Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) 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.
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.