Babelfish will translate from English to Dutch and back again. However, the Netherlands are so far the only non Anglophone place I've been where it seemed better to ask in English if a resident spoke that language.
posted by brujita at 12:35 AM on September 11, 2009

Yes, most Dutch people I've met speak excellent English (better than most people from Manchester but we won't get into that)
posted by philip-random at 12:47 AM on September 11, 2009

Many thanks - that should be very useful once negotiations proceed. Now how to find a used, probably broken motorbike .... (He wants to repair it and built it himself)
posted by vizsla at 12:51 AM on September 11, 2009

Your best bet is the dutch craigslist/ebay called
Motorbike's can be found here, and for ome reason there's even a separate section on broken and/or damaged motorbikes here.
posted by Sourisnoire at 12:56 AM on September 11, 2009

I'm not quite sure why the boy can't find another bike on his own if he found the first one, but here's how I'd go about finding a cheap used bike in the Netherlands.

I should probably leave this to people who really know their Dutch, but you are looking for "gebruikte motorfietsen." Googling that gives you several promising sites.

On BikeNet you can search by max price--just click "Uitgebried" in the upper left corner and select a price under "Prijs tot" (1.000=1,000, incidentally, and that's as low as they go in terms of searching). The cheapest they have is a 27-year-old Suzuki for €300.

Motormarkt doesn't let me link to search results, but there are bikes listed there for as little as €17 (this may just be a bid to be first in the listings). Go to the main page, click "Angeboden," then "Motoren," then you can enter the price you want ("Prijs van ... tot" = "Price from ... to"). Click on "Prijs"in the resulting table to change the sort order and then go to page 8 or thereabouts--all the previous listings don't have a price entered. Most of the cheap cheap bikes here seem to be 15 to almost 30 years old.

Motoport doesn't seem to have bikes that cheap, but you can browse under "Occasions" for their used bikes.

Can't help you with the descriptions or the deal, of course, but you can probably email people who've listed a bike to sell in English and ask them questions. In my experience the odds are pretty good that any random Dutch person you approach will have at least some English under their belt.

I should also say, as a disclaimer, that I've no experience with buying bikes, that I don't know what sort of scams these sites might run--or be infested with--and that there may be better places to look online.

Good luck to you and your friend's son.
posted by col_pogo at 1:02 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sourisnoire : Great tip. Thanks.

col_pogo : I'm sure he can find one on his own. I just need to rebuild his confidence. He is a bit fragile after losing his dad and really fell in love with the first one. Awesome Google skills you have. Those sites look very promising. Really appreciate your help.
posted by vizsla at 1:13 AM on September 11, 2009

Was he looking for a motorcycle (motor / motorfiets) or a scooter (scooter / brommer / bromfiets)? At 17, he's too young to have a motorcycle license in the Netherlands, but could have a scooter license.
posted by eendje at 1:58 AM on September 11, 2009

eendje : He wants to learn about motorbikes and spend time and money trying to fix it. Then get his licence when he is 18.
posted by vizsla at 2:03 AM on September 11, 2009

This is a time for creativity to reign.

Get onto that local Craigslist site and put the story there. Maybe under Missed Connections -- he did after all miss that connection. But find the right place to post it -- I'd probably go with Missed Connections but this is your creativity showing him to light his creativity -- find the right place to post this story and post it.

Write it well. Describe your role in this young mans life. Describe that he's heartbroke about this. Tell in this story that you're not interested in some ripoff jerkoff, state clearly that you seek some kind soul to help you and this young man in this endeavor.

Craigslist is pretty amazing. You never know what might come of a post like this. If Freecycle has a local chapter, and I bet that it does, also put a 'Wanted' on it, posting pretty much the same story; again, I've been party to some very* cool** things*** happening through doing things such as this. You don't know, can't know until you give it your best shot. And you owe it to this kid, and to yourself, to give it your best shot; think of how it'll be if it does come through with a great bike for this kid, and it could, and you and him will have a lot of fun with it, and even if it doesn't come through with a bike for him it'll open the his eyes to something he maybe wouldn't have thought of anytime soon...

*I had some beautiful bowls an old artist girlfriend had thrown, they were really, really nice, but it occurred to me one day that I didn't want anything from that old long-lost love in my condo anymore, taking up psychic space as it were. I put up a post on Freecycle I think, describing the pots and the situation, said that I was giving them away but that I wanted a story about love lost, that I'd give the three bowls to the three best stories -- great fun. Got some cool stories, met some cool people, the pots got where they needed to go.
**I wanted to learn to paint with oil, always painted with acrylic, and loved it, and loved what I was doing, yet another old artist girlfriend (dang these painters!) had turned me on to the feel of oil paint under a palette knife -- it's like butter, and it smells so good, it works totally different, etc and etc; I put up a 'Wanted' post asking for oil paints, told the story, and that I was short of cash but that I knew someone 'out there' had some tubes of oil laying around needing to be used by a oil n00b, and that I'd give them one of the paintings if they wanted one; again, it came through, two great, artsy people gave me lots of tubes of oil paint, and I devoted the entire month of July 2004 to paint every day with oil NO MATTER WHAT to kick it off but then had those stinkin' heart attacks on the 6th and died and all and haven't painted with oil since, and maybe never will again, but that's a whole 'nother story; suffice to say that the flowers I was painting on thick black paper as the heart attacks came on is one of my all-time fave paintings...
***Sortof noticed one day that one of my two fishing tackle boxes was one that I'd stolen as a dumb kid, swiped it out of someones garage and now it's thirty years later and how do I make it right? So I put up a notice on Freecycle that I was giving away two boxes of fishing tackle but only to someone who has had fishing tackle stolen from them. Posted it but then thought about it, decided to post in in each of the three states I've fished in using the tackle, began the task of putting it on all these dang Freecycle sites but got the bright idea to ask an OP to do it for me, maybe she had a master list or something, right? It ended up on Freecycle pages all over the states. Whoa! A storm of email! Jesus effing christ! I still get a stray email now and again -- man. I ended up with 26 people who fit the criteria, alphabetized the email addresses, went to and got a random number between 1-26, turned out that I was mailing the tackle to a fourteen year old boy fishes the Mississippi river somewhere close to St. Louis -- he was so gassed. The whole thing was a hoot.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:23 AM on September 11, 2009 [7 favorites]

dancestoblue : Very interesting and creative perspective. Will give it some thought. Thanks for your unique insight.
posted by vizsla at 2:40 AM on September 11, 2009

A few more Dutch rules to keep in mind:
If you're younger than 21, you can not drive a motorcycle with more than 47 hp (35kW)
If you have your license for less than 2 years, it's 33 hp (25kW) or 250cc
posted by Psychnic at 4:40 AM on September 11, 2009

Psychnic : Really? The bike he missed out on was a GPZ 500 which I believe is 58HP. So missing out might have actually worked out to his advantage in the end. In his fatalist mindset at the moment, he might construe that fact as a good omen. Thanks very much for pointing that out.
posted by vizsla at 5:54 AM on September 11, 2009

you are looking at the classifieds sites in NL. is your first stop.

you are looking for a "brommer" or a "bromfiets"

google translate is your friend
posted by jannw at 6:58 AM on September 11, 2009

If I'm not mistaken, English is a required second language in primary school in the Netherlands, so you should have no trouble finding English speakers just about anywhere you go.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:11 AM on September 11, 2009

Here is the official information.

A brommer is a moped. You can get a license from age 16. It is totally acceptable for the young. And some other people. You can find these cheap on marktplaats.

I have a motorcycle in my backyard, it belongs to a friend who has left it there for years. He can have it. Problem is - it won't ride, the brakes are locked to the plates, and the engine probably needs revision. It is in Delft, so he'll probably have to arrange some transportation. You can give him my email address, it's in my profile.
posted by Psychnic at 11:30 AM on September 11, 2009

Psychnic : That's incredibly generous of you. Thank you very much. I will let him know.
posted by vizsla at 2:19 PM on September 11, 2009

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