BikeBiz catches up with kids bike subscription service The Bike Club
Can you give us a little background on The Bike Club?
The Bike Club is the UK’s first kids bike subscription service, offering an affordable and sustainable way to get families cycling.
Available from just £5 per month, members can secure high-quality, new and refurbished bikes for their children, delivered direct to their door and exchangeable anytime as their children grow.
Overconsumption within the UK has grown rapidly in recent decades, resulting in unsustainable levels of waste and pollution. With the average child outgrowing their frame size every 12-18 months, the current kids bike market is part of the problem.
Hoping to change the “throwaway culture” and give more families the opportunity to experience the many benefits of riding, we came up with the idea of a subscription service model for kids bikes that offers a sustainable and efficient use of resources to meet current demand and grow the number of children cycling.
With the likes of Netflix, Uber and Airbnb, the ‘access economy’ has revolutionised the way we travel, eat and consume media, and the time is right for these changes to arrive in the kids bike industry.
How much did you expand last year, and how much has demand been influenced by COVID?
2020 has been a landmark year in terms of the Bike Club’s growth to date. We announced an investment of £5.7 million to grow our offering and lead change towards a greener more sustainable model.
Early investors include Mike Balfour, founder of Fitness First and James Jack, founder of Pure Gym. The use of equity crowdfunding also gave our community the opportunity to invest in the Bike Club and the future of family cycling. Our community is at the heart of our business so it was particularly special to be able to involve them in the future of the company.
We also recently opened a new warehouse in Rainham, Essex. This has allowed us to improve our turnaround times and meet growing demand, as well as offer up to 60 new jobs within the local area.
Why might a flexible subscription service be more appealing to families at this time?
At present, around 700,000 kids bikes are sold annually. Whilst it’s great to see a large chunk of parents value cycling as a key life skill, there is still a long way to go in breaking down the barriers to entry and getting more kids cycling.
A subscription service changes the traditional buying model. No longer required to fork out hundreds of pounds in one go on a new bike, a subscription service offers access to parents with a manageable and fixed payment as little as £5 a month. This, in turn, allows more people to access high-quality bikes for their children while helping to tackle the climate change emergency, childhood obesity levels, air pollution (especially around our schools) and the mental health connotations of a sedentary lifestyle.
Correct bike sizing is crucial to learning and enjoying cycling. Children simply can’t enjoy a bike that’s bought to be ‘slightly big’, so that they can eventually ‘grow into it’. We put a big emphasis on the bikes and brands that we choose for subscribers to the Bike Club, picking the best bikes for every stage and activity. As parents, we’ve thought about practicalities – like how heavy is it to lug in and out of the car – as well as choosing bikes that have the best child-specific components.
More and more families now feel passionate about the growing problem of unsustainability. There are an estimated seven million unused bikes in the UK. With too many bikes already being sent to landfill every year, we now also buy unwanted Frog and Islabikes bikes from families, refurbish them and send them to a new home. The Bike Club’s ‘reBikes’ mean that parents cut waste and pass on a pre-loved bike to a younger rider; bringing the next generation happiness and a new sense of independence.
What are your plans for 2021 and beyond?
Kids cycling is at a turning point within the UK. With a rapid increase in cycling across the UK over recent months, and better understanding of the benefits of the sharing economy with parents, interest in subscription services is growing quickly.
With thousands of members across the country already, and a current fleet of over 20,000 bikes, funding will be used to grow this to 150,000 bikes over the next three years here in the UK. In the near future, we are also looking to make some exciting announcements about launching in a number of other countries around the globe. Exciting times ahead.