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IKEA’s move into bicycle industry announced

Mr Graham works at Lekker Bikes in Melbourne. Photo: Lekker Bikes

Mr Graham works at Lekker Bikes in Melbourne. Photo: Lekker Bikes

Swedish furniture maker IKEA is set to enter the bike industry with the announcement of a “chain-free”, “rust-free” bicycle called Sladda.

The bike, which will be sold in European store from August for a not-insignificant US$800 (AU$1024), will come flat-packed and require assembling by the owner – something that won’t surprise consumers familiar with the brand.

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Made in partnership with design firm Veryday, Sladda is unisex and customisable. With a muted grey colour palette, the bike is about as minimalist and utilitarian as you would expect from an IKEA vehicle.

One feature likely to attract buyers is the “click system”, which allows riders to easily click on and off accessories such as carrying racks and a towing trailer – yours for an extra $300.

Sladda come disassembled, in the IKEA tradition. Photo: IKEA/Supplied

Sladda come disassembled, in the IKEA tradition. Photo: IKEA/Supplied

Who will buy it?

The understated single-speed bike is likely to appeal to “cafe cruisers”, says Alistair Graham of Lekker Bikes in Melbourne.

“It looks quite interesting,” he told The New Daily, “almost like a courier bike you’d buy so you could ride to IKEA and buy a little flat-packed coffee table and ride it home.”

Tom Ashby of American bike company The Gotcha Group said he liked the straightforward, gentle style, but rejected any suggestions that IKEA was breaking new ground.

What’s new?

Sladda’s promise of “rust-free” cycling sounded hollow to Mr Ashby, who pointed out more than half of bikes on the road now are made from aluminium, and won’t ever rust.

Another selling point is Sladda’s belt drive, apparently lasting about three times longer than a regular bike chain – somewhere in the realm of 15,000km.

But Mr Ashby said the belt drive hype is simply a product of IKEA’s public relations team.

“It’s a very, very standard piece of equipment that has been around for 20 years,” he told The New Daily.

Mr Graham works at Lekker Bikes in Melbourne. Photo: Lekker Bikes

Mr Graham works at Lekker Bikes in Melbourne. Photo: Lekker Bikes

“It’s not used very often because it’s expensive.”

Mr Graham said his store also sold a bike with a belt chain instead of a regular chain.

“The difference is that a chain has links and you can remove it. With a belt drive you need a break in the frame to get it on.”

This isn’t a problem for IKEA, which famously requires customers to lug home boxed-up parts and put them together at home.

But Mr Ashby said for the price, you’d want someone to be doing that work for you.

“It’s too expensive. I’d like to know whether they make their own pieces, or if they’re just using readymade handlebars from China and rebranding them,” he said.

“Although, if anyone could make all of their own parts, it would be IKEA.”

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