25 years of FLYER: from the FLYER Classic to a sporty e-mountainbike
Hans Furrer, former Head of Product Development at FLYER, provides an insight into the continuous development of FLYER products.
Hans Furrer is probably not a familiar face to many people. Although his work as Head of Product Development at FLYER tended to keep him in the background, he significantly advanced and shaped the development of the e-bike.
Hans Furrer was working for the Swiss bicycle manufacturer Villiger in 1997 when he first came into contact with FLYER. Two years after the market launch of the first FLYER e-bike, the FLYER Classic, the company BKTech wanted to have the frame for this model produced in Switzerland. At Villiger, responsibility for this project was given to Hans Furrer.
Prior to this, his professional work had mainly involved trekking and touring bicycles, so he could immediately see the advantages of an e-bike for longer tours. Hans Furrer soon became fascinated with the new product. “When you are out on your bike for days, weeks, or even months, you are glad of some assistance”, explains Hans Furrer.
This fascination later led Hans Furrer to a full-time position at BKTech, which was focussing completely on the “New FLYER” project at the time. Enthusiastic about the pioneering work, Hans Furrer took on responsibility for the bicycle components. “New FLYER” ultimately became the FLYER F Series, which BKTech wanted to use to revolutionise mobility. Designed for the modern e-bike commuter, the F Series was far ahead of its time. “The F Series did not appeal to people who were considering buying an e-bike at the time”, explains Hans Furrer.
In the early years of the e-bike, it was mainly the older generations who expressed an interest as they wanted to use the electric assistance to compensate for physical deficits. “We knew that we needed a low step-through frame”, continues Hans Furrer. It needed to be an e-bike that would allow easy and convenient cycling, make independent mobility possible (again), and guarantee comfortable and simple mounting and dismounting. This marked the birth of the FLYER C Series. A sophisticated Panasonic drive combined with light-weight and reliable lithium-ion batteries, which had previously been unknown on the market, saw the C Series boom.
The FLYER C Series struck the chord of the times and restored a certain level of independent mobility to many people. The rising demand combined with the simultaneously increasing range meant that production capacity had to be continuously expanded. Pioneer Hans Furrer and his team were already working on their next master stroke. With a high level of personal enthusiasm for the mountain bike scene, Hans Furrer tested the first electrified hardtails on his family holiday in Tuscany in 2006. The absolute highlight for the mountain bike fan was when mountain bike icon Gary Fisher assessed the prototype at that year's Eurobike.
Hans Furrer passed on his enthusiasm for the product, as evidenced by Philipp Suter, an employee of many years and today's Head of Product Development at FLYER: “I learnt about product management from scratch from Hans and benefited greatly from his experience and from the way he worked.”
In 2010, the first FLYER e-bike with full suspension, the FLYER X Series, was launched onto the market. At the time, the sporty X Series set new standards in terms of riding comfort and off-road capability, making it a precursor to today's e-mountainbikes.
Years after he left the company, Hans Furrer still rides a FLYER Uproc e-mountainbike – and not only on his annual holiday in Tuscany. “The new Panasonic drive is totally compelling”, explains Hans Furrer enthusiastically. “Until fairly recently I was still riding the X Series, so switching to the new Uproc bikes was a quantum leap for me.”