Hamburg News: Trade and Finance. High-class shopping area in the city centre shown.
Das Fahrrad als Wirtschaftsfaktor © TRENGA DE

Bicycles as an economic factor

Sale of bicycles rose across Germany in 2017 thanks to e-bikes and business customers

The bicycle trade is seasonal, with purchases taking place mainly in the spring and summer. Nevertheless, the brothers Stephan and Jens Peter Dirks have no lack of work in the autumn and winter when they are busy with their in-house cycle assembly line. Hamburg-based TRENGA DE has been making e-bikes and Pedelecs, trekking and racing cycles, as well as mountain bikes, since 1994. These are then sold from their Stammhaus Fahrrad Center in Harburg where up to 4,000 cycles is displayed over 4,300 square metres. The company employs around 50 staff including seven apprentices, in its two units – assembly and retail.

Company bicycles “Made in Hamburg” now all over the world

“The company customer business is a growing segment,” Stephan Dirks says. The Dirks brothers supply the HHLA (Hamburg Port Authority), Otto and Meridian Spa, as well as various urban authorities in Hamburg. “The bicycles used e.g. by the Hamburg police and those with the Elphi logo are from us,” Dirks says. And the “Made in Hamburg” cycles also travel abroad as TUI Cruises is a customer. “We equipped all seven of the ‘Mein-Schiff ’ cruise ships. There are now 100 bikes available for excursions,” he said.

E-bike – a case apart and barely impacted by online trade

Nevertheless, e-bikes continue to be the main driver of the cycling economy. “We were able to post an increase in turnover of 20 per cent for the third year in a row in this segment,” Dirks said. The entry-level price for bicycles with an electric drive is around EUR 2,500 euros (USD 2,900), while the average price is EUR 3,500 euros, he said, adding,“there’s no upper limit.” A case apart: By contrast with sports and racing bicycles, which are often sold online, e-bikes are sold mainly through the standard retail market. Is this a problem? “No,” Dirks insists. “Customers from outside Hamburg still come to us. They simply combine buying their bicycle with a city trip. Hamburg’s attractiveness as a place to be is an evident advantage for us.”

Mobile cycle workshops taking over Hamburg

Mobile cycle mechanics are enjoying a boom at the moment. They have various names in the city focussing on their mobility, technical skills and rescue services. They turn up in a rolling workshop that has been installed in some cases in a decommissioned ambulance. For the occasional cyclist with a flat tyre, they could really turn out to be a saviour in an hour of need – no time-consuming and difficult trip to the next cycle workshop, the bicycle packed into a car boot that is usually too small. The services are a welcome addition, increasingly for companies as well. Among the services offered by these mobile workshops are maintenance of company cycle parks, as well as repairing brakes, lights or chains as part of a company day of action. Seasonal demand means that the website should be checked as at times of high demand the wait could be several weeks.

Bicycle carousel: protection from theft, vandalism and the weather

Once purchase and repairs have been seen to, storing the bicycle safely and without taking up too much space remains. Hamburg currently has more than 370 bicycle sheds (2014 figures), usually 12-sided circular structures of steel and wood that provide space for 12 bicycles. In the past, the bicycle sheds common in Hamburg were made and installed largely through job creation schemes, but there are also commercial providers, such as Velo Park bicycle park systems.

“We have made bicycle sheds since 1996, constantly developing them, up to 10-sided bicycle sheds where the door and side walls are made of recycled sheets and the roof and hood out of transparent multi-layer sheets,” said Reiner Köhnke, owner of Velo Park. Parking is by means of a so-called bicycle carousel: “The bicycles are hung by the front wheel on a specially designed hook and are locked to a metal plate provided for the purpose. It takes a bit of practice initially, but it soon becomes routine,” Köhnke said The system has been on the market for three years, and more than 150 have been installed in Germany and abroad.

Source and additional information:

Facts and figures

Turnover in bicycles and e-bikes rose to EUR 2.69 billion in Germany in 2017, an increase of 3.2 per cent according to the Zweirad-Industrie-Verband e.V., the national association representing the interests of the German and international cycle sector. Parts and accessories also saw growth, leading to an estimated total turnover in the German cycle, e-bike, parts and accessories sector of some EUR 5.4 billion. ZIV continues to see the e-bike as a growth and innovation driver in the sector: Growth of 19 per cent was recorded on the basis of 720,000 units sold.

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