Frank Bohle: ‘Bicycle Industry More Self-Confident Than Ever’
REICHSHOF, Germany – “Today’s bicycle has become a problem solver and economically important,” notes Frank Bohle, MD of Ralf Bohle GmbH, known for its brand Schwalbe. “Just a few years ago it was unimaginable that bicycles would provide solutions to urban traffic problems, for cleaner air and a healthier lifestyles.”
Frank Bohle points out that politicians and society worldwide now see the opportunities of modern bicycles and innovative traffic concepts. But also the industry‘s increased self-confidence is new for the Managing Director of the bicycle tyre manufacturer. At the World Cycling Congress this summer in the French city of Nantes, Frank Bohle learned that: “The bicycle industry is more confident than ever before.”
Before the autumn fairs in Friedrichshafen and Las Vegas Frank Bohle confirmed that, so far, the bike trade had enjoyed similarly good business as last year: “Overall, the season for retailers was satisfactory – with the usual swings up and down.
New factory in Vietnam
In order for the many Schwalbe innovations to arrive on time, Ralf Bohle GmbH is working hard with its South Korean production partner, Hung A, on the construction of the new Schwalbe factory in Vietnam. Here Schwalbe’s entry-level, the Active Line, in addition to its second brand, Impac are concentrated, in order to relieve the main plant in Indonesia and there to create more space for the production of high-end tyres. “The production in our second plant is well underway. We therefore expect significantly higher availability and fewer supply bottlenecks in 2016,” says Frank Bohle.
Numerous new developments
Schwalbe’s numerous new developments show the buzz around the bike in time for Friedrichshafen‘s Eurobike show. The innovations pervade all bike segments, whether mountain bike, road bike, or modern touring bikes. One Schwalbe development particularly stands out, emphasizes Frank Bohle: “The double chamber system Procore continues to provide worldwide sensation in the bicycle industry.”
Breakthrough with tubeless
Schwalbe was able to achieve a breakthrough in 2015 with tubeless tyres. In the spring classic Paris-Roubaix and later in the Tour de France, tubeless Schwalbe Pro One tyres were used for the very first time. This professional racing tyre will make its public debut at the end of August at the Eurobike show in Friedrichshafen. There, the market leader will not only have tubeless tyres for mountain bikes and road bikes, but also tubeless Marathon models for touring bikes, making Schwalbe the first manufacturer to offer tubeless tyres for all bicycle segments.
New tyre size
Frank Bohle also expects that a new mountain bike trend begins, once more, with a new tyre width: 27.5+. This size is between the super-wide Fatbike tires and normal mountain bike tires. Schwalbe presents its two top models, Nobby Nic and Rocket Ron, in a total of eight different variants in the 27.5+ trend size.
Schwalbe’s tube recycling
An innovation that saves energy and conserves resources is Schwalbe’s tube recycling. For this, the company has developed its own de-vulcanisation process. The recycled material can be used in the production of new tubes without any loss of quality. Already, in each new Schwalbe standard tube 20 percent is recycled butyl. In order to recover the high quality butyl rubber systematically, in July Schwalbe introduced a new collection system. Butyl that has been recycled with Schwalbe’s new method requires only a quarter of the energy compared to newly produced butyl. “With the return system, we put a permanent mark on the sustainable use of valuable raw materials,” underlines Managing Director Frank Bohle.