Visiting Grace (eBikes) in Berlin
- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 10 June 2011
Grace is a new-comer and began life as an eBike brand rather than adapting an existing production to join in on the eBike trend. Grace eBikes are not classic Holland style or touring style eBikes, rather feature fat aluminium tubing, a chunky CNC machined stem with integrated lights and are in a class of their own.
My first contact with Grace was in 2009 where the company founder Michael Hecken presented his brand and concept at a small event. Fast forward to 2011 where I met with the lead mechanic Jan Hendrik Heitmann (who was previously with well known MTB brand Nicolai) at a bike show in Berlin. Jan invited me to their Berlin location for a closer look and to fill me in with the progress over the past two years.
The Grace Pro, not your typical eBike
Grace Trademark CNC machined Stem and integrated lights
The early partnership with Nicolai allowed Grace to benefit from the bike knowledge in refining the design as well as for the production and assembly. The first ever batch of 10 went to mostly to collectors and ongoing demand allowed Grace to expand to a point where they partnered with Panther Bikes, one of Germany’s largest bike brand who are helping them with the larger scale roll out the new model, Grace One (with City and Universal versions). Nicoli remains a partner and are responsible for some parts such as the the trademark CNC machines stem.
The new Grace One (City)
There are now over 50 dealers in Europe and orders coming in as far as South Africa. The new Berlin location allows Grace to assemble the (original) custom Pro models as well operate as a service location in Germany’s exciting capital city.
I was welcomed with smiles, which is not something you can always expect in Germany. The recent launch of the Grace One in Berlin has increased the workload for the Berliner team, though the atmosphere was relaxed as I was guided through the Berlin loft style location with storage rooms, bike assembly and service rooms and electronics room.
One of the assembly and service workshops.
Jan discussed some of the early teething problems, which were thankfully minimal. One example was a completely assembled bike that was then boxed, the stem was loosened and turned to fit in the box. Upon delivery the gear cable had become detached. Learning experiences like this flow directly back into the ongoing development and assembly for continual improvement.
When probed, Jan preferred to keep quiet about future developments, afterall it is less than a month since the launch of the Grace One, though he did hint that they are actively working on ideas while analysing current processes and customer feedback. In the electronics room where the motors are prepared, they are continuously developing and testing prototypes.
With a top speed of 45 km/h, the Grace bikes require registration and insurance in Germany as they are categorised as mopeds. The motor output is 1300 watts so in Australia registration is required and depending on the state, a motorcycle or car drivers licence is needed to riding legally. The European price tag of ca. ?4200 (Aussie $5750) puts it at the top end of the eBike market plus Australia taxes, customs and shipping also need to factored in. Grace however don’t see themself as competing with the rest of the eBikes, instead have created a niche for themself.
You can see more from Grace online: www.grace.de
For the technically minded, you will enjoy this video – time lapse assembly of the Grace Pro by Jan Hendrik Heitmann.