25 years of FLYER: a text based on the Walk to Canossa
Bicycle expert Gunnar Fehlau on his personal journey of repentance towards FLYER.
Preface by the author:
As it is generally considered to be easier to accept an apology than to offer an apology, this will be a difficult text. However, there is no need for you to worry as it will be difficult for me rather than you, given that, as I look (back) at 25 years of FLYER, I need to apologise.
The drama took place at VSF
It started when Gunnar Fehlau first encountered FLYER at a members’ meeting of the independent bicycle dealer association VSF in early 2000. Gianni Mazzeo enchanted everyone present in his inimitable manner, provided bicycles for test rides, and handed out small bars of chocolate with the comment that Swiss chocolate and Swiss bicycles put a smile on people's faces.
Several of us were standing in a group and, somewhat reluctantly, I agreed to a test ride. We were all convinced that we would have a lot of fun. But not in the way it was intended. No, instead we approached the pedelec in much the same way a group of boys in their late teens would approach an art exhibition or a Zumba class. While feigning a superficial interest, our overriding aim was to unashamedly ridicule the object as quickly as possible and to the greatest degree possible, relying on our testosterone-flooded bodies rather than our reason. So I jumped on the FLYER, pedalled valiantly, and soon passed the 25 km/h barrier, which meant that I was riding a heavy bicycle along the roads without any assistance from the “integrated tailwind”. Once I was safely back in my group, I stated that the wheels not only looked like they were covered by health insurance, but that they felt just like that to handle, too. Adopting an arrogant attitude, I proclaimed that I would still be fit enough for the foreseeable future, that I didn't need a thing of this kind – I refused to call it a bicycle – but that I would definitely be asking my elderly father if he was interested.
The dark side of mobility
My wattage was high, my body fat was low, and my moral cycling compass was precisely calibrated: a bicycle was something that came without a motor and with considerable moral superiority. Motors were part of the dark side of mobility, namely cars, aeroplanes, and cruise ships, but under no circumstances bicycles, and certainly not my bicycle.
I turned on my heel and strolled to the next stand whose offerings contained no motors or – as I learnt later – drives. This was where genuine bicycle manufacturers were offering genuine bicycles for genuine cyclists. The short “Mazzeo motors” interlude was soon over and I wondered who would take over his stand in the following year...
Dear FLYER family, please forgive me for my arrogance and ignorance. I was blinded by my love of bicycles and was unable to see the truth. Today I ride a FLYER. And I do so with delight – but still without chocolate!
Image source: www.pd-f.de / Kay Tkatzik