Gary Fisher made his name as the flamboyant clunker racer who hyped mountain biking from a '70s California ‘Clunker’ cult to a global, bike riding revolution, and now he’s set on changing the everyday e-bike landscape. His new Morelle project uses the latest aviation battery tech, urban recharging networks and a monthly, all inclusive subscription model to make e-bikes lighter, easier to use and easier to own.
'Bigger than mountain biking'
Gary Fisher cut his teeth on tech as a teenage sound and lighting engineer for The Grateful Dead and other hippy scene legends. He turned off, dropped out of the scene and saddled up the MountainBikes shop in California with Charlie Kelly in 1979, commercializing the cult concept of geared ‘Clunker’ bikes and creating a household name in the process. 13 years of exhausting, industry changing innovation and expansion saw Gary Fisher being bought under the Trek wing in 1992 where he carried on being the most distinctively dressed and probably the most passionate innovator/ambassador/disruptor for the next 30 years.
While most 71-year-olds would have probably relaxed into retirement at this point, Gary’s 2020 book ‘Being Gary Fisher’ book showed he was clearly still passionate about pushing pedaling for the people. “Whoever we are, however we ride, we have to share our love of cycling”. Gary was clearly already on an e-bike crusade at this point too, pointing out that “e-bikes are simply opening up the enjoyment of riding to a whole new section of the population. It’s like mountain biking all over again, but with even more explosive growth and maybe even bigger potential.”
'Easier to use, easier to own'
An intriguing post on Gary Fisher's Instagram page led to a Zoom call with him before he headed into the Taipei show and we’d not seen him as animated in ages. “I’ve not done this for 17 years, it’s so awesome to be back creating bikes again”, he grinned before revealing a few details of his radical new Morelle bikes mission.
The bikes will be powered by radical, ultra high 350Wh/kg density ‘Ionblox’ lithium batteries being developed for the ‘Lilium’ E-VOTL aircraft project. These offer the chance to build a much lighter and/or powerful bike with super fast recharge times and lower charging costs. Fisher intends to piggy back the existing fast charging infrastructure for e-scooters as well as increasing that coverage with heavy investment of their own. Another typically revolutionary concept from Fisher is that rather than owning the bikes, Morelle clients will also pay a monthly fee that includes servicing, repair costs and even an Uber credit if “service isn’t available in a timely manner” with Fisher initially aiming for a $100 a month cost.
'Lighter, smarter, faster charging'
While there are no details on frame or exact design yet, he’s a man who appreciates the art of selling. “You need to make whatever you’re selling delicious. It has to look and taste so mind-blowingly good people can’t get enough of it.” The concept bike PDF Gary shared with me certainly shows something pretty smart with a Bafang motor, SRAM wireless shifting, Reserve carbon wheels and a 300Wh battery weighing 22 – 25lbs (10 – 11.5kg). He was also typically animated about a planned cargo bike design that would "have everything you’d have in an SUV, great lights, awesome sound and screens if you were carrying kids". Waving arms in a hotel bedroom in Taiwan also described retractable windshields and self-levelling supporting struts rather than conventional kickstands that are too hard to use for smaller riders and/or loaded bikes. Fisher also intends to use local, sustainable manufacturing, including advanced 3D printing as much as possible.
Fisher finished the Zoom call explaining that we won’t be seeing any Morelle bikes on the streets for at least a year, but he was heading off into the Taipei show for a full schedule of meetings with vendors and investors who are apparently buzzing to be working with him again. Given his unique track record of creating real change (he launched the first mainstream brand full-suspension, carbon monocoque, disc brake equipped and 29er bikes as well as a host of other early days innovations) we’re going to be keeping close eyes on Morelle going forward and are genuinely excited to see what Gary Fisher can do to the cycling landscape next.
You can sign up for updates on Morelle over at morellebikes.com