In our daily work as we deal with bicycle safety, technology and user manuals we come across lots of safety risks. The most frequent ones are published in articles of the leading German special-interest magazines TOUR – Europas Rennrad-Magazin Nr. 1, BIKE – Das Mountainbike Magazin Europas Nr. 1 and E-Bike – Das Pedelec-Magazin to make this information important for the sector accessible to a wider public.
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We also speak regularly in independent lectures about all topics relating to bicycle technology and bicycle market. In addition, we are regularly cited by further special-interest magazines or trade journals as well as more and more by radio and television and in their media reports, which shows us that we are completely right with our information. The section NEWS informs you about the latest news from our specialist fields. The reports and publications of this section are listed chronologically or according to topics of interest.
Badische Zeitung 2017/06/10
From the outside the flat-roofed building at Ludwigsburg’s industrial area couldn’t appear less harmless. There is little noise coming up from the cellar. The black, windowless walls are sound insulate, access controls and a strict ban on photography make for discretion. The future of the bicycle is tested here: Manufacturers from all over the world send recent developments to have them tortured under the pale gleam of fluorescent tubes by sophisticated machines. What persists has chances, what yields is eliminated. Darwin for boneshakers, only the materials are more expensive.
The website does not provide any information on the numerous clients and also the test pieces do not show any brands. “Everything masked, everything closed”, confirms Dirk Zedler. “The fact that we are so discreet is the secret of our success.”
The partition of Zedler’s laboratory, however, has not only to do with the customers: Zedler-Institut für Fahrradtechnik und -Sicherheit is among the worldwide leading test companies for bicycles, a parented loss adjusting agency delivers expert reports after accidents or technical failure. The graduate engineer’s group of companies originated from the work as an expert. Few companies therefore know exactly, when and how the two-wheel constructions will fail. Still fewer are able to reproduce these loads realistically. The test stands going far beyond the standards are Zedler’s capitel developed by himself.
“We push the development”, says the boss about the collaboration of his team of 24. The 54-old is however not only expert for the potentials of the two-wheeler. His competence also feed on a collection of more than 300 representatives of the past, from the draisine to the hyper modern five-kilo-construction. He built it up with a friend.
“Until the 30ies, everything we know to date, existed already in these years: Spokes, gear hubs, lighting. Saddles with centre recess, recumbent bikes, models made of bamboo. “What we’ve got here is an 80 years old tandem with lockable suspension fork and drum brakes, i.e. everything a modern mountain bike has today, as well”, says Zedler. “Outside we have a full-suspension bike from the 1890ies. Such things were reinvented later on.”
What major automotive companies have and the bicycle industry has not is a complete development archive; it is only by looking back on some developments that you recognize precursors. That has to do with the history of the bicycle and with three major impediments: the International Cycling Union, the war and the motor.
Karl Drais invented his draisine as alternative means of transport, as the feed prices for horses became too high. The bicycle turned, however, not into a mass vehicle until the industrialisation. Legions of workers had to reach the new production plants; industrialisation itself permitted the production at a respectively high piece number. The purchase was expensive and big companies invested accordingly into development. Very soon the popular cycling sport established itself as most innovation-friendly area. But there not all new developments were approved. “The International Cycling Union impedes a lot of progress”, says Zedler, “because people typically cycle on what cycle pros cycle on.” However, in the 40ies the development broke down, because the industry focussed their capacities on motors and military equipment for the World War. What followed was the triumphal procession of cars and motorcycles and the decline of the bicycle into the vehicle of the poor.
“Between 1935 and 1985 there has been virtually no development”, says Zedler attesting the components originating from these days a continuously decreasing quality. “The only thing the bicycle industry managed was the development of the folding bike in the 70ies” – a desperate adaption to the car boot, that is to say the final capitulation.
Mountain biking and triathlon in the 80ies and 90ies coming from the US were for Zedler the first trends bringing an image improvement. The Tour de France became a mega event and experienced the development of new technologies. The bicycle set off into an era as overdeveloped sports equipment on the one hand and as fashion lifestyle accessory on the other hand.
Zedler, who won prizes for a particularly bicycle-friendly working environment in Baden-Wuerttemberg and nationwide, is happy to state that in terms of carbon mass usage the bicycle industry had outrun the automotive industry. “I do not expect any crazy leaps forward”, he comments on the state-of-the-art technology. “There will be not very much weight reduction any more.” According to his prediction, the bicycle will recall its roots and become means of mass transport again. That could cause significant revolutions.
For many years now, there are around four millions of bicycles sold in Germany every year. The share of e-bikes increases consistently. Their users use them much more frequently than the users of normal bicycles. They also spend a lot more for them.
These people no longer buy a hobby, but mobility again, as it was the case right at the beginning, explains Zedler. But everyone who buys mobility by paying two and a half thousand Euro in the average, also expects mobility. Thinly spread specialist workshops, hyper sensitive special parts, long repair times. Nothing of all this goes along with reliability what for example commuters need. “Right now this is the most important development”, says Zedler. “To provide the bicycle with a high degree of availability and customer-friendliness on all levels”.
The fact that car-oriented corporations, like Bosch, want to be involved again in the development of the e-bike, which has been the special field of creative minds to date. For Zedler this is an indication that the progress might realize in much more higher jumps than in the past three decades. And meanwhile, it is not about making the existing technology more robust. Besides the developments in electronics, Zedler expects quantum leaps in the field of digitisation, from the service instruction via communication with the manufacturer to the smart search for bicycle stands and the incorporation into traffic management systems. “The bicycle returns to where it had been already”, says Zedler. “It turns into mobility again. Hereby the bicycle industry will reinvent themselves.”
Author: Jens Schmitz
Photos: Jens Schmitz
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