On Ya Bike: 5 Minutes With LEKKER’s Meindert Wolfraad
Meindert Wolfraad moved from Holland to Australia in 2008, travelled for four months, then grabbed some Dutch bikes and took them up and down the east coast to try and sell them, alongside the Dutch way of life where you cycle everywhere. He changed the bikes to adapt to the customer and soon he started LEKKER with one type of bike before it grew to the size it is now. He’s still a one-man band, despite views to expand to Europe and America this year. We spent 5 minutes getting to know what makes him tick and where this quirky business idea came from…
How do you come up with the idea for your business?
I was riding a Dutch bike when I arrived in Australia to study English at the University of NSW and was surprised no one else was riding these European-style bikes here. It was more casual than the BMX-type bikes I saw the Aussie uni students riding around (if at all, most caught the bus) and I saw an opportunity to bring the Dutch riding culture to Australia. It’s different, seated upright, casual and a way of transport rather than an activity, which is how Australian’s seemed to see bike riding.
Why is cycling such a great way to travel?
Oh, the list is so long! It’s healthier for you, it’s great for the environment, you can travel whenever you want – no need to wait for a bus or sit in traffic in a car, it’s more affordable because you don’t need to pay for fuel or even maintenance (and when you do need a quick bike fix, it’s cheaper. But most of all, I love the freedom. Cycling makes you happy – you have the sun on your face, the wind in your hair and you get endorphins from doing a bit of exercise. What’s not to love?
What is the best cycling trip you’ve ever done?
LEKKER Bikes are designed in the European style so that you use them for daily use. They’re meant for every day rather than long trips, and that’s the way I like to travel. However, if I had to say one trip, it would be one I did with school when I was around 13 years old. In Amsterdam we do something where we cycle for 40 kilometres with a group of 25 people – your school mates, teachers, friends – and you’re singing and screaming and yelling and just having a really fun time riding your bike; it’s the coolest. That was from Lochem to Deventer in the Netherlands.
What’s next for LEKKER?
We’re working with LOOP Cycles at Burning Man from August 25 in Nevada to hire out glow-in-the-dark bikes that are then going to be taken to Africa for use as transport for students and medical staff. LEKKER is just now opening their first store in Amsterdam and we’re so excited. It’s a bit of a boomerang – the bikes from Down Under going back to Europe with their European style of riding. Every big city in Europe having a retailer for LEKKER Bikes is our goal for the rest of the year, and the same goes for the US, where the first bikes arrive next month.
We’ve also got LEKKER Boats in Australia, which are suitable for 15 passengers and go around the Sydney harbour collecting people and giving them a fun day out on the water, as we do in the Amsterdam canals, for example.