Inside Rotwild

Feb 16, 2017
by Matt Wragg  




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 in south-west Germany.
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 arre provided with. Unfortunately they are not taking applications...
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...

Inside Rotwild Bikes
Inside Rotwild Bikes

Rotwild have a long history of racing at the highest levels of XC.
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.
The engineering office for Rotwild - it is a small team, but they feel it is the right size for their equally small range.

Inside Rotwild Bikes
Inside Rotwild Bikes

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.
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.

Inside Rotwild Bikes

Inside Rotwild Bikes

Inside Rotwild Bikes
Inside Rotwild Bikes

Inside Rotwild Bikes

Inside Rotwild Bikes


While many companies use strain guages today back in XXX 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.
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 kind of details prefigure the modern downhill bike.
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.
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.

Inside Rotwild Bikes
Inside Rotwild Bikes

Rotwild s assembly area is very unique there is no rush no converyor line it is very calm in here. Each frame is mounted and worked one 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.
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.
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.
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
What German bike company would be complete without a Continental fussball table?

Inside Rotwild Bikes

Inside Rotwild Bikes
Inside Rotwild Bikes

Inside Rotwild Bikes

XXX here looks after the warranty and repairs in his workshop.
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.
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 X2. He is the engineer responsible for this bike and took us through the fine details that make these bikes so special.
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.
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.

Inside Rotwild Bikes

They also have adjustable chainstays - this helps means you can either switch bewteen wheelsizes or if you run 27.5 wheels choose between shorter or longer stays.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.


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79 Comments

  • + 78
 i'm really surprised that seems to be enough customers to keep them alive. i cant tell when i've seen a rotwild the last time in the woods..maybe 5 years ago
  • + 11
 I was thinking the same. In the five years that I've been riding in Basel (ie just over the border from Germany) I've only seen one rider with one. She absolutely loved it though!
  • + 20
 Well... Hm... I always looked at Rotwild at one of the leading German bike brands (from an engineering point of view), but while reading your comment I must agree. Didn´t see one since years in the woods. Makes me sad, because they´ve been really cool when they started.
Maybe they are making most of the money with engineering service for other (car) companies? Or E-bikes?
And I´m not sure about their image nowadays... The partnership with AMG might be appealing to some, but for me it just does not fit. Don´t get me wrong. AMG are offering superb cars and Rotwild are offering superb bikes, but the image of high-end technique with a high-end price might be working for dentists, but maybe not for a biker.
  • - 28
flag mazze (Feb 16, 2017 at 2:11) (Below Threshold)
 Rotwild made those extraordinary quality boutique Mountainbikes of my dreams back in the 90's when I was a kid. Nowadays they just seem like typical walmart bikes and have totally lost their charm. Noone who really knows the industry even cares about them anymore. Making pretty much all the same bikes for Porsche, Mercedes etc. is nothing but a gimmick on the part of the Automotive industry (to not put a different brand manufacturer up along with their cars on certain events), but for Rotwild it's the total sell-out. In the words of Trump: sad!
  • + 35
 I've never seen one here in the United States. Ever ever ever
  • + 16
 @mazze: WHAT? Walmart bike? You've bumped your head. Go on Rotwilds website and look at their builds, componentry, engineering, and designs. They are slick damn bikes, man. Richie Schley wouldn't ride one if they were a Walmart bike
  • - 22
flag fercho25 (Feb 16, 2017 at 3:53) (Below Threshold)
 @Ryanrobinson1984: seems like reading comprehension isn't your Forte
  • - 36
flag Sethimus (Feb 16, 2017 at 4:25) (Below Threshold)
 @fercho25: didn't you check the flag in front of his name? he's an american!
  • + 18
 @mazze: WalMart bikes eh . . . . It's funny when people just say the first thing they think of no matter how stupid and wrong they are.
  • + 18
 Come on guys, you've been on PB long enough to know how this works. First, a company pays for this slick piece of advertising, next comes the review, and then a bunch of people (who have no intention of buying) whining how they can't get one in North America. Following the Canyon, YT model here. If I were buying a German bike though, my search begins and ends at Liteville.
  • + 2
 @SlodownU: perfect
  • + 8
 @SlowdownU: and regardless of how the bike really rides here on pink bike you just point it down hill and it really comes alive
  • + 9
 @properp: And climbs better than a bike with this much travel should.
  • + 3
 @properp: That is after it climbs like a insert favorite climb-y metaphor here>, of course...
  • + 2
 All I am saying is that they were one of the leading brands of high value mountainbikes back in the day, and today they are not looking much different to a Cube or Radon, Haibike or any other German mass production bike. Looking at the E-bikes in the background proves me right, that they went from a pioneering specialty brand to a produce-what-the-average-joe-asks type of brand. You can hate me all you want for it, but if you are serious about buying a mountainbike from a German boutique manufacturer and don't just want Mercedes-Benz written on it, you go for Nicolai or Liteville. And this is coming from someone who was in love with the early Rotwild bikes.
  • + 5
 All that matters is they drive AMG's
  • + 2
 All these Germans saying they haven't seen a Rotwild in years but I see several each season...
  • - 4
flag Hiderspider (Feb 16, 2017 at 12:26) (Below Threshold)
 @mgolder: trump
  • + 1
 Quite a few over here in South Korea. Always beautiful but I have never had a chance to ride one in my size (XL).
  • - 1
 @mazze: Well... If you go to Nicolai you can have Smart or BMW written on it. :-)
  • + 2
 @fercho25: Seriously?

This is what he was commenting on:

"Nowadays they just seem like typical walmart bikes and have totally lost their charm."

And you criticise HIS reading comprehension?
  • + 1
 @mazze: "You can hate me all you want for it"

We don't need your permission.

You're an idiot, and you're talking utter crap..
  • + 3
 @Ryanrobinson1984: Richie would ride everything he got payed for ;-)
  • + 1
 @korev: I've still never seen a single one in real life ..
  • + 2
 @Ryanrobinson1984: Schley only rides em cuz they provided an AMG! Concessions were made!
  • + 1
 I saw a lot in Saalbach, they rent them there. Perhaps that's how they make most of their money.
  • + 1
 @KeithReeder: exactly! Thank you
  • + 1
 @mjktool: As someone from the states who is totally in the dark on Rotwild they appear to be a brand just like DPS skis here in USA. Pricey and pretty much only bought by dentists and hedge fund guys who have these pristine bikes and skis carefully arranged in their garage which actually only ever see the trails 3 days a year at most.
  • + 1
 @SlodownU: amen brother
  • + 23
 No pic of Richie Schley??? Not even one???
  • - 3
 The article was about the brand, not past sponsored riders.
  • + 3
 @IRISIBIS: why past?
  • + 2
 @karoliusz: @karoliusz: I like how you go on their website and they just call him Richie like he is such a big deal that no last name is neccesary.
  • + 3
 @IRISIBIS: A brands sponsored riders & the brand are directly related, that's just common knowledge. Even though the bikes may not be available in N. America ... If it weren't for Richie Schley ( who IS a big deal ) the Rotwild brand would most likely get lost in the sea of all the other European brand names..
  • + 2
 Strange, thats the only reason i clicked too. Was expecting the office to have a nice big ol mug shot on wall somewhere..like cbros. Well at least i see him in person occasionally so thatll do.
  • + 1
 Guess he's not that relevant anymore
  • + 1
 @fercho25: He is a big deal ! For the 45 and over crowd...????
  • + 19
 I love these "Inside" articles.

Wasn't really familiar with Rotwild bikes before, but the latest models are very nice. Some awesome little touches on them.

Their factory/workshop looks ace as well. So clinical.
  • + 10
 good bikes just not cool. i used to own one, it was a very good bike but sonehow i could not full on love it. i guess they should work on the emotional image of their bikes. (giving the bikes actual names would be a first step...;(E 1 or X 1 is not how you name a bike)
  • + 11
 nice welds in the last pic.
  • + 9
 Looks like a crack in the weld in the last picture between the seat tube and the top tube. :o
  • + 2
 I noticed that too. Not positive but sure looks like it.
  • + 1
 @inverted180: maybe.....i never would have spotted it myself but now you mention it it does look like one.
  • + 3
 I enjoyed seeing all the data acquisition Hardware. I find this stuff fascinating that you can view travel of suspension through a ride. It's been going on for a long time. Glad to see it trickling down to the mountain bike world. Nice to see the prices at a level that average Joe's can afford.
  • + 5
 I love the options to fine tune geometry and hope that more bikes start coming with that ability.
  • + 2
 I see Richie Schley riding his Rotwilds all the time in Laguna canyon. The bikes always look well made and they seem to ride really well. I'd try one if given the chance. The article said they had no interest in becoming a mainstream brand, based on the comments it's seems people will either get it or not get it. It looks to me like the bicycle side of the engineering business is more of a passion project than a business. By developing and designing bikes, they probably use the engineering data gained for use in the automotive industry.
  • + 2
 I'm lucky enough to own 2 Rotwilds at present in my collection is a 2008 Trail GT2 and a early 2000's RFR, I've always had a thing for low volume bikes that you can see the time and effort that's gone into them. I also love the fact that you get a lot of second looks from people who don't have a clue what a Rotwild is.
However with Rotwild making alot of parts in house I had an interesting experience when I wanted to change the forks in my Trail GT2 to a set of tapered forks. I needed to go from internal to an external cup and was going to use a hope pick n mix lower cup to allow for the new for setup, however when I pulled the old lower cup and measured up instead of a standard 44mm diameter it was 46mm could I find what I needed in a 46mm.....nope. In the end I had a friend custom machine me a 1mm thick shim to sit between the cup and frame.
The effort was worth it because to be frank I hated the white forks on there prior and I think it looks awesome now, if not a little old school.
www.pinkbike.com/photo/13909681
  • + 2
 I absolutely adore my Rotwild E.1 I bought 2 years ago. I was already thinking that I don't need my DH bike any more, as I nearly hit the same speed in bike parks. Still, the DH won't be sold. From all the bikes I owned in the last 20 years, the only one I have replaced but not sold is a custom build RFR01 from 2001 or 2002. From time to time I take it for a casual ride. Think I will also keep the E1, this bike is simply amazing. Temperatures are already rising in the alps, can't wait for summer....
  • + 6
 Look at that Fiat qubo in the second pic! Amazing!
  • + 4
 Nice to see rotwild still going. Really liked the rdh1 from back in the day.
  • + 1
 Nigel Page used to ride the downhill bike. I wanted one just because of that. They were a copy of the Super V DH, but they were still very cool bikes at the time. Not sure what happened to the brand after that. I think they must have stopped importing them into the UK?
  • + 2
 Thanks for a very interesting article.

One question though, do they make their own bike in Germany or are the bike manufactured in the far east?
  • + 6
 I don´t know the status today, but in the past the frames hat been welded in Italy(?).
I assume it´s the same for Rotwild like for most of the rest of the bike companies: Engineered in Germany (or USA, Canada, GB...), produced in far east.
I think they would have shown some pictures of the production in the article otherwise.
  • + 1
 I recall so well RDP1 (ok I didn't even memorised that name) but in 1996 at my local bike shop ... it's was something completely ahead of his time... The front suspension looked better than it worked thought.
  • + 4
 Very high quality bikes, the CNC parts are beautiful!
  • + 2
 That's some excellent bike porn here. Love the close-ups of clever details all over.
  • + 1
 I think my Race Inc frame from when I was a kid spoiled me. Sorry the welds just don't look very good to me for a high level bike.
  • + 2
 Saw the Rotwild crew last summer coming into Saalbach with their AMGs - real Life looks a bit different
  • + 1
 Love the Waterloo sticker! I have one on my jeep and eat there at least twice a month. best spot for a burger in Louisville!
  • + 1
 I actually purchased one of Richies bikes 5 years ago! great guy and great bike! wish they sold them in the US
  • + 1
 They must have had Doc Brown working for them in 1999. Pretty sure that was a Flux capacitor I saw on that bike...
  • + 1
 GERMANY is the country with the most brands of bikes: cube, Rose, YT, Focus, Ghost, Rotwild, Canyon etc..
  • + 2
 These are beautiful high quality bikes.
  • + 1
 German engineering is second to none. Maybe I should be the North American rep for Rotwild.
  • + 2
 for me one of the top five boring bike manufacturer
  • + 2
 Matt, you meant Frankfurt, not Stuttgart Big Grin Wink
  • + 1
 you lost me a the J-E-T-S sweatshirt.
  • + 1
 Nicely shows their evolution with bikes.
  • + 1
 Please do an "Inside PYGA", pure passion...!
  • + 1
 These bikes are rad!
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