Enlarge image


Michael Gstettenbauer / imago images

Ex-Accell CEO

Ton Anbeek

was sure: “With this takeover we are taking a significant further step in our “Urban Mobility” strategy and we are strengthening our position in the market for e-cargo bikes.” What burden the head of the Dutch He probably had no idea in July 2018 that the bicycle company would bring brands like Babboe and Carqon into its portfolio with the takeover of the cargo bike specialist Verlosophy.

Babboe, which claims to be the market leader in Europe, has stopped selling all cargo bikes for a good two weeks.

In the Netherlands, the company followed an instruction from the Food and Consumer Goods Safety Authority (NVWA).

Babboe also voluntarily stopped sales for all other countries in Europe.

The NVWA’s allegations are serious.

Babboe did not investigate numerous complaints and reports of frame breakages and did not report them to the authority, as was his duty.

The NVWA called on Babboe to recall numerous models “due to significant safety risks” (

see box

) and advised customers not to use the bikes.

Babboe also faces criminal investigations.

In the Netherlands, the company has now started recalling an initial 10,000 cargo bikes of the two models City/City E and Mini/Mini E, as it announced on its Dutch website on Tuesday.

Studies show that the safety of the models cannot be guaranteed, it says.

On a test page that has been set up, customers in the Netherlands can use the frame number to determine whether their bike is specifically affected by the recall.

Accell manager Gerard Feenema

apologizes in a video of varying lengths distributed on YouTube and the company website

with customers - according to the information, he has been responsible for Babboe as managing director since February 19th.

The company will offer owners a “suitable” alternative for the two models mentioned, he says.

In addition, the manufacturer wants to provide compensation for any inconvenience caused.

With regard to the other models, Babboe is coordinating further action with the NVWA and continues to recommend that these bikes no longer be used either.

In an interview with manager magazin on Wednesday, an Accell spokeswoman specified the regulation in the Netherlands for the two models: The affected customers should receive a “voucher for a new bike” in exchange for their old one.

The spokeswoman was unable to say whether the voucher also applies to a cargo bike from another brand and to what extent it may be limited.

In addition, customers could receive a voucher for the disadvantages and inconveniences that arise during the entire process.

Details are still being determined.

But one thing is clear: “There will be no monetary payment.”

It was unclear on Wednesday whether and when the cargo bike manufacturer would begin a recall in other countries and make these customers an offer like the one in the Netherlands.

There was no such information on the German Babboe website.

However, the manufacturer also advises its German customers not to use their bikes.

The spokeswoman was unable to answer questions about the number of bicycles affected by the sales ban or the amount of damage.

According to a report by the “Financieele Dagblad” (FD), Babboe and Accell intend to start the recall in other countries “as quickly as possible,” the business newspaper quoted an Accell spokesman as saying.

Contact has been made with the responsible national authorities.

The Federal Office classifies Babboe bikes as “dangerous”.

In fact, with today's entry, the responsible Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) classifies most of Babboe's cargo bikes as "dangerous products in Germany". The EU Commission had previously checked a corresponding report in the EU rapid warning system and sent it to the BAuA for publication forwarded. Whether there is a recall in Germany is not decided by the BAuA, but by the respective market surveillance authorities of the federal states, explains a BAuA spokeswoman in an interview with manager magazin. They could order a recall.

“Regardless of this, every company is obliged under the Product Safety Act to eliminate risks associated with their products and to inform the authorities,” the spokeswoman continued.

This reporting obligation already applies if a manufacturer simply suspects that the use of its products could pose a danger to consumers.

Babboe admits oversights

In the Netherlands, companies are also subject to a reporting obligation in such cases.

Babboe now admits the omissions for the first time in an email to “FD”: “It is clear that we should and could have handled these signals more carefully.” An internal investigation must now show “how this could have happened.”

The parent company Accell, which has a dozen bicycle brands under its umbrella, told the newspaper that there are currently “no signals that indicate that there will be consequences for the other brands.”

This isn't the first time Babboe has made negative headlines.

Because of possible safety risks on the frame, the manufacturer recalled a cargo bike model in 2019 that was produced between 2010 and 2012 and 2017 and June 2018.

Evidence of defects in Babboe bikes is now also increasing in Germany.

According to a report by MDR, bicycle repair shops across the country have long reported problems with “cheap components” and “wear and cracks in the frames of Babboe cargo bikes.”

He has had to replace no-name components with higher quality parts several times, reports managing director Ulrich Schmack of “Feineräder” in Regensburg in the article.

What rights consumers have in Germany

Consumer advocates and the General German Bicycle Club (ADFC) advise customers to follow the manufacturer's recommendation and not actually use the bikes.

Anyone who uses the cargo bike at their own risk would run the risk of losing their product liability claim against the manufacturer in the event of an accident.

The ADFC warns that the driver could also be held responsible for damage caused to others as a result of an accident.

But what rights does the consumer have now?

In principle, a product recall in itself does not constitute a right to repair or replacement delivery in Germany, explain the legal experts at the ADFC.

Claims could arise from liability for material defects against the respective bicycle dealer.

At the same time, claims could be derived from the manufacturer's five-year guarantee - including on the frames of the cargo bikes in question.

However, if you read Babboe's warranty conditions more closely, they contain a whole series of exclusion criteria that could potentially leave the customer empty-handed - for example, if proper maintenance and care are not adhered to.

It is probably advisable to first take the affected cargo bike to the dealer where it was purchased, even if there is no official recall yet, so that they can find an accommodating solution.

So far, Accell only wants to compensate its Babboe customers in the Netherlands with a new bike in the form of a voucher.

This offer also currently only applies to some of the possibly other affected bikes.

But these 10,000 bikes in the Netherlands alone, with sales prices around 3,000 euros, are likely to cost a lot of money, not to mention a worldwide recall and compensation.

Former CEO Ton Anbeek, who led Accell for six years, will probably no longer have to deal with Babboe's problems - even if he may have been aware of them.

Anbeek officially left Accell in October 2023 – at his own request, it was said.

Tjeerd Jegen

(53) followed him a good month later - and is pursuing a tough restructuring course under the new owner and financial investor KKR.

It is still unclear how Jegen will take action against Babboe in the future.

The Dutch bicycle giant currently has to provide significant financial support to the cargo bike brand, as Babboe admits to “FD”.

When asked whether Babboe's existence would be endangered by a mass recall, he simply said: "No comment."