To celebrate our latest cycling-themed collaboration with adidas, titled “Social Cycling”, we sat down with the founder of Standert, Max von Senger, to discuss the importance of community cycling.
Over the past decade, the social cycling scene of Berlin has steadily been gathering momentum, creating a community of like-minded people with a deep appreciation for riding, racing and the culture surrounding it. Sitting at the centre of this movement is Standert: the Berlin-based bike manufacturer renowned for its sought after, meticulously designed bikes.
Calling Standert a bike manufacturer does disservice to the broader thing it represents, however, with a community-driven approach sitting at its very core. From the brand’s earlier grassroots-entry “Any Given Wednesday” races to its open-invitation group rides, Standert has consistently waved the flag for inclusivity and accessibility in a world that so often points to the opposite. Since opening its store in 2012, Standert has represented a hub for enthusiasts, irrespective of experience, to come together and immerse themselves in the Berlin cycling scene, eschewing the elitist entry points that were once over synonymous with it.
This approach, one that champions togetherness through a shared love of cycling, is something that formed the inspiration for END.’s latest partnership with adidas, dubbed “Social Cycling”. In celebration of that, END. sat down with Standert’s founder and CEO, Max von Senger, to delve into the community spirit that’s deep rooted in the Berlin-based label.
I would say it originates really in the messenger culture. When I started back in 2012, Standert was basically a bike shop, nothing more. We had our first frame at that time, but there was no plan to continue down that road of making Standert a bike brand. Rather, we wanted to have a community hub, which is what I would call it today, whereas back then I wanted to create the type of place that I loved in my youth — like a skate shop, for instance, where there’s videos running and you could just come and hang out and look at cool stuff. When I was a bit older and at university, I found that same spirit in the messenger scene. I was really positively surprised to find that same spirit in one bike shop in particular in Berlin. People just came, particularly messengers, and just hanged there on their breaks or waiting for their next job. Then the whole messenger scene gave birth to the whole fixed gear trend. So yeah, that was the original thought, to create a space for people to come and hang out, as well as build and sell nice bikes. When we started, we travelled to London to go and check out “Look mum no hands!”, which back then was the coolest place we could imagine. That gave us the idea to also include a café in that space, which was then sort of new in Berlin. So that community started happening, but back then it was only inner-city or fixed gear riding. We started doing a weekly race series with the friends we had in the shop, then from there it slowly developed into wanting to do longer riding, or meeting people who were already into road cycling and then also leaving the city limits.
When we started out, that was the one of the main parts of the brand. For me, when I first entered the scene as great as it felt, it had high entry points – you had to be a real messenger, or it would a couple of times before anyone would actually talk to you when visiting certain shops. From the beginning, it was really important to me to be just friendly and fun, which to this day, is one of our core values. It’s super important to get rid of these elitist hurdles as an entry point. Today, we have a weekly shop ride, which over the years has really become a sort of fast ride/race, but it’s open to everyone. By now, you can’t actually come with your fixed gear bike as it’s dangerous in a group ride, so some things have changed a little bit over time. But nobody will give you a hard time if you turn up on the oldest, shittiest bike, it’s all about whether you can keep up.
Through social media and that being a very easy connection point, by now cycling has an incredible impact on community, in the sense I could go to any part of the world and just instantly connect with people who are cyclists. They might even be already aware of what we do. Just last week a colleague of mine was at a brand summit for Pas Normal in Mallorca, so of course that was an invitational thing, but there was over 100 people coming together and my colleague described it as being so incredible. You feel like you know all of these people already from Instagram, so there’s this instant connection through your shared passion. The community aspect of cycling today is an amazing part of it, you can easily become part of this worldwide community.
The designing of the bikes has always been informed by a need in our riding, and by our, I mean myself, the people that work at Standert and the wider cycling community in Berlin. For example, as I mentioned earlier, when we started to go on longer rides that the fixed gear bikes did not work on, that’s when we first started working on a road bike. Over the course of recent years, the sort of riding that we do has moved into different areas, like gravel being the new thing, for instance — people want to explore the woods, but not necessarily on a mountain bike as Berlin is flat as a pancake. So, we developed a bike for our need as a community, which is the same for the city bike, the Bürgermeister. They’re informed by the needs of the people that want to do the sort of riding that those bikes enable.
For one, I hope to be able to continue to create bikes that meet a need and hit a nerve. For me, also, designing bikes is so satisfying as I feel like I contribute a little bit to making the sport more attractive, or riding in general. I always credit Rapha as making cycling more approachable for a lot of people, as if you look back to the beginning of the noughties and the late nineties, it was all of these people wearing neon coloured, logo plastered Lycra, and then Rapha came along and made it look good. Suddenly, it’s a much more attractive thing for people who have a problem with looking shit to get into it. Nowadays, I feel like we are contributing to making a beautiful product that of course has to work well. So I hope to continue to do that. From a growth perspective, we just want to take it step by step and stay boutique, to continue to not have to be driven by mass market price points.
For one, aesthetics wise, there’s a lot of pre-determined factors there, in that we only make metal bikes. So already there’s an aesthetic code with that, be it smaller tube diameters. If we had to give it a slogan, it would be classic looks, modern performance. We try to be at the forefront of sensible technological development, like with the T47 threaded bottom bracket, we had that for years as it brought about benefits to the product, it worked. So, I guess we try to keep it classic, but make it perform on an up to date level, or better. I have a great team in terms of product development, who are super strong riders and test the bikes. In terms of things looking good, it’s also a question of taste, some might think it’s cool, some might think it’s boring.
END. x adidas Velosamba 'Social Cycling'
Crystal White, Chalk White and Glory White
END. x adidas Velosamba 'Social Cycling'
Legend Ink, Team Coffee, Black & White