Very few brands out there are as polarizing as Nicolai. They're a niche, cult brand, and they make no apologies about not being for everyone, but they've also been on the right side of a lot of current trends around alloy bikes, geometry, and eMTBs. Through it all, they've just gone about their business. We sat down with Karl Nicolai, the founder and owner of his namesake brand, to talk about the past, present, and future.
Thanks for taking the time today Karl. How are you and your team doing in this very, very weird time?Karl Nicolai:
We are in the countryside of Germany so we aren’t affected as much as others. The company is still running and we are still producing bikes, but no customers and vendors are allowed to visit. Everything is on a lower level, but we are really in a fortunate situation here.
Have you guys implemented new protocols within your facility?Karl Nicolai:
Yeah, absolutely. We have contact restrictions here in Germany, where basically everybody is forced to keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters. Our factory is pretty big, and we are only 20 people, so this can easily be done. Then you have some... the normal stuff, like washing the hands, and be careful when sneezing, and even when somebody is a little bit ill, I send him home. A little bit of carefulness, but hopefully here in Germany the numbers go down, and hopefully in the beginning of May everything goes even more back to normal.
Our bike shops are re-opening starting next week, that was the government decision yesterday, which is really good.
To get things started, let's jump way back. For those that aren't familiar, what is the origin story of Nicolai? How long have you been working on this?Karl Nicolai:
Nicolai is my last name, and I started to race enduro and motocross races when I was 18, 19 years old. Then I studied mechanical engineering at university, and it was always my dream to design two wheelers, in general. I loved BMX, I loved motocross. It was always my dream to design such stuff.
Then in 1990, I was at the university, and there was no email or social media. I had to use a fax machine for communication. I was reading Motocross Action magazine, and there was a little company called AMP Research in Laguna Beach. They designed advanced offroad motorcycles, and I just gave Horst Leitner a call, a phone call. He said to me, "Yeah, you can come by, but if you do not work in a proper manner, I'll fire you in one week." He gave me the risk, but I moved over to the US in '91. Then he said to me, "Oh, now today we are not designing motorcycles, we are focusing on designing mountain bikes." I was, yeah, why not? Laguna Beach is also a pretty nice place to go on a ride, and so I discovered mountain biking.
Then I discovered all the fun of it, and we designed the very early suspensions for Specialized, Rocky Mountain, Mongoose, and the “Horst link” and that was really fun in those days. That was my early start, an employee of AMP.
Then I went back to Germany to finish my studies, but I constantly worked on designs, even while I was at university. At a certain moment, I got in touch with Bob Margevicius, he was the former CEO of Mongoose, and he made an offer to me to design a brand new downhill bike for the Mongoose World Cup team, for Brian Lopes and Leigh Donovan. I did that at the end of '94, beginning of '95. That bike was pretty successful, and Brian and Leigh, they won both the NORBA Championship in the US, and Leigh won the World Championship in Kirchzarten in that day, that was '95.
Suddenly I was kind of famous, just within the scene. Mongoose asked, “hey Karl…”—btw. I designed my own shock absorber for this bike: Mongoose asked me, “can you deliver quantity? Can you deliver a thousand pieces? When you come from university, you think you can do everything?” So I said yes, I can make a thousand pieces, no problem.
At university, you learn how you let other people work, so I was looking for a bicycle factory. I found one in Italy, but they were also not able to produce this bike, because a certain quality was needed. At that moment, I had to make the decision, do I go bankrupt? How do I create a thousand bikes? We decided to build up our own little garage factory to produce these bikes for Mongoose, from 1995 to 1996 It was a huge quantity, so I invested in a welding machine, lathe, milling machine, and we made these bikes, and we made them in quality. We delivered all the bikes and after that order we said, that is no fun at all to deliver to other people, let's do our own bicycle brand and our own mountain bike factory.
That was the start of Nicolai Bicycles, in August '95. I'm very proud, now we’re celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, in 2020. Due to that virus, it's hanging in the sky if we can do a big party or not, but we are very proud that we survived 25 years.
What were you doing with Horst at AMP? Were you welding, or were you engineering?Karl Nicolai:
Basically, in such a little company, you do everything. There was no computer, no CAD design. I did all the drawings and engineering by hand, then I built all the prototypes. From A to Z, I did everything on these bikes. For me, it was very inspiring, because when you come from a German university, you just learn how complicated things are, and with the time with Horst I learned, oh, you just have to start and make it happen, and then things will work out. The mixture in between theoretical knowledge from university and that American/California spirit, we built a company that was a good mixture for Nicolai too. I learned from both sides.
What did you go to school for? Engineering?Karl Nicolai:
Yes, mechanical engineering. Aerospace engineering, so very theoretical, lots of calculations. I never worked for a company. I finished university, and we made Nicolai Bicycles. I said, we just do it. If I fail, I can get a job later. That was a good decision that day.
How close are you now, would you say, to your original vision, 25 years later? Is it what you imagined?Karl Nicolai:
No, I could not imagine that we would get this big. The core identity, our first vision was, let's build the bikes with a quality and craftsmanship that we would like to see, and how we would want to ride. This is what never changed. We now have all the best CNC machinery, and welding technology. We have all the tools available that we didn’t have in the beginning, but the core and soul is still the same. We want to deliver the consumer the best mechanical solution.
What's your favourite machine?Karl Nicolai:
We invested in a DMG NTX1000 machine last year. It has a turning center, and it's combined with a milling center, so you can make very weird parts. You can mill them, and you can turn them. As we are very addicted to gearbox designs, this machine brought us, in the last 12 months, into a position to make the a brand new product that will be presented in a few months, whenever it is ready and tested...
An NTX-1000 turn and mill centre.
Let's talk a little bit about domestic German manufacturing, doing it all in-house. Why did you go down that road?Karl Nicolai:
First of all, we started small and we are still small. We are a boutique manufacturer, and we want to stay that way. If you buy a Nicolai, it’s like buying a handmade shoe, or a tailor-made suit. This is what you get. A normal Nicolai customer has three bikes, and he wants that number four. This is when he comes to us. Our target as a team, our goal, our vision to deliver the “state of the art” product with the highest craftsmanship quality brings us to the need that we do it in house.
On the other hand, we are a family. All these 20 people working together with me, they are friends. For me, it's enough to steer that company in a way that we keep it a certain size. Keep our numbers in the black and not the red. Because all these guys, they have today families, wives, kids. I have a certain responsibility there. That's the target, not big growth. I feel almost alone in this. In the bicycle business I have seen many companies dying because they have the wrong vision, or the wrong target. They want to be the biggest, or make the most money . This is not our target. We want to build the best quality products, and deliver the best design, and best mechanical solution.
There are certainly brands that rely on aggressive growth targets to stay viable, and when something happens like coronavirus, or someone gets a forecast wrong, and they don't hit those targets, it can be a huge problem.Karl Nicolai:
I'm the only shareholder within Nicolai. There are no other shareholders, so it's all up to me what we do and where we steer, the left side or right side. This is a very, very nice situation. On the other hand, “comfort is a drug” and it's really important to kick our own ass every Monday as a team to stay ahead of the pack, and to work hard to discover the next cutting edge of the technology, or manufacturing, etc.
We should probably talk about carbon. You guys make zero carbon bikes, right?Karl Nicolai:
Why not?Karl Nicolai:
We always say, we were sustainable before the word was hip. I really don't like carbon products, because they have a really bad impact on the environment. You cannot recycle this product and make new bicycle frames out of it. Bicycle products should also always be, in a certain way, better for the world than the solutions of yesterday. This is why, on the other hand, we re-prove every day that you can be on the track, on an aluminum bike, with the same speed and safety as with a carbon bike. You do not have a disadvantage when you have a Nicolai bike under your ass.
Alloy is seeing a resurgence right now. Weight seems to be less important to riders than in the past, and manufacturers are finding ways to do more with alloy. Plus, domestic manufacturing is more attractive than ever. You mentioned recycling; do you guys have a program in place for recycling your bikes?Karl Nicolai:
Yes. You can see it on our YouTube
page. Starting with the box, how we deliver our product to the consumer. This box is reusable and there's no junk and plastic in there that you need to throw away every time. You can use it many times, send the bike back to us for service, and we send it back to you. It's a Nicolai bike box. This is a little start. On the other hand, there are not many people who throw their Nicolai in the trash can. We have customers with 15 year old bikes that send them back to us for service, bearing service, or a new paint job.
We strive for everything that we do in our factory to become part of a circular economy, where the product can be recycled more and more times.
So if someone accidentally backs their car up over a Nicolai, god forbid, you guys would recycle the frame?Karl Nicolai:
Yes absolutely. We have a recycling channel for aluminum, one for steel, one for plastic, and so on.
So no carbon bike from you ever, that's just not something you're interested in? Karl Nicolai:
No. On the technology side, we would be able to do it, but it's not our nature, it's not our genetic code, so we don't do it.
Before Nicolai you were in mechanical engineering school, doing aerospace engineering. Did you have any business experience before you started the business?Karl Nicolai:
Nothing. I learned everything while we went forward. I had no clue about supply chain, balance sheets or tax reports. We had to learn everything. Everything that you want to learn, you are able to. You have a tax advisor, you hire talented skilled people and act like team, then the work itself will teach you everything. So these business skills shall not be overrated. It’s important that you always have new inspirations, new ideas, what is the next chapter, what is the next cutting edge product? This was more important than the business side. On the other hand, at the end of the week and the end of the month, you need to be able to pay your people and pay your bills. This takes a certain discipline and this is not much fun.
How did you get the original funding to make that initial investment? It sounded like a pretty large startup cost.Karl Nicolai:
It wasn’t too much. It's 25 years ago, so I think the NDA has expired. That early times was Mongoose, they paid me 50 percent up front on the frames I had to deliver, so with that prepayment we purchased two welding machines, and a used lathe, and a used milling machine, so it was like a $15,000 investment, those early days.
Wow. Then you hired a couple of people, and went to work?Karl Nicolai:
No, we did it with friends. I had two friends, they lost their jobs, so I hired them. I said hey, we're going to deliver the frames, then you get your money. We started in a double garage in my parents' house. I had an oversea container in front of my mother’s private house, and we wore thick jackets since we were welding when it was icy outside. This is a recommendation I can give to all startup businesses - just use what you have, do what you can, and then things will grow. Don't go to the bank and take big loans.
From those early days to now, how have your designs evolved? Original Nicolai bikes are not that similar to what you guys are making now.Karl Nicolai:
The Horst link was developed in '91. I worked with Horst Leitner and learned from him. You can still find [that suspension design] on every single Nicolai bike. In the early days, like 15 years ago, I had a license contract with Specialized, so I was always allowed to use it. It's still state of the art. Four bar linkage with a Horst link works perfectly, especially in combination with modern shocks. We work a lot with EXT shocks from Italy. It’s like the suspension today is from another planet.
The design process, to answer your question more precisely, is we're always riding, engineering, riding, engineering. I always try to use the most modern equipment, so we used “computer aided design” (CAD) from the very beginning.
The most difficult part in the beginning was getting all the tubes and aluminum. That was kind of a big investment. I had to go to the bank in that time to get the right tubes, and sometimes I had to buy tubes for two years and longer, so big amounts. Then we welded the product. We’ve also always had World Cup teams, local teams, and national teams. Most important for the development is that you have a good team around you with different opinions, different types of riders. We test the product, and then we confirm that they are good or bad, and then we move it forward to the market.
This is kind of like, I would like to say 30 percent of the product development is what is in my head, another 30 percent is the influence of people around me, racers, etc, and another 30 percent is that we listen to the market and we listen to end consumers. What we don't do at all is looking at different companies, what they do, and try to mimic that. You can easily look at all our products over the years, we never mimic or copy or clone other designs, because of the sake of it.
Over the years Nicolai designs have gotten less…Karl Nicolai:
Yeah. The designs used to be super ornate monster bikes, crazy tanks, and now they're more “normal”? Or is it just my perspective that has changed?Karl Nicolai:
No no, this is really interesting. You are absolutely right. From 2003 to 2007/8, that was a really wild phase. We did everything what we dreamed of, even if it was sometimes the wrong direction. We built tanks, not bikes. The funny thing is, people loved it. People still love those products today, but they have them more like in a museum instead of for daily rides...
As a final target, we had to make fast and pretty bikes that work well. This is why the designs moved to be more sophisticated, lightweight, and simple. This is how I would describe our products today. Today we use much more FEM calculations on the aluminum to make the products as lightweight as possible. I would say 15 years ago, nobody cared, we used metal and welded it.
How did you get connected with Chris Porter, and how has he influenced your guys' work?Karl Nicolai:
A bike designer named Marcel Lauxtermann worked for me a few years ago Then he moved to Barcelona, to a carbon bike manufacturer, and then he moved to Chris Porter. We are very close, so that Chris Porter in the UK became part of the “Nicolai family.” We loved his ideas, and tested his ideas, and proved them well. The geometry became part of our technology, and also he's now using 100 percent our products, with a different sticker, selling it under the GeoMetron logo. I don't see a problem with that. He takes care of the UK, we take care about the rest of Europe. We are good friends, and playing ping pong with ideas constantly.
Right. What does the split look like with GeoMetron versus Nicolai? It's a bit of a unique business and branding setup.Karl Nicolai:
He is using 100 percent Nicolai products, and I allow him to put his own sticker on it, the GeoMetron sticker. He is very keen to adjust each shock absorber setup specifically for the consumer, as we at Nicolai are using standard EXT setups for the shock. The frame, it's absolutely the same.
Really? Totally the same?Karl Nicolai:
Totally the same. You can see on the GeoMetron, that's still the CNC milled Nicolai logo in the head tube. There is no difference. We do not want differences there. You say that's a unique setup. Yes, it's a unique setup, because we both are not interested in maximizing our profit. We are friends, and the most important for us is that our both companies, and the people who we deal and work with every day, have a good life.
When there is transparency it becomes not as big of a problem. Yeah, it's different, nobody's doing it that way, you are correct, but it's that way for historical reasons. Chris did Fox and Nicolai distribution before, and then Fox wanted to be independent in the UK. I'm very happy that he made the decision to focus on some of our products for the UK.
He was helping me with designing the perfect geometry, because if you want to design a really good product, you have to put your own ego low, low, low. You need to be able to listen to what other people do and think. The quench of all of it makes the best product.
He was the one that brought a lot of geometry ideas to you, right?Karl Nicolai:
Right. Right. Every day a lot of people come to me with new ideas. Nine of 10 will not be used. A really long time ago, I think in '11 or '12, we did our first comparison tests. It was very surprising that the differences were easy to notice. The difference was so simple that we all scratched our head, why is nobody doing it? The answer was, everybody is doing the same thing as yesterday because it's a risk to change. Nevertheless, the final G1-frame product includes not just the ideas of Chris Porter or Kalle Nicolai, like I said it is a blend of good and tested ideas from the UK and Germany.
If you have an organization, and you have your product, and the products are selling well, it's always a risk to change something. Normally the upper management is pressing the engineers and designers to do something that is not so different from the past. This is why the changes of the bikes are going so slowly. We are in the situation that we can take that risk.
I like that many other companies are sticking to old stuff, because this gives us the opportunity to stand out. Even with our limited resources.
Do you think you guys are sort of that logical conclusion of geometry and design, or do you think that there's another wave coming in the next little bit?Karl Nicolai:
There are more logical conclusions... and we've already started working on them. The whole geometry of each frame size is a function of your own body’s measurement. The rear end should grow with the sizes, the same way the reach grows with the sizes, and so on and on. Also, other areas of improvement are in forks. For historical reasons, today forks have certain kind of fork rakes and offsets. Changing these offsets leads to big tooling costs, and so everything is taken as given, and things are really moving super slow here.
Chris is shaking things up in that area and he offers different triple crown fork crown clamps for Fox forks, for example, to overcome the problem that normally if you go with a slacker head angle, you have also to reduce the fork offset to get the best out of it. Unfortunately, we cannot change too much of these. We can just give recommendation to fork manufacturers.
I feel like Chris has actually influenced the fork manufacturers by doing what he's done, because with the new releases from Fox this spring, the 40 has quite a few different offset options.Karl Nicolai:
Yeah. I have to study the drawings.
Was there ever a moment where you thought the whole thing had failed? An individual challenge at Nicolai, a project that bombed, a bike that broke on the World Cup, or you thought, oh my god, this is the end?Karl Nicolai:
I think that I have a certain instinct, and I smell if things are starting to go down. We started in a barn building, 25 years ago, and we’ve grown to 20 employees. This is not a big company and I made many mistakes along the way. After a failure, you take it as a lesson and carry on.
It may be a little selfish, but I always see very clearly in front of me what is the next natural evolution. For example, we built the first electric mountain bike in 2010. I also have many patents on motor technologies and I sold them to an important motor company today. As you know, I came from the motocross area, and I always had the dream, how can I ride a mountain bike for a really long time, even in the Alps, without the need of an oxygen tent after hours of climbing? We started that very early. We did not make it as a growth program or profit program. We always built a small line of electric mountain bikes.
As a small company, we always need to do this little bit extra, otherwise we will die in one or two years. In 2018 we moved the company to a bigger place, we reduced the staff, we invested in more CNC machines, we made everything more lean, we invested heavily in the development of electric mountain bikes, and we were able to produce them in quantity, etc. We worked hard on our brand image to get away from the idea that Nicolai is just crazy guys from Germany welding together tank-type-frames.
The biggest challenge for me was: how can the Nicolai brand be fresh after 25 years? I'm still working on that. Hopefully you can see it from the outside, that we have an identity, we want to always be the handcrafted, best mechanical solution company, but we also need to be a company of the 21st century. You have to kick your own ass every Monday.
So you gambled on eMTB stuff, and it seems to be paying off. What percentage of sales is e-bike versus regular bike now? Karl Nicolai:
50 percent. And it's growing. I think next year it will be 60 or 70. And we didn’t gamble, we knew it… Always!
Wow, 50% is huge. Even though you only do one e-bike model?Karl Nicolai:
One core model in different specifications, configurations. Also one is, we call it the Explorer model. It's basically the SUV, where the “office-manager” can go 20 miles to work every morning. He can go on the ride back home through the woods. I think the market today needs different answers. We need to do some crossover. Why do you need to go with a car to work, and with a car back, and then take your bike and go on a mountain bike ride? Why not mix things?
It's far away from downhill racing, or enduro racing, but I play on the fact that people today are intelligent enough to understand that we are able to build fast enduro bicycles, but also some kind of e-bikes for special purposes. I'm not afraid to go with different ways.
Before I start trying to wheedle some new product info out of you, I want to touch on marketing. I have a story about the Nicolai Saturn 14 ST. Karl Nicolai:
In your marketing launch email, at some point in the middle of the message, you're telling people, the press, about the bike: this is the current version, this is what we're changing, this is this and that. The thing that was changed on this particular model was the suffix "ST." Your message went:
“ST is the suffix for Super Trail. Nicolai connoisseurs may be surprised and associate ST, the ST suffix, more with the meaning of super travel, which is a previous model we've done. We're aware of the danger of confusion, but unfortunately we have not come up with anything better. Our core competence and drive is engineering, frame construction, and finish, not marketing.”
That might be my favorite marketing email of all time. “Yeah, we suck at this, sorry for the confusion.” Tell me about that.
This is a good example of how we always try to let people feel that they can connect with us. I mean, you can not touch a company like Specialized, Trek, or whatever. These are big organizations, but if you buy a Nicolai, you are part of the family. You can take your phone and you dial the number, and you get the right guy on the phone, and we are accessible. We are the real people doing these products, and we are transparent. We don't do marketing, we just tell what we do.
People just like to see what is behind always, this is why we just tell it how it is. Even if some day we produce 10,000 bikes per year, we will be still the same.
How many bikes do you produce right now, per year?Karl Nicolai:
Not too much, just 1200.
Would you do things differently in the marketing side if you did have the budget? Would you field a World Cup team? Or big expensive videos? Karl Nicolai:
If you take that budget, and if you do these things, then you have to be able to please the market. Then I need capacity. We are not scalable, this is a problem. This is really the pain. If you do a boutique, handmade production, everything in-house, then you are not scalable. I only have three welders, and all that they can do is weld. We do just that amount of marketing that we sell everything that we produce. That is the key behind it.
If I had millions for marketing, I need the same millions to scale up and clone the welders somehow, or go to China production. This is not our core and spirit. We could invest in a big World Cup team, but then it would be a hobby. I could have a millionaire come from outside, paying for my hobby, but we wouldn’t be able to deliver more bikes. The lead time would grow.
Well, let's bring things full circle and jump back to you a little bit. Where, as a person, do you draw inspiration? Karl Nicolai:
Difficult question. I like to absorb technology in general. I'm interested in all kinds of technology, but I'm always interested in the core, and what is behind the curtain, and diving deep down to the ground to understand what is really happening. I would never go to a press release of a Tesla truck or something, because there is nothing, you do not learn something there. I love to look behind the curtain, I love to visit other companies, I love to learn more about manufacturing technologies, I read books about it.
Doing good design is like a painting. When you look at famous artists like Picasso or Richter when they make a really good painting, you can look at it and you will still like it after years and years. I do designs, and discard them again and again. Sometimes designs take a really long time. I’ve been working on a new gearbox technology for mountain bikes for 10 years, and I am not done yet. We’ve tested and tried and trashed. Now at the moment we may come back to a very simple solution soon. This is how life is.
I'm always playing. If I want to see a technology, then I go away for three days, and then I just dive into that. I'm in the fortunate situation that I can do that. This desk here is at my old barn building. I do not even have a desk in my factory. I want to stay alone, and I want to be able to focus on what I do.
I asked what you did outside of cycling, and your answer was that you spend all your time learning about technology to think about cycling. [laughs]Karl Nicolai:
Yeah. On some days I ride motocross, or go to ride the EBOXX [eMTB] in the woods. As you might know, I also have a second company. We do a lot of design together with Gates Carbon Drive. Gates is a US company, and we are always using Gates Carbon Drive products, also on mountain bikes. My second passion besides bikes is the drivetrain technology. Sometimes I travel to the US, I visit Gates, and try to get inspiration from all sides.
Outside of Nicolai, who inspires you in the business world? Is there a company that you try and model Nicolai after? Is there somebody outside of the bike world that you think is a good path to follow?
No. I was always looking at other companies. I was looking for the magic stick to do something, and to be successful. The only thing I found out is that the real successful companies are all hard workers, and focused, and disciplined. Four percent is the muse, and 96 percent is hard work. This is what I learned from many other different companies. There is no magic stick.
When you say, it’s so cool I get to design bikes, yeah it is, but it's only four percent. It's 96 percent of hard work, and figuring out how to finance the purchase department, how to source the front forks in time for building the bikes, and is the final little bolt at the production line at the right time?
The only advice I can give to everybody who is starting new is, don't look for the quick solution, there is no quick solution.
Where does Nicolai go from here? What does that success look like going forward?Karl Nicolai:
We will always work with the brightest heads when it comes to suspension, geometry, manufacturing and material science, because we want the fastest products. We want to build the fastest and most exciting and safest products for the trail. We will keep the focus on adding great solutions for the whole drivetrain, because we still believe that the derailleur works well today but when it comes to very harsh conditions and electrification, then it's a pain. We will continue to develop gearbox products on human powered and electrified bikes.
My personal goal for the next 10 years is to bring these products to life. And if I invent them, if we test them and they are good, then I'm most happy. I'm not interested in the biggest commercial success.The creation of things gives me the greatest pleasure. If some company would like to come and use the same technology, they are all welcome. I'm always keen for the next technology step.
For me, what gives me satisfaction is to do designs in various directions. You may not know but I’ve designed cargo bikes with tilting mechanisms. I’ve designed electric motorcycles. I actually designed an electric motorcycle last year. I'm designing so much stuff that nobody knows about. I'm designing products for many companies, and I sign an NDA, and nobody will ever know that this design is coming from the Nicolai team.
I'm very proud to say, if you come to me with an idea, I think there is no company faster on the planet earth able to bring an idea to reality, compared to Nicolai. We are super fast, because we can do everything in-house, and we have great engineers. My 10 year goal is really to lead, constantly lead that kind of skill. This is really so much fun. You cannot see it from the outside, it's more an inside thing.
So for you it's less about a commercial goal or a product goal, and more about an organizational goal—if you can get faster at that turnaround, if you can be more precise, if you can deliver more technology...Karl Nicolai:
Maybe I'm selfish. I don't care what people think or how successful I am, or how successful the company looks from the outside. I don't care. We know that we are successful, and we do not have to show it to the world every day and every moment. Everybody is welcome to visit the company and get a tour around. The only kind of marketing we want to do is show that we are performing.
What else can you tell me about your upcoming products?Karl Nicolai:
I want to give you a little bit of input on our new gearbox bike. Gearbox bikes in the past were pretty heavy, and the weight penalty and the penalty on efficiency always made it so that these bikes were not useful in every situation. We were always looking for the gearbox mountain bike that was able to beat the derailleur bike. You put the two bikes together, and our goal is to design a bike that is around one and a half pounds heavier [750g], but not more.
We are on our way. I won’t tell you the details yet, but we’re testing at the moment and we are quite happy with the results. We will launch it as soon as soon as we are ready.
There's no outside shareholder or something giving us pressure to release it to a certain date. We are very happy to be in a situation where we can develop a product, even without the need to be successful with it on the commercial side. We just want to prove something for our own sake. This is really what the gearbox product is about, I want to prove it to me. And to the world, yes, but it's mainly... it's not driven by money, it's driven by the desperate curiosity to make it better.
If you can come to market with a viable gearbox that addresses some of the problems with gearboxes, then it seems like the commercial side would take care of itself.Karl Nicolai:
This is what we always noticed, if you come up with the right product and there's a certain vacuum in the market, then things will take care of themselves.
Thanks for sitting down with us today Karl. Excited to see what the future holds for Nicolai.