Free2cycle, an innovative cycling social enterprise that aims to simultaneously tackle the UK’s ticking health and well-being time bomb and the impact of increasing levels of carbon output on the environment, has won the backing of market-leading cycle brands.
Trek, Specialized, Giant, Scott, Raleigh, Liv, Saracen, Ridgeback, and Genesis have all got behind free2cycle and its mission to get more people, more active. Cyclists earn their bike by riding it rather than paying for it. If they use their bike to commute, they can earn and collect additional servicing or cycling accessory rewards from their local bike retailer.
As we reported last year, In a positive move for both manufacturers and retailers, the initiative also aims to put business firmly back on the high street. Rather than distributing bikes directly to the individual at home or at work, cyclists will instead collect from existing, authorised cycle retailers who earn the majority of their usual margin and also benefit from establishing a connection with each cyclist from the first day they receive their bike.
Commenting on the partnership, free2cycle CEO Eric Craig, said: “Cycling is a great way to improve health, wellbeing and our environment. The only problem right now is not enough people are out there riding as part of their day to day lives.
“It is vital for us to partner with brands that share the same mindset as we have, creating a happier, healthier society; improving our environment whilst also stimulating the cycling market. We’re pleased to be working with such a great group of visionary, quality suppliers, to provide prospective cyclists with the freedom to choose a bike that suits them best.”
Nigel Roberts, Trek UK General Manager, concurs: “Trek has always believed the bicycle is a simple solution for many of the world’s complex problems. So participating in the free2cycle initiative to give more people access to cycling was immediately of interest. The method of riders using their bike to pay for it is genius, and the benefits for both the rider and our society will quickly follow!”
UK Managing Director of Specialized, Simon Homer, said: “As a forward-thinking cycling brand fuelled by innovation, Specialized embraces new methods which differentiate us from others in the market. In line with free2cycle’s aims, we are dedicated to supplying bikes for all those who want to change their commuting method in order to become healthier.”
“Our aim as a brand is to create better bikes and improve the cycling experience for all,” said UK Managing Director of Giant, Ian Beasant. “We have partnered with free2cycle because we want to be on board with innovative initiatives that dramatically increase the number of cyclists in the UK.”
Managing Director of Raleigh UK, Pippa Wibberley said: “Raleigh is committed to bringing the joy of cycling to as many people as possible. As the most recognised bicycle brand in the UK we want our customers to be happy, healthy and loving life and a great way to achieve that is to match them with the right bike for them. The free2cycle initiative is an important way of enabling us to do just that.”
Dave Rainsford, General Manager SCOTT UK, commented: “Cutting-edge design and technology has typically led innovation in the cycling industry. Scott is proud to be a partner of free2cycle as it is an initiative that doesn’t just target existing cyclists, but introduces cycling to all as a healthy method of transport.”
The free2cycle model
free2cycle is turning the bike ownership model upside down, choosing to work in partnership with organisations (such as employers or healthcare providers) to give cyclists the chance to own a bike of their choice by riding, rather than paying for it.
The initiative is ambitiously aiming to get ten times the number of people riding over the next ten years, by removing the cost barrier and ensuring the offering is universally beneficial to all.
Established in 2017 with £50 million allocated to providing bikes in 2018, it is a technology-enabled, financial services offering which will deliver substantial benefits; to not only sponsoring organisations but individuals too. It enables a healthier lifestyle while providing sponsoring organisations with measurable well-being and environmental results.
The company’s objective is to encourage and enable people who can, but currently don’t, cycle as their regular way to commute or get fit the opportunity to do so. Extensive research shows this will directly benefit their physical and mental health whilst reducing carbon emissions and congestion.
How You Earn Your Bike with free2cycle
Sponsoring organisations fund the minimum of the cyclist pledge mileage and the distance that they actually ride and record on the free2cycle app, subject to a cap. Typically this works out at around £20 per month excluding VAT to the sponsor. Sponsors don’t need to make any payroll adjustments, provide loans, instead making one monthly tax-deductible contribution based on the capped mileage achieved by their cyclists. free2cycle administers the service, provides the finance, reports on carbon savings, health benchmarks, encourages participants and manages the supply chain. With no upfront costs, and only contributing for the activity and output of the cyclists, sponsoring organisations transform wellbeing in a measurable way and break even from the start, with a further substantial return if they choose to measure wellbeing in financial terms.
Cyclists make a mileage pledge which determines the value of the bike offered although they are free to upgrade by making a voluntary contribution if they wish. free2cycle has been specifically designed to reduce the likelihood that a cyclist should need to make contributions towards their bike if they are doing a reasonable proportion of the mileage that they pledge. Cyclists own their bike from inception, don’t need to sacrifice salary and receive no payments from their sponsor.
free2cycle fund the finance associated with their bike from the service contribution they collect from the sponsor. A 30 mile per week pledge would fund a bike worth £540, a 60 mile p.w. pledge would earn a £1,080 bike, or a 100 mile p.w. pledge a bike worth £1,750.
free2cycle is designed to reduce the likelihood that anyone would need to make contributions towards their bike but will need to take some responsibility if they are consistently well below their pledge. The mileage expectation is halved over the winter months, with additional off the bike time taken into account too. In effect, mileage expectations are dropped by 16 weeks over the year, every year. As an example, for a cyclist with a pledge of 30 miles per week that puts in an average mileage of 21 miles or more, free2cycle will cover the contributions in conjunction with the sponsor. With a consistent achievement of 10 miles a week or a third of the pledge, the cyclists would be responsible for around £7 per month.
Cyclists enter into a finance agreement and own the bike from inception, the four-year finance agreement ensures that the contributions remain affordable both the sponsoring organisation and the cyclist if they have to take responsibility for some of the payments. This also allows us to offer cyclists a new bike every four years, they also have the freedom to upgrade earlier if preferred.
More information about free2cycle is available online.