Cargo Bikes are their Key to Success
Whether it is serving beer on tap or conducting a television interview on wheels, a Vienna start-up firm wants to take pedal-powered mobility to a new level.
CycleCraft provides customised bicycles for food and drinks delivery, entertainment and promotions using modular parts that allow for easy assembly and reconfiguration for other uses. CycleCraft founder Alexander Wolf says the company is neither a courier service nor a bike manufacturer, and instead gives customers a rolling tool to meet their specific needs. “Our mission is to show companies another possibility to do business by a bike rather than a car,” Wolf explains. For instance, the two-year-old firm worked with the Wiener Zeitung daily newspaper and public TV station W24 to create a moving studio outfitted with cameras, recording equipment and seats for mobile interviews. It was featured at the Argus Bike Festival at Vienna’s city hall on 11 April.
Cargo bikes offer lots of possibilities
The firm’s fleet also includes bikes outfitted to serve coffee, beer and ice cream, plus a sound rig with 3000-Watt speakers, connections for digital music players and 10 hours of battery life. A deejay’s dream on wheels, “it’s packed with everything you can buy for sound,” says Wolf, noting that the bike can be used for parades, parties, street festivals or rallies. CycleCraft also supplied a bike to Austria’s Social Democratic party (SPÖ) for its “Frauenstadt” campaign to promote female entrepreneurs in Vienna.
Based in a small office in the city’s 9th District, CycleCraft buys three-wheeled bike frames from Fietsfabriek in the Netherlands and custom designs the front-mounted box frames. The latter are assembled from modular panels with add-ons to meet the needs of the customer. With components made of aluminium and plastic, the cargo bikes are sturdy, light and manoeuvrable – even with loads of over 100 kilos. The bicycles can also be ordered with electric motors. “As long as it’s flat, I can go easily with 200 kilos,” says Fabian Brugger, who works with Wolf and his business partner Helmuth Bronnenmayer.
Green Transport as a Marketing Tool
The bicycles rent for around 250 Euros per day and the base price is 4500 Euros, or upwards of 5700 Euros with an electric motor. That’s not cheap, but unlike a car or delivery van, a CycleCraft bike has low operating costs and “of course it’s green and it’s a good way to get around in a city,” Wolf says. Interest is growing, and Wolf expects to sell 30 units this year, triple the number sold in 2014. The bikes draw attention, adding to their marketing value. “I get looked at everywhere I go,” Brugger says as he sits in the saddle of a bike produced for a leading Italian coffee company.
Wolf, who spent 15 years as a product designer, says his career change was inspired by the growing popularity of bicycles in Vienna and the international Velo-city conference, which the Austrian capital hosted in 2013. The event drew 1000 delegates from 47 countries. CycleCraft wants to expand to other European cities. But for now Wolf is banking on Vienna’s growing urban cycling trend – and demand for faster and more efficient ways to get around the increasingly congested city – for market growth.