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Made in Holland: Epo

The Dutch and their bicycles are inseparable. And yet, the bicycle rarely is a Dutch product. Even Dutch-to-the-core brands have their frames welded in China for € 9. Bob Schiller wondered if, using a different production process, we could go back to manufacturing a bicycle on Dutch soil. His design, called EPO, won him a Keep an Eye grant nomination.

To get inspiration Bob went to the automotive industry. Automation and pressed metal or aluminium plates allow platework to roll off the conveyor belt at great speed. "The frame of the Epo is based on the same method. So, with a mould you can produce thousands of bicycles in an automated process. There’s no need for conventional welding anymore," Bob says. "I want to make it possible and cost-efficient to set up production in the Netherlands, so that we will see affordable made-in-Holland city bikes on the market."

Do the Dutch really attach so much value to the origins of their bicycles? Bob: "In many great cities in the world, cycling is gaining in popularity. In London, for instance, big investments are being made in a cycling infrastructure. I believe a bike produced in the Netherlands could be worth something over there; the sentiment counts as well. But in the Netherlands, too, 1.3 million new bicycles are sold every year. Cheap overseas labour is a no-go in consumer choices for many other products these days, so why wouldn’t the same apply to bicycles?

If I win the grant it will help me take the next steps towards production. The frame must be tested for strength and stiffness. Then a working prototype has to be made for practical testing. Only when everything is right can we start production. I think it would be great if in a few years’ time people all over the world are riding around on my bike."

Published: 15-Sep-2014 16:19
  • If Bob wins a Keep an Eye Grant...

    EPO

Photography: Lisa Klappe