Puch: What happened to Europe’s iconic brands?
Stooped posture. The hands on the lower link. The right pant leg rolled up. For shifting, the hand wanders laboriously to the down tube. Those who wind their way through the city on old racing bikes can be recognised immediately. Many of them are underway on a bicycle bearing the logo of the brand Puch – at least for the city of Graz in Austria this is true. Usually inherited from Grandpa and mostly manufactured in the 1970s or 1980s. They aren’t always the sporty type: The Graz-based company brought numerous women’s and city bicycles into circulation in the later 20th century. Starting in the 1990s, it became rather quiet with the traditional brand. Today, more and more shiny new models are showing up among the older specimens.
Puch Bikes Reloaded
The good news for all those who are nostalgic: Since March 2012, a new range of Puch bikes has been gleaming in the shop windows. They’ve started with nine bikes. In 2015, the range grew to 34 bikes, including five with electric drive. There are trusted names like Sprint and Clubmann, and even the legendary Waffenrad has been given new life. The new edition has little in common with the originals of the past.
Actually, only the brand name is the same. In 1928, Puch merged with Austro-Daimler, and in 1987, the trademarks were sold to Italy to Piaggio, the owner of the cult brand Bianchi. A decade later, the Swedish company Cycleurope took over Bianchi, including the rights to Puch.
Synergy effects were employed right away in the newly-designed Puch logo: the once powerful Styrian green in the logo changed colour to turquoise – the brand colour of Bianchi. In 2005, Cycleurope revived the Puch brand for the Belgian and French markets. Josef Faber GmbH – the general importer of numerous Italian bicycles with engines – secured the exclusive distribution rights for Austria. Austrian models followed in 2012, with the production continuing in France.
Start in Graz, Austria
The cult brand Puch had firm roots in the green heart of Austria. Johann Puch founded his brand in 1889 in the middle of the Styrian capital Graz. A glass house at a the park Volksgartenin the centre of Graz served the “Fahrradfabrikation Strauchergasse 18a”, as the Puch bicycle manufacture was called in German, as a workshop. The quarter around this place, which today is considered a difficult area, flourished magnificently in the heyday of bicycle manufacturing: Puch collected mechanic experience from the Graz bicycle pioneer Benedict Albl and purchased saddles and cycling accessories from the local Assmann brothers, while Robert Bieber produced seating for bicycles in the same district “Lend”. So everything was produced locally.
Johann Puch understood from the beginning how to market his bikes through racing success. Even after Puch’s death in 1914, the athletic commitment of the brand was further expanded and rewarded with national and world championship titles. A bike that won on the stages of the Tour of Austria was certainly good enough for the amateur and everyday cyclists.
Brand with nostalgia value
The modern popularity of the Waffenräder, Mistral and Elegance still bear witness today to the significance of the Puch brand. The Clubman has produced considerable buzz among fans. Although not one single Puch bike had been produced for a quarter of a century, the green-and-white coat of arms flashes from several workshops. A brand that has stood for reliable quality. The yardstick for Puch bikes produced after 2000 is definitely high.
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