i:SY – The Story

by MARTIN KUHLMEIER

To better understand the presentation of the new i:SY DrivE S8 ZR model, let's have a look at the beginning of the development.

Although the i:SY concept had already been thought out for a long time, it wasn't until 2007 that the right time had come to prepare the market for it.

The i:SY was to have certain features and capabilities that were not yet common on a bicycle.
In 1898, 20” bikes with pneumatic tires already existed; this was nothing really revolutionary anymore in the 21st century, yet still something different from before.

Sometimes it just takes a little time or certain circumstances to ultimately give something a totally new a boost.

The first prototype was on its 20” wheels at the end of 2007; though it was still built with steel, it was technically almost close to the desired features.

Soon after, three bikes went into the first series production. A few geometrical adjustments were still necessary and then the bikes were there – the first i:SYs in the world! This was a very special moment!

i:SY or how a product is named

Creating the perfect brand name is an extremely difficult task that you hardly think about at first; I twisted my brain on long walks though the forest with my dog. At some point it suddenly became so clear, as if it was the easiest thing in the world: i:SY.

Who will manufacture the i:SY?

It was the plan to electrify the i:SY from the start. However, the monetary means was missing to build up my own production let alone the non-existent marketing possibilities; the solution was to enter a partnership. But with who? Which potential partner would be in a position to understand i:SY? And would they really be willing to implement this vision of quality?

At the time, only one manufacturer came into question - the company BIKETEC (FLYER) out of Kirchberg, Switzerland. After delivering a successful presentation there, BIKETEC received a license in the summer of 2008 to manufacturer and sell the so-called i:SY FLYER.

The next step...

...was the launch of the i:SY concept at the EUROBIKE Show in September 2008. The non-motorized i:SY (today i:SY Lite) was registered to take part in the EUROBIKE Award, and was promptly received awards in two categories: concept and design.

So we set foot in the bicycle market and the first bikes (with a Panasonic motor) were delivered in 2009. At the time, we still built the non-motorized version of the i:SY by hand. Demand for the i:SY pedelec developed positively on the market quickly attracting imitators; just one year later, a manufacturer introduced a copy of the original at EUROBIKE. Of course not one to one, but similar. Meanwhile, several bike manufacturers have discovered the 20” market and have brought them into their program.

For the 2013/14 season, there was a crucial change of manufacturer.

We did not extend our license agreement for i:SY with BIKETEC (FLYER) before it expired. Our new licensing partner is the long-established company Hermann Hartje KG out of Hoya/Weser, Germany. Apart from the shift to Bosch drives, another reason for the change was the fact that I'd be the one responsible again for the future development of i:SY.

So we introduced the first i:SY Bosch at EUROBIKE in 2013 with our new partner Hartje. Meanwhile, we're in our 4th Bosch model year and 9th year in total.

Today team work

In 2007, I stood alone while developing the i:SY; today, there is a whole team that–everyday–works passionately and joyfully on the success of perhaps the “best bicycle in the world”.

When we look at the current i:SY model generation today, we are humble yet proud of our success. We are especially happy about the fun and improved quality of life our customers have with their i:SY -  this is exactly what we do our work for.

And, i:SY will continue. Promised.

Warmly, Your Martin Kuhlmeier