Boris Bikes need a new sponsor - help turn them into Boris BEASTS with this crowdfunding campaign

Help give Boris Bikes a jungle makeover - complete with tail - by crowdfunding new £37.5m sponsorship bid

by Sarah Barth   June 14, 2014  

Boris Beast

Transport for London (TfL) has formally announced that it is looking for a new sponsor for the city’s cycle hire scheme, and one rather unusual contender has stepped up to the plate.

Despite having only raised £509 of the required £37,500,000 minimum needed for the sponsorship operation, TellTails, a small, independent toymaker based in, Hackney Wick, East London, is confident that local backing on a crowdfunding website could mean Boris bikes being changed from ‘bland and boring’ to ‘irreverent, exuberant and rebellious’ - with the addition of an animal print paint job and massive, realistic, billowing tail.

According to TfL, potential sponsors must be prepared to spend a minimum of £5.5 million a year over a seven-year period starting in 2015.

The deal would give the successful bidder naming rights to the scheme, as well as branding on more than hire 10,000 bikes and choosing the scheme colour which would be incorporated on its roundel - in this case it could be one of multiple jungle creatures.

TellTails said: “We believe in a London bike sponsored by the people, for the people. 

“No longer will Londoners arrive to work on a two wheeled turd or a  navy blue nightmare. 

“The Boris beast, complete with new animal print paint job and massive, realistic, billowing tail means that you can now ride to work on a Steed! a Stallion! 

“You sir, can arrive to work on your very own BATTLE CAT!’

“Not only does the Boris Beast pose an excellent answer to adding some jazz to this pedal powered porkchop, but the newly added tail acts as a superior mud guard, enveloping the rider in its furry clutch and protecting them from the mean streets of London.”
Indiegogo funders can enjoy a range of rewards for backing the fledgling bid, including, for £5, a badge depicting Boris Johnson astride a cheetah Boris Beast, or for £10,000, an invitation to the founders’ home in Spain for Christmas and the opportunity to carve the turkey.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “With more than 30 million hires since its launch there can be no doubt that our trusty bicycles have changed the way people get around our great city.

“This is a unique opportunity for a commercial partner to put their stamp on a mode of London transport that is now as recognisable as our iconic black cabs and red buses.

“We are looking for a sponsor whose aspiration matches our own, one with the passion to take the scheme to the next level and get even more people pedalling.”

A formal tender document setting out the full range of rights on offer will be published online at on 8 July, and expressions of interest are being invited now by email to

6 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Needs whiskers.

posted by Argos74 [350 posts]
14th June 2014 - 8:09


So who can I sue the instant this massive free flowing tail causes a accident, or do we crowd fund that also.

posted by leqin [147 posts]
14th June 2014 - 9:17


So glad it's the bike in leopardskin and not Boris

posted by gazza_d [419 posts]
14th June 2014 - 11:22

Redvee's picture

posted by Redvee [174 posts]
14th June 2014 - 11:24


My money would be on a large media company offering to take on the bikes as a flexible set of mobile billboards, a detail TfL has already accepted by placing a set of yellow le Tour Yorkshire bikes out on the street, and allowing non-black taxis, and non-red buses.

Whilst JC Decaux refused to bid for the original scheme to supply bikes (being promoted at that time separately from the sponsorship element) because it did not fit their basic business model which integrated the bike supply with the media value, I'd note that they now deliver supply the branding media clients for the Copenhagen scheme, which has now been running for 19 years, with running costs underwritten by the sale of blocks of branded bikes.

This change in the way the London bikes might be funded would probably require a relationship similar to that used for London Rail and London Buses, where a media company (eg Decaux, Clear Channel etc), has a base contract as an exclusive supplier of clients to buy the poster, vehicle and panel sites, possibly with a surplus-share deal to reflect any market developments and opportunities - as an example some of the Nextbike fleet in Berlin have a USB charging socket running from the dynamo fitted on the bikes promoting the General Electric energy campaign.

However based on known current prices for branding bikes elsewhere in Europe the 10,000 BCH bikes would only generate £3.8m or thereabouts in branding revenue, unless London was seen as a location with premium rating, and the media agency gained both kudos in being the overall branding sponsor, and London opened up the market to support the delivery of public bikes elsewhere in the UK.

The other detail to seriously address is the costly ways in which the BCH scheme is operated, a detail I pointed out back in 2009, when my comments were not to the liking of TfL. After all I'd only been involved in working with public bike hire systems since 1995, including the London scheme which was up and running at the time (Oybike launched in W London in 2004). The situation is recoverable with the current fleet (although in 2017, when the Serco-Bixi contract ends and bikes will be getting very expensive to keep in good condition).

To cut the costs, and improve the service for commuters, the tariffs should be revised, to cater for the commuter taking a bike from the London terminus, keeping it at work all day, and then bringing it back to the place they collected it - saving a lot of the bike balancing costs. The issue and return of bikes at places like Waterloo can also be greatly streamlined - Waterloo would only need 10-20 docking points if the mass issue and return over 2 relatively short periods was done more efficiently.

The other alternative - for commuters is the Brompton Dock, the folding bike that goes everywhere with you, and examples of London commuters making massive reductions in their journey times, whilst also cutting the costs of car parking at their home station and London tube and bus travel, those latter two typically being in the region of £2,000-£2,800 per year - at a cost of around £700/year for bike hire, again a system offering a key opportunity for a branding partner.

In 2017 the whole detail of requiring the slow to install and expensive system used by London, itself far more expensive than the standard Bixi product used in New York, should be re-examined. Many 4th generation cycle hire systems require only the bikes to be placed on the street, and do not need 50% of the docking points to be empty to allow bikes to circulate. The German Nextbike company now launched in Glasgow and Bath, has already operated bike hire in Birmingham and Leeds for 2 days apiece during the Cycle City Expo conferences, and every year puts a huge fleet of additional bikes on the streets of Leipzig for a media festival. Their success as a private commercial operation since 2005, now in 18 countries, with over 20,000 bikes, links in to the ability to get an agreed bike hire scheme up and running often within hours.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [560 posts]
14th June 2014 - 16:33


Nice bit of free publicity for this company...

posted by dp24 [201 posts]
15th June 2014 - 14:42