Cyclis wants to teach the Dutch to (lease) bike
About 36% of the Dutch bike every day. Yet bicycle leasing is almost non-existent in the Netherlands. Cyclis wants to change that. The Belgian market leader in corporate bike leasing is preparing a move across the border, says Daisy Romih (pictured), the company’s Head of Growth.
Founded eight years ago, Cyclis Bike Lease now is the national leader in this niche market, managing 20,000 bicycles. That position is the result of hard work – and the right fiscal incentives, Ms. Romih explains.
“When we started out, bicycle leasing was not very well known. The option existed, but it was not very fiscally advantageous. Everything changed in 2018, with the introduction of the so-called cafeteria system (allowing employees to select one or more benefits from a ‘menu’, Ed.) This made bicycle leasing not only more advantageous, but also easier to administer.”
For Cyclis, 2018 was a watershed. In the four years until then, they had grown to manage 4,000 leased bicycles. In the three years since, their portfolio has grown five-fold.
As the company finds, bicycle leasing is a formula that appeals to a wide range of corporates. Their biggest customer is DAF Trucks, with around 1,000 bikes in portfolio; followed by Quick Step (600), Volvo Trucks and Telenet (both 500). Other accounts include SD Worx, JBC, Deloitte and Coca-Cola.
“We notice that corporates find leased bikes an attractive offer for employees who live nearby the plant or office. The relatively low cost of the formula makes it easy to offer leased bikes to all employees, not just those entitled to company cars.”
What makes the Cyclis offer so attractive, is the fact that the company prides itself in totally unburdening its customers – both corporates and end-users. “We have a hotline that’s open 24/7. If your bike is stolen, we help you get a new one. If you’re in need of roadside assistance, we provide it. Or even if you just want to know the size of your maintenance budget, we’ll tell you.”
Entitled employees can take their bicycle budget to any of the 1,100 accredited bicycle dealers in Belgium and spend it on whichever model they want (and can afford). That makes for an interesting statistic:
“Sport bikes are popular, chosen by about 30% of riders. But clearly, electric bikes are the preferred option, representing about 65% of the total”, says Ms. Romih. The remaining 5% consists of city bikes, cargo bikes and foldable bikes.
Your regular e-bike is limited to 25 km/h, but a growing segment – 22% so far – is opting for so-called speed bikes, which can go up to 45 km/h. “These bikes are a bit more expensive, but due to their increased speed, they also increase the range at which employees can commute – to up to 30 or even 40 km from work.”
The rise of the speed bike segment is likely to increase the attractiveness of electric bicycles as a viable option for commuting to and from work, both in Belgium and abroad.
Cyclis is indeed taking its first steps beyond Belgium, on the request of some of its customers. DAF, for instance, is headquartered in the Netherlands, where it has around 20,000 employees.
Despite the Netherlands’ well-earned reputation as a bicycle-friendly country, bike leasing is not yet as widespread an otion as it is in Belgium. This is due in part to the fact that the so-called bijtelling – the fiscal arrangement meaning 7% of the bike’s value is added to a user’s gross income – makes the option somewhat less attractive (although that disadvantage is compensated by various other pluses).
So, the option does exist in the Netherlands, and may become more popular as it becomes better known, via the joint effort of Cyclis and the Dutch dependencies of its existing clients. “Our aim is to grow organically,” says Ms. Romih. “Because there’s still plenty of room for us to do so.”