Interview: Gabriel du Plessis of Blue Globe Alliance
- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 27 October 2011
Schindelhauer caught my eye earlier this year at a bike show in Berlin with their frame design and their elegant "Crocodile Belt Clamping System" as well as the use of the Gates Carbon Belt Drive across their entire range . With kitch names for their models that conjour thoughts of dusty schoolbooks on European history; Victor, Sigfried, Ludwig XI and Lotte, they are loaded with character.
Blue Globe Alliance have announced they are distributing the exciting young German brand. I spoke to Gabriel du Plessis from Blue Globe Alliance (BGA) for Bicycles Network Australia (BNA) about this brand, as well as their Dutch brand of titanium only bikes Van Nicholas.
BNA: What is your background in cycling and the cycling industry?
BGA: Wow, now that I ‘m thinking about it, it has been more than 17 years! It all started with BMX racing as a kid and evolved into a passion for the sport. I migrated to the velodrome and eventually road racing for about 10 years until I discovered MTB XC racing. This came very natural with my BMX back ground where I achieved national colours and competed professionally. I had my fair share of working in the Cycling Industry through bicycle shops as long as I can remember, always eager to learn from old hands teaching me the values of quality over quantity. Looking after your customer as if they is the only one.
BNA: As the distributer Blue Globe Alliance, how do you reach your customers, through Local Bike Shops or Online or both?
BGA: We started advertising in the magazines and online to create some brand awareness, which was very successful. Like our suppliers, sales started online, but we soon realised that customers in Australia need to touch, feel, smell and understand the products before they commit. So, we got a couple of dedicated dealers committed to the brands who understood our supplier’s philosophy and our vision of Quality above Quantity. We are in the process of setting up a concept store exclusive to our products in Brisbane with more to follow in other major cities.
BNA: You carry the Dutch brand, Van Nicholas. Can you describe how Van Nicholas has been received by Australian cyclists?
BGA: At first most enquiries surrounded the price tag as to how this is so low compared to other Titanium bikes. It started as a trickle for a couple of months as everyone did their research, but as soon as that initial value for money eureka moment occurred it all made sense to them that they are saving money in the long run by investing in Titanium. So far we have had quite a positive response and people are now accepting and recognising the Van Nicholas brand as an alternative to Carbon Fibre and Alloy.
Van Nicholas Mistral
BNA: What style of Van Nicholas bike are the most popular in Australia?
BGA: Since we have sold quite few tourers/commuters with S&S couplers and some serious credit card busters, it’s hard to say that one sold more than the others. But if I was forced to pick one specific road bike I would say that the after the Mistral the Euros was the most sought after due to the mix and match customising of the components.
BNA: You have recently announced the addition of German Schindelhauer Bikes to your portfolio. What has attracted you to this brand?
BGA: We were really impressed by the passion that went into designing and building the Schindelhauer range. The clean, undiluted essence of what cycling should be, that of pure enjoyment and the freedom it allows you to experience. It was designed as an all out commuter bicycle and with the use of the Gates Carbon belt drive system on all of their bike they ensured a clean, maintenance & worry free ride for years to come. As all Schindelhauer bicycles are manufactured and built in Germany, you can rest assured that every detail is meticulously cared for knowing that you are riding something very special.
BNA: I have seen the bikes in Germany and they feature a striking design. Winning Red Dot and Eurobike awards confirms this. What type of cyclists best suit Schindelhauer, who is the audience?
BGA: It take something very special to get those awards at such a big event as the Eurobike and the kind of person who will be looking at riding a Schindelhauer will be someone who appreciates the finer things in life. Those individuals who recognise the value when they see and ride it and don’t compromise on quality just to save a few $$.
BNA: What does a Schindelhauer bike offer a cyclist that other bikes don’t?
BGA: Look, there are really good commuter bikes out there to choose from and all do the same thing, as cars do, that is to get you from point A to B. Since every Schindelhauer bike is made with the same precision and passion, like most other German cars manufacturers, you can expect no compromise on quality and engineering. From the whisper-quiet Gates Carbon Drive system to the classic Brooks leather saddles and grips. Every Schindelhauer is made to endure years of worry free commuting and cycling pleasure. What you are paying for in every Schindelhauer you are saving on future maintenance.
Schindelhauer Crocodile Belt Clamping System
BNA: The Schindelhauer range consists of six models, will you be carrying them all?
BGA: We will stock most of the popular models like the multi-gearded Ludwig VIII and the Fixie/Single Speed Victor with it’s flip-flop drive. The rest of the models, including the Lotte, will be in low volumes until the demand grows to import larger quantities.
Schindelhauer Ludwig VIII
BNA: The range features fixed flip-flop wheel with the Viktor, Single Speed with the Sigfried while 3 Ludwig models and a ladies Lotte have a Shimano Alfine and Rohloff internally geared hubs. All, however, have the belt drive. Is the belt drive reserved for urban cycling or is it the future of cycling?
BGA: At one point or another, anyone who has used a standard chained bicycle for their daily commute got acquainted with the front chain ring and his buddy the oily chain. Unless you are using the chain guards this will alway be in the back of your mind, but it will always need replacing and lubrication for the gears to work efficiently. Then there is the ever present derailleur that get’s bent once the bike takes a tumble on the wrong side. This is where it makes sense to have a clean, maintenance free, internal drive system. Technology has now paved the road for a clean and maintenance free commuter. Change is in the wind and more and more people are requesting and almost demanding it. It will become the future for the urban commuter who don’t have the time or money to visit bike shops every 6 months to get a "service" and a new chain.
BNA: Can you provide an overview of the RRP for Australian customers for the range?
BGA: We will start of with the Victor and Siegfried at $2400, Ludwig VIII – $2700, Ludwig XI – $3300, Ludwig XIV – $4900 and the Lotte VIII – $2700.
We wish you a successful start with Schindelhauer bikes in Australia.
You can find out more about Van Nicholas and Schindelhauer bikes as well as dealer locations from Blue Globe Alliance: www.blueglobe.com.au
Schindelhauer Ludwig XI