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Electra co-founder back in the bike business

Published July 31, 2015

DEL MAR, Calif. — Benno Baenziger, co-founder of Electra, is back in the bike industry with a new line called Benno Bikes and is looking for a distributor to handle sales in North America and internationally.

Baenziger started Electra in 1993 with business partner Jeano Erforth. The lifestyle bike company, which became known for its stylish cruisers, was sold to Caltius Equity Partners, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm in 2007. Trek acquired Electra, headquartered in Encinitas, Calif., in 2014.

Baenziger stayed on with Electra for a few more years after the sale to Caltius. Eventually, he stepped away from the industry and in that time he built a house, traveled and spent time with his daughter, and his bike became his primary mode of transportation. That gave him new ideas on how people could use their bikes more often. So he set about designing and producing the first Benno Bikes.

The Benno Bikes line will include cruisers, urban commuters, utility bikes with modular rack options and electric bikes that use the Bosch motor and battery system. The full line includes nine models and a variety of colors.

The company's first order is in production and will be delivered in late summer.

"After 23 years, I didn't want to come back and do the same old thing," said Baenziger. "It's easy to get typecast as 'The Cruiser Guy.' This line does more than that.

"My vision has always been to put more people on bikes. To do that, you have to overcome a familiar list of excuses: It's too far, it's too hilly, I have stuff to carry, I'll get sweaty and so on. The Benno Bikes philosophy is to overcome these objections with more effective product design.

"The real design challenge is not to make more bikes, but to solve problems and provide solutions that inspire more people to use their bikes more often," he added.

Baenziger can be reached at

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