During the Covid-19 pandemic, global companies faced difficult decisions and tough choices. The bicycle industry, on the other hand, struggled with an unprecedented boom and, as a result of that, unsurmountable difficulties in the supply chain. The rise was partially because the recent years changed people’s attitude towards health and physical activity, which lead to an all-time peak in the demand for bicycles and e-bikes. Support from European lawmakers, working to reduce CO2 emissions, is not to be neglected – through various infrastructural initiatives, subsidies and regulations, this has opened unlimited opportunities for the sector.
Leader 96 seized the opportunity at hand and decided that the time is now, or never. Rebranding is a serious step that companies usually undertake when they want to make a point. The point here is clear: Leader has become a renowned and respected partner and is now aiming higher – to become a name in the e-mobility business.
Bicycle producer in Bulgaria
Founded in 1996, Leader 96 has over a quarter of a century of experience in production and distribution of bicycles, at present fully focused on e-bikes. The company continuously invests in production and warehouse facilities, totalling more than 40,000 sq. m., including painting shop, wheel production, engineering, internal bicycle testing laboratory and training centre. Based near Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria, and with a motorway only a few kilometres away, the factory is an impressive facility and a busy logistic centre.
With 9 production lines, the factory capacity has reached 250,000 e-bikes per year, all according to European Quality Standards. Approximately 99% of the production is exported to Europe – Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, and others.
At present, there are around 500 employees working at Leader. To constantly develop and increase the skills of its workers and engineers, the company has opened a training centre – “Leader School”. In 2020, Leader reorganised its production and warehouse facilities to optimise its processes and to improve the efficiency. To guarantee maximum client satisfaction, every bicycle is produced in line with the European Quality Standards (ISO 9001:2015 and BSCI).
Engineering and technology
Leader is deeply proud of its young and enthusiastic R&D team who lives and breathes bikes. From the sketch to the end product, the team is contributing at every step of the way – concept, planning, colour integration, prototype and testing. Developers are part of the initial production as well, to minimise risk of errors and guarantee the quality of the vehicle.
Technically savvy, focused, and perfectionist, they are of incredible support to customers especially with projects which demand special expertise. Visiting international exhibitions in the field of e-mobility help them stay on board with recent trends and boost creativity.
Leader 96 has two modern powder painting plants, first established in 2017 and the other one finalised in 2019. Computers and Quality Control operators supervise the quality of the products and processes. The whole equipment is built by leading European producers of paint application robots, ovens, and conveyors. The internal laboratory performs regular checks to verify the thickness of the painting.
Every process complies with European standards, with high responsibility towards environment and society. The powder paint, as well as the decals, also come from leading European producers. The application of the decals is either on top or under the clear coat, as per customer’s request.
Leader 96 is working with first-quality rims and wheels for the e-bikes. Selected alloy profiles are used by the company’s engineers to meet the requirements for the different types of the manufactured bikes, and the spokes are arranged in the wheel workshop with simply no limitations of order designs. The rims for electrical bicycles guarantee high level of wheel stability. Several wheel assembling lines operate in the production facility to meet the demand of the bike production lines.
The company’s skilled team builds bicycles on 9 conveyors equipped with all the needed tools for high quality bicycles. The capacity is approximately 250,000 electric bicycles and growing. The distribution and the preparation of the parts in the production area is based on the Kanban method, organised by models and according to the production plan. The number of operators on each production line and the speed of the conveyors depends on the complexity of the e-bike. Each produced bicycle is checked by an operator of the quality control department and then sent to the warehouse for finished goods.
Currently, Leader is preparing for its first exhibition since rebranding. The new models in the portfolio will be spectacularly introduced at Eurobike 2022 in Frankfurt. This is an opportunity to also express gratitude to their business partners for the trust and friendship through the years.
This article is sponsored by LEADER96.