A new kids bicycle leasing service in Sydney is helping parents keep their kids on the right-sized bike – while keeping outgrown treadlies out of landfill.
The Pedal Club was launched in Bondi last year to provide a more flexible option for parents – enabling them to trade up as their children grow – and expand the lifespans of kids bikes.
Parents have the option to lease a children’s bike – from trikes and balance bikes for toddlers to larger bikes for children up to 13 years – or purchase a bike with a guaranteed buy-back option.
Former bike shop employee Fergus Woollcombe came up with the idea after countless conversations with customers about how much to pay for a bike their child will outgrow in a matter of months.
“I also want to provide flexibility for parents, who often don’t have the time to really think strategically about buying products that last longer. When it comes to things like bikes, they end up buying something that’s too big because they don’t want to buy four bikes during their kid’s childhood,” Fergus said.
“Talking to parents who have experienced the pain point of kids growing fast and outgrowing everything, this service immediately lands with them and makes sense. Why buy something your child is going to outgrow in just months?
“Kids bikes and other kids products deserve to be kept in circulation for a lot longer. It’s such a waste that so many of these products go to landfill because kids outgrow them.”
People’s Choice Award
The business was the second venture backed by the Hatch: Taronga Accelerator Program, an initiative set up by Taronga Conservation Society Australia to assist start-ups with an environmental focus.
At an awards night held by the program last November, the Hatch Pitch Club, The Pedal Club won the People’s Choice Award.
It capped a successful first year for the business, as it quickly earned solid traction in the market.
“It’s been really well received but we are still very much in our infancy,” he said.
“The challenge to this ‘product as a service’ approach is it requires a systems change and a level of education for the parents about how they can approach getting products for their kids.”
He said while the concept of product as a service sits most comfortably with younger parents, many of them are yet to experience the ‘pain point’ of the children outgrowing items.
Big With Millennials
“Millennials are more open to alternative ways of having products. We all have subscriptions for Netflix and Spotify,” the 31-year-old added.
“Products as a service will become commonplace, particularly with the parent sector. It’s just a matter of how quickly it becomes an adopted way of life.”
Fergus was initially looking to launch a service in the adult bike market and got a job in a bike store to get closer to the industry.
As a keen cyclist and triathlete, he was always frustrated by the cost of new bikes and the challenges of finding good options on the second-hand market.
“It’s easy to spend too much on a second-hand bike and there’s always the risk it has unforeseen issues,” he said.
“However, talking to parents buying buys for their children helped me to see the opportunity in the kids sector.
“The big vision I have is to expand the service across different product lines. This is something that can be applied to lots of product lines in the kids sector.”
Fergus said bike maintenance is one of the business’s big challenges, particularly with the salt air in its coastal location.
“We try to incentivise our customers as much as possible to keep the bikes indoors,” Fergus said, explaining that customers who return bikes in good condition receive rewards such as a few months’ free rental for their next bike.
“Customers tend to be pretty good because they know they don’t own the product.
“We estimated the lifespan of each bike will be four to five years. On average, parents are keeping each bike for 12 to 18 months. So each bike will average three riders during their lifespans.
“At the end of their life span, we will donate the bikes to charity partners, rather than send them to landfill.”
The Pedal Club currently restricts its lease service to Sydneysiders within 50km of the business’s eastern suburbs headquarters.
“The plan is to reach the rest of greater Sydney as soon as possible, then quite quickly expand to some of the other major cities,” he explained.
“If we can get to the level of customers we want in the next year or so, I have my eyes on Brisbane and Adelaide in particular. They are particularly good cities when it comes to cycling.”