FIVE Srl, the largest Italian electric bicycle and vehicle factory, is continuing its expansion plans following a period of development, a point to which the market is proving as equally receptive. Read this interview with Gary Fabris to learn more.
FIVE Srl – Italian Electric Vehicle Factory was born starting from a simple and winning intuition: to build a manufacturing plant 10 times larger than it needed, betting on the growth of the market, to anticipate and wait for it, not run after it. And so it was. We interview Gary Fabris, FIVE’s e-bike Sales Director, specializing in this field where he has been operating for 20 years. Gary is also the President of the Electric Vehicle Group of ANCMA (Italian two wheels industry association) a trade group of Italian bike and motorcycle manufacturers.
1. Will the past year, 2020, be remembered for COVID-19 or the E-Bike boom?
“In 2020, together with a rising trend of electric mobility in general and of the e-bike in particular sales were at the highest level we had ever experienced. The Covid-19 situation made many people rediscover the advantages of getting outdoors and riding on two wheels. E-Bikes are no longer seen only as an ecological and efficient vehicle, but also as a tool for social distancing. That is why many people got on the saddle. And when you get on the saddle and discover all the advantages of an e-bike, then you risk never getting off it again.”
2. What have you done to manage the strong market demand over the past 10 months?
“This was less complex than expected since it is the mission which FIVE was born for. The company was already equipped with the 70,000 square foot manufacturing space and machinery ready to serve a growing market. Obviously, this past year the boom caught us by surprise, but we were prepared with inventory; already having a large manufacturing plant, we quickly engaged a new labor force and we’ve remodeled ourselves internally.”
3. What do you expect for the 2021 year?
“Growth will continue and we are already prepared to support it. We have planned an increase in production of 60%. All the components have already been ordered some time ago, to avoid delays from our suppliers. Delays had been increasing worldwide.”
4. How important is exporting from Italy to the USA market and what is your vision of deployment?
“At the moment, exports around the world weigh only 20% of our company sales, which is what we wanted since the beginning. First, we established a firm footprint in the Italian market to become the leader as we focused to make our factory run well and meeting a Zero defect quality system that is ISO9001 certified. We then developed a network of independent distributors throughout Europe. Only now we have chosen to expand our business overseas. We just started talking to potential importers in the USA. We hope to find the right one because all our bikes are assembled by one man, for one bike with his name connected to the serial number. We are receiving many requests from both European and outside of the European Countries: but before granting distribution we want to be sure that the partner company understands our corporate ideas, which had allowed us to grow solidly over the years.”
Above: The Icon Trekking E-Bike with our strongest FIVE F90 48 volt 90 Nm torque center motor with a unique octagonal shaped tube frame. It has a Shimano Deore 10-speed gearbox, 100 mm front shock-absorbing forks, and hydraulic disc brakes. Available in Men’s Icon off-road Trekking, Urban Man, and Unisex versions.
5. Which of your products was most successful in 2020 and what do you expect to be the best in 2021?
“In general, our most powerful Icon Trekking urban and off-road bike is the best seller for the serious riders. Also, the new Fat Tire Folding models are among the top sellers of our 30 models of e-bikes that we produce.”
“Our number one folding bike is the K2 MAX. It is a sweet folding fat tire e-bike with 20″ x 4“ tires and a high torque 90Nm center motor It has caused quite a stir with adventurous riders. It has our strong FIVE F90 motor that easily handles the steepest terrains. Great to tackle challenging climbs off-road and on-road, with an incredibly good ride balance that bounces and pushes through rough terrains. It is super fun to ride.” “Much appreciated by a young and dynamic audience, K2 MAX impressed our younger consumers because of the awesomely aggressive ride it delivers. For 2021 we have had to triple the production of the K2 MAX and double the Icon Trekking to keep up with sales bookings.”
Above: K2 Max made entirely in Italy. It has a folding frame with 4” wide fat tires. A powerful central FIVE motor, hydraulic disc brakes, concealed battery case, and a front suspension fork. This is the ultimate in fun!
6. What distinguishes FIVE from other manufacturers?
“Since the beginning, we focused only on the electric elements of the e-bike. Unlike us, other companies in our field have differentiated production by including electric bikes among traditional bikes to follow the market trend. We began with e-bikes and we paid close attention to the electrical components on the bike which is its heart: the electrical system. Although FIVE is a young and flexible company, it has a consolidated experience. I entered this trade in early 2000 and since then, with experience, I have acquired a global vision of the e-bike market which, by the very first ride, seemed to me to be a brilliant means of transport (and fun).”
“At FIVE we carry out the full assembly of the e-bicycles. At the factory, we have a painting tunnel that is an eco-friendly water painting line, combined with our state-of-art, in-house, testing laboratory to test all aspects of the bikes. Since about two and half years ago, we also started a production line to produce all the battery packs on our bikes. All of these elements have set us apart from other producers in Europe and allows us to offer something special and spicy looking for the new e-bike buyer.”
Above: The new PEARL of the Italian Urban Line focuses on elegance and technology. A powerful FIVE F90 central motor that easily handles slopes of 30%, hydraulic disc brakes, and a front suspension fork makes this a solid but lightweight city and suburban commuter e-bike.