If Ikea’s prophecies hold true, the future of living in cities involves squeezing into tiny apartments, devouring vat-grown meatballs, and growing our own produce. (More likely than not, our future involves hacking Ikea’s vision into something of our own construction.) Ikea also has a vision of how we’ll get around: on Scandi-style cargo bikes.
At long last, the much-anticipated Ikea bike has arrived in the Swedish brand’s American brick-and-mortar and online stores. This isn’t your average cruiser or fixie. A typical road bike is like a coupe, speedy and gets you around. This is like an SUV, equipped for transporting lots of stuff. It’s a robust system with a fleet of accessories–bags, racks, a trailer, a pump, a helmet, a lock–tailor-made to take the place of cars for urban dwellers. Ikea poses a compelling argument for Sladda, which is on sale now at $399 and regularly priced at $499:
With more and more people living in urban places, there’s an increased need for easy and flexible transportation. Having a car in a city is often not a practical solution. The Sladda bicycle, trailer, and accessories make it possible to move heavy things across the city, for a truly sustainable and healthy way of life . . . you have a solution that replaces the car.
Sladda is designed to take the hard knocks that come with an urban context. The lightweight aluminum frame is designed to make it easy to carry up and down stairs. It’s coated with two coats of lacquer to resist rust and corrosion from road salt, and fitted with fenders to keep water and mud from splashing off the tires and onto riders. A snap-on front rack makes the bike easy for you to adapt for day-to-day demands. A trailer attachment also adds extra carrying capacity. Ikea also designed a bike bag that can be worn as a backpack. The design is unisex and meant to be ridden by people of all ages.
Cargo bikes are fairly common for Scandinavians, but more of an aberration for Americans–and the price of what’s on the market reflects that. They can cost well over $1,000 and are tough to find in U.S. bike shops. That Ikea is selling these bikes en masse and at a reasonable price means that one day the Sladda might be as ubiquitous as the Billy bookcase–if the concept catches on.
Urban bike-share programs have helped more riders get comfortable commuting on two wheels, but safety remains a concern. Schlepping groceries with a nearly three-foot-wide and five-foot-long trailer is another. Scandinavia is blessed with established bicycle infrastructure–like wide, well-marked lanes–that makes towing a trailer relatively easy. American cities, for the most part, are still a work in progress, and it might make people more wary about using their bikes to transport cargo. (The Sladda has exactly the same dimensions in the United States and abroad.) We’re still struggling with adequate sidewalks, even. In 2016, New York City saw more cyclist fatalities than in 2015. If streets aren’t safe enough for regular bikes, can they handle cargo bikes? On the flipside, consumers might be able to tip street design in their favor if more cargo bikers take to our roadways and demand change. If there’s a company with the scale and distribution needed to impact alternative modes of transportation, it’s Ikea.
[All Photos: courtesy Ikea]