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Cargo bike company Babboe stops sales and tells customers to “immediately stop” riding their bikes due to faulty frames – after “lying” about defects

The Accell Group-owned brand has halted sales of its entire range after finding manufacturing errors and welding defects in frames, amid accusations of a cover up by former and current employees

Dutch cargo bike company Babboe has brought a temporary halt to sales of its entire range, after a number of its frames were found to have manufacturing errors, amid accusations of a cover up by the brand to hide the faults from customers.

Last week, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) ordered the company, which specialises in pedal and electric cargo bikes, to stop selling and recall eight of its bike models due to safety risks, after receiving hundreds of hundreds of reports about broken frames.

An investigation into the cargo bike company found that Babboe knew about the defective frames but had failed to report them to the regulator despite being required to do so by law, even going so far as to instruct staff to “make up stories” to customers.

Babboe Curve cargo bike

> Babboe was “well-aware” of its sale of faulty frames, finds investigation

Now, a week later Babboe appears to have finally acknowledged the authority’s findings, halting sales of its entire range and instructing customers who own the affected models, the frames of which are subject to manufacturing errors and welding defects, to “immediately” stop riding their cargo bike, as the company prepares for a recall.

“On February 14th 2024, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) informed Babboe that the company has not provided enough information to prove that certain models are free from safety risks,” the brand – which is owned by Raleigh and Lapierre’s parent company Accell – said in a statement.

“The sale of these models must for this reason be put on hold. As a precaution, Babboe has decided to temporarily stop the sales of all Babboe cargo bikes.

“Babboe and the NVWA continue to work together to ensure that the requested information is provided as quickly as possible, so that sales can be resumed. Until then, we will follow the NVWA’s advice to not use the Babboe cargo bikes.

“We are currently consulting with the NVWA to prepare for a recall of certain Babboe models. We will inform Babboe owners of this as soon as possible.”

Babboe City 2

In addition, Babboe announced a safety warning for their two-wheel cargo bike model City, and frame numbers starting with GB10, GB11, GB12, GB16K, GB16L, GB17,GB18, U17, U18, WSP3, WSP4, 11, 12, and CAK.

“After quality testing, Babboe found that the CITY model frame parts, produced between 2010 and 2012, have a manufacturing error. In addition, front frame parts produced between 2017 and June 2018, may have welding defects,” the company said.

“Intensive use may possibly cause hairline cracks in the affected frames. These cracks may lead to the frame sagging and therefore create an unsafe situation. This means the frames do not comply with the high-quality standards we set for our cargo bikes.

“We won’t take any risks and will replace the above-mentioned frame parts free of charge.”

Owners of the affected models have been advised to check the frame number located on the left-hand side of the bottom bracket or, for later models, on a sticker with the frame number on the seat tube, and enter it on checkyourframe.co.uk.

“If your frame number is listed, immediately stop using your cargo bike,” the company said. “We kindly ask you to contact your reseller.”

Babboe%20Slim%20Mountain-1

> Raleigh owner Accell Group to cut jobs and streamline European production to "simplify operations and enhance efficiency"

The sales pause and recall come after a RTL Nieuws investigation spoke to 12 current and former Babboe employees who claimed that the company’s directors were “well aware” of the widespread defects and that the staff were often instructed to “lie” to customers to keep the issue under wraps.

“We always had to lie,” a staff member said. “I made a story to the customer: ‘this never happens’, and gave them a free cargo bike rain cover and a free cushion.”

Another employee said: “A new boy came to work with us. He told a customer: ‘This happens every day.’ Then they said, ‘You really should never say that.’”

Eleven of the 12 employees interviewed, all of whom wished to stay anonymous, claimed that management viewed the problem as “the most normal thing in the world”, and that an ironmonger would even come weekly to collect the broken frames. A number of the employees said they’d delivered flowers to customers injured after crashing while riding their faulty cargo bike.

The NVWA said that it had been receiving “hundreds of reports” on frame breakage from customers, and launched its own investigation last December when it found out that Babboe had failed to lodge any formal issue with the body. The regulating body has also announced that it will assess if the apparent improper and unlawful approach to the problem by Babboe’s management necessitates a proper criminal investigation.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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7 comments

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Kingslynndave | 1 month ago
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9 years ago I bought a Bakfeits Cargo Trike. When I was looking to buy, I had 2 choices.
A Babboe who's frame was made in China, and a Dutch built Bakfeits.
I enquired whether the Babboe was lower quality because it was Chinese and they said 'No', Chinese does not mean lower quality.

I decided to ignore the advice and pay £500 more for a Dutch version.
Unless Babboe has a dedicated team on the factory floor in China, how on earth are they ever going to verify the quality of the build.
So glade I paid the extra for a Dutch made one.
In this case it really is a case of the old saying 'made in china'

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brooksby replied to Kingslynndave | 1 month ago
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I suppose you could look into what are the most well-ranked and/or popular bikes in China, and buy one of those.  Or do the Chinese buy the same brands as us?  (unlikely, given how many are made in Taiwan).

Avatar
Matthew Acton-Varian replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
1 like

From what I've seen (via Joe from China Cycling on YouTube) most Chinese road cyclists ride Chinese brands that have a known reputation (i.e. having made frames and components for other manufacturers). Joe also has set up a dedicated marketplace called Panda Podium which has gear that has been verified and approved by himself and his team. It's all a bit more than some of the stuff that can be found on open market places but that stuff could either be fine or break within a week, so unless you know what you're doing research wise, stick with PP. You will still save cash over Western brand products, too.

Avatar
wtjs | 1 month ago
1 like

I have experienced 2 frame breaks, and I was so slow-witted that I didn't correctly diagnose the problem for days! They were steel, so nothing catastrophic happened. The first was a custom frame and the seat tube cracked after some years due to some initial fault and a correction. There was an annoying clicking noise which I attributed to the usual BB etc. causes and failed to eliminate. The problem was solved when it suddenly worsened and the circumferential crack became evident. The entire seat tube was replaced and there were no further problems. The second was on a Raleigh Special Products bonded frame where a chain-stay broke after 25 years. I didn't catch on until I got home- I just thought something had gone wrong with the rear mech because shifting wasn't working properly! Internal corrosion had rusted right through. It was a good bike and I was sorry to see it go, but it was not realistically repairable because of the bonding (which was never a problem) and likely rusting throughout.

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KDee replied to wtjs | 1 month ago
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Whyte replaced the frame of my 901 a couple years back. Dropped the bike in for a quick service because I couldn't get the rear derailleur into top gear, and I coudn't stop the rear disc rubbing slightly. LBS found one of the chainstay welds to the BB shell had cracked.

Avatar
HoarseMann | 1 month ago
3 likes

"Intensive use may possibly cause hairline cracks in the affected frames"

What is 'intensive' use? I suspect, it's just 'use'. I had an issue with a bike frame many years ago. The manufacturer hadn't had many reports of frame failures, but I suspect not many people buy their bike then use it daily as a commuter, more likely once every few weeks for a leisurely pootle.

But this manufacturer didn't ignore the problem. They redesigned the frame and I had no issues with it after that. Couldn't fault them, they cared about their product and their customers.

The same frame design is still in production and whilst I felt a bit bad at the time, perhaps my 'intensive use' testing saved them from a future recall issue like this.

Maybe I should offer a bike testing service?! Any interesed manufacturers, please get in touch!  3

Avatar
don simon fbpe | 1 month ago
1 like

Oops!

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