CF: A Better Model

Do You Think Crowdfund Bikes will Ever Be Cutting Edge Ebikes

  • Sure, it allows an innovator to get some capital

    Votes: 4 44.4%
  • No way, it will always be low end

    Votes: 5 55.6%

  • Total voters
    9

George S.

Well-Known Member
It's clear that the Sondo-Storm was a campaign, not an ebike. A2.0 says it has received almost $200,000, laying claim to well over a half million. That's an expensive marketing campaign. Arguably, it was successful. If you take the Agency money out, the processing fees, and the IGG fees, what can Storm put into each bike?

There's no reason CF cannot be a place to raise money for a real bike. I think Hong at Karmic is trying to make a real bike, even a better bike. CF has become a race to the bottom, where low price is everything. The low margin end of things is usually difficult. Better to sell a bike, not a bargain?

(Link Removed - No Longer Exists)

We are talking some serious design work here, and I'm especially impressed that these guys might change the way ebike batteries work. They also are looking at a direct offering through Kickstarter, which does allow them to get the funding. If they offer a well designed bike for $1500, or the kit for $750, it might be more along the lines of a bike shop bike, but at a lower margin. The whole CF thing needs to be a way to make real bikes, to push the tech. Lenny (@Crazy Lenny Ebikes) said $1500 is the sweet spot. There's a lot of logic to that, just because you leave room for a better bike and bits of innovation. Ideally the line between CF and dealer could blur, but that would require dealers to lower margins and aim for volume.
 

pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
I wonder if A2.0 and Sondors had an agreement to a percentage, but that Sondors didn't have specified whether that amount was based on the profit, or the total campaign income - the difference between $200K and $500~K would likely account for that discrepancy. If it wasn't specified in the contract, would it surprise anyone to see them try to grab that extra money? If they are a slick media business, they'll be slick in other dealings as well. Don't have a stake in it and don't care either way.

There have been crowd-funded bikes that are innovative enough (JIVR comes to mind), but I don't mind that others are offering over the shelf built bikes. The Storm is (if delivered as spec'd) actually relatively unique - the specs are all wrong for the type of bike, but if there is a delivered product that people enjoy why wouldn't you be happy for those buyers? I've staked my claim to a Radrover myself - not exactly a unique bike - but the campaign owner (Mike) has also had 2 successful kickstarter campaigns for even more unique electric vehicles (a paddleboard fin propeller setup and an electric stand-up golf 'board'). While those others aren't bikes, they are unique modes of electric transportation. I do think there is room for these in the crowd funding space.

I know I wouldn't want to buy directly from alibaba or aliexpress, though many do successfully - you also pay higher prices for single unit purchases - if the seller will even accommodate it. Otherwise, you can find Chinese electric bikes on craigslist or ebay - at prices close to those of retail e-bike sales!
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Crowd-funding as a kick-starter (small k) would be fine. I hope @Hong and Karmic bikes will use CF to get some breathing room to start a real ebike company. eBikes aren't groundbreaking anymore, the ground is broken, there aren't any sod-busters in the inexpensive CF space today, in my estimation.

Getting some breathing room should mean a fast turn around on a relatively small quantity of units giving the originators some capital to pay a few bills, put a business plan together and get in front of real money investors. eBikes are a known quantity, if you put the correct business plan together..... the investors will be there!

So far Hong and Karmic appears to be very different, the issues we want to know about are everywhere on the interweb. They have a huge etrail, that's easy to track. They are in the real tech-press, for a pre startup it's amazing to watch and is such a measured approach without sensationalism. That's groundbreaking stuff in the CF world today!
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
I wonder if A2.0 and Sondors had an agreement to a percentage, but that Sondors didn't have specified whether that amount was based on the profit, or the total campaign income - the difference between $200K and $500~K would likely account for that discrepancy. If it wasn't specified in the contract, would it surprise anyone to see them try to grab that extra money? If they are a slick media business, they'll be slick in other dealings as well. Don't have a stake in it and don't care either way.

There have been crowd-funded bikes that are innovative enough (JIVR comes to mind), but I don't mind that others are offering over the shelf built bikes. The Storm is (if delivered as spec'd) actually relatively unique - the specs are all wrong for the type of bike, but if there is a delivered product that people enjoy why wouldn't you be happy for those buyers? I've staked my claim to a Radrover myself - not exactly a unique bike - but the campaign owner (Mike) has also had 2 successful kickstarter campaigns for even more unique electric vehicles (a paddleboard fin propeller setup and an electric stand-up golf 'board'). While those others aren't bikes, they are unique modes of electric transportation. I do think there is room for these in the crowd funding space.

I know I wouldn't want to buy directly from alibaba or aliexpress, though many do successfully - you also pay higher prices for single unit purchases - if the seller will even accommodate it. Otherwise, you can find Chinese electric bikes on craigslist or ebay - at prices close to those of retail e-bike sales!

I hope Mike is around for a while. I watched the video of his bike on the streets, and it probably would work for commuting. You never know if anyone has bought the RR for resale.
 
Trying to build a new bicycle company in the traditional model is a pretty tall and risky order. There has to be a huge investment to purchase enough stock to spread around enough LBSs to get some notice and start building a brand. You either have to fund that inventory yourself or give the LBS a pretty big margin, especially for a new product from a new company because they're going to assume some part of it will sit around until they have to dump old product on clearance. That means hiring lots of people to sell your product to the LBSs, answer the phones during whatever hours those shops are open, go to China (or wherever) to manage the manufacturing relationship, and manage all those people.

So while I am not a big fan of the "trust me, I'm Joe Shmo" nature of CF group buys, there are big cost advantages for the consumer AND for the gal that just has a good idea and is willing to jump in and organize a huge group buy to bring it to fruition. Of course, with that you take on a much more significant part of the risk.

Maybe someone needs to come up with a third way. An organization with an engineering review board, established manufacturing relationships, marketing and logistical expertise, etc. Then I can bring my idea to them, get expert help refining it and understanding what's really going to happen, agree on a minimum "takers" threshold and a percentage of the profits and then step back and let them run the show.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
I think you get it about right.

The first of the campaigns to sort of 'take off' was Sam's folding bike with SLA batteries, the Cheetah. Then Storm came in and took the wind out of their sails. The Wave and the RadRover are more useful products, but it's very early in this CF game.

After a long year of ebikes, I don't know what to say. I rode the ebike with an oxygen tank when I was really sick, and it made me feel a lot better. I'm sort of drifting back to riding a bike with a motor to help. So if I go 16 mph, that takes something like 160 watts. I can do half the work, and then dial in more power for hills and into the wind.

I think the Wave shows that you can now get a lot of cells fairly cheaply. They are going with a big battery, and a 48 volt system. So it will move at speeds well into the 20's. That just takes a lot of watts. Most people who are out of shape pedal lightly and go around 10 mph, and it's a real strain. Give them some motor assist, and they are going 15 mph and getting up the hills. So if you are talking a beginner bike, I'd aim there. Unfortunately, the Storm is not well designed to pedal, and the Wave will need some gears or the motor will just take over. Aaron could have traded 20 cells in the battery for a multi-speed transmission.

The RadRover is a well designed bike, but the fat tires complicate things if you don't need that capability. Hong is apparently using the new (and unknown/untested) Bafang drive plus the relatively unknown battery system that has been kicking around for a while.

I will rate the CF bikes, having never set eyes on any of them:

1) Dillenger Cheetah "C" -- A nice effort, but very marginal build and very old tech. It's OK for short trips if it doesn't fall apart. They got the ball rolling, but I think they had the Cheetah on IGG, and nothing. Fingers crossed. I don't know why Sam didn't offer a version of the Bafang drive and Shimano internal on a KS.

2) The Sondo Storm "C-" They got the social media chain reaction. Watching the early sales numbers in real time was almost breathtaking, $10,000 an hour. And then the campaign started drowning in its pretensions. It was more than a bike, it was the revolution. Now Storm bounces checks, Agency 2.0 lacks any credibility, and the toxic 'Comment Wars' just grind on forever. Deliver the bikes. Make it go away.

3) The Wave "B-" It would be a mainstream bike, but much better with gears and a step through frame. Why not prove you can make a basic bike and give it a lot of power? But too much emphasis on the power, and the speed may be too much for the frame. They extended the campaign, rather than getting the bike out and then maybe doing a tweaked design in a couple of months. The friendliest of the campaigns, I would say.

4) The RadRover "B+" -- So, finally a bike designed by someone experienced with ebikes. The RR ticks most of the boxes, if you want a rather gargantuan and heavy bike. The configuration limits the appeal.

5) The Karmic "?+" -- They seem to be drifting perilously close to 'developmental' technology, as opposed to 'off the shelf' The above bikes are basically off the 'shelf'. Can you sell mid-drives into the mainstream, or is it a bike for people with experience? (Last count, in the USA, about 238 people). If this battery system is so great, where has it been? It seems solid, but if you are looking for potential problems, they are always there.

6) The MOR "A+" The middle of the road is a hybrid with 500 watts (RH/Geared) and a 500 watt hour battery. It's available in a step through and has 7 speeds. It weighs 40 pounds. The battery can be rebuilt, and uses 'name brand' cells. It's designed to go about 20 mph. It includes a display that shows exactly how many watts you are using, and how many watt hours you have consumed, (and how many are left). This bike doesn't exist, but maybe someone will make something like this. I figure $700. I wanted to call it the "Kurri Killer" buy my lawyer put a hairy hand on my shoulder.
 
Agree. My $0.02
1) Dillenger Cheetah "B+" - mostly because of the price. I bought one for around $450 delivered with fenders, horn, light, panniers, spare battery. Fit and finish, paint, etc are every bit as good as an iZip or Pedego. It came out of the box and went together in 10 minutes. Unfolded, tightened up, air in the tires and lube on the chains and I was off and running. Weird mid-drive with 2nd chain and SLA make it strictly an occasional use / beginner bike. And it's just too small for my 6'2" 300# mass. But it still helps me up the hills in my neighborhood. I was actually expecting a LOT less for this much $$$

2) Sondo Storm "C" - not really into the fat bike or the specs, but kudos to them for kickstarting (pun intended) the conversation in a big way.

3) Wave "A" - (I hope). Now that they opened up all the stretch goals I've got a 750W / 48V / 15Ah crank-forward bike with fenders, bell, light, (front) disk brakes and QR, 6-speed cassette, puncture resistant tires, and LCD controller delivered for $915. That's about 1/3 the price of a 500W 48V 12Ah Pedego Interceptor before you add the fenders (and sales tax, though of course I will duly file the forms and pay them on my own). I'm hoping they come through and betting it's more than half the bike the Pedego is.

4, 5) what you said

6) - I'm tall and fat so I like the cruiser/crank-forward design as opposed to hybrid. Agree about the step through availability. I'd like to see sealed hub gears, 750W mid-drive, belt drive and auto shifting (pick a cadence and forget it). Oh, and a USB charging port on the handlebars and bluetooth - there should be an e-bike control standard bluetooth device profile so I can use MMR or some other commercial app and the bike designer/manufacturer doesn't have to write an app of their own. I don't want or need another display if you can get the data and controls to my phone.

I'm kind of sad the other Dillenger KickStarter didn't get funded. I liked the idea of an easy front-wheel drive conversion with bottle-mount battery and bluetooth controller. It seemed to me like a much better way to go about it than the Copenhagen or other all-in-wheel kits.
 

pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
I will rate the CF bikes, having never set eyes on any of them:

3) The Wave "B-" It would be a mainstream bike, but much better with gears and a step through frame. Why not prove you can make a basic bike and give it a lot of power? But too much emphasis on the power, and the speed may be too much for the frame. They extended the campaign, rather than getting the bike out and then maybe doing a tweaked design in a couple of months. The friendliest of the campaigns, I would say.

4) The RadRover "B+" -- So, finally a bike designed by someone experienced with ebikes. The RR ticks most of the boxes, if you want a rather gargantuan and heavy bike. The configuration limits the appeal.

5) The Karmic "?+" -- They seem to be drifting perilously close to 'developmental' technology, as opposed to 'off the shelf' The above bikes are basically off the 'shelf'. Can you sell mid-drives into the mainstream, or is it a bike for people with experience? (Last count, in the USA, about 238 people). If this battery system is so great, where has it been? It seems solid, but if you are looking for potential problems, they are always there.

6) The MOR "A+" The middle of the road is a hybrid with 500 watts (RH/Geared) and a 500 watt hour battery. It's available in a step through and has 7 speeds. It weighs 40 pounds. The battery can be rebuilt, and uses 'name brand' cells. It's designed to go about 20 mph. It includes a display that shows exactly how many watts you are using, and how many watt hours you have consumed, (and how many are left). This bike doesn't exist, but maybe someone will make something like this. I figure $700. I wanted to call it the "Kurri Killer" buy my lawyer put a hairy hand on my shoulder.

I kinda want to rebuff here!

- The Wave - to me the campaign has too many customizations - guaranteed a few dozen people don't get the bike they asked/paid for (and that is not considering shipping botches, which also happen!). I am sure it will succeed, it is obviously doing well and most of the components are priced realistically. It just scares me that no two bikes they ship will be alike (save for those that upgrade nothing).

- The Radrover - A+ to me - it is the bike I was going to build anyway! Here is the thing, we are all looking for something different and enjoyable to ride. I guarantee those who say fat bikes are a niche and making an electric one is pointless have never ridden a fat bike. With regards to the weight, it is 60.8lbs. A heavy bike, but within a few pounds of the Sondors bike with many nice upgrades. I am sure I will be able to drop at least 10% of the bikes weight very easily. Swap the fat tubes for normal mtb tubes (1lb total), or go tubeless (2lbs), drill the rims (1lb), and swap the fork for a non suspension (not needed on a fat bike imho) - this fork weighs close to 7lbs, a standard aluminum fork 2-3 (can swap with one from the house for $100 or go Chinese carbon for even more weight savings).

- The Karmic - If they put the components they have on the demo in construction, and put a reasonably sized battery that bike will be $2K. Also, what is the point of a mid-drive with 1 gear?

The MOR (doesn't exist right...your ideal bike by the sounds of it?). Basically you're just looking for a lighter version of what is already out there for sale, and cheaper - light ain't cheap! You're asking basically for a cheap cycle analyst (those are what, $120-150?), a battery and motor that will weight about 13-14lbs together, and the rest of the bike to be 25-28lbs. Even if you were to look to a cheaper retailer like bikes direct, you'd probably be lucky to get a non-electric bike that fits that weight for $500-700 with decent components. If you could get those specs for a grand, I think it would be a steal though - and might be doable in the future!
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
On the MOR. This bike is 41 pounds with the 8AH 37v battery.

elite mac.jpg

Bikes Direct used to sell this bike for $400, but it's been respec'ed. A wholesale price would be maybe $280, in bulk. A geared rear hub is maybe $100. Then we go with a 40 cell (older Samsung) Pack for $150 or less. Add a controller. I have an accumulating wattmeter on the bike. Shows me the wattage. The one I have was $50 (shown on a Prodeco X3). Now there are knockoffs for $13 on Amazon. Adding a readout for remaining watts would be trivial. Mind you, this is a $5 circuit board in bulk. The CA does a lot of stuff, and I wouldn't aim that high. Go with the boards that are produced in the millions, mostly for watts and total watts used, voltage.

wattsup.jpg

There it is. The weight, the price, the components. I've used the bike without power for 18 months. The components are not great. Rear hub would be better if you were knocking them off, on a line in China.

The range RR is talking about is not so great. You pay a price for all that rubber. More battery, higher voltage, more aero drag, more rolling resistance. For the average Joe, I'm not sure the downsides outweigh the advantages in ride. The bike I put together is great for riding with no power, and 100 watts is a nice amount of power.
 

pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
Too funny that I independently used bikes direct as an example!

It is interesting, to get to a bike like that, it would take a business that operates just like bikes direct does in the US. My fatbike is a motobecane boris x7 - decent components (junk tires that I upgraded myself), but otherwise solid. If you look at what is offered in the $1200-1500 range for E-bikes, they aren't anything to write home about. Perhaps Bikes Direct will take that plunge. They are large enough to have their own funds to take the risk, but even they operate with a very cautious risk approach. They are still largely selling their fat bikes for instance as 'pre-sale' almost like crowd-funding, except you 100% know you'll get your bike.

Even the better e-bikes get away with cheap components. My Neo Xtrem is a nice, unique frame and battery design with the remaining components ones you'd find on a $500 bike. The components on my fatbike that cost $700 are easily better than the Neo. The problem is in North America e-bikes are such a niche market the companies can get away with low specs...for now (The radrover is nice from an e-bike perspective - better battery and motor than many offerings, but still relatively low spec'd components).

Unfortunately I'm not sure I see a middle range, low overhead company like bikes direct taking such a risk. So we are either stuck with entry level $1200+ e-bikes, high end $2,500+ bikes and for now, crowd funding. The interesting thing about the Chinese bikes that are going through crowdfunding is that there are people who do buy these to sell directly in their local markets - you can find a few of them on craigslist most likely. There is an electric fat bike advertised here on craigslist for over $2K with lower specs than the radrover. If that is what the average consumer has to pay as an alternative to going through crowd-funding, I just don't see that happening en masse. The Chinese crowd-funding bikes need to succeed for the North American e-bike industry to get a foothold, because one way or another prices need to come down in our market.
 

Lenny

Well-Known Member
We are talking some serious design work here, and I'm especially impressed that these guys might change the way ebike batteries work. They also are looking at a direct offering through Kickstarter, which does allow them to get the funding. If they offer a well designed bike for $1500, or the kit for $750, it might be more along the lines of a bike shop bike, but at a lower margin. The whole CF thing needs to be a way to make real bikes, to push the tech. Lenny (@Crazy Lenny Ebikes) said $1500 is the sweet spot. There's a lot of logic to that, just because you leave room for a better bike and bits of innovation. Ideally the line between CF and dealer could blur, but that would require dealers to lower margins and aim for volume.

You're spot on, George.
Sometimes eBike brand managers come to me and say "Lenny, it's not recommended to sell the bikes below MSRP".
I say, "Lenny has been in retail for over 40 years and are you in the business to maintain the status quo or to get more people on eBikes? I will place an order for 200 eBikes right now and let's get more people on eBikes. Soon you'll have business tripling."

You could have 10 people on eBikes with 40% margin or 100 people on eBikes with lesser margin. Very few managers get that. The US market is weird, the tail is wagging the dog.
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
An organization with an engineering review board, established manufacturing relationships, marketing and logistical expertise, etc. Then I can bring my idea to them, get expert help refining it and understanding what's really going to happen, agree on a minimum "takers" threshold and a percentage of the profits and then step back and let them run the show.

Shark Tank!