Roel Peerenboom has his own bicycle shop in the heart of Wageningen. A few years ago, he decided to no longer work within a franchise, but to follow his own vision. For him, sustainability and durability are key.
Why did you open a bicycle shop?
“The shop itself? I guess you have to go all the way back to when I lived in Africa as a child. I didn’t have that many possessions except for a bicycle; I was always tinkering with it. When I was ten years old, I came to the Netherlands and got a part-time job at a bicycle shop. After I finished college, I sold cars for a dealer but I wanted to start my own business. Bicycles were the obvious choice. I know all about bicycles.”
What kind of vision do you have for your bike shop?
“Bicycles are linked to sustainability. It’s a clean way to get around. But bikes can be made in a more sustainable way. A bicycle used to last at least twenty years. Now, it’s more often seven; especially if you’re talking about e-bikes. If making a lot of money is your main goal, it makes sense. Cheap materials do not last as long; thus the bicycle is cheaper and consumers need to buy a new bicycle sooner.”
“But you can see that consumers also want more sustainable bikes. Bicycles made of strong materials, with a long lifespan and with parts that are easy to repair. They’re also willing to pay for that. That’s the kind of bikes we want to offer.”
And Brikbikes fits that sustainable vision?
“For the most part, yes. They use durable materials and the frame is strong so it can handle a lot. The bikes don’t have a chain that breaks easily and then has to be renewed. In addition, you can customize the bike. That way, you don’t have to add anything on the bike that you won’t use anyway. That is also sustainable: no waste of materials.”
“In other ways, Brikbikes could do better. If, for example, the drive shaft breaks, you will now receive a new one. I would much rather see them deliver a component of the drive shaft or repair it themselves. I have told them this and they seem to understand. Whether they will actually do something about it, time will tell. But they are listening.”
What do your customers think of Brikbikes?
“Besides it being sustainable, customers find it beautiful and durable. They like the fact that there is no chain with all the filth. And they’re very pleased that the bike is modular and built to order especially for them. They can determine the model, components, extra accessories, and colour.”
Helping customers create their ideal bike: doesn’t that take a lot of time?
“Yes, but we’ll take that time. It’s connected to sustainability. High profits are not our main goal. We don’t want to help a customer quickly buy a customer-ready bike and then move on to the next customer. As mentioned before, if a customer puts together a bike they actually need, there is less waste. It may be less efficient, but it’s more sustainable.”