Switzerland | A Documentary by Stromer & The New Wheel Electric Bikes

Switzerland | A Documentary by Stromer & The New Wheel Electric Bikes


♪ [music] ♪ – [Karen] No, find taxi,
locate a taxi so we get all this shit… – [Brett] Why don’t we
just move out like… – No – You don’t want to go to the street? ♪ [music] ♪ – Hi, My name is Karen Wiener,
I’m here with Ida, and we are in Switzerland reviewing the ST5. – This is what three hours
of sleep looks like. – Light? – Your light.
– Light, yes. – Light. ♪ [music] ♪ – Yeah, Swiss people are under… – Under-promise, over-deliver. – Yeah, that’s normal. – I’m going to just, for ease of brain
space, just start the regular way with an introduction. Hi, I’m Karen,
sitting there with the baby. – And I’m Brett, now I’m with the baby. Yeah, there it is. Stromer. – We sell Stromers at our stores in the
Bay Area, in this spring we had the opportunity to go to Switzerland for five
days to learn more about the people and the culture that have laid the groundwork
for this singular electric bicycle brand. – What are they? – Bikes. ST5.
– ST5. – We’ve made it, this is it.
This is so amazing. We’re sitting, looking towards the road here in Oberwangen,
and Stromers are just passing back and forth. It’s like being in the
jungle and you’re seeing this rare species out in the wild. It’s really fun.
So I understand that you are somewhat recent here at Stromer,
and I wonder if you can tell us a little bit about your background. – [Jakob] I am coming from the automotive
supply industry. Beside the nice product that we have, to have a product that’s
also produced in the top quality at the right time to become
an industrial standard. – Hi, I’m Brett from The New Wheel
Electric Bike Shop in San Francisco, and today, I am in Switzerland at the
Stomer campus with the brand new Stromer ST5. We’ve had the opportunity to
ride it around the Swiss countryside for the last few days,
and I can tell you it is absolutely unbelievable. So today,
I’m going to talk about what this bike is, how it’s an evolution on the
Stromer platform, and why this is unlike any other e-bike
you have ever tried. – Let’s back up here for a second.
We’re here to see the ST5, but how about a little bit of context
first. Bern was founded in 1191 by Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen
on a loop in the Aare River. – Bern city is already
protected from three sides. – And so you’re perfectly
protected against any enemies. – And he said he would name the
city after the first animal that got caught or shot. It was a bear. – They identify with the bear.
They’ve had a bear pit in the middle of their city for hundreds
of years because… – And as the old Bernese said,
when Bern has no bears, Bern is no good anymore. – A hundred and forty three thousand
people live in this capital city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, ranked
among the world’s top ten cities for quality of life. Well, just outside of Bern, in Oberwangen,
is Stromer’s headquarters. Arranged on the campus model for open
offices for collaboration. When we visited, they were just tooling up
to assemble the new ST5 on-site to best manage the quality and timeliness of its
production. The ST5 is the next step of this truly remarkable e-bike brand.
But we are curious people who wanted a broader picture of the place,
so we also visited a 500-year-old clock that’s still working, a cheese maker,
a bear keeper, and a Swiss banker of a cashless people’s money that you’ve
probably never heard of called the WIR. All to get a glimpse of the remarkable
place and the creative culture where Stromer emerged. – Daddy’s going out on a test ride. – Let’s not drop the baby
into the bear pit. – We’re not going drop you
into the bear pit today. – Okay, so welcome to Bear Pit, Bear Park.
There’s the old pit, which was built in 1857,
and this new area here, the new enclosure, that was opened in 2009.
You can see this is still the kind of middle-aged animal keeping.
Make a big hole. Here they kept the first bears in Bern, and since then Bern always
had bears in middle of the city. Pit number 2 doesn’t access no more,
pit number 3 doesn’t access no more. Bears in Northern America,
is Ursus arctos horribilis, this is the grizzly.
Grizzly is a brown bear. – Yeah, it’s a brown bear.
Just a horrible brown bear. – No, it’s not horrible at all. – It’s just a little bit bigger than ours. – Yeah. – There’s only one animal which is
horrible, called homo-sapiens. – Homo-sapiens.
– Horribilis. – You see the horn? – Wow. – You can tell a lot about a bike… – Yeah. – …by just looking at it.
You can tell a lot about the rider. – Oh yeah, totally. – What does the company already have that
it’s going to be building on to create that industry standard? – Since the start, 2009,
the company has a great vision about nice and strong speed pedal bikes.
And the integrated design. It’s also the idea about the connectivity.
But in the last two, three years the yearly volumes increased
dramatically, so we sold last year 12,000 Stromers, which is a big number
first, and for this we need a team of now roughly 80 people. And in order to have
them work efficiently, we have to rethink the process from a,
let’s say, small team to a standard, organization. – Walking. Little Ida Thurber
I’m walking, little Ida Thurber I’m walking,
little Ida Thurber I’m walking, walking, walking down the road. – Some of our best ideas have come during
bike rides and over dinner. So we’ve got together with Tommy,
who we’ve worked with for a long time, and the new CEO of Stromer, Jakob Luksch,
at a restaurant called the Kornhauskeller, the most ornate, re-purposed grainery I’ve
ever seen, for some traditional Swiss food. A lot of meat and cheese,
most often melted. Anyway, our dinner gave us the opportunity
to get to know one another and to begin to dig into Stromer as a company,
and the proverbial soil in which its roots are planted. ♪ [music] ♪ – Oh, let’s order. I would like to get the
delicious meat plate. – The meat plate? – Are you the first time here,
or have you been here before? – Well, we’ve been to
Switzerland before, but not… – Not Stromer.
– Stromer is now the first time. – I don’t know why. – You never wanted to come. – And what was the starting…
– In 2010. – …point?
You said, you woke up in the morning and said, “I will sell e-bikes?” – Yeah, exactly. No it was…I was just graduating from
college, and I was kind of wondering what the next thing would be.
But I had been hearing and reading about electric bikes,
and I just thought it was such a great idea. And then I went and looked at
all the retailers around selling electric bikes and I was like, “Wow,
this is not…None of this matches what the technology is.” Like the technology is
so game-changing and so amazing, and it needs to be sold.
Like it’s game-changing and amazing. Not like it’s the e-bike
in like the back corner, and like not half-charged.
– The old people stuff. – Yeah, for old people.
I mean, it’s just not inspiring. So that’s how it started.
And we started out of our apartment and we had a little website and I brought bikes
to people’s houses and did test rides. – How long did it take till
you sold your first bike there? – You did it already together, or you… – Karen was still in school.
Karen graduated a year after. So it was within the first week I sold the
bike to my mom’s pilates teacher. I couldn’t believe it.
Because it was like, I was 23, and I had no store, I just had a website
and like showed up at their house with a bike. – Thomas is the most important
part of your brand. – Yeah. – And there’s nowhere
– And people, I know, – There’s nowhere on the website…
– I understand from a history of work, from a few years now of working with
Stromer that he’s complicated to work with, because he’s Thomas. – No, no, he’s easy. – You need to work with him. – Yep. – Like closely. – Yep. – Because he is so inspiring. – Yeah. Yeah. – And yeah, he’s the background of the
story and blah, blah, blah, but I mean like he’s the gold. – After the two months I really
love to work with him. But you just have to separate between
the vision and the realization. And so you put him into the vision
thing, and the realization, we try. – [Thomas] Oh, what’s your program today? – Our program is go with you to the farm. – But the vision thing, he is.
I mean he was always ahead. I mean even the concept with to have a
bike shop, if you ask any marketing specialist, everybody
will say, “To put a bike shop that far away from any street,
you forget it.” No one will come. And he’s the only one I guess in the
world who can bring that many people up to a farm, but again,
you cannot copy it, it’s his person. – Yeah. – Thomel, also known as Thomas Bingelli,
is founder of Stromer. He owns and operates a renowned bicycle
shop seven country road miles outside of Bern. He’s refashioned his
family’s farm into Switzerland’s most unusual, and surely one of its most
successful, destination bicycle stores. We’ve admired, and been inspired,
by Thomas since the very beginning. – Here is the farm house,
and 37 years ago I sold sheep from my parents to get place. – So were your parents on vacation when
you sold the sheep? – Yes. – And what did they say
when they came back, no sheep? – They were absolutely not happy.
Frustrated, but… – How old were you? – Seventeen. Seventeen years-old, yeah.
Then I started my bicycle business. – [people speaking]. – Here was the first shop.
Hey, good morning. – Good morning, Thomas. – This is the ultimate
display, I think. Are there bikes out here all year round,
displayed here all year round? – Yeah. – Let’s go up. That’s our mountain bike
team. Yeah, and here, here, and here are the bikes that are sold,
and they will pick up today or tomorrow, all of them. – All of these?
– Wow. – All of them, yeah. – Yesterday we talked with Dominick,
who is the product manager for Stromer. Now Dominick has been with the company
from the very beginning, and what he explained to us is that
Stromer has always been about bikes that look good and are fast. – [Dominick] Back then, 2007, 2008,
there were no proper e-bikes. And we wanted to have a bike for ourself
which is fun to ride. And that’s how the idea actually started.
And my boss back then, Thomel Binggeli as he is, he just said,
“So do any bike for us. Let’s do it.” – So this all used to be
a farm house or…? – Yep. – Is this where Stromer
first was developed? – Yep, it was here. – This is the room. – That’s the room. I think Dominick’s
place was here, and here is Magnus, our design. – So in this department they design all
the clothing and everything too, or just the bikes and the marketing?
– Both. – Both, yeah.
– Both, yeah. – What was the initial idea for Stromer?
Besides being a nice, like a really sporty e-bike versus
like a grandma e-bike? – But actually that’s it.
So having a nice design on a bike, powerful, fast, and a good range. – Stromer was the first to make a fully
integrated e-bike, right? – In the market it was a big revolution,
so everybody was looking at that bike, and there, we figured out that most of the
design parts is on the bike, combined with integration.
So there is no outer skin, like a car, where you just put over it.
It’s the bare metal you see, and everything has to go in it if you want
to cover it. I would say still the core of Stromer, and now also ST5,
so even cover more of the things you don’t like to see. – We visited the Zytglogge in the
center of Bern. That’s it there, shrouded in an image of itself while it’s
being refurbished. We wanted to see the inner workings of a reliable
Swiss machine. – What are they doing? – [Beatrice] I think they… are mostly cleaning. Yeah.
– Cleaning? Yeah. – The other day I say a man with a
rooster, holding like that. Aw, the rooster’s going away.
But the rooster’s still crowing, so it’s… – Confusing. – Yeah, a bit. The first clock came
in the tower after this fire, but after 100 years it didn’t work
anymore. So this Kaspar Brunner came and said, “I cannot repair it, I make a
new one.” He installed himself over there, he had this [inaudible] and he started
making this mechanism. You must imagine, he had to forge every piece, every teeth,
every screw. And it took him two years, and then it has been finished
and since then it works. – Works ever since for 500 years. – Yeah. – The tile is…whoops.
– Whoops, be careful. Yeah,
I should have warned you, sorry. – People weren’t as tall. – You see this arm, when it falls over
this trigger, the rooster will start. This is the mechanism of the rooster.
We will see that this bellow goes up, immediately down, and it blows in this
trumpet that make this typical sound of the rooster, this… ♪ [music] ♪ – Wow. – Einstein used to live down there,
not so far from here. He had studied in Zurich and had his first
job in Bern at the patent office. But I think his patent office work did not use his…
– Inspire. – Inspire him so much.
He dedicated his free time to other things. So he developed four of
his most important theories here in Bern. And I have my little theory that
he had to pass here every day, he saw these two dials astrolabe and the
modern dial, with two different times. So he could perhaps say,
“Everything is relative.” – What’s your vision for Stromer? – If we can establish like the brand as
the Porche substitute for a car, on the bike, I would be quite happy.
The connectivity is a must, but the USP should be the performance. – What did you call it? The US… – USP, Unique Selling Point. – Yeah. ♪ [music] ♪ – We met Thomel at the Tingle Kringle. – Good. – Everywhere we go in Bern
you’re like a myth up on the hill. Really super-exciting to try that ST5. – It’s cool, huh? – It’s pretty cool. – Yeah.
– Yeah. – Oh, I like it so much, it’s
let’s say, more power, more design, more speed. – When Stromer is thinking about what next
steps to take, what areas of the bike to focus on, what is your role in those
meetings and in thinking about that stuff? – For sure, I’m a heavy Stromer user.
I push for new stuff. For sure, I push for new ideas, but
which still have the Stromer feeling. – Well and back to the history
of Stromer… – The bike opened me the way to the world
as I was a small kid. To go from Oberried somewhere to Bern,
I just took all the time the bike. And that’s why when we decided to develop
Stromer ten years ago because the normal bike was not fast enough,
and why we decided to make Stromer with more sex appeal, faster.
The idea was to be faster than a car. I strongly believe in the fast e-bike.
And I’m sure the rear hub motor is the best solution. – For a fast e-bike? – Yeah, for a fast e-bike. – Yeah. – Not for an e-mountain bike,
for sure not, maybe also for a light, comfortable bike it’s maybe a mid-drive
motor the better solution, but for the fast e-bike,
it’s by far is the best solution. The ideas come from Magnus,
that’s our design, our bike designer and myself. We, let’s say sometimes we think
very weird what should be next, or what can we do, or how can we
change a little bit the world. Yeah, we decide to do an e-bike as a
gadget, not just a normal bike with a motor. And it was an adventure to
do it, because the learning curve was hard for us, technical-wise. Not marketing,
not develop the frame, but to develop new sensors,
new battery technology, new motors and all that.
It was a very interesting, but also a very hard time. – Now obviously, the motor is a key
component to the new ride-feel of the ST5. But just as important is the new geometry,
wheel size, and some of the components that Stromer has chosen to build this bike
up with. When we’re riding around and we’re riding out to the Stromer campus,
you see Stromers zipping down the street all over the place.
How does that make you feel? – I’m very happy, but I’m also happy.
And when I see around that not everybody have a Stromer, that means the potential
is huge. Because it can be and should be much more. – At its core, Stromer has its sights set
on the auto industry. We found that even in the largest Swiss
sectors, like banking and cheese production, there exists innovative
players. The WIR Bank, with its nearly 0% loans,
lubricates the local Swiss economy. – What’s the quick rundown
of how WIR functions? – [James] We provide the currency,
we provide the loans, we provide the paying system,
and the most important part is that we provide the marketplace,
which is all digitally, which you can also work through your
mobile device, if you wish. Within itself, it’s a little economy. – Yeah. – With us being the “Fed”
that works on a really… I wouldn’t say non-profit-level,
but at a low-profit level. Our goal is not the profit for the money
itself, it’s the profit for the whole network. – Yeah, because it’s not a private
company, it’s a cooperative. – It’s a cooperative, right.
The idea of the cooperative is in a way, yeah, you might call it socialistic,
but no, social, let’s put it social. – Socialistic always gives a certain
political color to it, which it isn’t. Because in the end we all want to have a
welfare that works. I mean there are still a few generations coming after us,
and we all want to be happy. I mean it’s not a big deal to make the
most profit now, but in the long-run you will kill your kids. – Yeah. – And your partners. Yeah,
that’s not what you want. And I don’t think that’s political,
it’s just common sense. I think that the general attitude is where
do I spend my money, what do they do with the money,
and where does it come back, in the end, into my salary? – Yeah, so it’s like a very holistic,
that we’re-all-in-it-together approach. – I’d say so, yeah.
– Yeah. – Let’s wear flowers.
You guys from San Francisco. – [Man 6] Yeah, then you bought some
beer and, okay, we can talk more later. – Yeah. Keep the camera rolling.
It might get pretty interesting. Cheers. So I’m out with them. [Crosstalk]. – Yeah, thanks for having me.
I really enjoyed it. – Really easy-going. – I mean I think for a baby,
she’s pretty good. – Yeah? – So what makes a good banker? – Oh. – Yeah, because there is such a thing,
right? A good banker? – Are there bad bankers and good bankers?
– Oh, yes. – Yeah. – Ninety-nine percent are bad bankers. – Yeah. – A bad banker doesn’t have a clue about
anything but tries to be really smart. – And what makes a smart banker? – Tricky question.
If I make a bigger picture, banks don’t need to be good negotiators.
If they’re not happy, they just close the money well. – Yeah. – In other industries you know you have to
be pretty smart for negotiating, and I think banking, for a long time
they had these huge margins on their businesses,
and usually people get stuck in their comfort zones, stuck in their egos,
and that’s what happened to the industry. – In Switzerland and
everywhere… – Everywhere, definitely.
I mean you saw it on Wall Street. They got spoiled with Fed money,
the whole stock markets went up, and they would act as if,
yeah, they were in a booming time, which is not true.
It’s an industry that definitely has to change. And I’m happy about things like
block chain and these cryptos or whatever. Things will change. ♪ [music] ♪ – We need people like you all day,
they fight every day to compete with cars, to change this thinking about urban
mobility. And the potential, if you ask me as a person,
the potential in the States is huge, it’s huge. If you see the fraffic jam in
L.A. for example, or in all big cities, it’s a mess. And with Stromer,
we can solve the problem. – Looks like we might miss our train.
Do you know this guy, Peter that makes Belper Knolle? – Yes. – You know him? – Yes, yes, and the product is…
Do you like it? – Yeah, it was great. – It’s great, huh? – Innovative cheese. – Yeah, yeah. – This is Ida. – [Peter] Ida, hi. I’m eight months ago,
I am now grandfather. – Congratulations.
– My daughter has a son. – Yeah. – Leon Mateo. – Leon Mateo.
– Yeah. Maybe 20 years ago… – Oh, they can get together. – Just together.
– Have a little… Good, a future
with a cheese family. – That’s me, 37 years ago. The nicest
cheese maker with his [inaudible]. – Yeah, the best looking
cheese maker of the day. – When I start, the first cheese when
I make was the Belper Knolle. So if you would, do you want to try some? – Wow, it’s beautiful. Very, very savory. – Minced garlic, little bit of pepper,
kind of warm [inaudible]. It’s… – Aromatic.
– …smells well. – We call this Blouse Belper Hill,
Blue Brain. – Can I tell you how happy I am to be
here? I’m so happy to be here. – Okay. It’s sheep in a bag. – Schafseckli. – Schafseckli. – It’s a bad… Don’t say in Swiss
somebody Schafseckli
– Schafseckli that’s a bad word? – Schafseckli is goat,
don’t say Schafseckle. It’s a very, very bad word for…
But this one is nice. And if you want, you can form
some Belper Knolle if you want. – Sure.
– Yeah. – I don’t know,
the only thing is I don’t know what to do about her. Maybe you do it. – I have a young grandmother
that’s Beatrice. – [Foreign]. – She talks German. – That’s okay. – A Swiss-German.
– She doesn’t speak English yet. Perfect. – Ida.
– Beatrice. – Ida.
– This is Ida. – Yeah, six months. – [Foreign] Ida. – If I made the cheese,
and we tried this in the store, and everybody liked this one,
I have to stop. – You wouldn’t be happy. – It’s not good. It’s not special.
If we try a cheese in the store and maybe three people from ten,
three of ten like this one, that’s better for me. – Okay. – If you lose your job you come to me. – Yeah.
– Okay, perfect. That was wonderful. – It was a wonderful tour. – Nice to meet you.
– Best cheese store. – Thank you.
– Thank you. – Nice to meet you too. – Hi. And 20 years ago you come… – Yeah, so we’ll come see Leon.
Leon Mateo is eight months old, so we’re going to get them
hooked up in about 20 years. – Oh. ♪ [music] ♪ – Perfect, [inaudible 00:28:50]. – Best Strukli
I’ve had today. – I’ve got the door stuck open. – It’s very…
– Just pull? – Yeah, just pull.
– Okay. Thank you. – Switzerland is very small place,
but in my opinion, we have innovative places, innovative people,
with universities, but also small entrepreneurs,
and let’s say we are one of them. – Were you inspired by anything outside of
the bike industry when you were developing Stromer? – Yes, very much, it was Apple,
with the iPhone. They changed the world, and also just make one model,
one segment and be the best there. It is a combination between Swiss watch,
to have the quality of Swiss watch, but also think new, in technology-wise,
Yeah, let’s say, watch industry, car industry and the telecom industry
give us our ideas. – Where do you envision the company in the
next 5 to 10 years? – I believe, on the bike,
I believe two wheels and believe to the power with motor and power with human,
with motions that we have. And I think this combination,
this hybrid combination is perfect. – Do you think the electric bike is the
car of the future? – Yes. Maybe it’s now.
It’s not for the future, it’s a part of it. – Yeah. ♪ [music] ♪