by Whitney Kenerly

Greensboro native brings Dutch bikes to Elm Street | @YesWeekWhitney

The brand behind one of the world’s most stylish bicycles is opening its first U.S. headquarters in downtown Greensboro.

LEKKER is an Australian company owned by a Dutchman who saw an opportunity to bring the traditional Dutch-style bike to cities around the world. Now Will Holt, a Greensboro native and UNCG alumnus, is bringing the brand to the U.S.

Holt, a lifelong cyclist, has worked in the industry for about 14 years.

“I’m passionate for bikes and cycling,” said Holt. “I started riding bikes in the early 90s. I started mountain biking on the trails here in Greensboro. Back then there was just a few miles of trail. Now there’s 50 plus miles of single track mountain bike trail or paved Greenway.”

In 2001 Holt ran a high-end custom boutique bike shop in the wealthy Buckhead area of Atlanta before he relocated to work for another bike company in Colorado. When he decided he was ready for his own startup, he traveled to Taiwan to explore international opportunities. That’s where he met the owners of LEKKER and struck up a deal.

The word “lekker” is Dutch for “tasty,” and the bikes are designed to appeal to a chic, vintage aesthetic with a specific focus on the needs of women, which is rare in the industry according to Holt.

“Industry-wide in the cycling world, women’s needs for cycling get ignored,” said Holt. “There are not a lot of products out there. Most of the people in the companies are male, and so they are making stuff for other guys. And usually what a women’s bike means is that is has some pink in the paint job and that it’s a man’s bike with some pink on it.”

Holt appreciated that the owners of LEKKER, perhaps due to the famous Dutch egalitarianism, had genuinely considered the ergonomic needs of women.

“We’re anatomically different, we have different uses for the bike, and those things need to be addressed,” said Holt. “That was one of the things that struck me when I first met the guys from LEKKER, is that they had really geared the brand towards women in general.”

One of the most noticeable features is the step-through design that makes it easier for women, or anyone wearing a skirt, to mount and dismount the bike frame. Some men even enjoy the feature as it helps to keep the pants of a pressed business suit looking neat and clean.

LEKKER’s website also allows customers to play around with totally customizable features. There are a variety of different baskets that can be added to the frame, and different color options for the leather seats, which are designed to conform to the rider’s backside like a Birkenstock sandal for the butt.

Some of the most popular features are the baskets and the sleek design.

“Everything is inside [the frame] so it’s really clean looking,” said Holt. “All of your chain is completely covered up so that if it is wet outside you’re not going to get dirt and grime all over you.”

The bike is definitely cool and pretty. Riding one of the vintage frames in a pastel shade of blue or green makes a statement. The bike has been featured on the editorial pages of fashion magazines and is marketed as a way for stylish women to express themselves through a highly visible mode of transportation.

Cycling advocates are hopeful that LEKKER’s presence will continue to encourage biking as a lifestyle and as a primary method of transportation downtown.

Downtown Greenway Project Manager Dabney Sanders is happy to see that a business promoting commuter cycling has come to Greensboro.

“Of course we’re super excited about it,” said Sanders. “I think their bikes are great looking and we’re happy with anything that supports biking and walking culture in Greensboro.”

With projects like the BiPed Plan, the Greenway and the new cycling training center in Winston-Salem it does appear that the Triad is embracing biking more than ever before.

Councilman Zack Matheny voiced his support for the company, and was optimistic that it would be well received in Greensboro.

“Our community does commute to work,” said Matheny. “It’s healthy, cleaner and environmentally friendly. We have people here who would really get behind this.”

“There is a strong cycling community here,” said Holt. “You’re seeing more of it around here and we do have the great Greenway and we have the plans to finish the Greenway in downtown. So I think the timing is excellent with those projects continuing and hopefully being finished soon.”

Mayor Nancy Vaughan expressed her approval in the expansion of such projects. “I think that the more we can do to connect the Greenway and trails, the better.”

Holt envisions that LEKKER will not only impact the lifestyle of people who live in Greensboro, but also believes that the company will be an economic boost for the city. Even though the warehouse on Elm is not a traditional brick and mortar store, the website allows the company to distribute bikes across the county.

“Hopefully it will explode and we’ll need much more space and we’ll have a lot of people and create a lot of jobs,” said Holt.

LEKKER will be introducing the bike to downtown Greensboro through a 24-hour event amidst First Friday activities on August 1. The company has partnered with Green Bean, Bliss & Co., Deep Roots Market, Just Be Boutique, Revolution Cycles, Natty Greene’s and Triad Stage as it plans to parade one of the top LEKKER models around like the lovely recent winner of a Miss America pageant. The night will end at Proximity Hotel where Print Works Bistro bartenders are planning to serve a special cocktail named after the bike.

By announcing the arrival of LEK- KER at some of the trendiest spots in the community, Holt is making a statement about where he sees his business within Greensboro’s broader social and economic landscape.

“I’m so happy to add to what’s going on in downtown,” said Holt. “Something really important for our community is that people here take an interest in what is going on downtown and do what they can to help it grow. That’s what makes our city a better place to live.” !