HomeAnnual FeaturesE-Bikes and Cargo BikesHomegrown Cargo Solution Ready for Retail Partners

Homegrown Cargo Solution Ready for Retail Partners

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Tribe Bikes was founded from a personal need for improved mobility.

Founders Nick Kalaf and Steve Bull had two young kids each, and found getting out and about on foot or by car was harder than it should be.

“As bike enthusiasts, we tried kid seats on our bikes and bike trailers, but they were cumbersome and had their own limitations,” Steve said.

“Before long, we knew cargo bikes were the answer, but the options available were either high-priced European imports or unbranded bikes on eBay.

“We found it difficult to justify the cost of the European bikes just to get the kids to the park or beach on the weekend, and it was impossible to know what you were actually getting and where the support was going to come from with a cheap bike purchased on eBay.”

Founders Steve Bull (left) and Nick Kalaf established Tribe Bikes out of their personal search for a better way to get their kids out and about.
Founders Steve Bull (left) and Nick Kalaf established Tribe Bikes out of their personal search for a better way to get their kids out and about.

Steve and Nick set out to create their own solution and established Tribe Bikes to fill the niche.

Nick said: “We’ve been able to keep our costs down by dealing directly with manufacturers, and have invested heavily in our brand and support model, so our customers know there’s a trusted brand behind their bike.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback received from our customers. We still get customers emailing us a year after they buy a bike raving about how much it has changed their lives. It’s like a big family that we’ve created.”

Tribe Bikes is now ready to launch its B2B model to select retailers

The flagship model for Tribe Bikes, the Tribe Original, is a trike-style ‘bakfiets’ or ‘box bike’. Steve explained: “Before we decided on the style of bike to launch with, we tested and, most importantly, our wives tested a number of different style bikes.

“The three-wheelers were the clear preference. Having the kids up front made for more fun and interesting journeys and the three wheels keep the bike perfectly stable at low speeds, without the need for cumbersome kickstands.

Three-wheelers were the clear preference when Nick, Steve and their families initially trialled different cargo bike styles. Having the kids up front made for more interesting journeys and three wheels offered greater stability at low speeds.
Three-wheelers were the clear preference when Nick, Steve and their families initially trialled different cargo bike styles. Having the kids up front made for more interesting journeys and three wheels offered greater stability at low speeds.

“The large box provides ample space for kids, dogs and other cargo.

“There is a bit of a learning curve on a three-wheeler, but after a couple of rides it becomes second nature.”

The Tribe Original is offered in a number of price points, from a ‘prepare to sweat’ non-electric model priced at $2,790, to a hub-drive motor at $3,990 and top-of-the-line integrated mid-drive motor at $5,490.

With colour and style such an important consideration for many buyers, it’s offered in four cargo box colours and two seat colours.

“The mid-drive motor was a recent addition to the range and we’ve been overwhelmed at its success,” he added.

“With Australia’s 250-watt power limit on e-bikes, it’s really the only way to get the torque needed to haul a heavy load up a hill.

Tribe partnered with Bafang to offer its M400 motor, a refined motor with torque sensing assist and 80nM of torque. Paired with cargo-line Tektro hydraulic brakes, the Tribe Original is easily Australia’s most cost-effective integrated mid-drive motor cargo bike.
Tribe partnered with Bafang to offer its M400 motor, a refined motor with torque sensing assist and 80nM of torque. Paired with cargo-line Tektro hydraulic brakes, the Tribe Original is easily Australia’s most cost-effective integrated mid-drive motor cargo bike.

“We’ve partnered with Bafang to offer their M400 motor. It’s a really nicely refined motor with torque sensing assist, offering 80nM of torque. Paired with cargo-line Tektro hydraulic brakes, it’s a beautiful bike and at $5,490 is by far Australia’s most cost-effective integrated mid-drive motor cargo bike”.

Where possible, Tribe avoids proprietary parts, making their bikes simple to work on. For example, all bikes are equipped with an eight-speed Shimano Acera Groupset.

If proprietary parts are required – for example, a cargo box gets damaged – Tribe has spare parts on hand to get customers back on the road as quickly as possible.

The mid-drive motor has been recently added to Tribe’s range. With Australia’s 250-watt power limit on e-bikes, mid-drive is really the only way to get the torque needed to haul a heavy load up a hill.
The mid-drive motor has been recently added to Tribe’s range. With Australia’s 250-watt power limit on e-bikes, mid-drive is really the only way to get the torque needed to haul a heavy load up a hill.

Longtail e-Bike Coming Soon

Tribe has a longtail e-bike coming later this year, acknowledging space and portability is a key concern for some customers.

In addition, Tribe will soon offer a delivery-style cargo box for the growing ‘last mile delivery’ segment.

After successfully building a direct-to-consumer brand, Tribe Bikes is now ready to launch its B2B model to select retailers.

Nick explained: “Ultimately for a product like this, lots of people want to try before they buy.

“We’re looking for bike shops in key locations where we can refer leads to and who are advocates for our brand.”

The large box provides ample space for kids, dogs and other cargo, as well as provision for shade on sunny days.
The large box provides ample space for kids, dogs and other cargo, as well as provision for shade on sunny days.

Tribe’s model is designed to make it easy for retailers, supporting just-in-time delivery and freeing up precious storage space in stores by allowing retailers to carry a single floor stock model to support demos.

“When a customer is ready to buy, the bike shop can order online and receive bikes ready to assemble in just a few days,” Nick said.

Tribe Bikes will also provide discounts to retailers prepared to back the brand and order in bulk. 

“We’re looking for genuine partnerships with retailers. We’ll send you leads, we’ll offer you sufficient margin to warrant carrying the brand and we’ll provide support to your mechanics and sales staff,” he said.

The Tribe Original is available in four cargo box colours and two seat colours, giving customers plenty of options to suit their style.
The Tribe Original is available in four cargo box colours and two seat colours, giving customers plenty of options to suit their style.

“Once there’s a few bikes on the roads in your area, FOMO will set in and parents will be banging down your door to get one for their family.

“Tribe customers aren’t your typical road or mountain bike customers. Most are mums, dads and grandparents, looking for someone to cut through the jargon and help to solve their mobility problem.”

Nick said there is also a lot of parents of children with disability who are looking for ways to get out and about with the whole family, including many who have received NDIS grants.

“Our customers often aren’t ‘bike people’, so there’s a real opportunity to build a relationship with them and make your bike shop their destination when they ultimately come back to buy their kids bikes, accessories and consumables, as well as for their servicing needs,” he added.

Tribe Bikes has developed a range of accessories specifically for its bikes.

“Most customers also purchase accessories from this range, with accessory sales averaging $400 per bike purchased,” Nick said.

“They include front doors for dog owners, a segment of the market that accounts for around 25% of sales.

The range of tailor-made accessories for Tribe bikes includes front doors for dogs. Tribe customers spend an average of $400 on accessories.
The range of tailor-made accessories for Tribe bikes includes front doors for dogs. Tribe customers spend an average of $400 on accessories.

“There’s no doubt cargo bikes are a growth category. The electrification of bikes has made them accessible to all and improving local government investment in cycling infrastructure helps make even nervous riders feel more confident getting out and about on bikes.

“The pandemic has made many families re-prioritise their lives and spending quality time with the family is at the top of that list.

“What better way to do that than by cargo bike!”

Tribe Bikes is currently seeking expressions of interest for retailers keen to explore opportunities for partnerships. You can contact them at hello@tribebikes.com.au.

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