Posts written by Paul Tolme

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Schwabing is historic borough of Munich known for its hipster hangouts, public parks and universities. It is also the name of a Bavarian-made electric bicycle that exemplifies the power and performance of next-generation eBike design. Das Schwabing, from Germany’s M1-Sporttechnik, has a sporty and stylish high-modulus carbon fiber frame and fork powered by a proprietary motor and battery developed by several Bavarian companies and used solely by M1. “It is a full-on Made in Germany product,” says Hendrik Teutsch, sales and marketing manager.

The Schwabing comes in two versions, a “pedelec” (250 watt, 20 mile-per-hour) and a “speed pedelec” (500 watt, 28 mph), both available with the Gates Carbon Drive belt system and a NuVinci N360 or N380 continuously variable planetary hub for seamless shifting and smooth pedaling.

Though its core market is Germany, Das Schwabing is available through select dealers in the United States. M1 recently exhibited at the Sea Otter Classic bike show in Monterey, California. “It was a good opportunity for us to see the development of the eBike market in the U.S. firsthand,” Teutsch says. He sees good potential for growth in the United States, especially since California clarified its regulations to allow speed pedelecs on bike paths. California is the ideal locale for the Schwabing, Teutsch says. “With our powerful battery and efficient engine you can travel for many miles along the coast–even though the Pacific Ocean might throw some serious headwinds at you.”

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Founded in 1989, M1-Sporttechnik is part of Fritzmeier GmbH, a family owned company since 1926 that specializes in carbon fiber technologies and makes cabs and cladding for heavy machinery and automobiles (including the carbon fiber floor panels for BMW’s new hybrid supercar the i8). M1 is the lifestyle brand of Fritzmeier and it has a long history in bicycles, having developed the first carbon monocoque mountain bike frame in the 1990s and some of the first carbon electric bikes–as well as skis, surfboards and sailboats. The Schwabing is the next step forward in high-performance carbon products for M1.

In addition to buying through a dealer, customers can order the Schwabing directly through the M1 website using the brand’s bike configurator to choose the component specifications. “The bike arrives pre-built, and the customer only needs to straighten the handlebars and put on the pedals,” Teutsch says. Then it’s all ready for a trip to work through Munich, or to your favorite California oceanfront bike path. M1-sporttechnik.

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Budnitz MoranPlant_Ti-2

The Moran Plant is an abandoned coal-burning power facility in Burlington, Vermont. Built in 1955, it powered this New England city for four decades until closing in 1986. Now, community leaders have launched a plan to renovate the decrepit building and its grounds into an event space for art, music, food and culture, all linked with bike paths along the Lake Champlain waterfront. Budnitz Bicycles, based in Burlington, chose the Moran Plant for its photo shoot “Beautiful Decay” by photographer Dan Cardon.

Founded by designer-entrepreneur Paul Budnitz, Budnitz Bicycles is distinguished by its elegant frames, swooping tubes and top components including Gates Carbon Drive. We asked Budnitz, who is best known as the founder of art-toy brand Kidrobot, about his views on bike photography, bicycling in the Green Mountain State and more.

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Gates: What role does artful photography play in creating a brand image?

Paul Budnitz: It’s very important. Our brand aesthetic is defined by beautiful design and clean lines. That’s why we use Gates Carbon Drive on all our titanium and steel bicycles. We go to great lengths to create photography that is evocative and tells a story. Form, function and beauty are fundamental to Budnitz Bicycles. If it it isn’t beautiful, it isn’t innovative.

Tell us about the Moran Plant.

We completely support the city-wide initiative to transform the Moran Plant into an events space dedicated to the arts and community. When we explored the building, it seemed like a perfect venue for a photo shoot. The space is immense and it offers many unique textures and angles frozen in time. Reflected light streams through windows hundreds of feet above. It’s spectacular. The decayed state of the 75-year-old building also provides a contrast to our bicycles, which are designed to last a lifetime. The building and its coal powered history are a monument to an outdated idea. Setting our bicycles against it’s time-worn walls offers a fitting contrast to our goal of creating products that last.

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What’s the bike scene like in Burlington?

Burlington is extremely bike-centric and it’s one reason we are located here. There are extensive bike paths, especially along Lake Champlain and throughout the beautiful downtown. Local Motion, a non-profit we’ve supported through donations and bicycle auctions, works with the city to extend bicycle lanes and create initiatives for bicycle safety. There’s even a local charity that gives away hundreds of free bicycles each year in lower income neighborhoods. Several of our team members have donated their time. Add in Vermont beautiful green hills and incredible landscape and this is a truly perfect place for a bicycle lifestyle and our company. We’re so proud of our home that we offer new clients a discount to take delivery of their custom Budnitz here in our Vermont studio. It gives us the opportunity to share the region, spend time with our owners and of course enjoy some amazing riding.

budnitzbicycles.com

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mokumono hal (1024x683)Amsterdam has more bicycles than inhabitants and The Netherlands is one of the most bike-friendly nations in the world. Yet virtually no bicycles are made here due to high labor costs. Now, some Dutch entrepreneurs want to bring bicycle manufacturing back to The Netherlands by using automotive industry techniques. “We had to re-think the way bicycle frames are produced,” says Bob Schiller, founder of Mokumono Cycles.

Instead of welding tubes together, a process that is highly labor intensive, Mokumono uses robotics and an automated production process. Two sheets of shaped aluminum are pressed together and then laser welded. Schiller explains the Mokumono concept in the company’s Kickstarter video below.

Mokumono will sell two versions of their bike, a singlespeed and an eight-speed, both with the Gates Carbon Drive system. Pre-order prices are $1,150 for the singlespeed and $1,400 for the geared version. “The name Mokumono is a composition of two words that express where we are from and what we make,” says Schiller, who is launching Mokumono with his brother. Mokum is an old nickname for Amsterdam. Mono refers to monocoque, “a construction technique whereby loads are supported through an object’s external skin without internal strengthening.” While the target market is The Netherlands, Mokumono will ship its bikes worldwide. In a country where even the Prime Minister rides to work on a bicycle, Mokumono seems poised to bring Dutch bike heritage into the modern era. mokumonocycles.com


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Bike industry veteran Steve Domahidy hopes his new brand will go viral. Domahidy, one of the founders of Niner, has launched Viral Bikes. His first Viral model is the “Skeptic,” a titanium all-mountain hardtail frame featuring a drivetrain kit with a Pinion gearbox and Gates Carbon Drive system. Popular in Europe, the Pinion-Gates combination produces an incredibly low-maintenance drive. The Pinion P1.12 has a gear range of 600 percent and can be shifted while coasting or stopped. The Skeptic frame features 148mm Boost rear hub spacing for tire widths of up to three inches. “This bike is going to appeal to the rider who is not very good with maintaining a full suspension bike, someone who wants to shred and not worry about derailleurs and chain slap and chain maintenance,” says Domahidy, whose resume includes design work for multiple brands including Faraday and Budnitz.

Skeptic-Frame-Profile-w-Pinion-BROWN_2_galleryOutside Magazine writer Aaron Gulley called it “one of the most forward-looking bikes we’ve ridden in a while.” Buyers who pre-order the Skeptic will get a free set of Backcountry 27.5+ or 29-inch Trail wheels from Industry Nine, with an option to choose spoke and hub colors. Every Viral frame purchase will also come with a one-year membership to IMBA, the International Mountain Biking Association. www.viral.bike

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Hercules Futura rider

Hercules is a 130-year-old German brand that offers several premium electric bike models with Gates Carbon Drive. These state-of-the-art eBikes represent the newest chapter in the story of Hercules, whose history illustrates the evolution of electric mobility, transportation trends and technologies through the last century. Founded in Nuremberg in 1886 by Carl Marschütz, Hercules began as a bicycle company whose sturdy, workmanlike machines drew comparisons to the powerful demigod of Greek and Roman mythology. But the company did not confine itself to two-wheeled vehicles. In 1898 it introduced the four-wheeled Electric Chaise, a precursor to the automobile.

In 1904 the company jumped into the growing market for motorcycles by launching a 4.5 horsepower moto with an early spray carburetor and, hinting at the future, a belt drive instead of a chain. That was followed in 1938 by the Saxonette, a two-stroke hub motor moped. The post-war reconstruction boom of the 1950s saw Hercules launch the K100 motorcycle, and during the 1970s oil crisis Hercules sold thousands of E1 electric scooters, setting the stage for the current boom in electric mobility.

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Hercules Electric Chaise

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Mad style and a basket of bananas on the E1 Scooter.

Today, Hercules remains a powerful player in the German and European bike markets. Owned by ZEG, a cooperative of 960 European bike shops, Hercules sells a wide range of bicycles and eBikes including the Futura F8 Gates and Futura R8 Gates, both of which are powered by a Bosch mid-drive motor, Gates belts and eight-speed hubs. Both models come in three frame styles including step-through and step-over and feature front and rear lights, suspension forks, cargo racks and a classic “cobalt blau” finish. The eBike advocacy organization ExtraEnergy.org reviewed the Futura F8 Gates and rated it “very good.” Read their test report.  Consumers in Europe can test the Futura F8 Gates and R8 Gates in various cities around Germany during the Hercules Electric Bike Roadshow. Hercules also sells the Tessano Gates city bike. Electric mobility has taken many technological leaps forward over the past 130 years, and Hercules remains on the cutting edge of the effort to create a cleaner, greener and healthier transportation future. Hercules-bikes.de

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Futura F8 Gates

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Futura R8 Gates

 

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