A historic sponge and chamois factory in the Netherlands is being transformed into a huge cycling experience centre. Called De Fietser – or, The Cyclist – the former factory in Ede will be a brand experience centre for the Accell Group's bike brands, and it will also have a permanent indoor 1400-metre test-out track that Accell claims will be the longest in Europe.
Accell owns brands such as Batavus, Koga, Van Nicholas, and Loekie – these are flagged in a company promotional video for De Fietser. Accell also owns Raleigh but is not featured in the video.
The centre was first mooted in 2014 and expected to open in 2015 but will now open in Autumn 2016, the Batavus marketing manager Ria Veld told BikeBiz.
The 10,000 square metre factory was built in 1919 for ENKA, the Dutch Art Silk Factory. It produced man-made fabrics and later specialised in chamois (for window cleaning, not cycle shorts) and sponges. In its heyday 5000 workers were employed at the factory. The factory closed in 2002 and was partially demolished in 2008, and has since become a venue for car shows. De Fietser will be housed in the former factory's West Hall, built in 1928 and which is a listed national monument.
Ede is close to Utrecht, and about an hour by train from Amsterdam. De Fietser is sited next to the Ede-Wageningen railway station. Accell expects the centre will attract 100,000 visitors a year.
As well as a test track De Fietser will have a cycling museum, restaurants, and outdoor cycle trails. The centre will be heated by biomass and powered by solar energy, making it 100 percent carbon neutral. Ede is noted for its "green" credentials.
It's all go on the cycling theme-park front in the Netherlands – last week BikeBiz revealed an entrepreneur wants to create the Bicycle Experience centre, and a Shimano-based theme park is set to open in 2017. As BikeBiz reported last year, Shimano Europe is to turn a former brewery site in the Netherlands into a Shimano multi-activity centre. The centre will allow visitors to take part in Shimano-equipped cycling, fishing and rowing activities. The Shimano Experience Centre will take shape in Valkenburg, in the province of Limburg. The site houses the Leeuw brewery which closed in 2006. The historic building, a brewery since the 1880s, was formerly a gunpowder factory.