A Czech cycle company has landed a prestige order for bikes from the European Parliament in Brussels. Twenty-five electric bikes will be heading in the Spring from Prague company Citybikes for use by some of the thousands of officials working at the parliament’s main offices in the Belgian capital.
It a significant breakthrough for a firm that was founded only 10 years ago by a group of friends who saw the chance to be part of a growing market. Town bikes back in 2006 were a novelty in Prague back then. But one of the company founders, Martin Řiha, recalls that he had already recognized the gap that bikes could fill following the Prague floods of 2002 when the city metro network was closed for months, tramways disrupted, and the roads clogged.
One of the problems was that most convention bikes on offer were not well adapted to the city environment with its hazards of cobbles and tram lines and need for quick steering reactions or to those who were expected to arrive at work in a suit or long dress.
The Citybike partners put their hopes on a series of ‘retro’ bikes that responded well to those demands. They also offered high visibility and high protection from mud guards.
While also offering similar models from other manufacturers, Citybikes also launched its own model, the Kolos, produced on the suburbs of Prague at Hostivař. Both conventional and electric versions are available with the hundreds of the electric models now selling every year. The cheapest versions came in at 30,000 crowns each.
The company has gone on step better if putting the focus on the customer. Every purchaser has the opportunity to have their bike tailor made to some extent with the choice of colour, seat design, brakes, and gears offered on the Internet and the price of the combinations immediately visible accordingly.
Řiha says it was that flexibility and ability to meet the specific demands of the European Parliament tender at a competitive price that resulted in Citybikes landing the contract.
It's estimated that around 300,000 bikes are sold every year in the Czech Republic with city bikes taking a still small but growing slice of the market. Electric bike sales are also increasing with 2015 sales put at around 20,000.