Having come back from our fabulous weekend at Bespoked, full of ideas, enthusiasm and a desire to design and create our own bikes, we were more than a little intrigued to hear that IKEA are launching their very own flat-pack bike. The Swedish company, better known for value furniture, innovative design and meatballs, is moving out of the home and onto the street. But before you rush out, Allen key in hand, to buy this competitively priced bike we're sorry to announce that it's not hitting the shops until August 1st.
The Sladda is a regular Scandinavian style step-through bike which can be upgraded. Starting at a very reasonable £450, (or just £349 for Family Club members) it actually looks pretty good -even though I wish it came in black rather than the one light grey option. You’ll have to pay extra for the front and back rack as well as the rather dinky trailer. Looks like you could fit a few flat-packs in there, so no excuses now: this bike “enables the user to replace the car, and by doing so contributing to a more eco-friendly environment.” IKEA claim that it’s a “sustainable and durable bicycle that is easy to adapt to your everyday needs,” and that it’s a “solution to urban living.” Perhaps their huge car parks will now be adapted to become huge bike parks instead?
The bike apparently takes its inspiration from Scandinavian city living and I like what they’ve done here. It has a belt drive system, so no oily chain. It has a rear wheel coaster brake so you need to pedal backwards to stop and an automatic 2-gear system, thus limiting the number of cables needed, always the tricky part when assembling a bike. And all this cuts down on any maintenance in the long term. Unfortunately they couldn’t tell us how heavy the “lightweight aluminium frame” is but it has a 25 year guarantee!
It’s been created in partnership with designers Oskar Juhlin, Jan Puranen and Kristian Eke from the Veryday Design Studio and their efforts have been recognised with the award of Best of the Best in the Red Dot Design Awards: not quite the Oscars in the Design world, but an award nonetheless.
Sadly they don’t have any in stock yet, so we haven’t been able to attempt to assemble one. But they did send us the 14-page instruction manual. The kit includes three different sized Allen keys and a spanner - the only extra tools you’ll need are a pair of scissors to cut some cable ties and a Phillips screw driver! They’ve managed to get the parts down to just 28 which sounds pretty economical to me and the whole thing can be assembled in 16 ‘simple’ steps without any bike mechanic experience.
Having grappled with the BILLY bookcase, toiled over the HURDAL cupboard, and indeed, fought with and vanquished the adjustable BUSKTOFEL roller blind, I now feel suitably qualified to tackle the SLADDA. My only concern is that the usual leftover washers and bolts that I cheerfully chuck in the bin after an assembly may prove to be more significant than coping with a drawer that won’t slide quite as perfectly as it should.
Once you’ve assembled your bike, the manual offers some handy tips on saddle height and tyre pressure before some safety suggestions like “Check the brakes.” Maybe this is where those missing washers and bolts come in handy? Interestingly the Swedish word, ‘sladda’ translates as ‘skid, lurch or slip sideways’. But my favourite piece of advice is that this bicycle is, “not for performing stunts, jumps or off-road use.” I would love to see some of those dudes at the Southbank swap their BMX for a SLADDA!
Marcus Engman, Head of IKEA design claims that, “We’re using design to make things better. We work with what we call Democratic Design, where we make sure our products have great function, are beautifully designed and made to stand everyday life while being sustainable- all made accessible through low prices.” Which all sounds very worthy and, if like me, ‘cargo bike’ features somewhere on your fantasy bike shed list, this one has to be worth a punt. I expect they’ll be flying off the shelves come 1st August. No excuses, now: sell the car, grow that beard, dig out that moth-eaten, woollen jumper and set an example in creating a sustainable future (see SUSTRANS man). Ja!