Friday, August 05, 2016

Ikea SLADDA Bicycle & Parts Impressions: Bikes? At Ikea?

Wait, what? I knew Ikea was expanding their product lines but moving into vehicles was a bit of a surprise. Even more surprising was that they did not appear to be low-cost items. They called it SLADDA...
A bicycle lane somewhere in the world
Disclaimer: I had not had any firsthand experience with any SLADDA products when I wrote this piece. Details were quoted from the Ikea United States website or Canada website in early August 2016. Details on this page are NOT guaranteed for accuracy.

First Impressions: The Ikea SLADDA Bicycles and Bicycle Accessories
Under "Ikea Family Products", there was a section labelled "Bicycles & bicycle accessories." I found it under both the Canadian and American websites, but a few items were missing under the Canadian site when I checked. To be specific, the only two items that were missing from the Canadian site were the "SLADDA Rear rack" and "SLADDA Bicycle pump." It looked like the items on both sites were very recently added and a work in progress -- missing items on the Canadian site and clicking on some of them on the American site redirected me to the "Family Products" main page.

So, what I found on the American website were two bicycles, two racks, a bag, trailer, two helmets, a U-lock, and a bicycle pump. All items except the two bikes and the trailer appeared to be regularly priced under US$ 39.99. The bikes were both US$ 499.00 and the "SLADDA Bicycle trailer" was US$ 169.00. Pretty hefty, but there looked to be fairly large discounts for Ikea FAMILY members -- for example, a US$ 100.00 discount for the bikes down to US$ 399.00.

Most of the product pages weren't working on the American Ikea site yet so I checked them out on the Canadian site only. From what I could tell, the two helmets were similar in appearance with the main difference being size: one was labelled "M" and the other "L." Both listed maximum and minimum diameters under "Product dimensions." Not sure how the size changes would be accomplished. However, both of my bicycle helmets from different brands came with extra foam pads that could be inserted or removed using Velcro attachments.
More bike lane
What about the bikes?
The star of the show was obviously the bicycle -- bicycles, actually. At US$ 499.00 regular price or CA$ 999.00 (Ikea Family price was CA$ 599.00), these were significantly more expensive than basic bikes one could buy at Wal-Mart or any other big-box store. They were still cheaper than many other bicycles one could find on the market though. I can ride bikes, I had one up until a month or two ago, but I wouldn't say I know them well. Nonetheless, allow me to add some brief commentary.

On the Canadian site, the differences I found between the bikes under the "Product Information" were the length, height, wheel size, and weight. One had a listed length of 184 cm, height of 115 cm, weight of 16 kg, and wheel size of 28". The other had a length of 175 cm, height of 110 cm, weight of 15 kg, and wheel size of 26". Both bikes appeared to be of the mountain bike type -- using the tire and handle-bar designs as guides.

Under the "Product description," I noticed many materials listed and the ones that got my attention were "Steel" and "Aluminum." One of the most eye catching was "Frame: Aluminum, Polyester powder coating." Another that caught my eye was "Fork/ Other parts: Steel, Polyester powder coating."

Looking at the product photos was interesting because I didn't see a regular bike chain or numerous gears near it. Clarification was found under the "Key features" section. Noted there was, "This bicycle is powered by a belt drive..." I didn't really understand the significance of that until I saw, "The automatic 2-gear system..." And the handlebar was supposedly adjustable. I was also under the impression that the bike included basic road/street riding accessories.

And the question you were probably wondering about the most...

Would I have to build my own bike?
I don't know what they'll do at the store, but I found numerous items listed under the "Assembly instruction" and "Manuals" pop-up windows. One manual included a section titled, "Assemble Your Bike." Uh oh. From the looks of it, the instructions appeared to focus on the front end of the bike and some accessories, not the rear wheel, gears, or chain. This was also where I was reminded that I only saw a single brake lever on the handlebars in the product photos. There was, apparently, something called a "rear coaster brake" and its operation was explained in the manual. Interesting stuff, but I was in over my head.
And one more bike lane
Final Thoughts
Ikea has a bike and bike accessories now. The SLADDA. I was impressed as my knowledge of bicycles was fairly basic. Seeing something that wasn't a basic, big-box store ~20 speed with a bunch of gears and a chain for less than $200 was interesting. I wasn't familiar with automatic gears on bicycles or coaster brakes before. For the Ikea Family price of US$ 399.00, it looked to me that this line of Ikea SLADDA bicycles added something above and beyond the relatively cheap big-box store versions. Whether I would pay CA$ 600 for a bicycle is another story.

I am a fairly cynical person and expect things left on streets to be stolen or vandalized. Stomaching a CA$ 600 loss is harder than a $150 loss. But as a weekender or extra bike, I would be very interested if I were a bicycle enthusiast or had a home in a suburb or country -- as opposed to a big city where I've seen people given door prizes and regularly hear of major bicycle related accidents in my neighborhood. Maybe in the next life?

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