The building with a large glass front and light brown wood stands out from the industrial area in the Swabian city of Ludwigsburg. Already from the outside it becomes clear to passersby that bicycles play a special role here. Looking through the windows you see bicycles originating from one hundred years of bicycle history mounted decoratively to an exposed concrete wall. But those who come in quickly recognise that this is not the entrance to a museum. Without confidentiality obligation you don’t get a step further, because on these premises the fortune of bicycle manufacturers may change.
This story is not about a designer or developer creating fancy new shapes or aerodynamic miracles from the material carbon. No: This is about a man who has been rapping people in the cycle industry over the knuckles for more than 25 years - and who has gained worldwide respect in doing so. Respect to the benefit of millions of people. As Dirk Zedler who is known to the readers as one of the authors of TOUR’s bike tests is among the most reputed experts for bicycle testing and rating on the international level. For Siegfried Neuberger, managing director of the German service and bicycle association ZIV, the mechanical engineer is an entrepreneur whose contribution was essential for a great development leap of the sector.
“Dirk contributed enormously to the quality consciousness of the entire industry”, says Volker Dohrmann, brand director of the Hamburg bike manufacturer Stevens who has been collaborating with Zedler for a long time and one of the few who openly admits this. What Stevens developers create and specialist companies in the Far East build as prototypes subsequently, is tested on test stands in Ludwigsburg. The same applies to series products the quality of which is checked once again.
In the first floor Dirk Zedler sits in his spacious office. This is the nucleus of knowledge on the basis of which the company achieved their particular importance: those business fields of the Zedler-Group where expert witnesses draw up expert’s reports about damage to bicycles. There are partly covered bicycles at the walls of the spacious workshop to hide them from the visitors’ views. The companies concerned by damage must remain secret. Next door two team members are sitting at their desks preparing the expert’s reports for insurers and the courts. Zedler, one of the nationwide pioneers of the bicycle expert branch constantly learns new things in this job: “What we learn from users in terms of material and misbehaviour is enormous. We can make use of what we learned in a way that manufacturers benefit from that.” Zedler has been working for the courts for 25 years, his team draws up about 600 expert’s reports per year. ZIV managing directore Neuberger confirms this know-how transfer: “His long-term experience also in the field of the expert’s reports is important for the further development of standards.”
Author: Tim Farin
Photo: Philipp Hympendahl
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