AX-Lightness_Benobikes_buyout_raw-carbon-frames

Before the holidays we had a chance to go visit the designers and hands-on carbon fabricators that turn light ideas into superlight AX-Lightness components. But as I’ve started sorting through the couple of hundred photos I took on my two days of factory tours, I realized that first we should talk about a pretty important organizational change at AX-Lightness. We’d heard industry rumblings since the summer that AX was having financial troubles and had sought some form of bankruptcy protection, but had little concrete details. Now sitting down with the management team at their Creussen headquarters, we got a little more backstory and have a good sense that being bought out by fellow German company Benobikes has already gotten AX back on their feet and will actually help AX-Lightness with some sustainable growth…

AX-Lightness_Benobikes_buyout_Bernd-Nolte

What essentially happened to AX-Lightness was that a mixture of reliance on motorsports and some poor management practices, left them with a good bit of outstanding debt and not enough reliable sales outside of the bike industry to keep everything in the black. So over the past six months or so there was a management shake-up that saw the company founder Axel Schnura leave, while they searched for new management and financial backing. After an intense search with several interested parties, Benobikes and its owner Bernd Nolte rose to the top of the potential buyers with both a business plan that made financial sense and a forward outlook that offered the people and products of AX-Lightness a sustainable future.

As we heard it, the future of AX was never really in doubt. Sure, the company was not making a profit, but there was so much value in the intellectual property, the products themselves, the design team, and the expert crafts people that it was simply a matter of selecting new management and figuring out which financial backer meshed smoothly with the existing company.

AX-Lightness_Benobikes_Benotti-Fuocco-Team-Carbon AX-Lightness_Benobikes_Benotti-Fuocco-Team-Disc

With the purchase by Nolte and his taking the role of managing director, he plans to integrate his Benotti line of bikes into the AX-Lightness group to expand sales worldwide of both bikes and components. The aim is to carry on both brands simultaneously, but to be able to produce some (or all) of the Benotti bikes in the AX factory, while still developing bikes under the AX name at the highest level, all focusing on high-end Made in Germany carbon fiber tech.

AX-Lightness_Benobikes_buyout_carbon-stems AX-Lightness_Benobikes_buyout_carbon-frames-construction

What that means for the company is that the full staff of 30 in design, operations, and manufacturing stays on and operations have continued without interruption. What that means for consumers is that AX-Lightness bikes and components will keep being developed and produced at the ultra premium performance they are known for, all products in development are still moving forward, and the products will continued to be backed by an even stronger and more responsive company. It also means that the Benotti bikes offerings are set to get even better in the near future, as they start to build on the high level tech of AX, potentially at a more affordable price level.

Now with some background out of the way, I’ll get back to digging out the factory tour highlights. So keep an eye open for that in the coming weeks…

AX-Lightness.de

Benobikes-shop.de

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