Riese & Muller Factory Tour and Q&A with Heiko Müller
Q&A with Ben and Heiko Müller
Can you give us a brief story of how the Riese & Muller idea was born?
“Markus and I have been working on bikes since forever, we met in the first year of university where we were studying mechanical engineering. We worked together on many different bikes and after a while Markus then had the idea to build a sample of a folding bike.“
“In 1993 we took part in an innovation championship and we won a prize with the Birdy! That’s when we thought it could be the start of a company. We booked a small booth at Eurobike 1993 where we showcased the Birdy. People came and were interested so we continued building the next prototypes. In 1994, we finished university and displayed the Birdy again at Eurobike, this is when a Mr George Lin from Pacific cycles came to our booth and he said, “I want to build this bicycle”. It was great timing, as it was difficult to find someone who would produce a full suspension folding bike. George Lin had a number of opportunities, especially in Japan. Markus booked a ticket to Taiwan to have a look at the factory, and begun building the next prototypes, and in 1995 the first 3 containers of Birdy’s left Pacific Cycles to Japan, USA and Germany. It was a great start.”
“When we were studying mechanical engineering we just knew that a full suspension bike would be the perfect bike. We totally concentrated on this category, and during this time we knew that full suspension mountain bikes were on the market, but there was no full suspension comfort-based city and trekking bikes. So, our Delite and Culture full suspension models were a totally new category, and these were quite successful during the first years. So, we decided to produce them!"
“All was still non-electric at this stage. Our first approach to electric bikes was in 1996, when we developed the Birdy with the Bionx system. But we encountered many problems and there wasn’t a huge market at this stage.”
“So, after all these years of presenting new concepts of full suspension bikes, we saw that the eBike market was growing in 2004/2005. But many of the eBikes looked the same and were generally made for people that were 70+. We thought that eBikes must be more than bringing old people on bikes who are unable to ride normal bikes. So, our idea was to have eBikes for commuting, going to work and for leaving your car in the garage and jumping on an eBike.”
“In 2008, our first line-up of 3 eBikes came on the market, which included the Delite speed pedelec! This was a completely new product, it was the first speed pedelec with type approval for Germany. In the beginning nobody understood who would be buying these bikes. In 2011, Bosch came out with their eBike systems, and we quickly saw the potential of this new system which worked very well.”
“One year later in 2012, we made the decision to only concentrate on eBikes. During that time it was quite a bold move, but now it’s obvious that we made the right decision. Since then we introduced more interesting models, covering all types of transportation and now the rest is history!”
Often we compare Riese & Muller to Bentley and Rolls Royce, where do you see Riese & Muller in 10 years.
“If everything runs how we like, we will be one of the major players of premium eBikes in the world. I’m sure that eBikes will be established in the major towns of all continents in the world. Our passion and obsession is to have a presence across the world. It’s not important how many we sell, it’s important to be in this market and be part of the movement of eBikes.”
One thing we see as a major benefit to Riese & Muller is the fact that you and Markus are independent and own the business 50/50.
“For us it was always very important to stay independent. If you have a managing board or investors it’s hard to convince them on new ideas. They are generally more interested products that are running well and getting out cash. Our mission like to reinvest all of our money in new products and new technologies. Our principle is to not sell Riese & Muller at any price, not even 1%! For us this totally works, perhaps we can make a lot of money if we were to sell. But I don’t need that, I have my bike and my little house, and everything is fine! I just want to build bicycles, this is my passion.”