Behind every great business lies a great idea, but sometimes that idea needs a little more commercial focus to bring it to fruition. When managing director Annalena Horsch joined e-bike manufacturer Coboc in 2014, she found two engineers with backgrounds in physics, a brilliantly designed electric bike and little else by way of organization. “We started basic!” she laughs. “Little boxes. Open invoices here, paid invoices there. As you can imagine, when you have two passionate engineers found a company, they come up with an amazing product and a lot of chaos.”
Luckily for lead engineer David Horsch, Annalena is a trained business administrator. She’s also David’s niece, so her commercial competence was driven by the powerful motivation to make the family firm succeed. Paperwork sorted, Annalena and David travelled around Germany from their base in Heidelberg, steadily building a professional dealership network. “Every Coboc rider will enjoy excellent service close by,” says Annalena.
Over the last five years, the start-up evolved into an award-winning e-bike brand. The product range was consistently broadened and now features nine different models. “We offer everything from racers to elegant commuters to all-round gravel bikes,” says Annalena.
What sets Coboc’s proposition apart from the traditional idea of an electric bike is the firm’s holistic approach to design. Most e-bikes exist as two-part machines, wherein the drive system is manufactured separately from the frame and the parts are brought together to create the finished product. The problem with this approach is that the drive system looks ugly and the bike is heavy, on average 25 kg – approximately twice the weight of an average mountain bike.
“No existing solution was satisfying in any dimension, regarding design, functionality or riding behaviour,” says Annalena. “So we moved the limits and developed our own fully integrated drive system. For Coboc e-bikes, one part is specifically designed for the other.” The result is an e-bike that cannot be identified as motor-powered any more and weighs only 10.8 kg, comparable to a racer, and what Annalena claims is probably the lightest e-bike on the European market. And because Coboc are leaders in technology, it’s not just light, it’s also very bright: an intuitive controller unit processes data from sensors on the bike to calculate how hard you pedal and how much support you need.
“It gives you the feeling of having superpowers,” says Annalena. “Turn on your Coboc and whatever you do is so much easier and faster.” The system can also be fine-tuned to your needs. For example, you may want to select full support on the way to work because you don’t want to turn up drenched in sweat. But if you want more of a workout on the way home, you can select 50 per cent motor support.
Elegantly hidden in the downtube of the bike’s aluminum frame, the lithium-ion battery on all Coboc e-bikes has a capacity of 352 watt-hours, which translates to a range of 80–120 km. What’s more, it charges fully within two hours. Aside from engineering, David’s background also includes a spell as a bike messenger, and he has interests in BMX and motocross, so the mix of agility, practicality and enjoyment is central to the firm’s identity.
“With the congestion in cities today, you need an alternative to being on four wheels,” says Annalena. “Our e-bikes are stylish, innovative and tech-driven, but also a lot of fun to ride.” Whether being used to supercharge the daily commute, or for taking on adventures off the beaten track, Coboc’s finely engineered e-bikes offer a vision of a sleeker, faster future.