Sweden's Newest Bicycle, Vélosophy
Colors inspired by tulips, plus a one-for-one program to support Ghanaian schoolgirls
Over the last four years, the number of bikes sold in Sweden has increased by 20%, making for a fertile, welcoming ground for new bike brands. For Jimmy Östholm, founder of new Swedish bike company Vélosophy, biking was an integral part of his childhood. “I grew up in the small town of Karlstad in Sweden and cycling was the best way of getting around. I’ve always been into bikes. I built my first bike with my dad when I was 14, and can still remember that feeling. After many years of working in product design and communication agencies, the idea of starting Vélosophy felt like an opportunity to close the circle—combining everything I like and have learnt along the way," he tells CH.
The resulting Vélosophy bikes have striking, clean aluminum frames, complemented by bright-colored wheels, handlebars and saddles. Östholm says the company wanted the colors of the bikes to evoke a bunch of tulips; they’re meant to make you happy. The bikes are Vélosophy’s own design, created together with designer Olof Dimdag. “The shape of the bike was important. We wanted it to be classic, yet modern—and not retro. I’m very pleased with The Carrier System [the bike’s luggage carrier], which is our new take on an old-fashioned feature and which adds nicely to the character of the bike,” Östholm explains.
But Vélosophy has another aspect to it, as well. For each bike bought from the company, another is given to a schoolgirl in Ghana, and this charitable aspect has always formed the basis of the company. “Even though the world needs more bikes in general, I doubt I would have been motivated enough to launch a bicycle brand just to make a nice bike. Vélosophy is about helping out and creating a company where profitability and charity go hand in hand.” The donations are made through UNICEF, ensuring that the bikes get to their receivers safely, and the choice to help Ghanaian schoolgirls was an easy one for the founder. “Women are central to the welfare of developing countries, and their ability to affect society increases if they get the chance to go to school and receive a full education. Bikes are one of the single most important factors in giving more girls access to schools; when girls have their own bikes, attendance goes up by 30% and grades increase by close to 60%. Having the opportunity to contribute to that feels amazing and is what spurs us on each day,” says Östholm.
Vélosophy bikes are available in two different versions: the Sport Edition and Comfort Edition. The Sport is an aluminum city commuter equipped with alloy fenders, anti-rust chain and a smooth-shifting three-speed integrated hub from Sram. The seating position is more forward-leaning than on the Comfort Edition, the saddle a little bit more narrow and the chain guard sleek and lightweight. Each of the models have a pre-mounted socket that can hold either a basket or flat carrier, for convenient storage space. Ultimately though, Östholm says that Vélosophy's point of difference is "our mission and our promise to our users, which I hope will bring them a feeling of belonging and of making a difference.”
The company launched this month and has showrooms in Sweden’s three main cities: Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö. The bikes are also available through Vélosophy online, starting at €770.
Portrait courtesy of Patrik Lindén, all other images courtesy of Hannes Kalmér