For this month’s addition of “SOTM” we make a very special trip to Berlin to hook up with our friends at 8bar bikes.
Berlin cyclists will not only be able to buy our award-winning wearable chain locks and easy to carry D locks in the well known 8bar Berlin store but fans of crit racing may also catch a glimpse of Hiplok locks being used by the infamous 8bar race team who have chosen Hiplok as their security of choice.
We caught up with 8bar founder, racer and industry expert Stefan, to get his perspective on 8bar, innovative cycling products and riding your bike fast.
8bar is a brand as well as a retail and online store, you are known for creating beautiful bespoke bikes – tell us about how you got started?
My dad had his own bicycle shop and I build customised bicycles for myself since I’m a young kid. The custom bikes that I build impressed all my friends. So it didn’t take long until some of them wanted me to build a bike for them… That’s how the idea came up to start a bike company where everyone can configure their own personalised bicycle.
I started doing some research, market analysis and so on. Then in 2010 I quit my regular job and started with the development of the first prototype. It took me over a year of development and another year of testing. In January 2012 we started with the first version called KRZBERG v1 (the name comes from the district Kreuzberg in Berlin).
The 8bar KRZBERG v1 was available in four colours and limited to 100 frames only. The market entry was really successful and the first version was sold out very fast.
At the beginning we started with a small shop in Berlin and sold the bikes, frames and parts through our online store as well. In 2013 we opened our own 8bar showroom, launched a new website which offers everyone to configure his custom bike online.
Beside that we are selling in around 60 selected shops worldwide.
What makes 8bar bikes so unique?
8bar is not just another bicycle company. Never pre-made and never identical, each 8bar bike is a unique, co-created project between 8bar and its owner-to-be.
The process is simple: 8bar provides high quality parts in a range of refined colours. Then you, as the collaborator, get full creative control over the look and feel of the end product. Mix colours and parts to your heart’s desire. Then 8bar will build your design from scratch with the finest attention to detail.
All this is possible with our online bike configurator. Please check it out here:
Does the brand take any inspiration from outside the world of cycling?
Yes. 8bar bikes focusses on high quality products but also on a sleek design with minimal branding to ensure that colours and the design itself stand in the spotlight.
The end creation is always one-of-a kind and 100% reflective of your taste – a truly personalized ride for navigating through urban landscapes.
You can say that every 8bar bike is its own piece of art. 😉
Your Berlin store is renowned beyond the city boundaries and across Europe as being at the cutting edge of urban cycling. What do you look for in new products?
In the 8bar showroom you are able to test ride every 8bar model in any size available. Afterwards you can build up your custom bike together with our trained stuff.
Beside 8bar bikes we offer a small collection of selected products from other brands.
(E.g. we only have MET helmets, HIPLOK bike locks, Adidas cycling apparel, etc.)
One of the cool things we noticed about you guys is you offer a RENT-A-BIKE service, so people can explore Berlin on an 8bar bike. Do you guys have any other initiatives to inspire people to explore Berlin by bike?
Yes. The Rent-A-Bike service is getting really popular. It is on the one hand for people who want to explore Berlin but also for people to test ride the bikes for a few days.
The best thing is that renting an 8bar bike is for free (if you are going to buy an 8bar bike afterwards.)
We also support and promote cycle initiatives such as the “volksentscheid Berlin” who is trying to make Berlin more cycle friendly.
The new Hiplok DX was partly born out of Berliners feedback looking for our award winning Hiplok U-lock design in a larger format. Now that you have them in store, what’s the response been?
The new Hiplok DX is definitely a really good extension to the Hiplok collection. It is perfect for Berlin and the 8bar team (https://www.facebook.com/8barteam/) is super lucky with it. Now we finally can lock our bikes safe.
There has been huge rise in popularity in Fixed Gear Criteriums with blue ribbon events such as Red Hook Crit & Rad Race series gaining ever more attention. You guys not only have a team which takes part in these events you also host your own races – tell us about the team and any events you have lined up.
Yes. It is crazy how the race scene is growing. In 2012 I was the first German rider racing the Red Hook Criterium and now we have fixed gear races in Germany with up to 500 riders.
In September we are going to do our second fixed gear race in Berlin. The “8bar crit” is going to be at Berlin Tempelhof. A former airport that is now converted to a park.
This gives us the perfect location because we will also have park visitors as spectators beside the usual cycling enthusiast.
Here you find some more info about the race:
Any plans to host any over events or races? Cyclocross and especially single-speed Cyclocross seems to be booming at the minute. Has the team ever competed in any events like that?
We are into cyclocross and race during the winter.
I did most of my races on a single-speed but there are actually not any races in Germany for Singlespeed only.
There is some hype in Italy, US and Belgium. But I think the scene is not growing much in the last years.
And finally where will you be riding this summer?
The next races we are doing are some Rad Races and of course Red Hook Barcelona and Milan. Beside racing we will also go on some bike packing trips.
Here you find a video to one of our 8bar adventures where we went from Berlin to Prague without a map: