19 July 2008

Tough Cargo Bike Market

The Danish cargo bike market is a feisty affair. "Ladcykler", as they are called in Danish, are popular and practical. There are so many different brands all competing for the attention of city dwellers who use the bikes for transporting kids, groceries and basically everything else. Nihola, Esimex, Winther, Bellabike, Sorte Jernhest, Triobike, Christiania Bike, Long John, Short John, to name the main players.

Above is a photo of the Mercedes of cargo bikes - The Triobike - shiny and black as a mare. In the background, a rare Dutch-made Bakfiets. For some reason, Danes prefer three-wheeled cargo bikes. With the exception of the Long John, you only really see three-wheeled trikes on the bike lanes. Cornering isn't an issue since nobody is out to break land speed records in cargo bikes. The pace is relaxed and casual, so cornering is hardly an issue.
Half Price
Upon closer inspection of the Bakfiets in the background, it is adorned with two hand-made signs. They both read:

"For Sale. Under half-price of the new price. 1 year old."

Now THAT is something you don't see around here. In my experience, Danish cargo bikes hold their value. You can't even get a ten-year old Christiania bike for under half-price of what they paid for it a decade ago.

I'm not expert but such a crash in value after only one year surprises me. I don't know much about these Dutch-made bikes and you rarely see them on the streets here. But I do know it's a tough market to break into what with the Danish emphasis on design and quality.
Triobike in Action
Triobike in its natural environment.
Long John
The classic Danish Long John. Over 70 years old and still going strong.


Luke said...

Funny about the Bakfiet - I saw one being packed out of boxes last weekend, and assembled in the yard - the next day it had these same signs taped on it's sides.

I assumed the package was new - it looked like the couple putting it together had just had it delivered to them - the bike surely looked new.

Zakkaliciousness said...

strange. it all reminds me of the old Lada jokes. "How do you decrease the value of a Lada by half?" "Buy it." :-)

lj said...

The question is whether it is a true Bakfiets or some cheaper copy. Maybe someone is cheating here by making the buyers believe they bought a used Bakfiets. Actually it is a new but rubbishy copy.

I recall Bakfiets had to fight those copys in the Netherlands. As far as I heard it culminated in some lawsuit, with Bakfiets winning.

Zakkaliciousness said...

perhaps, but there are so few here and they are all sold out of one dutch bike shop that I'd be surprised if it is a copy. you never know though.

henry Cutler said...

The bike in the photo is definitely a real Bakfiets Cargobike. In Holland second hand examples are very rare and sell for almost as much as new ones. However as pointed out they're an oddity in Denmark and oddities are tough to sell whether they're good or bad. It doesn't help the owners that this one is a short version Bakfiets, much less popular and handy than the long model.

The bike Luke saw being built out of boxes was absolutely a copy as...

a) the real Bakfiets Cargobike comes fully assembled from the factory and the frame and wooden box are fixed so it doesn't fit any any sort of box anyway.

b) the Chinese Bakfiets copies have take-apart frames and cargo boxes and are delivered in flat-pack boxes to be assembled by the owner.

c) most of the copies are sold by fly-by-night internet operations like the couple you describe. They're far below the quality and safety of anything a reputable bike shop would touch.