Photo: Volker Döring
At the beginning of the new century, Matthias Maier discovered a bicycle in a small bike shop in Milan, which time seemed to have forgotten. “This bike was something quite special”, Mr. Maier remembers. “The geometry of the frame fascinated me with its special facility and the elegance of the contour in connection with the wonderful tradition of craftsmanship. On these bicycles, people glided upright and in athletic form through the city”, raves Mr. Maier.
At that time, he developed international management strategies for a company in Milan.
When this bachelor of business and photographer returned to Berlin several years later, he had a vision in his luggage along with a collection of classic bikes: handmade steel wheels, Italian elegence combined with a German understanding of technology.
Mr. Maier knew that he wanted to take a road less traveled in realizing his company. He built his company using a type of satellite structure, because only a few family operations were sufficiently specialized to manufacture the individual components. The unusually trim and elegant steel frames were manufactured in Italy; the rim polished to a high gloss in Germany. The technology came from Germany and Japan. It was assembled in Saxony-Anhalt. “Today, I spend eighty percent of my time in coordinating well-defined individualists from various countries” which Mr. Maier quite enjoys. The mutual development of the products with an American cult blogger is another road less traveled for the company and places it in contact with the heartbeat of the times. Like the Italian partisan song, BELLA CIAO is the name of Mr. Maier’s brand.
In fact, bicycles played an important role in the Italian Resistance during the Second World War. Cars and motorcycles had been confiscated by the Fascists and the Resistance essentially organized their efforts using pedal-driven two-wheelers. Thereby, the bicycle became a symbol of freedom in Italy. “We consciously decided to use this poetic relationship in developing the brand. The thought of freedom that our brand embodies is also a symbol of our corporate culture. Exceptional skills combined to target a clear aim.“ Because he had been born in West Berlin, Matthias Maier chose Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf for his operations.
“The atmosphere and the quality of life please me. This is not a monoculture, but rather a united world environment.” Two years after establishing his business, annual sales already amount to roughly 1,000 bikes.
Fifty percent of them are exported.
In the perplexing bicycle market, BELLA CIAO has established itself in a very brief time.