The company has come a long way since the creation of the first prototype in Étienne's garage. Innovation in accessories is crucial to stand out and improve the modularity of the bicycle for families.

A garage story

In 2011, Belgian engineer Étienne Richelle invents a bike so that his wife, who does not have a driver’s license, can easily take their children to school. By cutting off the back of a frame bought on eBay and welding a new, extended back piece back on, the engineer creates a new kind of bicycle.

The 20-inch longtail bicycle

This unique bike immediately proves its worth, especially at trade shows carrying beer kegs and tires, a classic in the world of cargo bikes. The prototype becomes a real alternative to classic cargo bikes, by making it possible to carry up to 180 kg of cargo. The prototype impresses and becomes Bike 43, a company that specializes in designing and producing the so-called “longtail” cargo bikes for family transport. The Bike 43 has been on the market for eight years and is particularly appreciated for its reliability, sleek design, riding comfort and constant evolution.

Brussels Craftsmanship and Local Production

Bike 43 proudly assembles its bikes in Brussels, driven by a commitment to quality, community and innovation. Since starting production in 2016, the company has partnered with Travie, a Brussels-based customization company specializing in the employment and reintegration of people with disabilities. Under the guidance of Étienne, an expert in bicycle mechanics, the team, composed mainly of hearing-impaired individuals, has developed exceptional concentration skills, making them highly skilled mechanics. Moreover, Étienne Richelle has chosen nearby partners from the beginning.

About 80% of the components are manufactured in Europe. The frames are hand-welded in Eastern Europe with high-quality chromoly steel, a material that benefits from the precision of handwork rather than automation. Motors are supplied by renowned European manufacturers such as Bosch, while wheels are produced in Brittany, France. The production of textile accessories takes place in the Netherlands. All components are designed in Brussels, which guarantees that the bicycle meets strict quality standards and uniqueness. The vision of local production was one of Bike 43’s founding principles, making it stand out in an industry based mainly in Asia (Taiwan, China and Vietnam). The company has developed more than 30 versions of its frames and continues to innovate in its accessory ecosystem, with a focus on child safety, convenience for families and easy assembly for mechanics.

Longtail Bikes Make Furore

It is impossible to ignore them on the streets; longtail bikes are on the rise. By 2023, for example, about 7,520 longtail bikes will have been sold in Belgium, accounting for 1.3% of the market. Miguel Van Damme agrees: “eventually all bicycles will be utilitarian bicycles. What is the use of an electric bike if it cannot carry groceries, children or other packages?” This is a huge opportunity to replace CO2 emitters in urban areas. The electric bike in general is in rapid growth; in 2023 with 290,419 bikes sold, it took 51% of the Belgian market for the first time, surpassing the traditional bicycle. The cargo bike is the excellent choice to replace a car and take a big step toward micromobility. This often results in the abandonment of one of the two cars in the household. The morning agony then turns into fun and a family adventure for the commute to schools and extracurricular activities. No more searching for parking spaces, no more children hesitating to board, and no more traffic jams.

"Bike 43's ambition is to replace 10,000 cars"

Ongoing Innovation

The company has come a long way since the creation of the first prototype in Étienne’s garage. Innovation in accessories is crucial to stand out and improve the modularity of the bicycle for families. The company is proud to be the first with folding safety bars and an aerodynamic rain tent. These innovations are protected by several patents, including a footbox system for the compactness of the bike. As Étienne, the founder, likes to emphasize, “If our ambition is to replace a car, we must design a bicycle that is at least as reliable.” Étienne trained as an electromechanical engineer and has worked at Toyota and in motor racing (24 Hours of Le Mans). The innovations he brings will withstand intensive long-term use. The technical choices are demanding, with materials such as chromoly steel for the frame, the absence of derailleurs to avoid wear and tear, disc brakes and large tires for good safety. These choices allow the company to offer a lifetime warranty on the frame.

European Ambition

In 2022, the company will take Bike 43, or “Bike fo(u)r three,” to the next level. Étienne will then be joined by Miguel Van Damme and Thibaut Dehem, two early adopter customers, who want to give the project new ambition. They establish Bike 43 SRL in April 2022 and acquire the trading activities of LFRT SA to bring the company’s headquarters back to Brussels, close to the production line. With the design and production of longtail bicycles (or extended bicycles), Bike 43 SRL has the ambition to “replace 10,000 cars.” In 2023, in its second year of operation, the company will double its production. Thibaut Dehem explains: “Bike 43 has been sold for many years at about ten bike stores in the Brussels region. In 2022, we started actively prospecting to neighboring countries.” Bike 43 bikes can be found in our network of official dealers throughout Europe. Currently, half of sales come from Belgium, and the other half from other European countries (with France and Germany leading the way). The team stresses the importance of support from bike stores for bike discovery, advice and after-sales service. Take a preliminary look at the website: www.

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