We know, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. But if that proverbial stallion is a business executive chomping on inexpensive Swedish meatballs, well, perhaps take some heed. The news this past week that Scandinavian retail giant IKEA had given “all-terrain bicycles” to its workforce — all of its 12,400 employees in the U.S.! — to celebrate a profitable year was revered in major media as a generous act of Holiday giving and a nod to the support of clean transportation. Sounds good on paper — a cavalry of employees riding to work. But shield your eyes, dear gear junkies, for the gift bikes appear to be about as cheap and ugly as two-wheelers come.

ikea bike.jpg

IKEA employee gift bike

To be sure, the company’s motives are in the right place. “We hope this bike will be taken in the spirit of the season while supporting a healthy lifestyle and everyday sustainable transport,” said the U.S. president of IKEA. A company press release continued: “. . .when it comes to sustainable transport, a bicycle is a great option.”

For sure, all that is true. But on this hunk o’ junk? If a bike doesn’t fit and performs poorly, is it a bike worth riding? That’s a question for IKEA employees to answer, many of whom are undoubtedly thrilled to get the gift. Maybe a few months on this beast will convince new riders to upgrade to a better bike.

Final note: In keeping with the company’s ethos, some assembly is required. The bike comes in a flat pack. No word on the requirement of an IKEA key wrench.

—Stephen Krcmar

Posted by jpea - 12/13/2010 10:27 AM

good god – looks like they snipped the cable lock on a bike outside of a strip club and gave it a paint job

Posted by crossn81 - 12/13/2010 11:39 AM

That might make for a great winter bike option, for those of us who don’t have a winter bike!

Posted by Eli - 12/14/2010 12:58 PM

It doesn’t appear to have any suspension, so why is the seatpost separated from the seatstays and bottom bracket like that?

Posted by Alex - 12/14/2010 01:04 PM

Stephen, “…a calvary of employees riding to work.” Maybe you meant cavalry, or do you think this is how Ikea is trying to keep the Christ in Christmas? In any case, given the choice, I’d take the bike over crucifixion, but just looking at it does cause intense suffering.

Posted by Joe - 12/14/2010 01:23 PM

I look forward to the IKEA toss at the next mountain biking event I attend.

Posted by Andrew - 12/14/2010 01:26 PM

Well, you haven’t ridden it, right, so you don’t really know how it is. I mean, sure, shocks would be nice, but do you expect them to give their employees $500-$600 bikes?

Posted by Alecia - 12/14/2010 01:26 PM

Wow. Such negativity about a really cool gift. I work for IKEA and the bike is built and sitting in my garage right now. No, it’s not a great bike and you could probably go to Wal-Mart and find one just like it or better. However, this is a retail chain and you guys may not be aware, but people in retail don’t make much money. Most of the stuff that you post on this blog is fun to read about, but I would NEVER be able to afford any of it. So the $2,000 carbon fiber bike that you have is definitely better than the IKEA gift bike, but unfortunately most people can’t fork out that kind of cash for bicycle. The IKEA gift bike was free, and I’m sure that quite a few of my fellow coworkers will have a good time with it.

Posted by Eli - 12/14/2010 02:03 PM

My comment wasn’t intended to be negative per se, I am truly puzzled by the bike’s frame geometry. Why is the rear triangle and seat post set up that way? I’ve only seen such a design for rear suspension before – without a suspension it seems to me it only weakens the frame. Is it just for style?

Posted by Editor - 12/14/2010 02:21 PM

Calvary, cavalry. . . oh wait, there is quite a difference! Thanks Alex. We made that switch.

Posted by Michael - 12/14/2010 02:26 PM

An argument could certainly be made that any bike is a good bike, but frankly, crappy bikes are the gift that keep on taking. There may be a select few for whom it will be a useful gift, but the likelier result is that many of them will take up permanent residence in the garage.

Perhaps a better program may have been one that gave away a smaller number of good bikes to people who demonstrated some desire to have one. Participation in an essay contest, some kind of community service program, anything that might have given the recipients a sense of accomplishment would more likely have kept the gift horse from being led directly to Craigslist.

Posted by Ex-IKEA-dude - 12/14/2010 07:03 PM

I worked for Ikea for a while. When I was there our holiday presents were home furnishing books (ugh). One year every employee at Ikea in England got folding bikes. That was pretty cool. While these bikes are uber-cheapies, if you don’t have a bike at all it’s better than nothing. Plenty of people buy similar bikes at Wal-Mart every year. Give them points for having their hearts in the right place.

Posted by Todd - 12/15/2010 01:31 AM

In this economic climate, how fantastic that they got anything as a bonus. It is a free set of two wheels that, even if not enjoyed by the receiver, will be enjoyed through years of re-gifting. I agree that their hearts are in the right place, that it is not the best bike in the world, and that the geometry is off. But, let us not forget that any gift is a welcome gift when the intent is clear.

Posted by Chris - 12/15/2010 04:56 PM

This article really overdoes the negativity. Sure it’s cheap and ugly, but what did other people in retail get for Christmas? What was Gear Junkie giving out to its tiny team of bloggers besides free test samples derived (for free) from manufacturers? I’ll bet it wasn’t a $2,000 bike.

A bike (for 12,400 people, nonetheless) is a pretty solid holiday gift, no matter how cheap. Give it to your kid, use it as a secondary knock-around bike for around-town errands, or sell it to someone that needs a cheap bike. It’s a nice display of appreciation.

And it’s not like IKEA’s a high-end bike company giving a $#** bike to employees—they make cheap, build-it-yourself furniture; this bike fits right in.

Posted by roger - 12/18/2010 01:42 AM

what cheapskates !!! The seattle IKEA used to split the total sales for a day between the employees….about $2500.00 each As I recall. I bet they dont think the corporate buy out in Seattle was agood thing !!!!

Posted by Michael - 12/20/2010 01:24 PM

I’ve worked on department store bikes, and they are frequently NOT better than nothing.

Also, there’s no need to spend $2000 on a bike to get something decent, but there is a world of difference between a $79, one-size-fits-few department store bike like the one Ikea gave away and a $250 entry-level bike shop bike. The latter, with even a little maintenance, will provide a decent ride for a decade or more; the former is a disposable toy that rides like a mattress.

If my employer were giving away bikes, I know which I’d rather have.

Posted by gareth leach - 04/19/2012 03:43 PM

I would just like to say that after reading your highly negative comments, I am even more proud to work for such a great company, IKEA does give every co-worker an end of year present, some of which are more useful and beneficial to some than others but ask yourself this, apart from a cheaply funded christmas party where you might try and flirt with the secretary and throw up on your photocopier, or innapropriate secret santa’s, what does your company really do for you. Ask yourself that! IKEA in my view is a great company to work for and I fully agree with the comment before about the total cost of bikes for a large amount of co-workers. I greatly value every intention IKEA has to make it’s co-workers feel valued and appreciated even in this tough time, year after year without fail!

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