Cycling & Bikes

Our Bikes, “Jan Jansen”

Why did we choose a Jan Janssen bicycle?

  • Our bikes were fully assembled to our own specifications, with our bike, barge and cruise holidays in mind.
  • Our bikes meet the quality standards of a bicycle built in the Netherlands
  • Our bikes are assembled with a complete (Shimano) gear group.


The Jan Jansen Zero CO2 also called the sporty workhorse is an uncomplicated sportive bike. The Shimano Alfine 11-speed hub shifts accurately and is equipped with the Gates belt drive. The range of the Alfine 11 is 409% and is equipped with an improved internal structure for beter gear engagement and smooth shifting performace. The steps between gears are smaller, which makes this hub also interesting for the sporty cyclist.



Johannes Adrianus (Jan) Janssen was born in Nootdorp, on May 19, 1940 and is one of the most successful Dutch cyclists of all time.

Jan Janssen made history by becoming the first Dutchman to win the Tour de France in 1968. In 1966 he already captured second place and in 1967 he made his mark in the Tour of Spain. Immediately after his active cycling career, Jan Janssen starts his own cycling brand. Just like on the bicycle, he also strives for the very highest with this activity. He soon noticed that there was a market of truly discerning consumers who would only settle for the very best and who were also looking for a bicycle that seamlessly matched their own identity and need for use.

Janssen's bikes were always ahead of their time, incorporating the latest technology and materials to create high-performance machines. His passion for cycling and design led him to create some of the most iconic bikes of the 20th century, including the Jan Janssen Super Prestige and the Jan Janssen Professional.

In 1995 the brothers Jan Janssen Junior and Pierre Janssen are introduced to the company, making it a family business.

The Jan Janssen Personal Options concept was developed especially for this market. A well thought-out system where the consumer decides what his bicycle looks like! In short, customization down to the smallest details or as they say at Jan Janssen "Perfection made to order!"


Hydraulic disc brakes, Super light touring bike, Belt drive! These are only a few of the reasons we have chosen for this champion amongst champions.

Our E-bike ISY

We have 2 types of e-bikes, which will be assigned to you by our guides.

  • ISY or i:SY is a German e-bike brand that has been in the business for over 10 years. The company was founded in 2010 by a group of passionate cyclists who wanted to create high-quality e-bikes that provide exceptional performance, reliability, and comfort.

The i:SY is equipped with a continuously variable ENVIOLO 3.8 hub gear and an easy-care belt drive. With the dynamic BOSCH Performance Line drive, it is optimally equipped for frequent cyclists and pleasure cyclists in flat to hilly terrain. The new BOSCH Smart System takes you into the digital world of e-bikes and connects the display, control unit and motor. Like every i:SY, it also impresses with cross-standard equipment elements, such as disc brakes. In addition to height adjustability, the Speedlifter Twist also allows the handlebar to be rotated horizontally by 90 degrees, without any tools. The customer's favourite - also thanks to the practical stepless gearshift, ISY comes in 2 sizes suitable for the shortest and tallest among us.

Our E-bike Gudereit

We have 2 types of e-bikes, which will be assigned to you by our guides.

  • Gudereit is also Engineered in Germany and handmade for you! That's Gudereit's philosophy.

Gudereit is a third generation family owned bike manufacturer from Germany who have been building hand built bikes for 70 years.

Although not as well known as in Europe, as soon as you lay eyes on one of these bikes you can see they are extremely high quality E-Bikes.

Fitted with the dynamic BOSCH Performance Line drive, it is optimally equipped for frequent cyclists and pleasure cyclists in flat to hilly terrain. The new BOSCH Smart System takes you into the digital world of e-bikes and connects the display, control unit and motor. Further, only the best components such as Shimano gear hub, brakes and shifters to even the lighting kits supplied by Trelock.

More information about the cycling portion

Please note that a good condition as well as cycling experience is requested. Estimated daily cycling distances can be found in our detailed tour descriptions, usually specified per day but at least an average per trip. The average speed we usually ride depends on the abilities of the group, but you can count between 14 and 17 kilometres per hour. In addition, there are several short and longer stops. Short stops include photo stops, water stops and technical stops. Longer stops are for coffee, picnic lunch and sightseeing.

Our daily guided bike tours are always with the whole group, it may happen that not everyone has the same cycling level. Our professional guides can handle this well and will do everything possible to give everyone a great experience. Hereby the very experienced cyclist should take into account the leisure nature of our tours, the opposite for the inexperienced cyclist; remember that the daily bike tours are not like a walk in the park. If you do not have the minimum required level, you may be asked to take a day of rest. In extreme cases, you may not be able to participate in the ride. We recommend everyone, well in advance of your trip with us, to go on several bike rides, bike more than the longest distances that will occur in your trip. It is important to spread these distances out over an entire day so that the bum is also trained to spend this time on the saddle.


Cycling technique
Most of our trips are marked as "easy," what does this mean? It means it is easy for a healthy person who rides a bike regularly. A tour marked 'moderate' has this status mainly because of more difficult surfaces, local traffic situations, or perhaps because of a longer distance or a hill on the route.

Most people's stamina is fine for our rides, the bike tours are spread throughout the day (usually from 9AM to 3PM or 5PM) and there are several short and longer stops. Sometimes we even visit things along the way. In this way, the tour is also manageable for the less trained cyclist. It is leisure cycling, not a Tour de France.

Most important to us is your mastery of cycling technique. For instance, how to control the bike, you will encounter many obstacles along the way. You need to be able to take short turns or avoid an unexpected pole. You control the bike and decide where to go, not the other way around. Being able to use the brakes properly is important, to decelerate or gradually bring the bike to a stop.

In addition, it is desirable if you understand the operation of gears on the bicycle, this will help you tremendously in getting less tired of cycling. A lighter gear to start from standstill and then shift to a heavier gear as you gain more speed. A lighter gear to go up a hill, and a heavier one to cycle back down. And so on.

Once on board we will explain to you how to operate our bikes, as this is different for each bike. We are happy to do this on the first day. The guide can also give you a suggestion about your cycling technique during the bike tour. However, please note that we cannot teach you how to ride a bike.


Riding an e-bike
If you want to rent one of our electric assisted bicycles, this section is for you! The fun and freedom of a bicycle, with a little leg support, is what you can expect from an e-bike. There are quite a few different types on the market, so we want to briefly explain what you can expect from our e-bikes.

It is a pedal-activated system; when you start pedaling, the motor will start assisting. You can set the level of support with plus and minus buttons on the handlebars. When you stop pedaling, the motor stops. In short, it is not a scooter.

The e-bike is heavier than a regular bicycle, nevertheless, it is easy to handle. The extra weight is cleverly distributed making the bike balanced, and as easy to handle as a regular bike. It is very important to know that the bike will only support you in moving forward, it will not help you with the cycling itself. This may sound logical, yet we often see this misconception.

Earlier we described the necessary cycling technique, this is perhaps even more important for using our e-bikes. Because of the support, you will probably cycle faster than normal, accelerate faster, go through turns at more speed and have to brake harder. So you also need good cycling skills to ride an e-bike. We will explain more on the first day of cycling, if you want to look up information beforehand you can search the web for "Bosch smart system”.


Renting an e-bike
It is possible to reserve an e-bike at a later date. You can send us an email and if available, we will add it to your booking. Advance reservations are always for the whole week. Only during the trip you can reserve an e-bike for a few days, subject to availability.


What does an average cycling day look like?
8AM - A delicious breakfast buffet is opened by the chef. The ship is still docked or already cruising. Your guide may tell you a little more about the day.

9AM - We dock and put all the bikes ashore for you. You've already packed your supplies for the day in your waterproof Merlijn bike bag, filled your water bottle with cold water and head ashore. The bike tour begins and you will not return to the ship until the end of the ride. There will be several short and longer stops depending on the group, guide and scenery. Short stops include photo stops, water stops and technical stops. Longer stops are for coffee, lunch and sightseeing.

1PM - Lunch! Of course, this time is very dependent on the route, weather and other conditions. However, somewhere there will be a picnic lunch, the kitchen team has prepared a delicious packed lunch for you to enjoy. Depending on the route, there will also be stops at restaurants or other places where you can buy something to supplement your lunch with local delicacies. You hit the road again, letting the beautiful landscapes take effect on you as you sit on the saddle.

The end of the bike ride is approaching, very much depending on the program you will arrive at the ship around 3PM or 4PM, this could also be 2PM or even 5:30PM. And then around the bend you suddenly see the Merlijn, your home during the vacation.

Fulfilled, with many new experiences and maybe a little tired, you get back on board. The crew welcomes you with a nice refreshment and takes care of your bike. The bikes will be stored and locked onboard, they cannot be used for individual rides.

The ship stays docked, or cruises even further. You can enjoy everything the Merlijn has to offer. Have a drink in the lounge, relax on the terrace, read a book or if you still have energy; visit the place where the ship is docked.

6:30 PM - The chef lets you know that dinner is being served and you take a seat with your new friends in the dining area (free seating). Towards the end of dinner, the guide will give a briefing about tomorrow's day, what to see, maybe something about the culture and the bike tour.

After dinner you can fill in the evening yourself, sometimes an excursion is planned in the evening. The ship is generally already docked and you can go for a walk. The bar will be open for a while until we wish you "good night”.

A rest day from cycling, or no cycling at all
Sometimes the cycling can all get too much for a while, or maybe you'll cruise with us but don't want to cycle at all. We want you to know that all of this is possible during a trip with the Merlin. We often hear that guests are afraid of missing something if they stay on board for a day, and I won't deny that. However, in return you get a very nice cruise. It is wonderful to see the landscapes slide by while the ship quietly glides through the water (ask the captain). So you get something else in return, and rest, of course. Should you stay on board for a day or more, it's worth noting that there will be a little less service when the cycling group is underway. The staff has other duties and is enjoying a break. You can use the self-service coffee pantry throughout the day and enjoy your packed lunch. The bar will open when the cycling group returns to the ship.


Bringing your own pedals, saddle, saddle pad or other bike parts
Pedals - Let’s assume they are click pedals. Frankly, we are not in favor of having them on board, however we do not prohibit it. As explained before, daily bike rides are recreational and not a competition, there is a lot of stops and click pedals do not help with that. Our current pedals are of good quality and non-slip, also they are a bit wider to avoid hitting the rear frame with your heels. If you would like to take them with you, you may. One of our crew will change the pedals at the beginning of the trip. It is good to know that we do not allow you to wear the matching shoes, inside or on deck due to risk of damage.

Saddles – Of course we have saddles on our bikes, picked out for the purpose of daily bike rides. However, it will never be the same as your own saddle, especially if you are an avid cyclist. So feel free to bring your own saddle, and our crew will put it on our bike (if it is technically possible). The saddle pin is not required.

Saddle pad - We always have a supply on board, also these will not be the same as your own fine ones, be sure to take them with you if you want to use them. Padded shorts are also an option, just keep that in mind.

Other parts to mount on our bikes - We can be quite flexible, but only as long as it does not permanently damage our bikes or compromise safety. What happens to this part if you fall with the bike? It should also be possible for us to park the bikes on board very tightly together.

Vienna to Passau

September 03 - 10 / 2022
Last September, 24 friends from West Michigan biked along the Danube. Each day there was beautiful scenery and our guide, Ilse, was very knowledgeable about the history and interesting places that we visited. The Merlijn was our home for seven nights. The rooms where very comfortable abd had everything you needed. The food was delicious. Each morning there was something different for breakfast and the dinners were top notch. The barge was spotless, everything looked like it had just been painted or cleaned. The owners, Coen and Christina were very attentive to our every need. This was our third trip with the Merlijn and everything just keeps getting better.