How 50cycles electrified the bicycle retail market to disrupt the UK transport system

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Name: 50cycles
Industry/sector: Retail
Date founded: 2003
Founder: Scott and Tim Snaith
Location: Loughborough

Recognised in the 2015 Everline Future 50, 50cycles is a retailer of electric bikes that was started by brothers Scott and Tim Snaith in 2003, having sourced the technology from Tokyo and imported it into the UK. One year after and the company was registered, with the website taking orders from the first week.

Ten years after, the business claims it’s the most successful electric bicycle company in the UK, which is enabled with its market-leading Kalkhoff brand. It has a target of eight retail outlets open within two years but also aims to dominate the web by making its site SEO-friendly for any electric bike-related search terms.

With the nationwide footprint in mind with bricks and mortar stores, 50cycles set out to make an impact last summer by opening stores in Brighton and Bristol. The former received a large promotional campaign behind it as the company sponsored the seaside town’s Big Screen, which hosts films, live festivals and other entertainment.

An example of why the beach area is set to be so successful comes as parking in Brighton is tightly restricted and expensive, and Big Screen founder Bill Murray admitted to the Snaiths that his Kalkhoff is what helped get the show organised.

With its second decade of business underway, the maker of “utility vehicles that provide all the health advantages of conventional cycling but overcome all the negatives such as head winds, hills and extra weight” plans to make the bikes gain more exposure and uptake in the UK.

The company believes Britain is at a tipping point where electric bikes will join the dots between modern transport, such as trains and driverless cars, to create a seamless system and a model that can expand worldwide.

Scott has been passionately outspoken about his frustration with the government, having said: “It really amazes me that it takes the government so long to catch on to the fact that cycling can help the UK/world on so many levels. By encouraging people to cycle people’s health improves on a mass level reducing the need to burden the NHS with some of the major costs associated with inactivity caused by desk jobs and driving cars for hours a day.

“It could save the government billions over a decade. The proof is in the Netherlands and recommended by the World Health Organisation

“Cycling is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK with the electric bike market surging in mass sales all over Europe but still just a fraction in the UK. A national campaign would add billions to the coffers in tax revenue so much so that there would be serious benefits in offsetting some of the saving from healthcare as to provide a lower level of VAT, which will encourage cycling as well as still generating huge tax revenues by influencing a cycling program as a national message to promote health and wellbeing – supporting an industry that supports people.”

Next – Big Sofa

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