BikeBiz quizzes Raleigh’s own Haibike brand champion David Notman on e:i shock technology and more…

Haibike: From high-end carbon road to electric mountain bikes

It’s fair to say Haibike hasn’t really had much presence in the UK yet, but Raleigh has now shown the brand off at Cycle Show and in-house Heron show. How has the reaction been from trade and consumers alike so far?
The reaction to the brand has so far exceeded our expectations. There is demand in the market place at the moment for a continental top-end performance brand, a demographic Haibike fits to a tee.

How big is the range and what sectors does it cover?
We have approximately 30 bikes on offer as the UK range, but this is a snippet of what is on offer in the German market. Our aim is to offer a more concentrated offering to begin with and then look to expand in future years once we can see where the demand lies. We have a wide enough range, with the concentration around top-end carbon product, to cover MTB, road and performance e-bikes.

Are they in stock now?
We have had stock in the market place with the customers we have signed up so far since the beginning of March. Within these accounts sell through has gone well and we are already receiving additional order from them.

What are Raleigh’s expectations for Haibike in year one?
In year one we have high expectations in terms of positioning the brand as a top-end performance brand. In terms of distribution we are aiming at keeping it reasonably close within the first year which allows us to support accounts that have signed up. We will work with these accounts to ensure that we offer the right product as we move forward into the new seasons.

How big is Haibike’s carbon road range for the UK?
At present we offer five bikes across two different framesets. A more sportive style frame (Challenge) which is full carbon and has three offerings (105, Ultegra and Ultegra di2 starting from £1,400 up to £2,500). We also offering a more aggressive race style frame (called the Affair) which features a stiffer carbon set up with a much stiffer bottom bracket area to ensure optimum power transfer. The Affair comes in two offerings-Ultegra and Ultegra di2. I will be racing an Affair in triathlons this season and am excited at the prospect having been out for a few rides on my new bike.

And there are electric bikes too. What end of the electric market are they aimed at?
The e-bikes have in particular been a big area of success for us. I believe this is largely due to the fact that despite the attempts of many brands to offer a performance mountain e-bike, Haibike hase nailed it and the common comment is that we have a strong mountain bike (in terms of spec) with an electric motor added. We have extended our offering in this category from three bikes to four due to demand.

Haibike’s e:i shock is an interesting development – how many Haibike models is it found on so far?
The E:I is an exciting new technology which we think will help establish the brand with the top end MTB market. We currently have the technology featured on two models, a 26 and 29er so that there is an offering to meet the demands and needs of all. Haibike HQ prefer the tech to be shown off via the 26 as it has more travel and so gives a better sensation of how the tech works to the end user. I have had first hand experience of the tech and it’s amazing that a computer can react and alter the shocks in line with the surface so specifically.

And it is proprietary tech being used with other brands – which ones and will there be more to follow?
Whilst the tech was developed in conjunction with SRAM at the German head offices, it is an Accell group technology and has therefore been shared amongst the in-house brands. At present it also features on Lapierre and Ghost bikes.

As e:i shock is computer-controlled and touted as more precise than a rider can be, has there been any resistance to the fact it relies on a computer’s judgement, rather than the rider’s?
This was something we had in the back of our minds initially, however there has been nothing but positive feedback to the technology since we have been showing it. The key to the use of the technology in Haibike’s eyes is that you are able to adjust the settings of the system to make it precise to the rider (via five auto settings which are programmable).

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