LEKKER Bikes was founded in Sydney by Meindert Wolfraad in 2009 and has since become the market leader in urban e-bikes in Australia with stores in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, supported by a European presence with stores in Amsterdam and Berlin, as well as an online presence in the US.
Speaking about the LEKKER Bikes journey, Wolfraad recalls his time on Bondi Beach between completing a mechanical engineering degree and a new job in the Netherlands, which sparked his business idea.
“When I arrived at Bondi Beach, I soon realised there was something missing – my Dutch bike,” Wolfraad told Retailbiz in a recent interview.
“Having grown up in the Netherlands, I was accustomed to a bike being the primary mode of transport, so it came as a surprise that this wasn’t the case in Sydney. It became my mission to bring ‘The Amsterdam Way’ of moving across to Australia.”
Although Australians were familiar with mountain and racing bikes, a comfortable, everyday commuter bike was a new concept for locals, according to Wolfraad. Although the Dutch cycling mentality was an easy sell, the traditional Dutch-style bicycle was not suited to either the Australian weather or terrain.
“It was at this point that I leant on my own mechanical engineering and cycling experience. My mission was to adapt the traditional Dutch bicycle to fit the Australian rider, weather and terrain. Maintaining the foundation of a Dutch bicycle was essential – practical, comfortable, convenient and stylish,” he said.
“We chose to use premium, tried-and-tested components as opposed to proprietary parts because we know that it’s essential for our customer to be able to service or repair their bikes either themselves, or at any local bike shop worldwide. Today, after many years of testing, learning and tweaking, we have a core product range of five eBikes and four conventional bikes.”
Reflecting on his professional achievements to date, Wolfraad shared his experience working with premium brands such as Scotch & Soda and Country Road, selling bikes for their window displays.
“The first prototypes I received from China and Taiwan weren’t any good, which was a big challenge. But I persevered, trying to rectify the mistakes that had been made in the factories. Instead of giving up, I saw an opportunity. It was a challenging time, but it turned into something positive that I am proud of,” he said.
“Another achievement was opening the first store in Melbourne and hiring LEKKER’s first employees. Although it was a nerve-wracking time, juggling growth with being able to pay the store lease and salaries – and everything else that comes with setting up a new business.
“Another exciting moment was when I realised demand for LEKKER Bikes spanned far beyond Australia and The Netherlands. I was approached by people in New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, South Africa and America, all wanting a LEKKER Bike. It was great to see that the brand and product were so in demand.”
Covid cycled huge growth in eBike usage
In 2020 and 2021, LEKKER Bikes experienced extreme growth as lockdowns gave the cycling industry a huge boost – accelerating both conventional and eBike usage as a key mode of urban transport.
“This helped to shift perceptions from bikes being used solely for racing or mountain biking, to being used as an urban commuter by anyone and everyone. Interestingly, we saw an increase in our conventional bike sales compared to our eBike sales for the first time since we released our first eBike in 2018.”
In a post-Covid environment, LEKKER Bikes is selling more eBikes than conventional bikes, with a split of around 70% to 30% in line with growth of eBikes as a strong micro-mobility solution.
“They’re more suited to daily use, as opposed to being purely recreational. This trend is further amplified by better industry education, positive word of mouth, and a growing need for more sustainable urban commuting,” Wolfraad said.
This year, a key focus for LEKKER Bikes is to continue improving and delivering an outstanding customer experience. “We’re extremely proud to have a TrustPilot rating of 4.6 and would like to nurture this level of customer satisfaction as we continue to grow. We’ll also further develop and improve our products, as well as look at how we can provide more convenient services such as insurance packages. We’d like to be a one-stop-shop for any (e)Bike related need.”