Fichtel & Sachs

A Goliath of the bicycle sector


Founded in 1895 as a “precision ball bearings plant”, the company established by Ernst Sachs and Karl Fichtel is considered a pioneer and forerunner of the bicycle boom. Like the Rotax hub, the Torpedo freewheel hub produced by Fichtel & Sachs becomes one of the definitive bicycle components of the era and the company becomes a global phenomenon and pioneer. Even more than Rotax, Sachs, who continues to run the business after the death of Karl Fichtel, also begins to focus on motorization. There is already an automobile trend in the USA, and the first automobiles now appear Europe. Fichtel & Sachs crown the bicycle boom by developing the first bicycle engine at the end of the 19th century. The Sachs 74 is a rarity, with an output of 1.25 HP.


The company name of Fichtel & Sachs unites the Schweinfurt-based business and not only with regard to the bicycle hubs previously mentioned. The product portfolio also includes 98 cc vehicle engines and ball bearings and anti-friction bearings, for which demand is particularly high, especially in times of war. After the war this department shrinks and the business returns to its roots and personal passions: the bicycle! And this brings the possible takeover of their main competitor to the front of the management’s mind. From 1930, they take over Friedrich T. Gottschalk’s Rotax-Werk AG little by little and appropriate the popularity of the Rotax brand. At the same time, they expand engine production, and the F&S plant is soon producing stationary and transportable engines and diesel engines for industry alongside motorcycle engines. In the run-up to the Second World War, motorization reaches Germany. The Rotax subsidiary is treated like a poor relation. Everything is focused on engine production.

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