Rotwild is in many ways the archetypal German mountain bike brand. Founded by automotive engineers in the mid-90s, they have always had a strong focus on engineering excellence and have been content to head off in their own direction. Partly influenced by that automotive background, they have always looked where others haven't, pushing the application of engineering in mountain bike design back when many companies were still guessing. As mountain bike design has matured their designs have converged more and more towards the mainstream. Today that focus on the bigger picture has moved to the details and they meticulously obsess over every little detail of each of their bikes. They are open about the fact that they have no interest in becoming a mainstream brand, rather they know their customers and their niche now have 20 years' experience making bikes for precisely those people. They are not looking to compete with the Canyons and YTs of this world, but create bikes to last for a discerning customer who expects a certain experience and level of quality. We took a look inside their headquarters in Dieburg, south-west Germany to understand more about this unique company.
Rotwild's home is an unassuming industrial unit just outside Stuttgart.
How about one of these AMGs for a company car? Because of their partnership with AMG, this is the car the Rotwild/AMG athletes are provided with. Unfortunately, they are not taking applications...
Rotwild have a long history of racing at the highest levels of XC but have stepped away in recent years as they don't see it as sustainable for a small company to compete on that stage anymore.
The engineering office for Rotwild - it is a small team, but they feel it is the right size for their equally small range.
Rotwild's parent company, ADP Engineering, offers their services to high-end car companies, like Porsche, AMG, and BMW to help them offer their customers branded bikes. This is one of their latest creations - the Porsche bike range. The toptube is shaped to mimic the classic curve of their 911.
While many companies use strain gauges today, back in 1999 Rotwild hooked this beast up. Back then this was a five-figure investment and to get the most from it, they sent one of their riders on the Trans-Alp with this very setup. They wanted to know exactly what happens when you ride your bike and this data still informs their engineering decisions today.
This was Rotwild's last World Cup DH bike, from around 2007. It may not be as wild as their RDH1 prototype, but this frame has adjustable geometry, an air shock, and even a carbon fibre rear end. While it may look dated now, these kinds of details prefigure the modern downhill bike.
The storeroom. While this may have a lot more stock than your local bike shop, it is a much more subdued affair than many of the better-known German bike brands.
Rotwild's assembly area is very unique, there is no rush, no conveyor line, it is very calm in here. Each frame is mounted and worked on step by step. The technicians assembling the bike do every aspect of the build, not simply complete one stage then pass it to the next person.
This is a lovely touch that all Rotwild customers will receive—they line the internal cables with this housing to stop them moving around inside the frame, which will keep the bike silent on the trail.
The wheels are all hand-assembled here, with the rotors, cassette, and tyre all mounted and checked by a technician.
What German bike company would be complete without a Continental fussball table?
Juergen Liebe here looks after the warranty and repairs in his workshop.
This will be the new Rotwild service centre, which they are just in the process of opening - just across the courtyard from the old one.
Stefan and his creation—the current X2, their all-around trail bike. He is the engineer responsible for this bike and took us through the fine details that make these bikes so special. He was so excited to show every little detail, how he has considered, then crafted, every single aspect of his baby.
Rotwild believe that their customers should be able to fine-tune their bike to suit their preferences. Each bike comes with its own, bespoke angle-adjust headset, made by Rotwild.
They also have adjustable chainstays—this helps means you can either switch between wheelsizes or, if you run 27.5" wheels, choose between shorter or longer stays.
This is a lovely detail - for customers who run Shimano cranks you can mount this anti-chainsuck ring in place of a small chainring.
To improve the tolerances for the frame they included spars in the forging so that the contact areas for welding are clearly defined.
The bottom bracket assembly is a small work of art.
At the back of the shell they have this extra large port to make routing the cables internally as easy as possible.
No corner is cut in the search to refine the shape and save weight.
Rotwild decided they wanted to avoid using a yoke for the rear shock, but they still wanted to have a top-tube adjacent shock, so they found this solution. The shock is mounted to a spar that protrudes from the seattube, which replaces the yoke.