Filed under: Biking 

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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 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