When you’re in your late thirties, you look at things a little more reflectively than you did ten years ago, they say. Suddenly, the bigger context also matters. Things like urban mobility, how it can be implemented in a practical, effective and sustainable way – and how to manage the balancing act between rational thinking and a sense of fun. Stephan Zehren, a graduate in industrial design, explains it this way: “In the beginning our philosophy was: ‘Mudguards on a Schindelhauer? No way! Forget about it!’ Or a luggage rack. That wasn’t even an issue. But at some point, it became relevant because we realized that the customers were adding these things themselves. So we questioned our attitude and thought: there must also be an attractive way to design the mudguards . . .”
Since we’re talking about urban mobility and aesthetics, it seems only natural to ask about electric bikes. Jörg Schindelhauer is the first to answer: “I believe as you get older you get a bit more flexible in your thinking. For me – and I think for all of us – this means we’ve understood that we shouldn’t be building bicycles only for ourselves, but that we should listen very carefully to what our customers and our dealers have to say. But no matter what we develop and build, it is important for us to remain true to our style. With the e-bike, we’ve already spent many years looking at this technology and have repeatedly found that we were unable to develop any solution that suited our needs with the technical means available at that time. Then we tried it again.” Martin Schellhase adds: “It has to be said that the components for an e-bike have shrunk significantly in recent years. Just look at the motors. Only recently, they were these huge, blocky things. In the meantime, however, they have become so compact that we said, ‘Okay, now we can aesthetically integrate all the necessary components into our design language.’ And things will get even better in the future.” At Schindelhauer, everyone is very open about the topic of e-bikes. Stephan Zehren admits that the first model, which is now on the market, is quite large in size. “We would prefer to completely hide the fact that it is an e-bike. We have now come up with a solution where you can see that it is an e-bike, but people can say it is a very good and beautiful achievement. It was a long process in which many ideas were rejected.” Martin Schellhase sums it up like this: “We don’t do anything that doesn’t fit Schindelhauer.”
This inevitably raises the question as to which no-gos there actually are. Suddenly a lively discussion develops. And before long the conversation moves away from what is not allowed to revolve around a much more central theme: “It’s just fun to get people on a bike,” Zehren says.