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“Our goal is to become the European industry leader.”

Andrés Martin-Birner in conversation. Foto: David Pinzer

Leading e-commerce bike shop from Saxony expanding at the European level

BIKE24, a highly successful e-commerce business, is based in Saxony. Founded in Dresden in 2002 by racing cyclists Andrés Martin-Birner, Lars Witt, and Falk Hermann, BIKE24 Holding AG has seen sales rise to over 250 million euros in 2021. We spoke with Andrés Martin-Birner, founder and CEO of BIKE24, about what the company has achieved and its plans for the future – and why his home region of Saxony offered especially favorable conditions for a successful startup like BIKE24.

How was the last fiscal year for you?

Fiscal 2021 was highly successful in every way. Despite tough market conditions and supply chain issues, we saw sales rise by more than 25 percent to stand at more than 250 million euros, a strong and profitable showing. The number of active customers also rose significantly, going up by 18 percent to more than 820,000.

What do you think are the specific reasons for the current surge of interest in the industry and your company?

The bike industry has seen increasing activity for a few years now. Growing environmental awareness and a desire to build more physical activity into people’s lives are important factors.  The current energy crisis is even more important, since biking is the cheapest way to get from one place to another aside from walking. We’re also seeing that customers are shifting more and more of their purchases online, as in other industries. This trend has been further accelerated by the restrictions we saw during the pandemic. And there’s every sign that both trends will continue across Europe, which will continue to benefit BIKE24 now and into the future.

Foto: BIKE24

The bike market is a competitive one. What sets BIKE24 apart from other online providers?

First of all, our product range includes over 77,000 items from more than 800 brands. No one else on the market offers that kind of breadth and depth in the same place. We relaunched our online shop last fall with some usability improvements, so our customers can find everything they need for anything having to do with bikes and for related sports like running and swimming. That’s true even now, when other retailers are experiencing shortages due to supply chain issues. We also have high service standards. Not only do we ship most of our products the same day for orders that come in by 3 p.m., but we also provide expert personal advice, for bike enthusiasts from bike enthusiasts.

What are the major trends in the industry?

E-bikes are still a hot item, and by that I mean across all categories, from city bikes for getting around town or touring in comfort to electric mountain bikes for those who really want to get out there. There’s also huge demand for cargo bikes. Cargo racks rated for heavy loads or fixed bins or buckets make it easier to transport even heavy or bulky items. That has proven to be a good solution not just for private individuals, but also for delivery services, for example. In the sports segment, we also see gravel bikes taking over. A hybrid of a racing bike and a cross bike with wide tires with a pronounced tread, a gravel bike is perfect for riding on various surfaces, so it’s aimed at everyone who wants to ride off-road and on.

What are BIKE24’s marketing strategies in Germany and other countries?

This year marks our 20th anniversary, so we figured this was a good time to launch our first-ever large-scale image campaign. We’ve been using a new slogan, “Fewer compromises – more...” on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, in print media, and on billboards since mid-March. The campaign focuses on Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, but we’re also advertising in Spain, France, and Italy, where we are currently seeing strong growth with our localized online shops. Still, we have remained true to our principles and continue to keep our ad spending low in comparison to our competitors.

You just recently launched a French website as well.

That’s right. We used the momentum from going public to launch our country-specific online shops for France and Italy at the start of this year. That means after launching in Spain in 2020, we’re present with shops in the local language in two more European countries. We’re also getting ready to open our new logistics center near Barcelona as part of our international expansion efforts. We plan to start supplying our customers in Southern Europe from there later this year.

Andrés Martin-Birner is positive about the future. Foto: David Pinzer
Foto: BIKE24

Looking back, BIKE24 was founded in Saxony. Do you think the company’s successful development could only have happened in this startup environment? Was Saxony an especially fruitful setting, or could it have happened elsewhere in Germany as well?

The environment here in Saxony definitely contributed to our success, with the dynamic economic growth and huge innovative drive we see here. When we founded BIKE24 in Dresden back in 2002, though, it was mainly for practical reasons. The three of us who co-founded the business were living here, and we used my little apartment as our first corporate headquarters. This year marks our 20th anniversary, and we’re still in Dresden, where we started out, built a capable and motivated team, and were one of the few companies in Saxony to go public last year. And we’re now also planning our further expansion from right here in Dresden, with the goal of becoming the European market leader.

Is Saxony a biking state?

Saxony has a lot to offer for bike fans of all kinds, from flat cycling paths in places like along the Elbe river to steep climbs through the Ore Mountains, with routes that are known through the wider region and beyond thanks to sporting events like the Sachsentrail race and the Ore Mountains Marathon. Especially when it comes to bike use in everyday life, the German federal transport ministry’s National Cycling Plan is sure to draw even more people to cycling in Saxony and other states going forward.


The leading e-commerce bike shop from Saxony is well on its way to leading the industry in Europe.