We don’t actually sell bikes to our customers. The customer comes to us with an idea, and we turn that idea into reality.
ROTOR BIKES GmbH was founded in 1996 as a nonprofit association called Generator Radsport e.V. The company has sold about 8,000 bikes to date. Throughout its history, the goal has remained the same: to build individual bikes tailored precisely to customers’ needs and personalities. Ease, fun, and attention to detail are the top priorities during the intricate and time-consuming planning and production process. We caught up with Sebastian Billhardt, the managing director of Leipzig-based ROTOR.
How did you end up ROTOR?
What makes your bikes so special?
What is your team like?
The youngest person on the team is 20 years old. He actually only ended up stumbling into the job because he was looking for an internship and couldn’t find a better option. The oldest one is Andre, who is about 45 and decided to retrain doing this. Before that, he worked in a foundry. We have a little bit of everything, from young people to those with established families. The one thing we do think is unfortunate is that we only have one woman as part of our team so far. We’d like to see a bit more gender balance if possible.
All of us are crazy about bikes. Most of us came from other fields entirely and ended up doing this and just stuck with it. Our apprentice started out wanting to study industrial design, but he liked working with us better. In addition to his apprenticeship, he is a unicyclist and second ranked in the world in street unicycling. Our head mechanic has been tinkering around with bikes since he was 15. Our new apprentice in the shop originally trained as a gas and water installation technician, and now he’s on his second apprenticeship with us. We also have a job changer who does our bookkeeping. And then there’s Lizzy, a ten-month-old Golden Retriever mix, who is also a huge help. As for me, I studied sports and media, so we really do have a bit of everything. Ultimately, our team is made up of people who haven’t had a traditional career, and that’s what makes us who we are.
How has the pandemic affected the bike industry in general, and ROTOR specifically?
Do you view Saxony as a great state for biking?
There are a lot of small companies and independent shops that have something to do with bikes in Saxony. There’s more and more networking and dialogue taking place here. Another thing about Saxony is that we especially benefit from being so close together. We love Leipzig and couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. Even in the past, Leipzig was known as the “gateway to the world” for its many trade fairs. We follow the same ethos with our bikes.
Aside from people’s feet, a bike is the means of transportation that offers the most freedom. At the end of the day, you can easily take it along anywhere. You just can't get more freedom than with a bike.