The Kreidlers of John Bos have become a household name. It involved quite a lot of work before Kreidler Original became the flourishing company we know today. How did it all start?
John’s fascination for mopeds already started at a young age. Where kids his age played with Mecano and Dinky Toys, John Bos already had his first mini moped when he was six. Not a push moped but a moped that his dad had built for him. Immortalised in the photo below.
Jet helmet on, little arms almost stretched, little knees bend, ready for the off! John Bos proudly poses on his first motorised two-wheeler. Autoped wheels, exhausts mounted high to take the turn as low as possible and the legendary yellow number plate that decorated his mudguard. It was 1967. John holding his dad’s hand was ready for attending his first TT of Assen.
When he was seven years old, he was allowed to help, after church on Sunday, in the workshop of Gerard Koch, bicycle mechanic and Kreidler dealer in Heinkenszand, his place of residence and birth village. After school and even during the holidays you could find him in Koch’s workshop. Tinkering with mopeds, not just Kreidlers, but also DKW, Tomos, Puch, Sacks and Zundapp. As well as Japanese ones like Honda and Yamaha, and even the historic Dutch moped brand Berini. John, hard-working and eager to learn, handled every engine.
From the age of ten, he had a Kreidler-crosser with which he participated in competitions. When he was 12 he unscrewed his first Kreidler block with the help of his instructor, Gerard Koch.
One day a customer entered Koch’s workshop with a disabled car on which a Kreidler block was installed. This customer asked John which moped he would buy when he was sixteen. John asked: ‘Which one do you think is the best?’ The answer was: ‘Go for a Kreidler because they are extremely strong.’
So John’s mind was made up, he would ride a Kreidler.
In the sixties and seventies (1965 to 1974) Jamathi was popular. This was a moped that was built by two Dutch people who are still famous nowadays: Jan Thiel and Martin Mijwaart. In those days John was already interested in having his own moped factory.
In the seventies he bought his first Kreidler-racer.
However, in 1979 tragedy hit mercilessly. John had a traffic accident with his best friend Kees van Maldegem. The Suzuki they were riding crashed into a Jaguar. They were both launched. Nevertheless they still went to the TT of Assen the next day, be it on crutches.
Misfortunes never come alone. Kees van Maldegem died later in this disaster year. And fourteen days later, Marion Bos, John’s sister also died. She had even been at the funeral of Kees.
Marion was the victim of a motorist who drove under the influence of alcohol. John’s life was no longer the same and would never be the same. He did not go to the circuit for a long time. John choose to stay out of the limelight to come to terms with the enormous grief.
Against the will of his father and his grandfather, John chose for a life at Kreidlers. His dad saw his future in measurement and control technique. Granddad Bos rather saw him as a musician.
In 1982 Kreidler went bankrupt. John was 22 at the time and thought: ‘this is my chance’. Everyone laughed at John’s plan to take over Kreidler, where 600 people were employed. Nobody could then suspect that the company that John set up on his own with hard work would become such a success later on. He resigned from his employer, Melse in Goes, to start his own company. John went to Stuttgart, to the factory of Kreidler. An immense building bursting with parts, moulds and drawings.
John bought all the parts: 28 full trailers in total. Kreidler was obliged to still produce parts for a number of years. John went to Stuttgart to learn the ins and outs. Nowadays he not only has all the original drawings and moulds, but also the exclusive right to the Kreidler brand. John can see from every Kreidler when and by whom the machine was made.
The production started in Eindewege, Zeeland, but this location soon became too small. In 2003 he moved his company to Barrô (Agueda), Portugal. An impressive factory building, large and pontifical present. The name KREIDLER and the logo are proudly displayed on the facade in red letters.
Thanks to John Kreidler fortunately did not become a thing of the past but is still very topical. He has not only ensured the restart of his favourite brand but he has also implemented improvements. There is only one ‘thing’ about his company that is not from this day and age. That is the fact that John and his employees show genuine interest in their customers. Where other companies fill in contact forms, you still receive a typical Dutch welcome at Kreidler, just as in the old days. You can also contact them by phone five days a week if you have any questions. With John it is not about profit. It is pure love for the brand that keeps the engine of the Zeeland-Portuguese Kreidler Original running.
Each moped fan loves the sound of his own machine. John's striking description: 'that sound, just like honey bees’.
Each customer is unique, but this anecdote is unforgettable:
On a lovely, sunny day John received a customer at his desk with a question. A burning question. This customer described a Kreidler that he once owed in so many details, so accurately that it soon became clear what he actually wanted. This gentleman insisted on getting his own old Kreidler back. The machine had got involved in a bankruptcy and had disappeared without a trace. A private detective was hired to trace the Kreidler. And with success. After a long search the machine was found in a pigsty in Twente. The gentleman who wanted to get his old Kreidler back, was over the moon! This is the effect that Kreidler has on you.
John’s dogs, four Malinois shepherds, cannot escape the motor love of their owner either. They are all named after drivers:
Senna (Ayrton Senna)
Rossi (Valentino Rossi)
Barry (Barry Sheene)
Bo (Bo Bendsneyder)