IT SOUNDS BRIGHT AND CLEAR, Dirk Zedler activates the bicycle bell’s grooved plastic lever. The everyday object is mounted in a dark box with a heavy metal cover. “No one knows that, but the toughest test in cycle industry is the bell test,” Zedler says in accent-free Swabian. The sound must be okay, three of four bells must pass a corrosion test. There is no other component that has to fulfil such a test. “But no one makes the test. The device was developed by us in 2016, however no more than three customers sent in their products.”
Of course, Dirk Zedler would be happy, if more manufacturers would send in their bells to the test institute in Ludwigsburg. But even without these orders the mechanical engineer is experiencing an enormous growth. In the past 25 years Zedler has built up a group of companies which means and moves a lot in the cycle industry not only in Germany. As expert witness mandated by courts he examines the causes of bicycle accidents with multi-million consequences, his company puts to the test bicycle parts of various manufacturers and another affiliated Zedler company draws up bicycle user manuals for about 60 manufacturers worldwide which are translated in up to 40 languages.
Zedler and his team have no reason to complain about a lack of acknowledgement and awards. By the end of 2018 Zedler-Group obtained the “Grand Prix of Small and Medium Business” award; prior to that the entrepreneur from Germany’s south west was happy to receive the Ethics Prize awarded by the German professional association VSF and the opening of his new company building was attended by the regional transport minister Winfried Hermann as well as further prominent people. Zedler is a key player for the further development in the cycle industry. “With his company he has made a substantial contribution to the further development of bicycle safety standards and to the fact that the sector has made a major leap forward in development in terms of product safety and quality,” Siegfried Neuberger, managing director of the German bicycle association ZIV, states.
Zedler’s name is not only known in Germany. It is reported that in China the last name of the German engineer has become a familiar expression for tough quality tests. He can get along well with this, even if this does not affect his company’s balance sheet directly. “The bicycle topic is experiencing a boom and with e-bikes, cargo bikes and other new applications the need for knowledge and safety will increase continuously,” Zedler states.
“He is driven by his issue,” judges industry insider and specialist books author Gunnar Fehlau about the Swabian. For those visiting the sports-minded, active entrepreneur there is no doubt. First you have to sign a confidentiality agreement; without that you are not allowed to enter the new building. Because here you get so many, partly critical insights into the products of different manufacturers that the findings are of major economic importance.
Author: Tim Farin
Photo: Philipp Hympendahl
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