By now you would have realised (a) I love bikes; and (b) I’m about to have a baby. So naturally I am very interested in baby-related bike stuff these days!
Today’s HOT Chat is with Emmy Heikamp, one half of the husband-and-wife team behind Dutch Cargo Bike, a Melbourne-based company which has just started importing Bakfiets (as they’re called in Dutch) from the Netherlands. Thanks Emmy!
Emmy, tell me a bit more about your background and the story behind your business Dutch Cargo Bike?
I’m Dutch, so is my husband and our one-year old twins. We cycle everywhere and we already had a bike trailer but did not feel entirely comfortable with the kids behind us. We liked to have them close by and up front so the most logical thing for us to do was to get a ‘Bakfiets’.
The Bakfiets (or Dutch Cargo Bike) is very common back home in The Netherlands. Practically every mother with small kids has one. We looked and researched but we couldn’t find the original “Bakfiets” brand here in Australia, so that is how we started importing them. We are now the exclusive distributor of the Bakfiets brand in Australia and New Zealand.
What inspired you to move into the world of selling bicycles?
My husband and myself, like many of our friends, believe in living outside, not using the car unless absolutely needed and enjoying a healthy lifestyle. We want our kids to start life the same way and that means using bicycles as the main mode of transport! Whenever .. wherever!
For our kids in time cycling is going to be normal, being outdoors is going to be normal, and that is exactly what we want to achieve with the Dutch Cargo Bike concept.
What is special about the Dutch Cargo Bike that you sell?
The Dutch build, superior quality, the solid marine multiply wooden box, the light and easy handling and the proven design. That is a nutshell is what makes our bikes special.
The Dutch Cargo Bike “Bakfiets” has been the leading brand in Holland for the last 10 years. They have improved and upgraded the bike till perfection! So customers in Australia can rely on the thousands of happy customers in the Netherlands that have preceded them. Our range consists of a 2-wheel, 3-wheel cargo trike and tandem bicycles. The 2-wheel version is really the flagship of Dutch Cargo Bike.
The frame is handmade and powder coated in the Netherlands, all components are high quality Shimano such as the internal gears, roller brakes front and rear, hub generator for powering the light etc. Because of the fantastic design and quality this is one of the smoothest rides you will find. It’s amazingly easy and light!
The marine multiply wooden box and Dutch style frame gives it an authentic look. But even more important it is safe, your kids, pets or other ‘cargo’ will have a great time in the box, and you as a parent know nothing can happen as the wooden box will protect them!
And it just looks amazing, when you ride the bike everyone has a second look and you get a lot of big smiles, so you always arrive happy!
What are your future plans for Dutch Cargo Bike?
Importing the Dutch Cargo Bikes, Family Tandems and work cycles. We will market them in Australia and New Zealand through a combination of a network of dealerships and direct online sales. As the market grows we expect to sell more via dealerships and less direct. Quite straightforward really.
This is our business plan. But our plans for the future are bigger :–) Get all people and especially kids on the bike! Out of the car, achieve a healthy lifestyle and use the bike not only for sport and recreation but also for daily life.
I didn’t know how special the Dutch cycling culture was until we moved overseas. It would be great if we could participate in that culture change that Australia hopefully will go through even if it is going to take a few more years.
In the near future we are planning to organize a Cargo Bike event with all the cargo bike brands in Melbourne. There are a few these days. We don’t see them as competition but as co-workers in the “get on your cargo bike” mission!
Why do you like cycling?
Cycling is part of our culture, we don’t know otherwise than to cycle. Growing up in the Netherlands you cycle almost before you can walk. I love being outside, feeling the wind, sun and even rain against my face. Feeling your legs work when you go uphill and feel like flying going downhill.
Besides it is easy, just take your bike, no worries about parking, traffic jam etc etc. We cycle for sport but also to get a carton of milk. Drop your kids and crèche, go to work, and get groceries on the way back home, a quick and easy way of transport!
You can get perfect coffee on every corner of the street, so just take the cargo bike, kids in it, do some shopping and rest for a latte, read the newspaper and off you go, can you imagine a more perfect Saturday morning?!
Finally, what are your HOT tips for Melbourne where you like take your bike?
Melbourne’s weather is perfect for cycling, besides roads like Beach Road have a perfect cycling path, you can cycle for ages with the beautiful view over the bay! Then stop at the Sandbar Beach Cafe (175B Beaconsfield Pde, Middle Park +61 3 9696 6334) it’s lovely to have a coffee and feel the sand between your toes!
Then cycle towards the other side on Beach Road, stop in Black Rock. There is a small playground so the kids can have a play just by the bay. Cycle on to Ricketts Point, great in summer, shallow water, and even small toddlers can have a great afternoon playing in the water!
We also like to take the train or cycle to Prahran Market with our cargo bike, do our shopping and have lunch at the market at Essential Ingredient. On Sundays sometimes we cycle to The Pantry in Brighton (bike parking just around the corner), have breakfast with the whole family and a stroll along Church Street afterwards.
Our other favourite haunts are the nursery on Bay Road Sandringham which has a gorgeous small café and the playgrounds at Thomas Street Park in Hampton and Dendy Park (Breen Drive, Brighton East).