1983: The "Do It Yourself" period
When Alois Bachmann and Markus Hänni, the future founders of Fateba, were able to try the "AVATAR 2000" made by the small american company "Fomac, Inc.", they were thrilled. Bachmann and Hänni wanted to spread this more advanced way of cycling. The idea of importing the AVATAR 2000 to Switzerland was destined to fail because the price would have been more than CHF 6,000.-
Would a tricycle have been better adapted in order to convince as many people as possible about the longbike idea? All ideas had to be tested before being rejected.
René K. Müller summed up a good overall view on the century-
An infringement for the Winterthour Police
During one of the countless tests that Bachmann and Hänni were proceeding with, they were followed by a city police patrol car. Its passenger was reading through a handbook. The police car overtook them and the officers asked them to get off their bikes and did not allow them to continue their ride. These vehicles were not legal. They were breaking the law on the manufacturing and equipment of vehicles. Seats and handlebars on bikes must be adjustable in height by at least 7 cm. These rules hadn't been respected so they had to go on on foot. Following this incident, Fateba wrote to the federal department of justice and police and requested a license for their longbike. A few months earlier, on December 20 th 1982, they had written the federal department of police to find out if the AVATAR longbike that they were thinking about importing would be allowed to travel on swiss roads or if it would have to be examined. But this letter had not gotten any answer. Fateba then turned the heat up. They had to manifest themselves several times in order for the responsible authorities to react and to promise to look into their demand.
Markus Hänni went to Bern with the most accomplished and good looking prototype to submit the controversed object to an examination. But the welcome was not encouraging: in spite of having an appointment, he had to wait a long time because the receptionist could not find anyone competent for this matter. Finally someone had some compassion (was it the janitor?) for this visitor and opened doors one after the other to finally reach a cellar compartment where a parking space for the vehicle was found. It was clear that some time would lapse before the awaited official exam. Actually over two years went by before the competent authorities sent out on January 21 st 1985 the directive to the cantons stipulating that the Fateba longbikes were legal to ride. A copy of the faxed version of this directive can be seen here and the accompanying letter can be seen here. The accompanying letter is addressed to WERFT (Werkstatt für Fahrradtechnik or Workshop for Bicycle Technology) which was at the time, in December of 1982, the planned name for the company. The business registry however refused the name because it was confusing. FART for Fahrradtechnik (Bicycle Technology) was also denied for the meaning it is associated with in Shakespeare's language. Is is hence the name FATEBA (Fahrradtechnik Bachmann) that was registered on 01.01.1983 with the business registry.
In the summer of 1984, Fateba launched the "Winglet" longbike. The frame's shape looked similar to the one on the AVATAR by Fomac, Inc., the first longbike available on the market. The Winglet's frame and fork were made of "Reynolds-
1986: Fateba longbike Touring Type
Chain manufacturing of the Winglet's frame turned out to be too much time consuming. The manufacturing time cycles had to be reduced. Savings were also sought after in the equipments. The first complete revision of the manufacturing brought a lot of new features. Still made of "Reynolds-
1989: the L1
We at Fateba were very happy with the development of the L1 and we had for the first time the feeling of offering a fully mature product. Still made of Reynolds steel, the frame was now thinner. The crankshaft was raised higher than on the Touring Type of 1986. The steering bar was shortened, the seat got narrower and the backrest longer. For the front wheel we went back to the exotic 17'' (ETRTO 369 mm). This wheel's quality was superior to that of the 16'' and rode better thanks to Moulton's high pressure tire. It also contributed to a better overall look of the bike. The rear brake also came back to the seat's posts which had been reinforced. The bottle dynamo was also the only power generator worthy of its name. The dynamo could be switched on and off directly from the lower tube. The chain's protection was also improved. At that time, the growing popularity of the mountain bike was also decisive for the longbike. Japanese manufacturers such as SunTour, Shimano, Sugino, Dia-
1993: the L2
The L1 had earned its marks with panache and was commercially a success. Since Fateba sold the longbikes without any middleman which means Fateba was in direct contact with their customers. Jakob Buri, at first a customer but then a Fateba employee, was at the origin of the development of the L2. Jakob wanted a longer backrest with more support at the shoulder lever such as to produce a greater force on the pedals when riding uphill. For the same reason, Jakob also wanted a handlebar offering more clenching options. Fateba granted these wishes. The backrest was warped and was adjustable in height so it could be adapted to the length of the rider's back. The backrest needed better support so its supports were increased. The handlebar was divided into three parts: a central part and two stems for the handgrips. This way, the handlebar's length could be adjusted with the handgrips being closer to or further away from the center. At last, the handgrips could also be inclined. This way everyone could adapt the handlebar to their liking. Speedbike brake levers were also integrated on the handlebar offering more clenching options. The frame was also optimized. The crankshaft was raised and the seat lowered. The L2 was now ready for a sportier handling. The derailleur and chainrings now offered 24 gears. For the first time, Fateba was presenting Shimano parts. The retail price was CHF 3,580.-
1998: the L2-
Longbikes were and still are cumbersome. With a 160 cm wheelbase (distance between the wheels) and a total length of 220 cm, they are not compact. Linking systems of the american company "Sands-
2010: the L3
In the 21 st century in the bicycle industry, new features succeeded one another. The newest was superior to the new and the immediately surpassed by the brand new one. However, some lasting features were introduced since 2000: LED lights, tubeless tires, the gears integrated in the hub (Rohloff), balloon tires, etc. Some of these new features made it onto the longbike. However ballon tires which would have brought a non-
The frame and fork had to be revisited. The rear part and the fork had to be wider and the fork taller. As for the front wheel, Fateba opted for an 18'' wheel with a diameter of 355 mm. There is a whole range of tires for 18'' wheels: from high pressure narrow tires to the voluminous balloon tire. With high volume tires, the longbike rose. In order to maintain the proportions, we gave up the idea of the 28'' rear wheel and only offered the 26'' size. The rear wheel brackets were a bit tricky to deal with. They had to be reviewed in order to accomodate all wheel variations. The new ChroMo steel brackets were quite heavier. In order to avoid raising the total weight of the longbike, the seat's structure was now made of aluminium. We at Fateba are very happy with the L3's current state. Indeed, weighing in at 16.5 kg, the L3 Tourer's weight remains in an acceptable range. At last the L3 is now available with 30 gears for a retail price of CHF 4,459.-
2012: the L3 e-
History was made once more with the spectacular advent of electrical auxilliary motors. The rear wheel integrated BionX seemed the most adequate for usage on the longbike. In the summer of 2009 we mounted the first BionX motor on a customer's longbike. Within a very short time span we had to replace the motor twice. Our in
In spite of this, we continued investing our resources into the BionX. After we had mounted about 30 BionX systems, we thought we had taken our experience level from apprenticeship to professionalism. The title of champion was now within reach. Beginning of 2012, we started mass producing our new model, the L3 e-