25 years of FLYER: “New FLYER” – the herald of a mobility trend

The “New FLYER” project resulted in the FLYER F Series, which was a unique and modern commuter e-bike that was far ahead of its time.

A completely new FLYER e-bike was launched onto the market just in time for the millennium in the year 2000. It was a sporty and modern e-bike that was presented with great pride by its creators. The development of the “New FLYER”, which is known as the FLYER F Series today, was marked by grand ambitions, a pioneering spirit, and innovation.

The goal was a modern and sporty e-bike for e-bike commuters. “The aim of the “New FLYER” was to change mobility dramatically and to get BMW drivers to switch to an e-bike”, explains Hans Furrer, who joined the company BKTech at the time. “That’s why the design was so futuristic”, he continues.

“We were working with technologies that were previously unknown in the industry”, is how Philippe Kohlbrenner describes the working methods of the time. “Nobody believed that everything would work and it required a great deal of effort to launch the “New FLYER” on to the market”, he goes on.

It was important to the creators of the FLYER F Series that development and production in Switzerland added value. In addition to the motor, they also wanted to develop the e-bike battery themselves.

Berthold Jonientz, known as Berty, played a key role in this. A few years previously, Berty had met the founders of BKTech by chance at an exhibition in Basel and, a little while later, decided to accept a job at the company. In the “New FLYER” project, Berty was responsible for the development of the gearless, electronically commutated, and thus silent motor and the company's own torque sensor technology. The technology-loving inventor from Baden-Württemberg was enthusiastic about the pioneering work. This fascination can still be seen today when you visit him in his laboratory in the FLYER factory.

Portrait Berty Jonientz
Berty Jonientz

In the early 2000s, the e-bike was not particularly well-known. It had definitely not yet become a trend and only few people recognised the advantages of commuting by e-bike. The FLYER F Series was far ahead of its time. People who were interested in an e-bike at this time needed the electric assistance to make up for physical deficits. As a fast and extremely sporty bike, the F Series did not really do justice to these requirements, which may well be why it did not achieve a market breakthrough.

It was not until later that a majority of people got on board with the trend of using e-bikes for everyday mobility and recognised that e-biking is not only efficient, environmentally friendly, and health-enhancing, but that it is also simply fun. While the FLYER F Series still has an important place in our small museum in the FLYER factory today, its numerous successors have taken their place on the streets of the world twenty years after the launch of the “New FLYER”.

by Yvonne Wyss
14 May 2020