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Where are the German bikes?

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Where are the German bikes?

Old 12-11-19, 07:43 PM
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Where are the German bikes?

Why didn't the Germans export bicycles in significant numbers back in bike-boom days? They obviously knew how to build quality products for export--look at all those VW beetles and DAM fishing reels. "Made in West Germany" was a much-respected mark, as I recall--it was basically the opposite of "Made in Japan."

No special reason for me to wonder about this. I think it's just that it's the middle of December and sunset happens here at about 4:15.

I suppose I might just as well have titled this thread "show your German bikes. Well, okay--fish 'em out and let's have a look.
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Old 12-11-19, 07:51 PM
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Rickerts
Dürkopp
Diament
Kalkhoff
and all these from Classic Rendezvous
Classic lightweight vintage bicycles of Germany
apparently some Volkscycles were made in Germany (but I only saw Japanese made examples BITD)
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Old 12-11-19, 08:02 PM
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Let's not forget Edi Strobl. I found this one while working in Munich. I found one very similar last year on eBay but at a whopping $650, same color, my size. Really appreciated his earlier stuff.

(still looking ...)

Last edited by francophile; 12-11-19 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 12-11-19, 08:08 PM
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Rabeneick, Hercules...speaking of Hercules




I know, I know, just a folder. But a start, eh?
The Fichtel & Sachs Duomatic hub is pretty cool.
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Old 12-11-19, 10:43 PM
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Why so few? For one, Meister Fritz Fleck of Mannheim made approx.two dozen of these gusset titanium bikes. One of which held together long enough to win a gold in team pursuit at the '72 Olympics. Prost!
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Old 12-12-19, 01:55 AM
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Made in Japan has been superior to Made in Germany since 1965!
Sure, in the 1950's, German products were quality and Japanese goods were not so good.
The Germans have been famous for quality engineered products, both then and now, but the Japanese do it even better!

Last edited by StanSeven; 12-12-19 at 08:21 AM. Reason: Removed off topic non-cycling content
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Old 12-12-19, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by francophile View Post
Let's not forget Edi Strobl. I found this one while working in Munich. I found one very similar last year on eBay but at a whopping $650, same color, my size. Really appreciated his earlier stuff.

(still looking ...)
Strobl is not a builder; Strobls were made OEM in Italy for the Strobl brand as was common in the 80ies (like the swiss "Titan" or ICS "Magni").
There were/are some real "artisan" builders around, Rickert (Dortmund) has been named; who may be the most popular of them. Then there was Redl (Munich), Altinger (Munich), Marschall (NRW), Meral (Munich), Nöll and countless others; Wiessmann is swiss but is germany-based now (Badenweiler/black forest). Modern artisans include Vogel, but also Lightweight, Spin, AX Lightness, German Carbon Group, even Syntace/Liteville might be named...

Out of the oldtimers, Dürkopp saw some distribution abroad, other big brands included Patria, Rabeneick, Adler, Bauer, Stollenwerk, Panter, Zündapp, Opel, Miele and several others. Although being indutry-sized, the majority of the distribution was national and not very export-based. Not to forget Diamant, FES or Textima.

Last edited by martl; 12-12-19 at 08:58 AM.
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Old 12-12-19, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Vintage Schwinn View Post
Made in Japan has been superior to Made in Germany since 1965!
Sure, in the 1950's, German products were quality and Japanese goods were not so good.
The Germans have been famous for quality engineered products, both then and now, but the Japanese do it even better!
The Japanese don't do it better... They copied German and Western designs. Sure they make quality products, but not of their own design.
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Old 12-12-19, 09:54 AM
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It's something that's come up here before...

Some answers were:

A lack of cycling infrastructure/culture relative to some other Euro countries.
Relatively low profit margins comparable to other industries, and less access to shipping hurting margins (explanation to US exports).
Higher labor costs on a lower dollar product with less domestic market
Higher import pricing on Reynolds, or Columbus, tubing and components.
Cultural focus on industry/technology
Lack of pre-war cycling manufacture
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Old 12-12-19, 11:02 AM
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Kettler did some aluminum bikes in the '80s and they looked nice but only their kids' wheel goods took off around here.

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Old 12-12-19, 11:06 AM
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I’ve got German tires on all my bikes, does that count?
Tim
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Old 12-12-19, 11:43 AM
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Got this one, a Rabeneick 120d from the late fifties, out of Texas. Paint is half done, waiting for art when I get back to Canada in the Spring...




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Old 12-12-19, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by randyjawa View Post
Got this one, a Rabeneick 120d from the late fifties, out of Texas. Paint is half done, waiting for art when I get back to Canada in the Spring...





Okay, I understand that maybe Germany didn't have a sizeable bike-production capacity in, say 1968. But look at Randy's bike, pictured above! The Germans obviously knew how to make good-looking bikes.

So here we are, it's 1968 and the US bike boom is really starting to boom. Within a year or so, every bike shop in the land is crying out for more bikes. It was demand with a capital D. They didn't even have to be good bikes--look at the low-end French and Italian crap that was selling like hotcakes in those days. You would think that someone in Hamburg or Dusseldorf would have figured out that they could make money at it. Why didn't they? Why was there no bicycle equivalent to the Volkswagen? I can see why maybe Spain or Poland didn't--they weren't already exporting consumer goods to the US in huge quantities. But the Germans were. There was demand in spades, they had access to capital, they knew how to make machinery, they knew how to load stuff onto ships--I just don't get it.

But then, I'm not much of a businessman. So why should I understand that when I don't understand anything else?
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Old 12-12-19, 06:41 PM
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They were cranking out 911's and BMW airheads in '68, so they were a little preoccupied with other types of wheels.
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Old 12-12-19, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by VtwinVince View Post
They were cranking out both Porsche and BMW Airheads in '68, so they were a little preoccupied with other types of wheels.
fify. I rode in a '69 911 but he wouldn't let me drive it. A car for skilled enthusiasts and nobody else.
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Old 12-13-19, 04:56 AM
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
It's something that's come up here before...

Some answers were:

A lack of cycling infrastructure/culture relative to some other Euro countries.
Relatively low profit margins comparable to other industries, and less access to shipping hurting margins (explanation to US exports).
Higher labor costs on a lower dollar product with less domestic market
Higher import pricing on Reynolds, or Columbus, tubing and components.
Cultural focus on industry/technology
Lack of pre-war cycling manufacture
Eh? i disagree. Factories like Brennabor, Dürkopp, diamant were among the largest in pre WW2 Europe. (Opel, for example, produced 15000 bikes - in 1898!). At MIFA, 700 emplyees produced 80.000 bicycles in '27.
Bike usage was huge up until the Wirtschaftswunder, in 1936 45-60% of the workers used the bicycle to commute, and there were 10000km of bike paths.

Most companies came from the small-mechanical-goods production and transitioned from making stuff like sewing machines to bicycle production, and many progressed to make motorcycles and cars - Opel, for example. Bit of a similarity to companies like Bianchi, Peugeot or Automoto really.
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Old 12-13-19, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by martl View Post
Eh? i disagree. Factories like Brennabor, Dürkopp, diamant were among the largest in pre WW2 Europe. (Opel, for example, produced 15000 bikes - in 1898!). At MIFA, 700 emplyees produced 80.000 bicycles in '27.
Bike usage was huge up until the Wirtschaftswunder, in 1936 45-60% of the workers used the bicycle to commute, and there were 10000km of bike paths.

Most companies came from the small-mechanical-goods production and transitioned from making stuff like sewing machines to bicycle production, and many progressed to make motorcycles and cars - Opel, for example. Bit of a similarity to companies like Bianchi, Peugeot or Automoto really.
I'm certainly no subject matter expert on German industry/culture.

That said, the production figures you site for 1927 are still likely a fraction of Peugeot/Raleigh, and my (limited) understanding is that Germany was more an importer than exporter of bikes. In addition to importing, you had the theft of bikes from other countries in the war years.

As far as the "Wirtschaftswunder", I can think of other words to describe it
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Old 12-13-19, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by martl View Post
Eh? i disagree. Factories like Brennabor, Dürkopp, diamant were among the largest in pre WW2 Europe. (Opel, for example, produced 15000 bikes - in 1898!). At MIFA, 700 emplyees produced 80.000 bicycles in '27.
Bike usage was huge up until the Wirtschaftswunder, in 1936 45-60% of the workers used the bicycle to commute, and there were 10000km of bike paths.

Most companies came from the small-mechanical-goods production and transitioned from making stuff like sewing machines to bicycle production, and many progressed to make motorcycles and cars - Opel, for example. Bit of a similarity to companies like Bianchi, Peugeot or Automoto really.
Thank you for giving these insights. As much information is out there for Italian, French, British, Japanese, and other's bicycle industries, it seems there is less widely known about German.

I suppose we could consider one of the biggest bicycle producers ever. Ignaz Schwinn started in Germany and emigrated to the US. The industry was there, but perhaps not the market, hence the move? Adolph Arnold was also a German immigrant.
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Old 12-13-19, 09:56 AM
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and if you find a decent German road bike....the asking price (in my experience) is 2X above what I would consider a generous offer. So, i have yet to close a deal. But still in the hunt.
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Old 12-13-19, 01:09 PM
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Back to pics, here is one I spotted outside a cafe in Dusseldorf a couple of years ago:


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Old 12-13-19, 01:48 PM
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Wasn't the bike boom era pretty well overlapped with a very strong deutschmark?
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Old 12-13-19, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Wasn't the bike boom era pretty well overlapped with a very strong deutschmark?
It might have been, but Volkswagen still managed to sell an awful lot of inexpensive cars in the US and elsewhere.
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Old 12-13-19, 05:56 PM
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You know the Germans always make good stuff
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Old 12-13-19, 06:17 PM
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think they are there,you just have to live there to appreciate whats made there.lived there for over a year & their bike stores are like no other,very elaborate.

no one mentioning Focus? or storck? https://www.storckworld.com/en/ https://www.bike-discount.de/en/focus_bike



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Old 12-13-19, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Wileyone View Post
The Japanese don't do it better... They copied German and Western designs. Sure they make quality products, but not of their own design.
I would not call the SunTour slant planograph "not their own design." As soon as the patent expired, the rest of the world copied Japan, because the design was so compelling and superior to anything else out there.
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