Bikes are an essential type of transport in many cities. They are easy, efficient and environmentally friendly. They can also be bloody annoying. Tires will get flat, the chain will break or worst case scenario — they will get stolen. But now there’s the solution for a worry-free life on your bike: Swapfiets (Dutch for Swapbike).
As an urbanite you can save a lot of money on transport if you ride your bike. No gas, no tickets. But you do need to buy one, and especially in hectic urban areas they need constant care and repair. Needless to say, they’re relatively easy to steal. But now we’ve entered the age of the subscription economy (access over ownership!), it was just a matter of time before bikes would join the party. Founded in the Dutch student city of Delft, Swapfiets offers a subscription to cycling. The young company turns out to be a success.
The idea is that for a monthly fee of €15 (students get a discount) you’ll get a robust city bike, locks, insurance and a support team at the end of a phone call. In short, you don’t own a bike any more and you never have to visit a repair shop — Swapfiets takes care of it. If your bike needs maintenance or is stolen, the Swapfiets team will get you a fresh bike within 12 hours. If your bike isn’t fixable within 15 minutes, they’ll give you a new one and take your bike with them to get repaired and swap it with someone else’s. The company guarantees that customers will never go without a bike for more than two days, including when it’s been stolen.
Swapfiets was founded in Delft by three students. Especially students often ride mediocre and even unsafe bicycles, and they proved to be a suitable target group for the concept to take off. It started with 30 bikes on Marktplaats, the Dutch eBay, which were all let out within a few weeks. Swapfiets currently has already 1,750 bikes riding in Delft, all designed by the company itself and made by bicycle brand Union & Cycletech. Every bike has a blue front wheel to make it stand out. Students still make up 80% of the Swapfiets customers, and the company is growing rapidly — last month it grew by 22%. Swapfiets is currently active in all major Dutch student cities including Leiden, Groningen, Nijmegen, Utrecht, Eindhoven, and Rotterdam, and will be landing in Tilburg and Amsterdam in the near future.