by Jennifer Fontaine
What do you get when you cross an award-winning industrial designer with newfound fatherhood? A thing called WOOM.
Christian Bezdeka?s love for cycling came early in life, zooming across finish lines by the age of 13. Through high school, even while following in the footsteps of his father?s bio-medical education, Bezdeka had already begun creating a cache of original design projects. After graduation, realizing industrial design offered him an ideal way to express both his talent and a profound love for bicycles, he literally switched gears.
Feeling the tug of passion, Bezdeka dusted off a burgeoning design portfolio and was accepted to Vienna?s prestigious University of Applied Arts on the first attempt. Here, surrounded by 1,800 classmates from 49 different countries, he was finally free to form visionary ideas with as they applied to the sport of bicycling.
As a surprise to no one, Bezdeka started his own design firm and gained industry-wide acclaim for high-end mountain and race bike design, but with the birth of his first, then second son, his attention turned to matters closer to the heart.
?I wanted to give them the best available, and because I couldn’t find one on the market, I had to design them myself,? he says. Enter WOOM Bikes.
The Birth of a BikeAttention to detail was at the forefront of Bezdeka?s mind, and when pen first touched paper he knew it would be an arduous, yet worthwhile endeavor. His checklist of must-have components read like that of a fortune 500 company; low carbon footprint, sustainable business practices, locally-sourced, non-toxic parts, and ergonomic designs for each stage of a child?s developmental growth.
In stark contrast to manufacturers who assemble bikes on conveyor belts amidst a sea of other plastic trinkets, Bezdeka set out to create a thoughtful line of bikes that would perform with comfort and durability. He spent four years researching, designing and redesigning prototypes, and then tested the products until landing on the winning combination, featuring WOOM?s signature extended wheelbase, ultralight alloy frame and a low center of gravity allowing for expert maneuverability.
With a completed body designed specifically for young people, Christian began fine-tuning the details; rust-free spokes, thinner handlebar grips and a special ?smallhand reach? brake lever so tiny palms can learn to stop effectively at an early age. ?Children have different challenges or requirements just based on age and height,? Bezdeka said. ?We have specifically designed our bikes thinking of beginner geometry.?
A Very Green Bicycle
Plans in hand, Bezdeka traveled the globe?to seek out production sourcing and manufacturing facilities that would not only carefully craft his creation, but do so in an environmentally- friendly manner. He inherently knew that it was feasible to manage WOOM’s cost effective production and the project’s footprint all while keeping the price point attainable for families.
Leading with a notion that even small startups can act in an environmentally responsible way, Bezdeka went further, offering customers an opportunity to upcycle outgrown WOOM bikes. With a one-time ?opt in? fee, customers to the WOOM upcycle program save up to 40% off the retail price of upgraded purchases, and used bikes are refurbished and resold instead of ending up in a landfill.
With the aim?of garnering a top-in-class excellence rating?across Europe, Bezdeka looked to partner Marcus Ihlenfeld, for his expert business sense. Director of Marketing for European motor vehicle giant Opel Austria, Ihlenfeld had a vested interest in WOOM?s success when he, too became a father, and so commenced a cooperative launch of WOOM Bikes into production?in 2014.
?In German our slogan is ?The better kid?s bike? which doesn?t work well for the US, but that?s really how we feel,? Ihlenfeld said. ?We took all of this extensive research and experience and built it into our bikes.? And WOOM did just that. With a robust line of bikes ranging from the WOOM1, a balance bike for toddlers, all the way to the WOOM5 designed for nine-13 year olds, the company covers the entire range of products, five in all.
With their European success in hand, WOOM now has the USA in their sights. In December of 2014 Bezdeka and?Ihlenfeld added Mathias?Ihlenfeld, financial manager, avid cyclist and brother to Marcus, to supervise?distribution of their bikes stateside and they are already zooming into the hearts and minds of conscientious consumers from Alaska to Florida.
WOOM also offers kids an assortment of accessories to ensure safety, along with an added flair of style. Biking gloves are a refreshing example of fashion and function, combining a no-stitch approach for added strength and flexibility, a silicon palm for gripping power, and a lycra-faux leather upper to ensure a snug fit without the need of bulky Velcro.
The Low Down
Visit WOOM Bikes USA online
Ages 1.5 ? 4
Height 33 ? 39?
Retail Price: $229
Ages 3 ? 5
Height 37 ? 43?
Retail Price: $339
Ages 5 ? 7
Height 41 ? 49?
Retail Price: $369
Ages 7 ? 9
Height 47 ? 53?
Retail Price: $449
Ages 9 ? 13
Height > 51?
Retail Price: $449
By opting in to WOOM?s Upcycle System with a one-time program membership fee of $59, customers are eligible to receive 40% off a bike purchase price when an additional WOOM bike is purchased within 24 months of the original purchase, and if the bike is returned in ?normal? condition.
Outdoor Families Magazine is committed to responsible advertising, and pledges to inform readers whenever content is written in exchange for products, ad space, or services. WOOM Bikes provided products and purchased ad space for the content of this article. ~OFM editorial staff
Jennifer Fontaine is founder of Outdoor Families Magazine and publisher of MommyHiker.com, a blog dedicated the the joys of nature and small children. She lives in California with her husband, a professional photographer, and daughter.?