When the Berlin Wall came down, its rubble buried many traditional bike builders in Central Europe. Due to mismanagement, harsh competition or bad strategic decisions – the causes were manifold. However, the region is currently witnessing a wave of revivals from Prague through Bucharest to the Baltics.
Do you belong among the people who can’t tell Latvia from Lithuania? No need to be ashamed. Most Europeans (let alone Americans) have a hard time with this one. But there’s news that will end your confusion for good – if you’re into cycling, that is. I´ve found out, when I discovered Erenpreiss bikes: the hottest thing to came out of the region, along with the Finnish sauna, the Leningrad Cowboys and something out of Sweden not to be mentioned here.
Erenpreiss is a Latvian enterprise, based in the capital Riga, and has been in business since the 1920s, although with various interruptions due to the troubles, twist and turns the 20th century brought to those parts. The rebirth of the company took place in 2012, when young Latvian bike aficionado Toms Erenpreiss decided to pick up a family tradition and become a bike manufacturer, just like his grandfather’s brother Gustav had been.
Toms had acquired the art of bicycle maintenance and construction by a learning-by-doing manner. From the age of 12, he had been restoring vintage bikes bearing his very own surname, self-taught and referring to books, internet material and old craftsman from his country. When he released his first line of bicycles, with elegant retro looks aesthetically quoting from the family’s past and equipped with modern gadgets like a Sram 2-speed coaster brake, they were sold out within less then two months.
Today, Erenpreiss is an internationally successful business with resellers in Scandinavia, Britain and Germany. On October 22 the company was awarded the “Rising Star” prize at the national “Red Jackets” export competition. Abroad, the Latvians received such acknowledgements as the 1st place in the Swedish Business Awards, 1st place in PrintArt Awards for its visual identity and 2nd place in Baltic PR Awards for corporate communication. Erenpreiss bicycles have been featured in the design book “Velo 2nd Gear” by Gestalten (Germany) and covered by The Guardian, Sunday Times and other international media – all of them emphasizing the exceptional style of the vehicles.
Erenpreiss’s headquarters of beauty are still in Riga, where a team of 12 takes care of design and conceptual work. They still maintain a workshop for vintage bike restoring in Latvia, but the standard range of Erenpreiss is built in Taiwan.