A pair of Victoria brothers with strong family ties to the region’s cycling infrastructure have launched what they hope is an alternative means of family transportation for a climate-conscious age.
Baere Bikes, which started hitting the streets of Victoria a few weeks ago, is the brainchild of Stewart and Nicholas Jensen, sons of the late Oak Bay mayor and Capital Regional District chair Nils Jensen.
It’s a web-based, electric cargo-bicycle business that is peddling a product that has tried to find the sweet spot between function, affordability and environmental sensitivity.
Stewart Jensen, who is based in Shanghai, said the business is being launched at an ideal time, given the increase in gas prices and heightened concern over climate change.
He said the electric cargo bike is a great option for families looking to reduce their car use, as it means they can transport kids and gear anywhere in a city like Victoria that has a strong biking culture.
“And one of the things that is so fitting about this business is that [my father] was famous for being a big cycling enthusiast,” added Nicholas Jensen.
“He was always riding around Oak Bay on his bike. He was a champion for bike lanes in Oak Bay and in the region.”
Nicholas said his late father’s push to establish cycling corridors and bike lanes is one of the reasons Baere Bikes chose Victoria as a test market. It is also being tested in Seattle, where their third partner, Killian Lannen, lives and where the bikes are assembled.
“One of the reasons we chose Victoria is because we just thought this is really a perfect biking city — it’s done a lot in the last five to 10 years on infrastructure and it’s a great climate, so you can use this bike pretty well year-round,” said Nicholas, who recently returned to live in Victoria.
“It’s a relatively flat city and it’s also relatively small, so it’s the perfect-size city where a bike like this could really knock off a lot of trips that might otherwise be taken in the car.”
The company offers two models, the larger Copenhagen, which they claim can seat four people — there are seat belts in the wooden box at the front of the bike — and the slightly smaller Stockholm, which can seat two.
Both come with electric motors, a Shimano drivetrain and 36V batteries.
The bikes, which range in price from $3,462 to $3,846, are ordered online, assembled in Seattle and delivered ready to ride within three or four weeks.
The name Baere Bikes, like the Jensens, is Danish and means “carry,” and the design is inspired by bikes they would see on family trips to Denmark.
Nicholas said since they started selling, there’s been strong response in Seattle, but a handful have been sold in Victoria, too.
He said when people see them, the reaction is great, which has led to inquiries from around the world, despite very little marketing.
“People are loving it, every time I take the bike out in Victoria with my daughter — it’s just so eye-catching, people are taking photos, asking questions, so it’s going really well,” he said.
Nicholas said the target market is for family use, but the bikes could also be used as a small-business transport and delivery vehicle.