Investigations against Babboe: framework check for the cargo bike

Investigations against Babboe: framework check for the cargo bike

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The Dutch manufacturer Babboe is recalling thousands of bicycles. An expert explains what customers can do – even in Germany.

Poor: According to the company, this affects a third of all models, including the City E and the Mini E Photo: Michael Gstettenbauer/imago

BERLIN taz | The problems of the Dutch cargo bike manufacturer Babboe have consequences for customers in Germany. Because several models can have serious safety defects and, for example, there is a risk of frame breakage, Babboe is recalling a third of its bicycles.

“People who own a Babboe cargo bike can check their frame number,” advises Arne Behrensen from Zukunft Fahrrad, an association of various companies in the bicycle industry. “Then they see whether it falls into the category of bikes that have been recalled.” Babboe also offers customers a free inspection at dealers that sell the brand’s cargo bikes. The cycling expert recommends this to all owners, regardless of model.

A criminal investigation is ongoing against Babboe in the Netherlands. Due to major safety concerns and possible deception, the Dutch goods regulator NVWA has initiated investigations against the cargo bike manufacturer. According to the authority, the frames of hundreds of Babboe bikes were broken.

The manufacturer did not sufficiently investigate the reason for this and did not do enough to correct the error. The public prosecutor’s office and the NVWA are now examining whether Babboe acted negligently and knowingly endangered the safety of customers.

In Germany, cargo bikes will be collected from April

Babboe has been under observation by the NVWA since 2019. Back then, the manufacturer had to recall cargo bikes. In February 2024, the Dutch news channel RTL Nieuws first reported that customers had been repeatedly complaining about frame breaks since 2019. This was followed in March by a report that the supervisory authority therefore carried out several checks on the bike company. Employees are said to have packed broken bicycles into delivery vans before the NVWA visits – out of fear that government employees would discover them during checks.

Sales of Babboe bikes stopped

Also in February, NVWA inspectors stopped the sale of Babboe bikes in the Netherlands. The manufacturer then recommended that dealers in Germany stop selling Babboe bikes. Owners of a Babboe bike should leave it alone until it is clarified which models are faulty. It is now clear: Babboe is recalling a total of 22,000 bikes. According to the company, this concerns a third of all models, including the City E and the Mini E.

From mid-April, the cargo bikes will be collected first in the Netherlands and then in Germany. “We understand that this is annoying for our customers,” says Babboe boss Gerard Feenema. “We have therefore done our best to find a suitable solution and compensate you.” Owners of Babboe bikes will be offered a new example if they have had their bike for a maximum of five years. Most of the bikes can be driven again after inspection and possible repair.

Babboe is part of the Accell Group, a holding company whose subsidiaries manufacture and sell bicycles in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium and Hungary. In 2022, the US financial investor KKR bought the group completely. “If the signals reported by the media are true, then we strongly disapprove and distance ourselves from them,” said the Accell company when the investigation was announced. According to the Dutch Goods Inspection Authority, Babboe endangered the safety of cargo cyclists.

Fasten your seat belt, wear a helmet and drive carefully

“The bicycle industry cares very intensively about product safety,” emphasizes Behrensen from the Zukunft Fahrrad association. Product defects are usually precisely documented and corrected, Babboe is a special case.

“We assume that customers’ desire for cargo bikes will continue unabated,” says Pablo Ziller, spokesman for the Two-Wheeler Industry Association (ZIV). Many people are looking for alternatives to cars, as cargo bikes offer many advantages. “It is not possible to draw conclusions about an entire product category from the failures of a manufacturer and would not be appropriate for other products either.” In order to get through traffic safely on a cargo bike, especially if children are sitting in the box, Ziller recommends: wear a seatbelt, Wear a helmet and drive carefully.

Here on the Babboe website, customers can enter their frame number and check whether their cargo bike meets the safety requirements.

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