The Spaac office is located at an industrial estate in The Hague. There are bikes of all colours, and even one with a side-car. The walls are hung with photos of motorcycles and the first SPAAC bike frames they ever made. Bike repair man meets hipster: two Macs are sitting on the table churning out data, coffee comes from an espresso machine and the seating area features vintage chairs.
‘It's awesome when someone hands you the manufactured product of something you designed yourself!’
Ramselaar and Hollands met in 2005 at the student windsurfing club Plankenkoorts. After graduating, Ramselaar took a job at a wheel design agency. “I thought about how I could do things differently. Electric bikes were a whole new category in the bike world back then. Jurrit and I both thought along the same lines. We agreed to work on our concept together one day a week. We made designs on the computer and entered business plan competitions. We gradually started to get things off the ground.”
“We milled and welded our own frame from structural steel,” says Hollands, pointing to a frame on the wall. “Then we sprayed it white. We just used an aerosol. Looking for a factory willing to produce small numbers - thirty frames - we ended up in the Czech Republic. It's awesome when someone hands you the manufactured product of something you designed yourself!”
‘You're much better off cycling, preferably on a fast, electric bike’
So what's so interesting about bikes? “I think all modes of transport are interesting, normal and fun,” says Ramselaar. “Nobody is happy having to drive through The Hague by car. You're much better off cycling, preferably on a fast, electric bike. We want to dispel the ‘old fogey’ image. The bikes have a nifty motor, and you can whiz through the streets. You feel like superman accelerating away from the lights.”
The mid-drive motor provides the pedal power. Turning the key in the ignition switches on the motor and the lights. The bike has just two gears, located on the hub, which are changed automatically. “We wanted to keep things as simple as possible,“ says Hollands. “When you have lots of gears, you’re always trying to find the right one. You don't have to think about this if the gears are automatic. The bike can do up to 27 kilometres per hour. There are no buttons, switches or a display; you just turn the key and you're off.”
The two have big ambitions. “We want to go international! We're thinking about expanding to cities like Copenhagen, Berlin, Hamburg.” “Yes, or Sydney, San Francisco… There are lots of hills there and people could use a motor.”
- Name: Jos Ramselaar and Jurrit Hollands
- Degree programme: Industrial Design Engineering
- Company: Spaac Motorized Bicycles
- Product: (electric) bicycles
- Mission: To get everyone onto a Spaac
- Turnover: “We've only just started, so quite modest.”
- In five years' time: To have a few thousand bikes on the road, in the Netherlands and abroad.