Test criteria for the entire industry
At Dirk Zedler’s premises there are hisses and jerks. On a test stand, a bicycle frame is subjected to the permanent loads of cycling - with every mechanical pedalling, the material bends alarmingly. “When you sit on the bike, you don't even notice it”, says Zedler who operates one of the worldwide leading bicycle test laboratories. Testing systems constructed by Zedler and his staff themselves stand everywhere. Here a scraping disc brake in a long-term test, there the fork of a mountain bike is constantly subjected to shocks as if on a day-long mountain ride. “We develop testing systems that only we have and test criteria that the whole industry uses,” the engineer states proudly.
As expert witness in demand worldwide
If spinning dynamos, slipping brakes, broken forks and handlebars on bicycles are now rare exceptions, this is also thanks to Dirk Zedler. The 60-year-old has successfully worked for safety standards in the cycle industry and has been analysing the functional and load capacity of bicycle parts with his institute for exactly 30 years - mainly on behalf of the manufacturers. As publicly appointed and sworn in CCI expert witness for bicycle technology Zedler also prepares expert’s reports in legal proceedings worldwide.
“The boom of the bicycle as sports equipment has professionalised the industry”, he says. At least in terms of quality and safety awareness. What has not yet been achieved in contrast is the recent transformation into a significant mobility factor. “Consumers expect the bicycle to be as reliable and available as the motorcar,” says the engineer. But the industry is only conditionally ready for that.”
20 percent growth per year
Even renowned manufacturers sometimes have great difficulties in complying with the extensive technical documentation requirements that meanwhile apply to e-bikes. Of course, Zedler and his team provide help. The number of competitors is negligible. “There are many test labs, but we are the only ones that only test bicycles”, says Zedler. “That is what our customers appreciate.”
The trend towards bicycles is also reflected in his balance sheets. “Every year, the company’s growth is 20 percent on average.” Last year, the bicycle specialist's business even increased by a staggering 60 percent, which is attributed by the boss primarily to a post-Covid boom. More than 70 employees meanwhile work for the institute, 34 of them on a permanent basis, half of them have a university degree.
In the plus energy building
Due to the strong growth the institute moved in a new building as early as in 2017. As you would expect from a company that has won numerous environmental awards, energy-related and ecological standards are set here. The building generates more energy than it consumes itself and meets the “Platinum” standard of the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB). This is achieved, among other things, through photovoltaics, a heat pump and energy-saving control of the air compressors. The water consumption is minimised by Zedler through a sophisticated reuse systems and the interior spaces are sectioned off with durable, naturally treated solid wood walls.
Investment in energy efficiency has paid off
Many an eyebrow was raised at these investments which, according to Zedler, were not that huge: “Even before the energy price shock, our photovoltaic system had almost paid for itself.” And only really paid for itself afterwards: The institute was able to maintain their prices and all eyebrows went down again. “Resilience through sustainability”, as Dirk Zedler summarizes.
Author: Walter Beck, editor Magazin Wirtschaft
Photo: KD Busch