Like most people, I learned to ride a bike as a kid. When I was seven, I started racing BMX. Around the age of 13 I took a detour into the world of marathon and triathlon biking, but by the age of 15 I had fully committed to mountain biking. I did a few years of cross country racing before transitioning over to freestyle, downhill and dirtjumping by the time I turned 23. After that, I raced pretty much every race series that took place in Europe, like the King of the Bikepark series and many of the different iXS--Cups that occurred over the years. I'm 36 now and don't race anymore, which is not to say I'll never put another numberplate on my bike again.
When I was 15, riding my bike was the most important thing in my life, more important than my friends and everything else. It was then that I decided I would have my own bike shop. Back then, my dad had a small business for bicycle parts and I was able to learn a lot from him--not to mention I destroyed quite a few parts back then and had to learn to repair my bikes all by myself! After I apprenticed as a bike mechanic, my dream of having my own bike shop became a reality. I've never had a hobby other than riding bikes because the sport has fascinated me my entire life. Mountain biking is the perfect sport to free your head; you don't need to think, you just need to go outside and have fun.
The most important thing is having the right people in the shop. Everyone that works here rides bikes. I have roadies and triathletes on my team, but most of my guys also ride mountain bikes, from endurance races to downhill. It's important to have trained mechanics in the repair shop, but for the sales team I'd rather have guys who have learned the sport--who are into the sport and have put all of their knowledge and emotion into every sales talk. And you also need to be monitoring the market, search trends and ensure you get the right parts and bikes in the shop. For example: we started to have female-specific bikes and parts when no one in Germany was even thinking about it, and today this is basically mandatory in a good shop. And last but not least, presentation of the goods is very important. Selling high-end mountain bikes out of a garage isn't possible anymore!
We're very involved in racing. We have our own enduro team as well as a downhill team that is quite recognized on the national scene. We also support local road cyclist clubs, and have our own weekly rides that start here at Herobikes.
That's easy! My trip through Canada with Wolfi Eyshold in 2012. It was a 2-week road trip that included well-known destinations like Vancouver, Silverstar and Sun Peaks and ending at the Crankworks. Great memories! I can only suggest that this is a thing that everyone should do once in their life.
Usually, every bike that I build is a favorite bike, but as I test a lot of products myself, my favorite bike build is never done! Right now my favorite bike looks like this: Mondraker Dune in Large, FOX 36 fork, FOX DHX2 with 2-position lever, Sram Eagle, Tune hubs with Alchemist rims. Handlebar, cranks and seatpost from RaceFace, Maxxis tires and WTB saddle.
A customer who wants to invest his or her hard-earned money into a bike should really look for a good shop with knowledgeable salespeople. The main thing is that the customer should be getting the bike they really want.