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Interview: Orbea Bicycles on Hacking Shimano Motors, The Hardest Part About Making Bikes, Customization & More

Jun 26, 2024
by Sarah Moore  
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Hosts: Sarah Moore & Brian Park
Guests: Orbea's Xabier Narbaiza & Markel Uriarte

Orbea has over 180 years of manufacturing heritage, starting as a gun and ammunition manufacturer in the Basque Country of Northern Spain way back in 1840. When the business of gun making waned, the company pivoted and began using the tubing machines and raw materials they'd acquired to manufacture bicycles. In the 1930s, Orbea made the switch to bicycle manufacturing entirely. Since the very beginning, Orbea has believed in the importance of competition and started sponsoring teams and riders and has been a supporter of the Vuelta a España since the very first time the Grand Tour departed from Eibar. 

It wasn't always easy going however, and in 1969 the company found itself on the edge of bankruptcy, which would have caused 1,500 workers to lose their jobs. To prevent this, the employees took over the company from the founders and set it up as a cooperative, which allowed the company to stay in business. A few years later, the company moved their headquarters to Mallabia, where they are still located. To this day, they are still a cooperative, which means that the employees own the company and have a very real say in how it is run.

Brian Park and I sat down with Orbea's Director of Product Development Xabier Narbaiza and Global MTB Product Manager Markel Uriarte to talk about Orbea's history of reinvention, what it's like to work for a bike company where the employees are shareholders, the nearly limitless possibilities of their customization program, creating a custom tune on Shimano's motor for the new Rise, working with Martin Maes on product development, and much more.


This episode is presented by Orbea
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If you'd rather read than listen, we've cut down an edited version of the transcript for some of the key moments below.


Contents
00:00 - Introducing Xabier & Markel
4:30 - Orbea's History of Reinvention
9:07 The Co-Operative
23:00 - Bike Development Process & Hacking Shimano Motors
39:48 - Orbea's Customization Program
56:25 - OOLab Race Development Program & Working with Martin Maes at Fort William





Introducing Xabier & Markel

Brian: Let's start off with you guys introducing yourselves. Xabi, you first. Who are you and what do you do at Orbea?

Xabier: Hello. I'm Xabier Narbaiza. I've been working for Orbea 22 years. And right now, I'm the Director of Product Development globally and R &D manager also.

Brian: So in terms of product development, so it's not just mountain?

Xabier: Exactly. My background is more mountain bike, so I was engineer and product manager for mountain bike for a while, but about six years ago I was promoted to global product development management.

Brian: All right. And Markel, you are now the Mountain Bike Product Manager.

Markel: So yeah, I'm Markel Uriarte. I'm the Global Mountain Bike Product Manager. I've been working for Orbea since 2019, so five years. But my relation with Orbea started many years before as brand ambassador. I was racing for the Orbea Enduro team. Now I'm taking care of the Global Mountain Bike Product Management.

Sarah: So you were actually racing for the Enduro team?

Yeah, I was racing for the Orbea Enduro team since 2012. I was racing in most of the Spanish National series, I was also doing some Enduro World Series.

Xabier: I think I met him when he was 15 years old and he was riding a Devinci bicycle and he was the most cooperative Orbea guy I have ever seen. And the only problem is that he was not riding an Orbea.

So I tried to fix that as soon as possible. And after that moment, 2012 or 2013, he's been an Orbea rider. And then he became part of our employees.

Brian: So without going too deep or jumping too far ahead, what does that look like in terms of somebody coming into Orbea? Because it's a bit different - it's a cooperative. I'd like to hear more about how that works in general, but just in terms of hiring, but when you're trying to bring somebody in to be product manager, how does that compare versus a different company?

Xabier: I don't know how it compares because I haven't seen anything else but Orbea, so I have to take all the people's statements, like when we have partners and supplier visiting us.

Basically, they say that there is a different energy. They see that from the offices to the assembly line or the painting facility, there is a different vibe. You see people with a very positive attitude. They are pretty focused on what they're doing, but at the same time, they tend to see more smiles. But that's what I have seen for all my life, because I went straight from university to Orbea.

Sarah: And what about you Markel? Was it your first job coming out from racing the Enduro World Series and being an Enduro racer?

Markel: It was not my first job. I was working for an automotive company before, but yeah, it was my dream when I started studying an engineering degree, an engineering master after. It's a dream.


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Orbea's History of Reinvention

Brian: Let's go way back now. I did not realize that Orbea is as old as it is. And that the company started making guns.

Xabier: That was what it started with. Orbea history is a history of reinvention, of changing the reality very many times during the history. So about 90 years ago, there was no more need for guns after the first World War, so they started finding new products where they could apply the expertise in steel, with the machinery, with the tubes they had. So the machines that they were used for guns, they proved to be pretty successful to produce bicycles.

Brian: And baby carriages. We found this nice little graphic, marketing graphic...

Xabier: That was our product portfolio in 1931. Guns, bicycles, and baby carriages.

Brian: But since 1930, it's been just bicycles? Or when did it start to be just bicycles?

Xabier: Business and money is king so basically it proved that bicycles was the most successful product. At that time, people need to move from one places to another and the bicycle, it's always been a great tool for that and also I think there was a very strong linkage with the culture where cycling and bicycle was especially strongly adopted. So it turned out to be the most successful product and that's all we've done during the last 90 years.

Brian: What kind of bikes were being made in the 1930s by Orbea?

Xabier: The bikes that you could have at that time, it was I think you could call them more like road looking bicycles. It could be for commuting, but it was also racing. Orbea was also racing at that early times in the Vuelta a España.

And the cool thing about those bikes is that most of the parts were done in Orbea. At that time, you could not get the parts overseas and from all the countries. So brakes, cranks, cassette, pedals, pretty much everything except from the rubber of the tires and the leather of the saddles were done in the factory. So I think it was over 1000 workers already there, like building every single part of the bicycle.

There was no other choice at that time.

Brian: So 1930 to the 60s sometime, Orbea exists and is just Orbea at this point, not Orbea Hermanos?

Xabier: Yeah, I think it was. Orbea has been a family name all the history. So Hermanos could be there or not, but basically it was a family owned company until 1969. And then there was some financial distress. Things were not going as smooth as they liked, so they wanted to close down the factory and just move on. And a few workers decided that they could take the company and bring it back to life.

Some few families, they had to put a big effort sometimes to mortgage their house so that they create the new Orbea. They kept the family name, but it became into a cooperative in 1969.


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The Co-Operative

Brian: And I mean, as far as I'm aware of, this is the only cooperative bike company in the world.

Xabier: As far as I know, I would say so. Maybe for small parts, it could be another example, but like bicycle brands, pretty much we are the only one.

Sarah: But it's quite a common thing you were saying. In the Basque Country, there's quite a few. In North America, it's mostly farms, and there's REI Co-op, and there's a couple different cooperatives that we think of, but there's not a ton of them out there.

Xabier: It's pretty popular in the Basque Country. It's a system that it proved to be successful. In terms of successful business because workers, they get more committed because it's a good way to spread the wealth around the society. So it's about 100,000 workers in the Basque Country that belong to different cooperatives. And they are mainly in the industrial side, car industry, aeronautical industry.

Banking, university, so not only farming and that kind of other examples that you can see abroad. It's a really unique phenomenon.

Brian: And how many people are at Orbea?

Xabier: We are almost 1000 workers. We are in one of the highest level of employment in the recent history. Almost back to 1930s numbers.

Brian: So it's a thousand people in a cooperative. I feel like I'm going to ask silly questions here, but what does that mean for employment or mobility within a company? How is that different to working at a regular bike company?

Xabier: What we see is that our turn rate is very, very low. So when we were talking before, Markel has been six years, but I've been 22 years. Jokin that is with us here in Squamish has been 15, 16 years. Our former CEO that he's about to get retired, he's been working for the company 35 years.

The new CEO is not new because he's been with us already 25 years. So it's very a stable company. You feel a bit like in a family.

Brian: How does the new CEO get chosen?

Xabier: That's a good point. Basically, it's a little bit of a democratic, small democratic system where the presidency and elected people would have either to propose or finally validate the CEO.

So day-to-day business, it could look like an average company, but the management, the CEO, the presidency, they get elected every four years. And there is a chance that if they don't like how things are looking, they could even have another election, like impeachment, because they own the company. We make our own decisions.

Brian: It's been a tough time in the bike industry in the past four years. Has that impacted you guys in terms of elections?

Xabier: Not really. We've been lucky or smart, call it how you like. So it's been difficult years, but we're used to that. So we have to do a lot of adaptation. We have to resettle a lot of goals. But the company has been doing good. We've been hiring more people. No layoffs during the last two years and stable or even growing.

Brian: Did you have to do layoffs early on?

Xabier: In the history of Orbea we had to, or more often what we do is we reduce the salary. So during the last 22 years there were moments that my salary, it has to drop down to, I would say 92% because we would rather do that than layoff.

Brian: Right, if the mandate was like, we have to lay off 10% of the workforce, or we can reduce everybody's salaries by 10%. Interesting.

Sarah: And so Markel, when you got hired, were you able to buy into the company, or when were you allowed to become a shareholder in the company?

Markel: Usually it takes like two, three years. So if everything is going well, so you get proposed to be an owner from the company. So yeah, most of the times after two, three years, if everything is going well, you get the proposal. So after that, if you agree with that, you are part of the company. You are the owner of the company also. And so you actually make money when the company makes money. And you make losses when the company loses money. You share it. It's your company.

Brian: Right. That's pretty different. When you're developing a bike, how does that play into like developing a bike? Your decision making process when you are putting on parts, are you going like, man, this is the right thing. This is what this bike needs. This fork. But if this other fork is a little cheaper and hits that, you know, $4,500 price point, we'll sell more of these, but it's not quite as good. Do you have to battle with that?

Markel: Yeah, it's a way also to have all the people in the company more involved because it's your company, it's your life also. So it's a way to do your best in order to do the best work and in order to go everything well.

Brian: I've talked about this before about how difficult it seems like being a product manager seems like a quite difficult job, because everybody has an opinion about your choices already, and I imagine that within your company, you have even more pressure to make the right decisions as a product manager. Do you find that? Because like this guy's salary depends on your choices and that guy's salary depends on your choices, you know?

Markel: So far it's been successful, so they are more grateful. Let's see what things turn around, hopefully they don't. But so far we feel more respect and a lot of support rather than pressure.

Xabier: And definitely, like you said before, if you're a passionate cyclist and you own the company, it will be like having, I don't know how many, you have like 400 Steve Jobs in the company. So there is a lot of passion, you have to handle that, but much better to have too much passion than the other way around, right? So that's what we get.

Sarah: I feel like that's part of when I think of the Spanish culture as well. It's like you think of passionate people at the best of times and then a cooperative of all of mountain bikers or road bikers, it must be quite the passionate group of people you've got there.

Xabier: Sometimes it's very tiring because you don't want or you never stop working. So Saturdays, Sundays, you know what we do. We go cycling, prototypes. We would often write emails and maybe send early morning on Monday, but the email was written during the weekend. So you need everyone's family to accept that that's the way it is. Because the mix could be a little bit overwhelming of passionate people, core cyclists in a cooperative. It could be too much sometimes.


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Bike Development Process & Hacking Shimano Motors


Brian: Let's talk about bike development, mountain bike development. How do you decide to make a bike?

Markel: It's a long process. So first of all, we see the opportunity talking with people, talking with dealer, talking with sales reps. And we work on that opportunity or on that idea to see if it really makes sense. And once we have the idea, it is a lot of discussion internally to see if it makes sense to have something new in the portfolio. But once we decided to go ahead, usually that project is developed on the product development team. So it's a team that we take the decision.

Brian: Were you around for the first Rise, the lightweight eMTB bike, the first one as well? Was that your project?

Markel: That was Xabi's project. I think that was Xavi's last project.

Xabier: Never say last one!

Brian: So, Xabi, how did you decide to identify that as like a market segment you wanted to go after?

Xabier: That is interesting. Orbea was quite slow on e-bikes, both on commuting and mountain bikes, because we didn't like how the bikes at that time, maybe 2015, they would look like, how they would ride, what they represented. But we saw the opportunity, that there was an opportunity so that we could mix a sportive kind of riding we like with the e-bike technology. But at that moment, it was not there. So first we succeed with the Gain family, which was a e-Road product, a very, very small using a half system that it was pretty much unknown for a Spanish company. And we tried that as a small project, it succeeded. And we kept looking for the opportunities to find that a sportive experience. So in fact, we did prototypes with the same system we had for the e-Road on eMTBs.

Brian: Like with the hub motor?

Xabier: Yeah, we did prototypes for full suspension bikes, for hardtails, but we didn't like how that thing worked. There was too much unsuspended mass and the power was not enough for that kind of riding, but the idea was there for a very long time. So we tried many things. We ride competitor bikes. We did a little bit of hacking. And something that really succeeded was hacking a Shimano drive unit with a software.

Things that I shouldn't talk about right now, but really messing with it so that we could provide a different riding experience using existing drive units and very light prototype batteries. And we realized that that thing was exactly what we were looking for at that time. So then the spark was there and then we had to do many other things. It's still very complicated like convincing our Japanese friends to create a whole bicycle around that idea, something that didn't prove to be successful in the mountain bike so far, because all the bicycles sold in 2016, 17, 18, they were pretty much full power bicycles, weighing over 50 pounds, and that's not what we wanted. So that's how Rise started. I mean, it was the first, like, maybe not quite full power, but the first, like, non-anemic lightweight eMTB, I guess. I think TurboLevo SL reached the market a bit earlier. We were already on the works for more than one year before that bicycle showed up.


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Brian: But the Turbo Levo SL didn't have full power the way that you did.

Xabier: Rise was not also full power. But close. Maybe it was closer to what the market was asking for and the kind of riding experience we provided with that bicycle, it was fitting and apparently it also fit the market expectations better.

Sarah: And did you think of developing your own motor at one point or was that something that you guys were interested in or how did it kind of come to work with the Shimano motor?

Xabier: As a smaller company, you have to understand that you cannot do everything yourself. So Orbea has been quite good on partnership, on having agreements or long-term relationships, not only with the workers, but also with our suppliers, that we don't like to call them suppliers, we like to call them partners. So sometimes you can do things by your own, but a drive unit usually is too big, the investment, the development times. It's definitely too big. So we realized that in electronics, a lot of things can be done with software that is more flexible, it's faster, it's more cost effective than going on the whole hardware development. So we realized that Shimano was the perfect drive unit because we hacked previous and older generations like the E8000 at that time.

And when we got to write the first EP8, we said that's perfect because they have improved in certain aspects that they were the ones we wanted to be improved. So we only need them to match the writing experience. We were able to replicate with this software with our own tools.

Brian: So, Markel, the new Rise came out two months ago, obviously the frame is different, the geometry is a little different, it's been updated, it's got more travel. But did you also update the drive unit?

Markel: Yeah, let's say that in the last years we have been working really hard in order to add more smartness to the system.

So this way we can maximize the ride experience in adding more control, adding more power, adding more natural feeling, adding more range. So that was one of the big challenges because the previous, the first generation was already receiving a really good feedback, but we want to make it more natural, more capable also of the outfields in order to satisfy to every rider. So yeah, that was a big challenge.

Brian: And so just excuse my ignorance here - you have a proprietary battery that is lighter. The batteries are a little bit more energy dense. And then the motor itself has a different firmware that's just yours. I guess I'm just making assumptions here, but is it less powerful when you push less and more powerful when you push more versus the standard tunes? Is that how you're able to save that energy?

Markel: Yeah, we are, we were to have the most elastic assist support.

So this way when you are pedaling really easy, when you don't need support, the drive unit is helping you a bit. But when things get difficult, when the climb is really steep, is when you are getting all the power from the drive unit. So that was key because we wanted to offer the most natural assist support.


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Sarah: What does that look like when you're testing this motor with Shimano. How do you do this? How are you tuning it these different ways?

Xabier: So yeah, it's a lot of work in the laboratory, but also on the field. Nowadays, riding on the bike, especially with prototypes, can become a bit too technological. So you often have to plug your bicycle to the laptop. You have to change the parameters. You have to set a new firmware. So then you are connected to the bicycle. You close the computer, but you are still connected with some telemetry tools.

After riding your bicycle for one or two hours, you check how the assist levels they were in every moment of the ride, the battery consumption, and often that's happening on the weekend. So riding bikes, it could be fun, but then you open the laptop, you download all the information, and you send maybe, or you pack all the information into an email that we try to avoid sending them on Sunday, but they're there Monday, seven o 'clock in the morning.

In the past, maybe riding bicycles was more simple, hard tails and just go for a ride.


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Brian: Let's talk about the mechanical parts of the Rise. What gave you the most trouble? What was the biggest pain in your ass?

Markel: Compatibility with long travel droppers. The first droppers, I think that we started using 15 years ago, more or less. And since then, every two to three years, we have been going to a bigger, to a size up on the dropper size. We started with 80, 100, 125, 150, 75, 200.

And the thing is that when you start using probably a 200 one, you think, okay, this is the maximum I can use. But you don't want to go back again to 175. But nowadays with 240 millimeter droppers, when you get used to that, it's really difficult to start using again a 200 millimeter dropper.

So for us, with Rise, we wanted to make the best handling eMTB and to make it compatible with long travel droppers, that was a must. But eMTBs represented many challenges to make it compatible with long travel droppers. But yeah.


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Brian For those who are listening and not looking at pictures, their seat post, their seat tube is quite long and very straight in order to accommodate the long droppers.

Markel: Yeah, the charging port is also redesigned from scratch in order to make a space to accommodate a long dropper. The charging port is on the seat tube. The shape of the charging port and the connector is quite strange. And the reason for that shape is to make a space to accommodate long travel droppers. If you go to the lowest position of the seat post, you will see that the charging port is embracing the seat post.


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Orbea's Customization Program

Brian: I want to talk about your assembly stuff. Most mountain bikes are designed in Western countries and get parts chosen out of a catalog and bikes get manufactured in Southeast Asia, assembled in Taiwan. While you don't actually lay up the bikes in-house, you do pretty much everything else in-house. Does that mean you don't have a Taiwanese assembler?

Xabier: No. We wait for you to place the order to produce your bike. So being product manager in Orbea, it's very easy. That's why we don't pay that much to product managers, because they don't have to make so many impossible choices because you cannot satisfy a German customer with a bike that is going to provide the ride quality that someone in Squamish would like to have.

So basically we offer platforms and on the Rise you can make so many choices. Small or big battery, do you want the range extender or not. Which color out of 20 million combinations we offer you without any upcharge is your choice.

What kind of tires do you like? You want to be on the light side or you want DH casing because you want the ultimate protection? So you get the perfect bike from Orbea because it was many parts just waiting for you to place the order where they are. In other bicycle brands, most of the bicycle brands sell a bicycle that was produced maybe one year before you jump into the shop. And even if it's a $10,000 bicycle, you would say, I don't like these tires. I would like a longer dropper posts. How about a coil shock? So someone, either the customer or the shop, has to do a lot of tuning and it's very inefficient.

Whereas in Orbea, the parts are waiting for you to place the order so you get exactly what you wanted to get.


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Brian: Is that annoying for your dealers?

Xabier: No way. The dealers are more than happy about that because every time that they swap one part, they have a tire that they have to sell aftermarket. And often those tires or those brakes or those dropper posts are not so easy to sell because often the customer is asking for a swap. Yeah, on a normal bike sale, the customer swaps the hard, terrible OE spec tires for good tires.

What are they going to do with the crappy OEM tires? That happens too often and those are expensive high-end bicycles. Why can't you get the perfect bike straight out from the box?

Sarah: What's the timeline? If I place an order on your website today, what does it look like from actually getting the bike?

Xabier: It depends on the queue. So if there is a ride that has been very successful, now we have quite a long waiting list.

But if we wouldn't have any problem with a lot of people waiting for that platform, we would typically ship you the bike in two weeks from Spain to Canada with the specs, the color, your name, painted on the city stage to your liking.

Brian: So you're painting them, you're assembling them with 200 millimeter droppers and getting them out to people.

Xabier: You know what is going to be the hardest? For you to make the choice of the color. Because when you start messing around with the color combinations, there are so many choices. And maybe you have like 10 favorite combinations. You would ask your friend, your relatives, which one you would like. So very likely, it would take you more than two weeks to make your mind.

It's impressive when you are going to the assembly line or also to the painting line, you can see so many frames painted with different colors. If you need some inspiration, you can go to the first floor to the assembly line and to see which are the colors the riders are choosing for their bikes. We don't need to do focus groups to design. We just see what our customers are choosing and more than once I took pictures myself like wow this color combination it's so sick. I need to show it to the graphic designer teams.

Or in terms of the specs you can see which is the trend, which is the evolution. So we just need to wait and see, check the data, and it's easy life to be a product manager in Orbea. We have a lot of information taken from the customization program. Not just the components, also the colors. For the next year, we can use the statistic or we can see which are the colors that the riders are picking more on the configurator. And yeah, that's a really useful information. And exactly the same for the components - forks, wheels, brakes.

Sarah: So you can use the customization program, but you can also just choose a bike if you want to. But it's free of charge, so why would people not choose whatever color?

Xabier: Sometimes dealers, they don't want to spend 20 hours making their choices. So they trust the standard colors that professional designers choose so that it's easy. And even some people, they get overwhelmed about the choices and they say, you know what? That standard color is looking perfect. That's good for me.

Brian: I'm trying to figure out how long the wait is right now for a Rise LT M10. I think it might be telling me February, 2025.

Xabier: That is a very hot bicycle. You can get it by quicker than the ETA and the website by shopping with your local retailer. Dealers can actually pre -book the customization program. So you can get into line via a dealer quicker than whatever it's saying on the website often.

The LT M10, it's been very, very popular. We tend to be conservative, especially with the current market situation and rise has been very successful. You can see reviews, people's feedback has been very, very good. So yeah, that's the bad sign about being successful. Lead times get longer.

2024 UCI MTB DH World Cup Fort William Scotland

OOLab Race Development Program & Working with Martin Maes at Fort William

Sarah: One thing I wanted to talk to you guys about is your racing program, how you use racers for development. And of course, Martin Maes, he's been riding an e-bike without a motor. He qualified. So what was that process like? Couldn't you just get a little downhill bike built in a couple of days?

Xabier: So yeah, that was part of the OOLab program. It's a program where we are testing different ideas in order to generate knowledge and probably to see something new in the future. But yeah, the goal of being in Fort William and with the Wild was to test the Wild beyond its theoretical use to see the limit and to see how it behaves compared with the downhill bikes.

It was a really, really useful weekend. Martin was able to provide a lot of valuable feedback to the product development team. That information is really useful in order to keep developing, in order to keep improving the bike. For example, the kinematics we have on the current Rise. That was a kinematic that we've been testing last year with Damien Oton in the last races of the EDR. So yeah, there are many things that we are testing on the whole team that finally they are going to the market, some are not. But yeah, it's a good opportunity to test the product in the most demanding event or challenges.


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Brian: I was kind of curious. I don't know if you guys have done this, but I'd be so curious to see a guy like Martin Mays on a bike with a motor and without a motor on a pure descent. Like how do his times compare?

Xabier: All I can say is that the weight, it's not necessarily a bad thing. Yeah, a certain amount of weight. Sometimes this is helpful. So in Marty Mae's bottom bracket, it was covered with Neoprene, not because it was a drive unit there, it's because we were testing also the effect of different weights and center gravity. So definitely the weight in certain conditions could be helpful.

Sarah: Martin Maes finished 21st which is impressive. How do you think that bike compares with what you could make as a downhill bike? Do you think he has a disadvantage?

Xabier: Yeah, he has to have a disadvantage. Definitely. But it proves how capable, when you think that that is based on an e-bike and that that bicycle was able to be top 20 on maybe the most important race of the year, the first one with the very best and big budget, it gives you an idea of the potential and the capability of those bikes.

Brian: So when do we get a downhill bike.

Xabier: Let's never, never say never, but I think there are, there could be very interesting products in the pipeline. That's all I can say.





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Member since Mar 30, 2011
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49 Comments
  • 52 3
 Interesting. I didn't realise Orbea was a co-operative. It's nice to see profits getting shared around in a world where the rich keep getting richer and the gap to the rest keeps growing wider.
  • 5 0
 This is one of the details I remember from early in the pandemic when other brands were already squirming. Orbea was much more optimistic and attributed it to being a co-op
  • 37 0
 Thanks for the transcript. :-)
  • 26 0
 I haven't read the article or listened to the audio yet, but I'm assuming they say the hardest part about making bikes is contacting all of us PB experts to ensure that ALL of our opinions are incorporated into the designs.
  • 3 0
 Here's the TL;DR: Xabier: You know what is going to be the hardest? For you to make the choice of the color.

Also, I came to say something along the same lines of yours - creating something you love and then seeing it get shat on in the PB comments.
  • 9 3
 "So we realized that in electronics, a lot of things can be done with software that is more flexible, it's faster, it's more cost effective than going on the whole hardware development."

I have started reverse engineering Bosch, which has a policy of closing everything down, and they use open source components inside ther devices, without giving anything back.

The information I got is that the Bosch software that they distribute to shops is spying on them via telemetry, in a clear violation of the GDPR.
  • 6 0
 I've been looking at Bosch stuff too! How far did you get?


There is actually a cracked verison of the dealer software available on the net for the older motors ("V8.1.6.0"), but it can actually do very little. The dealers have to send off a cff2 file to Bosch and then send it back with updated settings.

The cff2 file is actually just a zip file with some other stuff in.
There is a really good explanation of how this can be used to hack the firmware here...
dfrws.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Nyon-Unchained-Forensic-Analysis-of-Boschs-eBike-Board-Computer_2024.pdf
  • 2 0
 I own two Orbea MTBs and they are really, really good bikes. The sad thing is that I will have to move anyway from Orbea when buying an e Bike, because they only offer full 29ers. I tried and I'm not a fan, especially on tech trails.
  • 5 0
 +1 for Orbea information and content!

Happy Orbea Laufey rider.
  • 4 0
 @muriarte Ona Markel!! Entzun edo irakurri beharko dogu.
  • 6 2
 Now i want an Orbea gun
  • 8 0
 I want an orbea e gun
  • 3 0
 that's a good engagement point for the north american market... but from a cooperative must be mind blowing...
  • 2 0
 @PauRexs: come to Massachusetts. We have a long history of successful cooperatives and gunsmithing: Smith & Wesson [recently moved for political reasons], Springfield Armory, Savage Arms, etc.

Licensing is a different story - licensing is handled on the municipality level and some cities are far more restrictive than others.
  • 1 0
 @sjma: wow good to know... I ll visit it. thx
  • 3 0
 How time flies. Here I was thinking a 180 mm dropper was long.
  • 1 2
 So those guys are the responsible about the cable tourism and the damage of the cables inside the head tube. Good to read that they listen the people about the concerns and doing nothing... Looks like they didn't listen well enough. Also please put some grease when assembling the bikes, it isn't difficult.
  • 3 1
 Make them e-bikes cheaper not lighter
  • 2 0
 What an interesting article thank you
  • 1 0
 Kaixo. Love your country, raw, sportive, food, surfing, nature, and great bikes of course. Agur.
  • 3 3
 or you could just pedal your bike like a man
  • 3 1
 Pedaling is so easy and fun, literal children do it
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