All about bicycles, electric-assisted bikes, technology and safety in the press

The most common safety risks that we come across in our daily work around bicycle safety, technology and operating instructions are also published by us in articles in the leading German special-interest magazines TOUR (Europe's road bike magazine no. 1), BIKE (Europe's mountain bike magazine no. 1), MYBIKE and EMTB in order to make this information, which is important for the industry, available to a wider public.

For many years now, the Eurobike Show Daily, trade fair magazine of the annual Eurobike Show, has also given us the opportunity to publish our view of major developments in the cycle industry in full-page articles.

We also speak regularly in independent expert presentations about all areas of bicycle technology and the bicycle market. In addition, we are quoted by further special-interest magazines of the industry and the trade as well as increasingly by radio and television in their media reports, which shows us that we are spot on with our advice. The section "News" informs you about the latest news from our specialist areas. The reports and publications of this section are listed chronologically or according to areas of interest.

Tagesspiegel-Background, 2022/08/23
Reading time 6:20 minutes

Dirk Zedler – Managing Director of Institut für Fahrradtechnik und Sicherheit

Dirk Zedler’s father had a motor vehicle repair shop. That didn't stop the son from developing a passion for two-wheelers. In Ludwigsburg Zedler founded the institute for bicycle technology and safety and operates it as managing director.

Today, Dirk Zedler is already in the laboratory at half past five in the morning. That's what he likes to do, riding his road bike to the first early shift. Together with test technician Rainer Aisenpreis he wants to test new bicycle models coming from the USA, from Canada and also from China. Companies worldwide rely upon the test results of the institute for bicycle technology and safety in Ludwigsburg that was founded by Zedler and whose managing director he is today.
At the age of 13 Dirk Zedler hasn’t got on the bike yet. He works in his father's repair shop, adjusting the valves of car engines. The private car is the measure of all things in those days and it annoys the now 59-year-old early. So at the age of 18, he prefers to get on his own road bike instead of taking the car. Although he still has unlimited access to his father’s motor vehicle repair shop”, states Zedler, but by the time he started his studies two years later, he had “completely converted to cycling”.

The professor on the bike

It’s in the mid-80s that Dirk Zedler enrolled for mechanical engineering in Karlsruhe. That seems logical to him, after all, he worked for years in his father's business. And he has comprehensive know-how. In addition, the car is omnipresent; he knows that from his hometown of Albstadt near Stuttgart.
Soon, however, it’s a key moment that finally turns his focus to the bicycle: He sees a man in a suit and tie passing by on a bike and locking his bike in front of the university. Never before has he seen a professor smartly dressed like that on a bicycle. For Zedler two wheels suddenly seem to be an adequate substitute for four. However, Zedler cannot reinvent the bicycle. But he quickly realises that there is much that can be improved, especially in terms of bicycle and riding safety.
In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, mountain bikes flood the German market. More and more people ride bicycles. “Accordingly, a lot of things got broken,” remembers Zedler. “And this was mainly due to a lack of testing and poor workmanship.”

Career start as an independent expert witness for bicycles

In 1993, Dirk Zedler starts working as an independent expert witness for bicycles. He examines and assesses bicycle accidents that end up in court. He uses the earnings to finance the first safe cycling projects and draws up operating instructions that are intended to make bicycle technology understandable for everyone and at the same time provide simple tips.
In the first few years, he has only little success. He already wants to pack it all in, also because the topic of safety hardly plays a role for bicycle manufacturers at that time. New gears, designs or sophisticated suspensions, that’s what the engineers are focussed on. His parents, however, believe in his idea and support him so that he can continue to develop test stands and operating instructions. “I really wanted to find solutions to the things that were going wrong”, Dirk Zedler says today.
In 2001 he hired his first employee. Zedler has meanwhile established his reputation in the industry and is regularly with test results in the road bike magazine “Tour”. The non-fictional books, such as “Advanced Road Bike Maintenance” or “How to assemble your road bike by yourself”, follow. Dirk Zedler is much in demand for as an adviser. Private customers want to know more about maintenance and equipment, and his test laboratory becomes the first address for bicycle safety. The topic has arrived in the industry, not least thanks to Zedler.
“When you grasp a bicycle handlebar today, you can assumed that something of ours has been running in the background,” says Zedler. The Ludwigsburg staff perform tests of everything from the bell to the frame, draw up operating instruction and experts’ reports and offer training for salesmen of bicycle shop or interested laypersons. According to its founder, it’s this holistic approach that makes the Zedler-Group unique worldwide. This is also reflected in the test procedures. Zedler and his colleagues have developed their own criteria, for example for e-bikes, which have been booming since 2010. For a long time, the minimum safety level for e-bikes was a maximum body weight of 90 kilograms. Zedler’s institute test up to 180 kilograms. “After all, nearly half of all riders are heavier than the standard allows,” says Zedler.

The Covid period led to a boom

According to their own statements, the Zedler-Group has grown by an average of 20 per cent per year in the past 15 years, gaining one or two new bicycle manufacturers a month with different orders. 2020 was particularly successful, states the founder. He paid a bonus to all of his employees. Meanwhile, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and private customers worldwide are waiting for his latest test results.
The Zedler-Group itself operates its building in a climate-neutral manner, has been awarded the Business Award for the Environment 2021 in Baden-Wuerttemberg and is determined to continue its commitment to bicycles and the environment. The institute has two company cargo bikes so that the 27 employees rarely have to switch to cars. In addition, Zedler’s team struggles for equality between bicycles and cars in road traffic. He thinks that bicycles need more space so that more people leave their cars unused for the sake of the environment. The bicycle won’t let Dirk Zedler go, not even privately. He estimates that he cycled 8000 kilometres last year.

Four questions to Dirk Zedler:

1. Which car will you buy next?
Good question, I haven't thought about that yet. Both in the company and privately, we use the car very little. Over the past ten years, we have driven just over 16,000 kilometres on average, private and business trips of the entire company with almost 30 employees added together. We need a van with range when we drive, but the market currently offers little to nothing with electric drive. Therefore, we will certainly use the existing two VW vans for a few more years.
2. What do you think about flying?
Few kilometres by car, few kilometres by air...In recent years, we haven’t travelled by plane for business purposes. Instead, we enjoy travelling by train and use a rail card. With a little discipline, travelling by train is productive time. For example, when you travel from Stuttgart to Berlin you can concentrate for a good five hours.
3. Who sets the pace in the mobility industry?
The loudest is certainly the automotive industry. Thanks to hundreds of lobbyists in Berlin alone, they shape perceptions, even though their solutions neither eliminate traffic jams, noticeably reduce particulate matter, nor free up parking spaces and thus traffic space. As a result we need a good mix of different forms of mobility for more liveable cities. I hope that rail, public transport, cycling and walking will increasingly join forces to set the tone and thus the pace.
4. Where would you like to reinvent the bicycle?
The bicycle is so diverse and innovative that it does not need to be reinvented at the moment. There is room for improvement in the use of the bike and the possibilities to use it safely and comfortably. I would like to “reinvent the wheel” in the uncomplicated reallocation and redistribution of traffic and parking areas.
Author: Maurice Mommer
Photo: Bernd Lammel

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