The Belgian manufacturer just reached the 1,000-bike milestone. With a rapidly growing community and big aspirations, what’s next for the brand?
What does the 1,000th bicycle mean to you? How do you feel about this?
Tomas: Fair? When we started [Ellio] I thought it would go faster. But even when we had the 7 plagues of Egypt over us, with corona, the supply chain collapsing, the crazy demand for bicycles, but also the collapse of the speed pedelec market due to working from home, the war in Ukraine… too much to mention actually… I never doubted, because what I had in mind is exactly what people appreciate in Ellio. That was only possible thanks to the wonderful team that I get to be a part of every day. I feel blessed by fate to have been able to fulfill my dream. But I keep dreaming… of more, of better. Even better!
Jorrit: It’s a milestone of course and that always feels good. It is a moment to look back at the road we have already traveled and I can say that I do so with great pride. At the same time, we also keep looking ahead, of course: 1,000 bicycles is just the beginning!
Past versus now. How did you see the mobility landscape evolve from bike 1 to 1,000?
Tomas: In the media, the speed pedelec is seen less as a risk and more and more as a solution. I also like that programs such as Kijk Uit (a Flemish television program regarding road safety) put the speed pedelec in the spotlight in a nuanced way.
Jorrit: In the few years that we have been active, bicycles have really evolved from leisure items to full-fledged means of mobility. This places entirely new requirements on the products. With a decent 25 km/h bike, you can safely ride to work every day, but for longer journeys or when designing a 45 km/h speed pedelec you really need more than just a decent bike. That has always been Ellio’s raison d’être, so of course, we are happy with this evolution.
What plans can we expect in 2023?
Tomas: Ellio, our first model, I dare call my baby. However, we are working with a whole team on the successor, Marty. This time Jander, a product developer at Ellio and responsible for the development of Ellio, will be the (young) daddy of our newest model. Can I call myself grandpa? With Marty, we will reach the next level of maturity, as a product and as a company. We all grow together. Full of passion to offer the ultimate mobility solution.
Jorrit: International expansion, an expansion of our product range to respond even better to the mobility needs of our customers and, of course, also strong growth in production numbers. Next year we want to be able to build 3 times as many bicycles as this year.
How has co-creation of the Ellio community contributed to today’s Ellio?
Tomas: At my previous employer, Toyota, we had a standard for every feature, situation, and step. Almost to the absurd. Even the brewing of coffee was almost standardized. At Ellio, we have something even stronger, being organic; that is the Ellio community. I never imagined that such a fantastic community could grow around our product in these dark times. The openness that is in Ellio’s DNA is answered with a positive drive to not only improve the product but to create a platform where Ellio riders help other Ellio riders.
Jorrit: From the outside, the 1,000th Ellio seems to be almost the same bike as the very first, but “under the hood” a lot has changed since then. The control of the drive and transmission, the display of the HMI, and numerous minor hardware changes have been implemented. All are based on feedback from our customers.
How has Bewel, the custom workshop responsible for the assembly of Ellio bicycles, contributed to Ellio’s success?
Tomas: Collaborating with Bewel was a conscious choice. Not from a social point of view, which is a nice bonus and I love it, but because they could provide the overarching services, the critical mass, that we didn’t have as a start-up. We sometimes received questions from prospective customers about why we didn’t work with a tailor-made company, but it is precisely the very structured working in Bewel that helps us to achieve our quality.
Jorrit: Thanks to Bewel, Ellio is produced close to home. This way, our developers can see for themselves how the products they design are built on a daily basis. This greatly benefits our development because we can implement improvements very quickly. At the same time, Bewel has a team of highly motivated employees with an almost obsessive focus on quality. The quality and consistency that Bewel has already achieved in the production of ‘just’ our 1000th bicycle is simply astonishing.
What would you like to say to the Bewel employees?
Thomas: I love you guys! I always love being with you and feeling your passion for my baby!
George: THANK YOU!! That’s obvious, I think.
Do you know how many km do you cycle on average per week?
Tomas: 200-250 km (and if I don’t make it, I’m really pissed!)
Jorrit: Not enough, I live too close to work. I cycle about 10 km to and from work every day, so about 60-70 km a week in total. But always with the Ellio of course!