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Can Ikea’s “Sladda” bike bridge the bike-shop-or-big-box gap?

Posted by on January 17th, 2017 at 1:36 pm

One of the barriers to more cycling in America seems simple: More than 100 years after bikes ruled our nation’s roads, we still don’t have access to a bike with the right mix of features, design, quality, pricing and availability that could spur a real revolution. For years Americans have had to choose between bikes from bike shops (more expensive, higher quality, harder to find) or bikes from big box retailers like Target or WalMart (cheaper, terrible quality, available everywhere).

Ikea’s “Sladda” — which just became available to U.S. customers — could bridge that gap.

Along with the bike, Ikea also offers rear and front racks, a helmet, a pannier, and a U-lock. The bike retails for $499 (my wife got an email which led to a “Family Member Price” of $399) which makes it extremely competitive with what major bike brands offer — especially when you consider that it comes stock with fenders, front and rear lights, a belt-drive, disc-brakes up front (a coaster brake in the rear) and an automatic internal 2-speed rear hub. The bike comes with either 26 or 28-inch wheels and weighs 33-pounds thanks to an aluminum frame.

Ikea also offers a bicycle trailer that’s made to fit the Sladda. For just $169 the trailer (which is not made for carrying children) comes with 24-inch wheels and converts to a hand-cart if necessary. Another plus for cargo haulers is the optional $35 front rack/basket that slides into place via two bolts on the head tube. Notable from a marketing perspective is that Ikea puts the bike in its “family products” category.

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In a video about the bike on Ikea’s website a narrator says it was born from the company’s desire to meet the transportation challenge facing many growing cities and to create “a better everyday life to and from work”. The designer of the bike said his goal was to build a bike with as many functions as possible and utilize, “Solutions that had been accomplished by bikers before us.” (Some of the Sladda’s features remind me of bikes entered into the Oregon Manifest Design Challenge.)

Thankfully the Sladda is much nicer than the bike Ikea gave to 12,400 U.S. employees as a thank-you gift back in 2010.

And of course since this is an Ikea product, buyers are expected to put it together themselves. Thankfully the bike ships nearly completely assembled. Buyers will have to attach the front wheel and fender, handlebars, pedals, seatpost and kickstand. I imagine if someone has put together an Ikea shelf they will probably be able to put together this bike. And that’s a big deal for everyone who doesn’t have a good bike shop nearby and/or who wouldn’t feel comfortable going into one if they did.

Ikea has clearly done their homework and seems to have hit all the right notes. When you combine the bike’s features, price and design with the vast reach of Ikea (39 stores nationwide and a first-rate e-commerce site) and their trusted brand name, the Sladda could introduce cycling to millions of people and provide them with a viable and useful tool for urban life.

What do you think? Would you give this bike a try or recommend it to your friends and family?

UPDATE, 5/26/18: IKEA has issued a recall on this bike. See the official statement from the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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rick
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rick

I prefer my local shop.

Dwk
Guest
Dwk

Almost all the major brands offer similar town style bikes (Specialized Roll, etc) at equivalent or just slightly higher prices.
With that you get local service.
I have no idea who would get an IKEA bike…..

Anne Hawley
Subscriber
Anne Hawley

I’d give serious consideration to that trailer, if I thought it could be attached to my existing bike. It looks far better suited to my needs than the fabric-over-frame one that I have. Cuter, too.

Adam
Subscriber

Looks like a decent bike. I like the frame-affixed front rack and rear rack. Anything that makes bicycles more accessible to everyone is a good thing!

pdxhobbitmom
Subscriber
pdxhobbitmom

I think it looks great! The built-in lights are the biggest selling point in my opinion, with the racks and panniers close behind. I don’t know why more bikes don’t come with those. Talk about barriers to using a bike for anything practical.

That Guy...
Guest
That Guy...

…ummm, LBS could do the work? That’s where the margins are for bike shops.

Spiffy
Subscriber

“Lights and locks help keep you and your bike safe”

but they don’t offer a light…

I don’t even see a front reflector…

they’re selling a bike to the general public that’s only legal during the day…

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Price point is very good for what you get.

However, that 2 speed transmission and very upright position strikes me appropriate only for low speed flat commutes. It will be interesting to see how they sell.

Spiffy
Subscriber

just saw that it’s a coaster brake in the rear, which makes it a hassle for new riders trying to get the pedals into position to restart from a stop…

Dwk
Guest
Dwk

I like that they pay $11.87 an hour and are proud of it.
Seems like exactly the kind of business we should support in this neoliberal world….

Spiffy
Subscriber

checked BikeGallery.com and even they have better bikes for $450-$500…

afraid this is just another big box bike to appeal to the masses…

maybe if it were $300 it’d be worth it… but not for $500… not even $400…

BB
Guest
BB

q
This could be great for local shops. I don’t think it’s going to take away sales from them, because I’d guess people buying these aren’t choosing Ikea over the local shop’s bikes, they’re choosing it over not getting a new bike, or maybe getting a Walmart bike.
But once people get one, some percentage of them will want better bikes, and will end up at the local shops to upgrade. So Ikea is expanding the customer base for local shops. At least that’s my theory.
Recommended 0

Worked for me with a Public.

SaferStreetsPlease
Guest
SaferStreetsPlease

I’m taken aback by all the negative comments. Isn’t the whole idea to introduce bike culture to new people in order to make cycling a mainstream mobility choice? Not all that of us started with something from the local bike shop. Almost everyone I knew years back started with a chain store bike. Mine was from Walmart. This will positively impact the lbs when people ar ready to graduate, need repairs or accessories. This is literally the kind of marketing machine needed to expand bike culture. I will recommend the lbs to anyone asking, but I will be ecstatic if this becomes a best seller.

Eric Porter
Guest
Eric Porter

Hey! This is great. Seriously, if there’s just one option of a “Bike” at Ikea, people will buy it. And they will ride it. And all the bike geeks can still ride theirs.

The front rack attachment is really trick, too. Not sure how secure that keyhole attachment is, but I’m sure it’s on there. Integrated lights would be nice, too, but would drive the price up.

Can they build an indoor test track in that maze of a warehouse?

The smart local bike shop will be the one that offers Ikea bike mods/upgrades/trade ins. Getting a huge company selling bikes in their stores is a good thing.

Ladyfleur
Guest

What I like about this bike is that it’s designed with all the bells and whistles (no pun intended) for errands and short trips. Fenders: check. Front rack AND rear rack: check. Chain guard: check. Lights: check. Low top tube: check. Trailer: check.

In other words, not some bike industry dude’s idea of what a city bike should be. Finding a bicycle will all these standard features (or design-for options) is rare indeed. The closest I’ve found is my Public bike, which is one reason it’s my go-to daily ride.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

It will be interesting how the general market (non-BP readers) react to this bike in Portland plus the rest of the nation.

The belt drive plus internal hub plus fenders plus adjustable stem plus limited warranties looks to be a good attempt at getting it right[er] than before…though I wish the reflectors / lighting had been handled better (perhaps LED magnetic wheel lights or a dutch style battery LED bullet headlamp with metal bracket vs. plastic handlebar LED lamp).The two speed hub will probably put off most buyers…vs a more useful 3 speed hub.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

It will be interesting if these bikes become the next generation of “barn finds” like all the 1970s/ 80s bikes that Portland devoured 10 years ago in its bikie commute binge.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Whatever happened to Ikea’s e-bike (2014 for ~650 euro)?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWs34jgUkqk

Now that could have been a game changers for novice cyclists…assuming it worked well.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

It looks perfectly fine for flattish terrain. The price is not lower than you could find at Critical Cycles or Bikes Direct, but most people don’t know about those places.

X
Guest
X

My first bike was from Montgomery Wards. My second bike was from Sears. My third bike was from Walt’s bike shop in Columbia Missouri. My fourth bike was from (Northwest Bikes?) at 21st and Lovejoy. My fifth bike was a used mountain bike from Sellwood Bikes? I think. That’s been a few years. Then I bought a cargo bike from that one place in Eugene. Then I bought various bikes from Bike Central which used to be a thing.

I’m giving this sordid history to make the point that it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference where you buy your first bike.

Thaddius Nugent
Guest
Thaddius Nugent

Hmmm. I’ve owned a lot of IKEA housewares and the bottom line is always “not that good… and not that cheap, either.” They’ve rarely come up with anything that I’ve felt compelled to rave about.

My partner bought a very sensibly appointed urban-oriented model from Gladys Bikes for about $78 more. It has a wide-range cassette and a triple crankset, and there’s literally nothing on it that the average bike shop couldn’t tackle. It’s got fender and rack eyelets and I wouldn’t hesitate to borrow it if I needed it to commute or run an errand.

Meanwhile, IKEA’s non-assembled offering has a belt drive and what sounds like an oddball no-name automatic hub… good luck finding parts for that if something fails. And just two speeds? Come on, we’re not Amsterdam, we have hills, bridges and volcanos to deal with. Are we sure this is much more utilitarian than the average beach cruiser or comfort bike?

Finally, let’s talk about resale value. IKEA’s known for making “disposable” stuff, even though some of it is quite sturdy. But it would be hard to see these things holding value. There’s no desirable brand name, no fashion appeal, and the utility is questionable. I can’t imagine these will fetch much on the secondary market.

So where’s the value? Seriously. IKEA’s big enough that the occasional misstep doesn’t hurt, and I guess that’s okay because this design seems half-baked at best.

X
Guest
X

That rear hub sounds like a mess. . .that’s going to make work for some Local Wheel Builders when it craps out. Probably you could get some sweet wheel to replace it. What’s the failure mode? Slipping? Random shifting? Or just, fixie?

I like the front basket fixed to the frame instead of the fork. (Assuming the mounts are sturdy enough). Bet local frame builders are slapping themselves on the forehead right now.

Hub brakes are a good fit for Portland. If the front disk brake isn’t up to it that’s an easy upgrade. By the time it plays out the rider will be ready for a serious brake, hopefully.

–still waiting to hear about the mass market edition of the Bike Share bike.

emerson
Subscriber

BB

Dwk
I could care less about IKEA….
Recommended 0

Really, because the amount of time you spent talking about their bike implies otherwise..
Recommended 8

That’s really not a fair statement.

Champs
Guest
Champs

If I needed a new trailer… the hacked Burley I’ve got can’t last forever, can it?

Clark in Vancouver
Guest
Clark in Vancouver

I think it’s okay. I don’t like the lighting but whatever. This will be many people’s first bike and it’ll get them going.

I initially didn’t like the frame shape but I don’t know how else it could be to be unisex and simple. Two speeds is enough for some places. Back kick two-speed gear hubs have been around over a century and some are still working. It’ll be okay. This won’t be the bike for everyone but for some it will work out fine.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

My guess is that they knew what they were doing with the hub — and BTW, before kvetching about how unreliable or troublesome things are going to be, it’s not a bad idea to find some info first.

If you look at pics of the bikes and check a few articles, you’ll see the hub is a SRAM Automatix. It has been consistently well-reviewed and it has proven reliable. It changes gears in response to speed rather than some action that you take such as backpedaling or actuating a cable.

Ikea is obviously chasing a casual market for whom price, reliability, and basic utility are key. Eliminating the cables and parts needed for shifting and the rear brake are a good way to meet this objective. People who buy bikes like this are not going to be into speed or hills.

It’s also not difficult to service, though it’s cheap enough that if there’s a problem you might want to just replace the hub.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

I put a Sram Automatix on a around town bike that I built. Also had a friend that is a bike builder put an Automatix on a knock-around bike that he built. Not high performance but very practical for stop sign to stop sign riding and around town use. Has been reliable over years of use, and the combo of coaster in back and disk in front is legitimate. Hopefully these bikes will act like an entry level drug and get more people in to practical cycling and then they can step up with a bike from a local shop or even one of Portland’s frame builders.

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

Looks nice.

peejay
Guest
peejay

It’d be fun to Max to Ikea, buy the bike, put it together, and ride it away! Right through that huge parking lot of cars.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

If IKEA would add a Sladda Cargo bike, with the general design of a baekfiets, that would really be something. Cargo bikes are so costly. However, I suppose that the requirements for a useful baekfiets wouldn’t allow an IKEA-ish price.

q
Guest
q

I read an interview with an Ikea designer once who said the whole process starts by setting the price. Then the design team has to work within that constraint in regard to shapes, materials, everything. And I’m sure the prices aren’t arbitrary.

So if all that’s true, that’s interesting to me–that Ikea decided that they wanted to make a bike at this particular price, versus a better one for more, or a worse one for less. Then the final product also reveals what Ikea thought was important beyond the price–for instance, including a light and fenders, versus leaving those out and say, using more durable components, or providing more gears.

It’s all interesting to me because you can bet everything you see–right down to the color–was a conscious decision made by a company that’s been through this process a thousand times with other products. It’s like watching a movie, knowing that everything in a character’s living room and everything they’re wearing was decided on by a team of experts. It doesn’t mean the decisions are perfect (half the broke single writer characters in movies sit in $2K Eames office chairs because the set designers like them themselves) but it’s fun to analyze the end result.

Zaphod
Guest

belt drive and respectable warranty? $400 Seems a reasonable entry. Curious about the internal automatic 2 speed drive. While I’m very much wanting the LBS to survive and thrive, I do imagine that this bike will induce demand for better bikes plus service in the long term. It will also push the typical brands to improve their commute-minded offerings.

joel
Guest

Huh, I think the idea is good, the bike looks simple and clean, and accessories are priced right. I cannot, however, make a judgment regarding quality or reliability without even seeing one in person. I look forward to seeing and touching one!

Robin
Guest
Robin

I thought that the disc brakes and other features seemed like it could go electric with an add-on mid drive…