In the varied history of the brand, the Latin term “rotanda axis” i.e. the rotating axis is the starting point for its name. The freewheel hub is used and distributed as early as the turn of the century, while the international bicycle sector is advancing due to a multitude of technological revolutions and a plethora of market participants. Gottschalk’s efforts to develop more reliable and higher-quality in-house production begin in 1900. He attempts to register his first patent just a short time later, and around 1903/04, series production of the Rotax freewheel hub, which is regarded as “especially reliable”, begins. Long before the transformation of his business into Rotax-Werk AG (Rotax Works plc), “Rotax” becomes established as the brand name in the minds of both German and international cycling enthusiasts.
THE ROTAX BRAND
Registration of the “Rotax” trademark
ORIGINS OF THE NAME
BONE OF CONTENTION FOR THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY
The beginning of the twentieth century is not just a time of political and social change. The economic development of the sector is conditioned by the combined pressure of competition, and numerous innovations and patent disputes. The automobile has long since arrived in America and bicycle manufacturers there use their head start to open up new markets in Europe. German manufacturers such as Gottschalk and Fichtel & Sachs respond to these challenges by focusing on high-quality and more reliable inventions of their own: freewheel hubs with special bearings, back pedal brakes and top-quality components. The market is flooded at this time with other ""freewheel hub innovations"", resulting in a large number of patent suits and disputes among all the manufacturers. The New Departure Bell Company from the USA make it particularly difficult for Rotax to start production of its hub. By the time the long-standing patent dispute is resolved in 1909, Gottschalk has turned the Rotax hub into a mass phenomenon, thanks to clever marketing of its in-house innovations. The company has shaken off the US competition, but not so the German competition. Their Torpedo freewheel hub means Fichtel & Sachs are the Goliath of the bicycle market and they turn their gaze towards the hub producer in Dresden.
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