28,000 suggestions were sent in for the bicycle naming competition. Its name became Jopo, short for the Finnish JOkaisen POlkupyörä (Everyone’s Bicycle). Eero Helkama wanted to create a bicycle that people of all ages, sizes and genders could ride, regardless of the size of their wallets.
— According to the story it was Eero Helkama who came up with the idea, but the technical execution of the project was the handiwork of Plant Manager Erkki Rahikainen. Industrial designer Eero Rislakki designed Jopo’s reflectors, detachable headlight and the product line’s colours, says Jari Elamo, Managing Director at Helkama Velox. The sales of the first generation Jopo numbered some 200,000 bicycles, mostly sold in Finland.
Production of the bicycles was discontinued in 1974 until the classic experienced a rebirth in 2000. Markku Autero, Product Development Manager for Helkama, is the man behind the new Jopo.
— The new Jopo came into production when we at Helkama felt that it was the right time for a simple, durable yet versatile bicycle, describes Elamo.
More than 100,000 of the second-generation Jopo bicycles have been sold, mainly in Finland. Exports are on the rise. In the past few years, Jopos have been exported to Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and, most recently, Ireland and Iceland. Jopos are also creating interest among Japan’s trendsetters.
Helkama receives nothing but praise for the bicycle. The only complaint to be found on chat forums is that the bicycle is also popular with thieves. Jopo enthusiasts like the “easiness” of the bicycle, its good riding position and its bright colours. The bicycle also has an active Facebook community of 80,000 fans. The fans got to choose the season’s new colours: turquoise, pink and lilac.
Jopo’s standing as a classic has received significant recognition in Finland. In 2009 Jopo came second in the Association for Finnish Work’s competition to find the most legendary Finnish product. Only Fazer Blue chocolate was able to beat the Jopo bicycle.
Markku Autero´s idea was to create a bicycle very similar to the first-generation Jopo. (Photos: Helkama)