Gerhard Weber, designer and manufacturer of Düsenspeed e-bikes
The Swiss start-up Düsenspeed develops eye-catching, high-tech e-bikes. They are powered by the maxon BIKEDRIVE rear wheel motor. We asked Düsenspeed's co-founder Gerhard Weber where he gets the ideas for his unusual products.
Gery, you develop and build unconventional e-bikes in a small workshop. How did you reach this point?
My business partner Hansueli Mosimann and I weren't able to find a bike that we were really impressed by or that we liked. One particular problem was the frame technology. As I had experience of boatbuilding, I decided to take action myself and develop my own bike. We had such positive feedback from everyone around us that we made the decision to build bikes for other people. Düsenspeed bikes really attract attention on the street.
What lies behind the special design?
In the beginning we took our inspiration from the British café racer motorbikes, with the goal of carrying over this 'cruiser' feel to an e-bike. Our products are aimed at people who appreciate high-quality workmanship and materials, love good design, and like to travel in style.
At first sight, the bikes look very heavy...
That's what a lot of people say, but first impressions are misleading! Our hybrid fiber frames are relatively light. They only weigh between 3 and 5 kilograms. In spite of this, they are extremely rigid, reliable, and inherently stable. I don't think there is a better frame available on the market.
As a bike developer and manufacturer, what challenges have you faced?
Our frames were good from the start because we based them on the principles of boatbuilding. However, we did have to fine-tune our choice of components and try out several suppliers before we found the right one. It's important to us to use high-quality parts, preferably made in Switzerland.
Is that how you found the BIKEDRIVE?
maxon met all of our requirements: a Swiss company and a leading innovator that manufactures its drives using high-quality materials. The motor's outstanding quality alone sets it apart. It's compact, lightweight, and powerful – and it really does produce a huge amount of torque! What's more, our contacts at maxon BIKEDRIVE have a lot of expert knowledge and are extremely helpful. They are very easy to work with.
Is this the perfect motor for your bikes?
Definitely. I've tested a few e-bike models recently and no other motor even begins to come close to the BIKEDRIVE, particularly on steep hills. In addition, the BIKEDRIVE motor is very easy to install, which is a big advantage for me.
You have three models: the Boardtracker, the Café Racer, and most recently the Enduro/Freerider. The last one of these rather stands out from the others.
This model isn't aimed at conventional freeriders, but more at cyclists who want the opportunity to go off-road when they feel like it. We can supply the Enduro/Freerider with either on-road or off-road tires, depending on what our customers want. After all, customizing our products is one of our strengths.
Your bikes start at around CHF 12,500. That's quite expensive.
Yes, our products are exclusive. Customers who choose a Düsenspeed e-bike are getting a Swiss innovation; a high-end, quality product fitted with Swiss motors. The hybrid fiber frames are very difficult to manufacture, so mass production isn't possible. We make everything by hand. I think a lot of people appreciate these values, which means that there is a market out there for our products. Our e-bikes are also really fun to ride!
Düsenspeed consists of just the two of you. What are your plans?
We want our e-bikes to remain exclusive, so there won't be thousands of them on the streets. We are also intending to stay quite small, but we will increase our production volumes slightly. The eye-catching design of Düsenspeed e-bikes makes them effective advertisements, so we would like to acquire some corporate customers as well as individuals. If we can thrill 40 customers a year with our bikes, we will be very happy.