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Uffe A Olesen

As BODY BIKE marks its 27th birthday, its CEO celebrates his own milestone of 20 years with the company. He takes a walk down memory lane with Kate Cracknell.
Published 20. March 2024

What originally drew you to BODY BIKE?

Nowadays I’m hugely passionate about indoor cycling, but 20 years ago I came at things from a design perspective. I used to work in the furniture industry, and prior to that had been involved in the design of other products too, from textiles to fashion accessories and glasses. Design has always been my first love and forte. 

“We believe even the best can always be better. We’re constantly creating, which is what makes my job fun”

At the time, the model was the BODY BIKE Classic. I was fascinated by its quality, but believed a few design changes could make it even better. That included fully enclosing the bike to protect all vital parts from sweat, making it even more long-lasting – an attribute BODY BIKE has always been famous for.

Since then, we’ve continued to push the design boundaries in pursuit of the perfect indoor bike. We believe even the best can always be better – an ethos that’s kept me enthused and engaged over my two decades at BODY BIKE. We’re constantly creating, which is what makes my job fun.

BODY BIKE Classic was the current model when Olesen joined the team 20 years ago.

What’s driven your product evolution?

We’ve always given ourselves permission to innovate and experiment at BODY BIKE, which is ultimately what drives our product evolution.

But in terms of key themes over the years, I’d have to spotlight technology and sustainability – both things we couldn’t have predicted 20 years ago.

Back then, cycling classes were screen-free. Now there’s an interest in performance data, so in 2016 we launched the BODY BIKE app; we’ve never believed consoles to be the best approach, as we believe riders should own their own data.

“We’re on a mission to make all our models sustainable, using recycled materials and reducing each bike’s CO2 footprint.”

Meanwhile, sustainability has become a mantra at BODY BIKE. Our sustainable BODY BIKE Smart+ siblings – OceanIX and Forest Green – blazed such a strong trail that we’re now on a mission to make all our models sustainable, using recycled materials in their manufacture and working to further reduce each bike’s already-low CO2 footprint.

Every BODY BIKE is hand-crafted in Denmark for unparalleled quality and longevity

And now, in 2024, we’re about to unveil our latest evolution: the new BODY BIKE Phantom, which launches at FIBO next month. With its magnetic braking system, Quattro resistance knob – four clicks per turn for precise gear changes – and inbuilt usage tracking so clubs can rotate bikes for even greater longevity, this fantastic new model continues to move the dial for riders and operators alike.

Has the company changed much?

The ethos and philosophy at BODY BIKE are essentially unchanged from 27 years ago. Each bike is still lovingly hand-crafted in Denmark, with quality, creativity and passion at the heart of what we do. The team is also only 20 per cent larger than it was at the beginning, with great continuity over the years. BODY BIKE was founded in 1997 by Jørgen ‘Peiter’ Petersen, who remained a mentor and brand enthusiast until he passed away in 2017. It is now led by his son Kim Hessellund, who joined the business in 1999. There’s a real sense of family, with several team members with us from the very beginning.

Olesen sourced recycled plastic fishing nets to use in the manufacture of BODY BIKE Smart+ OceanIX

But we have grown and evolved, of course. We now wholly own a 12,000sq m factory in the north of Denmark, including on-site metalworks, and you’ll find our bikes in all corners of the world. In fact, although we’re proudly Danish and have a strong local fan base, 80 per cent of our production is now exported. We also launched BODY BIKE APAC last year: our first investment in establishing our company overseas rather than using local distributors.

Where else does your creativity shine?

We’ve become magazine publishers, launching RIDE HIGH in 2017 – a brand-neutral publication that champions and celebrates indoor cycling around the world. Anyone can promote their own products. I really wanted to bring something to the table that would inspire our whole sector on to even greater things. I’m hugely proud of what RIDE HIGH has become –the fascinating people we’ve interviewed and the great insights and perspectives we’ve shared.

BODY BIKE launched RIDE HIGH magazine in 2017

“I wanted to bring something to the table that would inspire our whole sector on to even greater things. I’m hugely proud of RIDE HIGH.”

We have a lot of fun with our FIBO stands too: from spaceships to forests, we create out-of-the-ordinary, crowd-drawing spaces.

And in 2021, we launched BBCARGO: a sister brand to BODY BIKE. This best-in-class eCargo bike puts all our sustainability learnings and bike-building expertise to good use. It just felt like the right thing to do given all the environmental pressures on the world around us.

How has indoor cycling changed?

The arrival of the boutiques was a big one. These beautiful spaces, with their rockstar instructors and incredible music and light shows, took riders into another world, while ‘dancing on a bike’ programming brought a new element of fun to indoor cycling. All of this has driven a dramatic change in consumer expectations, forcing other operators to up their game.

“I remember the first time I tried Les Mills’ THE TRIP,” says Olesen. “I had goosebumps.”

We’ve also seen the diversification of programming generally. From the old days of fitness cycling to generic music, we now have everything from on-the-beat choreography to performance classes and everything in between. There’s something for everyone.

I’ve mentioned technology already, but its impact goes far beyond data. From spectacular AV to wraparound screens, the rise of immersive experiences has been transformational for our sector. I remember the first time I tried Les Mills’ THE TRIP. I had goosebumps. 

It was a privilege to supply BODY BIKES for the global roadshow that introduced THE TRIP to the world. In fact, I’d highlight our strong, long-standing relationship with Les Mills as one of the highlights of my time at BODY BIKE.

“Our long-standing relationship with Les Mills is one of my BODY BIKE highlights,” says Olesen

What’s the future of indoor cycling?

Right now, indoor cycling isn’t as hot as it has previously been: reformer pilates is the big trend at the moment. I firmly believe indoor cycling is here to stay, though. It’s arguably unique in the way it caters for all ages and abilities in one class, and it has and will continue to stand the test of time – provided it evolves in line with consumer expectations.

BODY BIKE Smart+ OceanIX and Forest Green are the company’s sustainable siblings

In many cases, operators cutting back on indoor cycling – quoting reduced member interest – are in this position because they haven’t invested in creating experiences. It’s understandable, so I’m not criticising: the last few years have been incredibly hard for everyone. But now, as investment budgets finally return, it’s time to upgrade spaces, equipment, technology and most of all instructors. My simple advice: hire the people who will fill the room.

“In many cases, operators cutting back on indoor cycling – quoting reduced member interest – haven’t invested in creating experiences”

“My simple advice: hire the people who will fill the room,” says Olesen
Published 20. March 2024

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Conceived, powered and funded by BODY BIKE®, RIDE HIGH has a simple mission: to celebrate and champion the very best of indoor cycling, sharing ideas, stories and experiences from around the world to inspire the sector on to even bigger and better things. Subscribe for free by leaving your details below and we'll send indoor cycling's hottest news direct to your inbox three times a year.

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