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Czech bike producer suffers heist valued at €10 million

Truck driver rendered unconscious, cargo bay emptied of Shimano parts in targeted highway theft.

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Czech bike manufacturer Bike Fun International suffered a professionally executed heist that could have been scripted for a movie.

A targeted attack on a tractor-trailer, which was loaded with enough Shimano parts to fit more than 10,000 bikes, was executed on January 21, in Germany.

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The loss from the heist was valued in excess of €10 million ($11.5m).

The group that coordinated the robbery knocked the truck driver unconscious at a rest stop on the German Autobahn, according to a BikeRumor report.

Unknown thieves gassed the truck driver to render him unconscious, and then all but emptied the contents of the trailer. The group then used a powdered fire suppressant to presumably hide their tracks.

Various sources report that a group orchestrated the attack on the trailer after staking out its movements from a Shimano distribution center.

“The heist took place on the night of January 21 at a motorway rest area in Germany during a truck driver’s break. The incident was carried out by a well-organized group who, by all indications, must have planned the whole thing well,” reads the Bike Fun International statement.

“In all likelihood, the truck had been followed from the time it was loaded, the thieves waited for the driver to take a rest break, and then the perpetrators put him to sleep with the gas let into the cab. Finally, they disguised the evidence in the cargo area with a fire extinguisher to prevent the seizure of the trace.”

BFI has only recently shared the news of the heist to hopefully aid German investigators.

Bike Fun International is the parent company of three European brands — Superior, Rock Machine, and Frappe Cycles — as well as contract building and finishing of a handful of other brands. BFI builds more than 150,000 bikes, including e-bikes, annually.

“From the consignment loaded mostly with expensive e-bike and bike parts, only nine boxes of low-end components were left in the truck. This will delay the production of some models by almost a year, as there is no alternative on the market for many of the parts from this shipment,” said BFI supply chain director Petr Krkoska.

“We are a strong and stable company, so this is just another obstacle out of many we are facing in the last years. But would this happen to smaller manufacturers, it would be liquidating for them,” he added.

Reports indicate that BFI should be able to substitute some components using existing stock, however, the long-term impact on production is still unknown at this time.

“We really haven’t seen this situation before. Even Shimano has not been faced with a targeted robbery of a shipment on a similar scale. We hope that due to the shortage of parts, these cases will not be repeated, because, despite all the measures we have set up, no insurance cover can compensate us for the loss and especially the reputation for late delivery,” said Krkoska. “We decided to communicate this matter to warn other producers because it could happen to them also.”

Shimano and other bicycle component OEMs have struggled to meet demand since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

Consumers have been riding bikes in record numbers, and bike brands have been struggling to meet the demand for new bikes, and replacement parts for existing bikes.