A bike that seemed long forgotten is Pegas, the children’s favourite bike in 1970s Romania.
A bicycle which seems to have long fell into oblivion is Pegas, the children’s favourite bike in Romania, in the 1970s. A product of the “Golden Epoch” of communist Romania, the first “Pegas” bike for adults was manufactured by the Tohan Mechanical Factory, in 1972. The first models for children were made in 1975. In 1980 a wide range of models had already been produced, including bikes with speed gears (Pegas 1027 had five speed gears). In 1990, the mountain bike with 18 gears and Cantilever breaks was out on the market. Unfortunately, this was followed by the collapse of the brand.
However, in recent years, a team of young enthusiasts decided to reinvent the children’s Pegas model, by producing a version for adults. The initiator of the project, Andrei Botescu, tells us more about it:
Andrei Botescu: “It all started from my need to have a bike. Initially, I had a more expensive model, an American one, but it was stolen. So, I decided I wanted my next bike to be beautiful but not to be appealing to thieves. That is why I ended up looking for a Pegas, our national bike, which was already being reconditioned and used by many people. Unfortunately, it was no longer produced so I had to do some research to see how I could make one myself.”
“Buy a Pegas and make room for it in your house”, the producers of the new Pegas urge visitors on their Facebook page. Andrei Botescu, an entrepreneur with the Pegas Bicycles has further details:
Andrei Botescu: “It is a special campaign, focussing on location, because we are well aware of the fact that many of our customers keep their bikes inside their house. Not all of us have a courtyard, and the blocks of flats are not provided with parking spots for bikes. Therefore, we have started this campaign, keeping in mind the first question that any Pegas buyer would ask: does it fit into an elevator? Practically, we came to the conclusion that the bike is part of your home, of your universe.”
Andrei’s first Pegas bike collection entered the market in 2012.
Andrei Botescu: “First of all, I had to set up a team to work with, and I eventually found a very good product designer, Ciprian Frunzeanu, an equally good technician- engineer, Adrian Tasa, and a very good marketing specialist, Alexandru Mandea. That was the initial team I started the project with. Practically, we started working in 2010, two years before entering the market, because it is quite difficult to make the bikes. It is an easy thing to produce 2-3 bikes, but it is difficult to manufacture a whole series, even a small series of bikes, as we do. Last year, we produced as many as 1,500 bikes, compared to 500 in the first year. We are constantly trying to double our production and the number of items sold. We would like to manufacture many more in the years to come, but it is very difficult to do that when you can count only on your own funds and on your passion. We only sell as many bikes as we produce: there is a very high demand on the market, both from Romania and abroad. Many Romanians living abroad have placed an order. We have just received one from a lady in the Netherlands, who works for the European Space Agency. Many Romanians have in mind the idea of showing off a Romanian product they take pride in, in universities across the UK, France and Luxembourg.”
Today’s Pegas is a mix of nostalgia and the wish to make a high quality product, with a special design and in a wide range of colours. Andrei Botescu has more on the changes they brought to the new model.
Andrei Botescu: “First of all, we have kept the overall design of the bike. We have kept the model with the long saddle and the long handlebar. We have also held on to the shape of the bike frame. Because the initial long saddle model was destined for children, we have created a chopper bike for adults, in an attempt to make them revisit their childhood. Many of them don’t even realise the difference: they believe the bikes of their childhood had the same size with the bikes we produce today. This project has some emotions attached to it.”
The marketing strategy includes a very active Facebook page and the participation in various campaigns.
Andrei Botescu: “We have carried out several interesting campaigns which have brought us awards for advertising. One of them was called The People’s Internet. In fact, we created a website: internetul poporului.ro, describing how we imagined the Internet would have looked like, had it been invented during communism. We also laid emphasis on nostalgic campaigns about bikes, which run around and fall in love with each other. More recently, because we are attracted by urban culture, we have started a campaign entitled ‘urban colour’. You can choose your colour, using an app on your phone. For instance, you can choose a colour starting from a photo you have taken in the city and we can paint your bike in that colour.”
Our interlocutor has also said that the Pegas fans nowadays somehow do themselves justice, as many of them couldn’t afford a bike during Communism, but they can buy one now. But the image of school children who receive bikes as a reward for the good results they scored in school has faded out in time. Therefore, we have asked Andrei Botescu who are their target customers.
Andrei Botescu: “We want to promote our bicycles as urban bikes, that owners can use to get to work or ride just for the sake of it. Pegas bike riders realize in no time the bike is more comfortable. The long handlebars allow them to sit comfortably and look around, admire urban landscapes and see the world.”
So, if you plan to buy an urban bike painted in your favourite colour, you can choose the Romanian traditional bike: Pegas.