for 25 years.
Trial-Profi Stefan Schlie
2 x Silver Medalist, World Championship
uvex athlete Stefan Schlie is a pioneer in the sport of e-mountain biking and one of the longest sponsored athletes in the uvex squad. Stefan and uvex have been partners for 25 years. In that time a lot has happened in sport, technology, and in Stefan’s career. The three-time German Champion, two-time World Championship Silver Medalist and three-time Team World Champion in MTB Trials, has experienced all the major developments. Now, he is a pioneer in the field of e-mountain biking.
Schlie is inspired by extremes. He goes to the edge. Tries to unlock limits. The first person to conquer Zugspitze on a mountain bike, in 1997, today he is still pushing the limits of what’s possible. “I want to find, and ride, the hardest, most interesting trails on an e-mountain bike. To to see how far the limits can be pushed – both your own and the limits of technology,” Schlie says.
E-mountain bike appeal
Sparking interest is part of Schlie’s mission. He’s set himself the task of making the sport of e-mountain biking accessible to everyone. A difficult task, since many hardcore mountain bikers are skeptical about e-bikes. The e-MTB pioneer has found a solution that convinces even the biggest critics. “Climb on and go for a ride! I haven’t found a mountain biker who wasn’t enthusiastic by the end. No matter how much they complain at the start, by the time they finish, they always have a huge smile. Because it’s so cool!”
Schlie also wants to test, and fully exploit, the sporting capabilities of e-mountain bikes, and says, “I want to test e-mountain bikes on the hardest, most interesting trails, to experience them anew, and see how far the limits can be pushed; people’s own limits, and the limits of technology.”
Uphill for flow
Schlie’s passion for cycling is defined by one idea: flow. An e-bike lets you manipulate the boundaries of flow, since the technology shifts your lower and upper work limits. The MTB pro says, “I was instantly grabbed by the flow which you can discover on an e-bike. Going up a mountain on an e-bike for the first time was incredible. I experienced trials riding in a completely new way. Riding an e-bike uphill I found flow. Something I’d hardly ever experienced on a traditional mountain bike. This new technology allows me to concentrate fully, on my body and riding technique, without hitting the limits of my strength.”
#uphillflow is how Schlie describes this newly discovered flow. Products help facilitate it; not just the e-bike, but the rest of the equipment too. “If I have glasses that constantly pinch, or a heavy helmet that always slides down my neck, it disturbs flow. So, I place great value on using products that improve my flow,” Schlie explains.
Skill and ambition
Anyone who rides trials needs to be able to control their body, even in extreme situations. Skill and balance are central to the discipline. When you can bring body, mountain bike and the environment into perfect equilibrium, you perform and create perfect flow.
“Ambition is the most important thing,” says Schlie. “Because, nothing happens without ambition. Then, you need to understand your body. I build everything around the principle of having a stable center of gravity. The head and center of the body are the two main points in this system, and should be kept as steady and jerk-free as possible. You need to understand, and use, the body’s built-in suspension system. And, have fun riding. Then you’ll find perfect flow.”
Trials pro Stefan Schlie on e-mountain biking and perfect flow:
What’s your biggest passion?
Riding bikes. Ever since I was young. Close to my hometown is a quarry where many trials events, including World Championships, were held. I was 11 years old when I first went there and tried it. I was hooked instantly on the sport and its equipment. Since then, I have loved everything about bikes and riding. Even now, it inspires me. I always want to try new things, test new products and forge new exploits. It’s my life.
What’s great about cycling?
Cycling is the perfect combination of action, fitness and nature. Whether you ride a trials bike, a road bike or an e-bike, it’s you and your bike, moving in nature. It’s a huge privilege, especially when it’s also your job.
What motivates you?
Being able to create and shape the future, while doing something your love, is a privilege. At the moment, my biggest motivation is e-mountain bikes. #uphillflow is key. It’s only just begun, so there’s still much more to discover, especially in competition. That drives me!
When do you push your limits?
Because it’s also a job, there are times you have to ride a bike, even though you are unwell. Sometimes you have a difficult group, a bad day, or you reach your limits. But that’s forgotten after a couple of days. Without a bike, I’d quickly get bored!
Why do you run courses, share tips and teach people the art of riding MTB?
The greater the number of people who can experience this feeling of happiness, simply by riding a bike, the more like-minded people there will be. It’s an intuitive mission, and wish, to get people to experience bike flow and help them be happier.
What was your most extreme bike situation?
Thanks to my trials technique, I rarely fall off. Once, on a tight bend with a narrow, steep right curve, my front wheel slipped to the left. I fell straight down and landed, head first, on sharp lava rock. It was a really hard fall. My helmet was destroyed. I don’t want to think what could have happened if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet.
What motivates you to keep going?
Giving up is out of the question. So far, I have never thought about it. Not even for a day. I must keep going. If something does happen, I get straight back on my bike. So, that moment is forgotten.
Is your helmet important?
I never get on my mountain bike without a helmet. Outdoors, I feel naked if I’m not wearing one. Helmets have always been obvious to me.
What makes a perfect helmet?
A perfect helmet is one I can barely feel, is well ventilated and fits perfectly. If I’m wearing glasses, my helmet shouldn’t move them or press them against my head. It must be light. It needs to look good too! Ideally, my helmet and I form a symbiosis, which happens with my uvex helmets. At the moment I wear an uvex quatro pro, which meets my requirements for a perfect helmet.
What’s your favorite memory of the sport?
My first international wins, standing on the podium were great. Then, the national anthem was played for each winner. It was a great time, very special. Everything around e-mountain biking. And #uphillflow, which began in 2012. Feeling uphill flow has been one of the most intense experiences of my career. It raised my view of cycling to a whole new level. It increases the upper limit 300 %. Now that you don’t need to concentrate so much on strength, you can focus on technique. You can start from scratch. The cards get reshuffled, and you can rediscover cycling. My cycling life has definitely improved.
What is flow?
Flow is a term that helps explain the allure of riding a bike. Flow is a concept that fits many sports and life situations. Being ‘in the zone’ is the first thought for many people. You are in flow when you swim in a kind of comfort zone. It is defined by working within a specific range, a ‘sweet spot’, so you neither work too little, nor overtax your body by working too hard. Your form on that day affects these boundaries. To train your limits, you gradually increase the workload, in terms of both power and technique. Better products also make daily life easier. You don’t want glasses that pinch, always fog up, or are too dark, or a heavy helmet that slips down your neck. That kind of stress can overtax you too.
What uvex products do you use?
uvex quatro pro helmet and uvex sportstyle 710 v variomatic® eyewear. I really like uvex helmets. They fit well and make me feel safe. Because uvex has specialized in protective products for so many years, it’s a kind of life insurance for me. How a rider looks is just as important. I feel really comfortable with my product choice. uvex variomatic® technology is really important in these glasses. Eyewear is a protective mechanism for me. Lenses that always have a dark tint can be dangerous if there are fast changes in light. My eyewear has a pleasant maximum tint and adapts quickly to the actual light conditions, so dangerous, extreme situations are reduced to a minimum.
How has uvex changed over the last 25 years?
uvex has always been known as a reputable, safe brand. Even before I began my bike career, I knew about uvex, probably through ski and motorbike sport. uvex has always been my companion, and over the years it has grown and adapted to market changes. uvex products are constantly updated, cleverly designed and differentiated each segment. Regardless of whether they are for road cycling or mountain biking, or disciplines like downhill, enduro or cross country. If uvex keeps going like this, there will be many more new things in the future.