Mike Kluge is one of the great cyclists of the cross and mountain bike scene. Today, the Berlin-born cyclist is a brand ambassador and advisor in cycling and conducts cycling safety training - primarily for e-bike riders. Kluge will also offer riding technique courses at the 3RIDES Festival.
Personal details: Mike Kluge is a three-time winner of the Cross World Championship. In 1990, he won the MTB World Cup, the only German so far to do so in the elite men's class. Two years later, in 1992, Kluge founded the Focus brand and became an entrepreneur. As a consultant and trainer for safety and riding technique, Kluge is still active in the cycling industry today.
What connects you with the Aachen region?
In Aachen I became German Cross Champion in 1992 - I still have very detailed memories of that: The ground conditions were difficult, the course was technically demanding. I had to give everything technically to become German champion. I have many good and friendly contacts with the region, and I also really appreciate the landscape.
At the festival you will offer riding safety courses for e-bikers, among others. How did you get into e-bikes?
That was about nine years ago. I live in the Black Forest, in quite steep terrain. I experienced the e-bike as a welcome support that allowed me to discover the region here in a new way. I suddenly rode routes that I would not have been able to complete on a normal MTB. It put me on cloud nine!
What was the reputation of the e-bike back then?
It was a bike for grandmas and grandpas. I remember wanting to test ride a motorised trekking bike in a bike shop - there were no e-MTBs back then. The dealer ran after me when he realised that I wanted to ride it in the forest. An hour later I came back with a muddy trekking bike - and was immediately convinced that motors also fit MTBs. I was immediately hooked.
Why is the issue of riding safety so important, especially with e-bikes?
First of all, riding safety is important for all bikes - and not just in the performance area. People often overestimate themselves. Anyone can ride straight ahead, but when it comes to braking spontaneously, for example when swerving in front of a car door, many are overwhelmed. It often comes down to tenths of a second. In the case of e-bikes, older riders in particular are often unable to cope with the high speed. Dangerous situations can quickly arise.
Who comes to your courses?
It's a total mix - but what they all have in common is that they are cool and open, curious to use the possibilities of this technology. With me, they learn not only demanding manoeuvres but also the basics: for example, starting on a steep hill or the best cornering technique.
How does the e-bike in particular currently contribute to making transport more environmentally conscious and sustainable?
The e-bike gets people on their bikes more often and improves their health. But it often also gets them out of the car, which contributes to environmental protection and sustainability. I see that in myself as well. I own a motorbike that has been sitting in the garage almost unused for almost ten years because I am using the e-bike more and more.
Where do you see the e-bike in five years?
The e-bike will say goodbye to the battery more and more. I am involved in several projects that deal with the energy supply with hydrogen. We want to have a first test model ready by the end of 2022. Hydrogen as an alternative to the battery - that's the future.