Hurra ! as the canny Swedes would say.
Come September 2016 you’ll be able to buy a bike from Ikea. And ok, it’s name is the Sladda. Disappointingly lacking in umlauts or other diacritics, but it does come with a variety of click-on accessories including this nifty little trailer, a basket and (I think, coz my Swedish is rusty) a pannier which converts to a backpack.
My basket, bottle cage and panniers are the rather expensive klick-fix click-on system, and I can’t think why it hasn’t been replicated before – it makes everything an interchangeable breeze but my god it’s not cheap.
Steve Howard, Ikea’s chief of sustainability, has spoken in the past of the need for the retail giant to look beyond it’s traditional products and said that the world had reached "peak stuff", including peak home furnishings; now that someone's said that out loud you realize how right he is.
I think about how many email newsletters I receive and delete without reading, selling online home furnishings, about how many traditional clothing designers are putting out home furnishing collections, and then think about how often you change this stuff over in your home; it’s not like popping on a different top every day, so there’s a lot of competition for, I suppose you’d call it a more ‘static’ market ? Anyway, this explains the Sladda, and a few other non-core products, including the fantastic Knappa cardboard camera from a few years back.
Marcus Engman who is Ikea’s chief of design recently said that he saw two huge trends on the horizon; the need for increased sustainability and the increasing urbanization of life.
Given that, the Sladda is aimed at the urban dwelling cyclist; the frame is aluminium, so easier to cart up stairs to an apartment.
There is no chain, instead they’ve used a maintenance-free belt-drive, which should last two or three times as long as a chain, and not rust or require oiling.
The gears use an automatic change system, and are hidden away in the hub. To brake, simply pedal backwards.
Sladda will come in two sizes, and with adjustable handlebars so that anyone aged 12 and up can ride it.
Three Ikea products won prestigious Red Dot Design Awards this year, with the Sladda winning Best of the Best, although I think their portable induction hob is actually the far more innovative idea.
Now, if only we could get the Swedish retail giant to pay a fair amount of tax in Australia, so that we could afford better bike infrastructure for Australians riding Ikea bikes, everything would be perfect.
I feel quite sorry for any little, local bike stores in the vicinity of an Ikea this year.