Have you seen these bicycle racks around town?
Did you know they are made right here in Wellington? Recently I had a chance to talk to Duncan Forbes, one of the two guys behind the newly formed Bikerakk company.
Atom: How did you get started making Bikerakks?
Duncan: My co-founder Matt is a keen mountain biker. He had just purchased a brand new mountain bike and locked it up to a steel Sheffield stand outside Deluxe Cafe in Wellington after riding around Mt Victoria with his mountain biking mates. When he left Deluxe and went to get his bike it had fallen down on the Sheffield stand and the steel stand had chipped the new bike’s paint. We all know what it’s like when you damage new stuff – very annoying.
We noticed we could never find cycle stands where we wanted them and the design was not effective to lock a bike to plus the steel surface chipped the bike’s paint. We decided we could design and produce an effective cycle stand with lots of lockable loops in the right locations, the right height and length to lean a bike to lock it and be coated in a robust yet soft material to protect a bike’s paint. We also wanted to deliver a design that enhanced the look of public spaces (Matt is an architect) and wasn’t just a bent piece of steel in the corner. Bikerakk is the shape of a bike as that’s the perfect design to lock bike wheels and frame to plus the cycle shape celebrates cycling.
Atom: Does form follow function? Or does function follow form?
Duncan: Bikerakks’ first priority is to be an effective cycle stand. The perfect shape to lock a cycle to is a cycle design as the lockable loops are in the perfect position to lock wheels and frames. It needs a soft yet robust coat and waste car tyres on the way to landfills are the perfect coat.
Atom: You use recycled materials to make the Bikerakks?
Duncan: We use waste recycled car tyres and are working on a new cycle stand coated in waste plastic from the likes of waste fish crates and fruit bins.
Atom: All of the Bikerakks I’ve seen are black. Are they available in different colors?
Duncan: Yes, any color you’d like.
Atom: Can you do custom manufacturing for even more artsy installations? How about boring “A”, “U” and other utilitarian looking styles, but with recycled bike-friendly coatings?
Duncan: Yes, we can work with customers who want custom designs, or more utilitarian looking designs.
Atom: Aside from the aesthetics and coating, what else makes Bikerakks different than other bicycle racks?
Duncan: Our latest Bikerakk can be a standalone bicycle stand or have a new disc we have developed clip in and out of the back wheel which can be used for company signage, community notices, cycling maps, branding, etc.
Atom: Over what period of time can the cost of a new Bikerakk be amortized by advertising revenue?
Duncan: If someone wants to sell advertising in their Bikerakks the return would depend on their location and the eyeballs that see their Bikerakk. One example of a Bikerakk installed in New Zealand paid for itself in just under 2 months through ad revenue.
Atom: Wow! Having grown up just outside of NYC, I’d have to think that some markets could have these Bikerakks paid for and generating profit with a few hours of ad revenue! Facility managers and bean-counters no longer have an excuse of looking at bicycle parking as an “expense” anymore when it could be a direct source of revenue!
Atom: How many Bikerakks are currently installed in NZ? In and around Wellington?
Duncan: We are now in eight cities and towns in New Zealand and Wellington has seven Bikerakks installed.
Atom: What city or facility has the most Bikerakks installed?
Duncan: Hastings has 55 Bikerakks through out the town and around Havelock North – Check it out:
Atom: What kind of feedback have you been getting about the Bikerakks?
Duncan: Cyclists absolutely love them and Councils are also getting amazing feedback from the public who also love them as a piece of sculpture that improves public spaces and promotes cycling.
Atom: Many cities, universities and facilities now have formal design and installation requirements for bicycle racks. Do the Bikerakks tend to be acceptable under these newer requirements?
Duncan: Bikerakks do meet these requirements. What we’re also finding is that Bikerakks are delivering more than being just a cycle stand – through it’s design it helps promote cycling in a city and the sculptural design is also appealing.
Atom: Where do you see the company in five years? Ten years?
Duncan: Our ambition is to be a massively successful export company known worldwide for our iconic and effective cycle stands based in Wellington and employing lots of Wellington people.
Atom: What kind of cycling do you do? What kinds of bikes do you ride?
Duncan: Matt is a mad keen mountain biker and rides an Avanti. I’m a cruiser and ride a Scott Speedster. I biked from Wellington over to Martinborough recently. I won’t be getting a Tour de France call up but I love it.
Atom: There are plenty of things that cities can do to promote cycling; what are your top-five wish-list items?
1. Dedicated cycling lanes.
2. Make dedicated cycle lanes lead into the centre of the city and locations where people want to go so that cycling would be the most convenient transport method to get there then you will get more people cycling which improves peoples’ health and reduces traffic congestion and pollution.
3. Lots of effective cycle stands with a coating that won’t chip bike frame paint in locations where cyclist want to use them. They need to be within 20-50 meters from cycle stop destinations.
4. Cycle racks on buses and trains so that you can use public transport integrated with cycling to move around the city and region.
5. An appropriate level of local government and central government funding to deliver my above four points. Cycling has so many benefits for society in terms health, recreation, family fun, commuting and the reduction of pollution and congestion through less motor vehicles – it‘s a no-brainer as a positive contribution to society and should receive more funding.
6. To achieve these objectives a city needs passionate cyclists, effective in local politics working in council responsible for cycling. We have seen at a number of councils people responsible for cycling who don’t cycle; they just aren’t effective at improving cycling in a city as they don’t really really care about improving cycling.
7. We must encourage our young to get into cycling at school. Schools should have bikes for those that can’t afford them and children should bring bikes along to school if they are able to and participate in fun cycling activities organized by the schools to get them enthusiastic about cycling.
Atom: That’s one of the longest top-five lists I’ve ever seen, but I’m glad you gave a little extra because #6 hits the nail on the head with the word “passionate”. That’s exactly what it takes to not just get things done and put a tick-mark in a box, but get them done right. Great ideas! I look forward to your campaign for local office!
Thanks, Duncan, for taking the time to talk! Best of luck with the new company!