Confessions of an ebike startup owner - Watt Wagons

pushkar

Well-Known Member
Hey everyone. It is the beginning of an exciting year, and I wanted to do a post of my journey at Watt Wagons and give everyone a sense of what we have in store for 2020.

It has been an extremely positive 2019 for me - both personally, and professionally. I received many, many , maaaaaaaaaaany thoughtful and encouraging comments from the EBR community, reddit, ES and others. Thank you all so much for this. I was pleasantly surprised about being welcomed with open arms to a vibrant, informed, motivated group.

Let’s get the highlights out first.

  1. Our new site is live. Finally. https://www.wattwagons.com. Still minor quibbles on some pages but I will fill those in this week.
  2. We have a new bike - the CrossTour https://wattwagons.com/products/cross-tour , the first fat tire with a commuter geometry! You will love the ride. We are posting a bunch of pics on instagram (@wattwagons) and there will be a couple of reviews coming out soon.
  3. Dual front and rear lights standard on all bikes. Incredible 2800 Lumens up front! I was tired of making excuses for insufficient lights. Go big or go home.
    1. Front lights - Lezyne Macro 1000 wired, Lezyne Megadrive 1800i smart light.
    2. Rear lights - L&M Tuck (wired), KTV Pro smart light
  4. Watt Wagons branded custom components
    1. Custom cranks. CrossTour (fat tire) cranks have lower Q factor than the default Bafang ones.
    2. Custom light-weight fender for the fat tire bikes.
    3. We are working on a couple more parts specific to our bikes. ETA April. Goal is to increase performance and rider safety.
  5. Specialty tools with bike - the lock ring tightening tool, and gates tension meter.
  6. Dual battery option - this is still very limited option at this point. This needs a custom part. Works really well in our testing, but will have a wider release later this year.
  7. Better build quality - Velofix now builds our bikes. We now ship the entire bike ready to ride condition. No need to get it to a shop any more.
  8. Plush custom bike boxes (or pet beds?) . I am adding a picture to show you the amount of care we take in shipping our bikes. A couple of our customers have started using these as pet beds or child play areas (after taping the sharp edges of course).


OK, back to the journey thing…
  1. Making Bikes is hard. Making great ebikes is even harder. I have pretty much devoted all my evenings and weekends for the past couple of years to get here.
  2. I was amazed to see the unbelievable range of component choices for bikes. Some of them actually have a great concept but really poor engineering, or poor reliability. IMO, there is actually a tradeoff when it comes to picking top shelf components. The top choices solve fewer problems, but they do it consistently, and reliably.
  3. After a year of iterating, the problems I am trying to solve now are not component based - they are mostly usage and ride quality based- e.g. Q factor, bike weight, better cable routing, more integrated batteries etc.
  4. Belt drive-only bikes. This is one of the best decisions I have made - I knew belt drives were good but the performance has been amazing. This decision has been reinforced by seeing quite a few other providers switch over to belt drives. Excellent quality and reliability.
  5. Coffee is not a good thing - esp if you have more than 5 cups a day. I have now switched to green tea. Damn, (good) green tea is expensive. I hate you Bigelow.

Watt Wagons is not my full time job, but I hope one day soon it will be. Not sure if this is a place to discuss personal stuff but I wanted to share that I have also had excellent support from my SO - she has been very encouraging and supportive throughout the process. We also have twin kindergarteners at home - so that makes this whole endeavor even more precious and special. Even though it has not been super easy over the past 2 years, it is an immense advantage to have someone who understands you, and still loves you for it.

Another thing I learned at the beginning is to always ask my customers for feedback - and strive to improve every day. There are a few things that I have made as a result of direct customer feedback. e.g. changing chainring to 60T, adding more powerful lights, updating the geometry, adding better cable routing, better packaging etc etc. I hav been fortunate to have customers who want as close to the perfect bike as possible.

I have also tried to be super customer focused and somewhat proactive.The feedback I get from current and past customers blows me away. Customer service and customer experience is truly a “value” pillar for me. I want it Watt Wagons be an excellent customer experience company on top of a bike company. There is definitely a lot of room for improvement but hopefully I am trending the right way.

I have also started to learn what makes big bike manufacturers tick - I am amazed by what Specialized, Bosch, Giant etc are doing with their bikes. There is SO much absolutely cool stuff out there.

My focus in 2020 is to keep rolling out a better product, better build quality, and continue to nurture and grow Watt Wagons. There is a lot to improve, lot to process. I hope to continue my quest !

Special thanks to @Ravi Kempaiah for his incredible guidance. Thanks to @Timpo , @Thomas Jaszewski , @Ayl , @vincent , @jono1331 , @KellyH, @BillP , @KellyH and many many more for amazing feedback, helping build a better bike.
 

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Ebiker01

Well-Known Member
Green tea also has a little caffeine, all DECAF teas and coffees have caffeine (10-30mg).
The shelf life of caffeine in someone’s system is up to 7-8hours. But w/o this nice titanium ebike couldn’t have been built😉.

Caffeine, It Is a very damaging substance and unbelievably ,it is a legal poison.
To a better sleep and a great WW ebike ☕️👌
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
I am intrigued by your bikes and impressed with the choices you are making and the integrity of your approach to designing and building bikes. Hoping 2020 is a great year for you and yours and that by year end Wattwagon is your full time squeeze.
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
Pushkar, congratulations on your successful 2019 and we hope you have an even better year in 2020.

You produce an outstanding bike and I wish all bike shipments were done your way... fully assembled! :)

1579055696249.png
 
Last edited:
D

Deleted member 4210

Guest
Confessions ? Those are for priests, not public forums. If I were you I'd keep nearly every internal detail of your business and process of the business, and private life to yourself. Talk about the externally facing product itself all you want. BUT Any sympathy or words of support you might gain from a public 'confession' is only ammo for less well meaning parties or companies out there. Hate to say it, but Could come back to haunt you in very unexpected ways. In any business endeavor you have to be very cautious and prudent in what you choose to disclose in any and every venue.
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
Pushkar is doing business the right way with open & honest communication and he will be rewarded for his efforts. Good Karma... ;)

Another thing I learned at the beginning is to always ask my customers for feedback - and strive to improve every day. There are a few things that I have made as a result of direct customer feedback. e.g. changing chainring to 60T, adding more powerful lights, updating the geometry, adding better cable routing, better packaging, etc. I have been fortunate to have customers who want as close to the perfect bike as possible.

I have also tried to be super customer-focused and somewhat proactive. The feedback I get from current and past customers blows me away. Customer service and customer experience is truly a “value” pillar for me. I want Watt Wagons to be an excellent customer experience company on top of a bike company. There is definitely a lot of room for improvement but hopefully, I am trending the right way.
 
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Ebiker33

Well-Known Member
Thanks for posting this Pushkar.
This is a company I will be watching, I like that you are small enough that you can make improvements almost instantly.
This is a super high high end Ebike that rivals the best of the best. Well done.

I would only make this 1 suggestion, the Bafang G510 you use, is the best, but I have been reading from other small manufactures of Ebikes it needs alot of tuning to make it really the best. Bafang isn't doing it right from the factory properly. I was reading from another poster on EBR that owns 2 of these bikes with the G510 one from you and one from another company and he said theirs is just tuned better than yours.
It's not a criticism, Luna was saying they are super hard to get just right for whatever bike they are on, so the tuning might be different from the two bikes you are selling because one has fat tires.

Both Luna and Excess out of Germany have seemed to tackle this issue and solved it.
Link to solution Excess Modified Bafang G510
Anyways it's not a huge deal, just something to investigate to make your bikes even better, after all you said you wanted input.
 
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pushkar

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the kind words.

Definitely great to know about the differences in programming. Bafang basically talks to all OEMs and updates stock programming periodically. We use the stock programming, but I am always on the lookout for better profiles. I'll wait for a couple of my customers to post their templates over the coming days.

Excessbikes controller is great. IMO the big difference is the gradual torque fade in at low speeds. The motor noise at under 10mph is still the same, and there doesnt appear to be a big difference at higher assist levels. May be @Deafcat can comment on his experience ?

I will connect with ExcessBikes and see if they can offer that to other OEs.
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
Pushkar, Are you utilizing the brake light switch in the Magura levers to brighten the tail light when braking? This is a great safety feature in any bike regardless of class.
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
Yes I am ! I love that feature. Simple but very effective! :)
Great, I did not realize that the Tuck had that feature. Another cool thing that can be done with the Magura lever is the clamp ring can be changed out to include a highbeam switch for the headlight. I have that on my Homage with the Supernova M99 mini-pro45. Does either Lesyne or Light and Motion have a headlight that is remotely switchable between low and highbeam?
 

pushkar

Well-Known Member
Great, I did not realize that the Tuck had that feature. Another cool thing that can be done with the Magura lever is the clamp ring can be changed out to include a highbeam switch for the headlight. I have that on my Homage with the Supernova M99 mini-pro45. Does either Lesyne or Light and Motion have a headlight that is remotely switchable between low and highbeam?
Oh. Picture of the said ring please ! I’ll try it on my end. Both lights have a high beam setting but not sure if there’s toggle functionality.
 
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oojoe

Member
Pushkar, congratulations on your successful 2019 and we hope you have an even better year in 2020.

You produce an outstanding bike and I wish all bike shipments were done your way... fully assembled! :)

View attachment 44057
whats all the wires behind the seat..??is that a controller..they didn't build it into the motor?
anyway that seat looks like the first thing I would change(looks like murder)..other than that ..a very nice build...
 

jono1331

Member
whats all the wires behind the seat..??is that a controller..they didn't build it into the motor?
anyway that seat looks like the first thing I would change(looks like murder)..other than that ..a very nice build...
Those are not wires. That's part of the brooks saddle
 
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Alaskan

Well-Known Member
Oh. Picture of the said ring please ! I’ll try it on my end. Both lights have a high beam setting but not sure if there’s toggle functionality.
That bike is in the shop with an oil leak from the Rohloff. Waiting for cycle Monkey to do a warranty service. I did some searching and discovered that switch is a Supernova product that comes with the M99 Min-pro45 and can either be installed as a separate component on the handlebar or the half with the switch can replace a stock brake lever clamp. There is a photo on this page showing it used on a Magura Lever mount. https://supernova-lights.com/en/m99-mini-pro-45/

For cool factor it lights up blue when the high beam is on.
High-beam-switch-1.jpg
 

sisyphus

Member
Hey everyone. It is the beginning of an exciting year, and I wanted to do a post of my journey at Watt Wagons and give everyone a sense of what we have in store for 2020.

It has been an extremely positive 2019 for me - both personally, and professionally. I received many, many , maaaaaaaaaaany thoughtful and encouraging comments from the EBR community, reddit, ES and others. Thank you all so much for this. I was pleasantly surprised about being welcomed with open arms to a vibrant, informed, motivated group.

Let’s get the highlights out first.

  1. Our new site is live. Finally. https://www.wattwagons.com. Still minor quibbles on some pages but I will fill those in this week.
  2. We have a new bike - the CrossTour https://wattwagons.com/products/cross-tour , the first fat tire with a commuter geometry! You will love the ride. We are posting a bunch of pics on instagram (@wattwagons) and there will be a couple of reviews coming out soon.
  3. Dual front and rear lights standard on all bikes. Incredible 2800 Lumens up front! I was tired of making excuses for insufficient lights. Go big or go home.
    1. Front lights - Lezyne Macro 1000 wired, Lezyne Megadrive 1800i smart light.
    2. Rear lights - L&M Tuck (wired), KTV Pro smart light
  4. Watt Wagons branded custom components
    1. Custom cranks. CrossTour (fat tire) cranks have lower Q factor than the default Bafang ones.
    2. Custom light-weight fender for the fat tire bikes.
    3. We are working on a couple more parts specific to our bikes. ETA April. Goal is to increase performance and rider safety.
  5. Specialty tools with bike - the lock ring tightening tool, and gates tension meter.
  6. Dual battery option - this is still very limited option at this point. This needs a custom part. Works really well in our testing, but will have a wider release later this year.
  7. Better build quality - Velofix now builds our bikes. We now ship the entire bike ready to ride condition. No need to get it to a shop any more.
  8. Plush custom bike boxes (or pet beds?) . I am adding a picture to show you the amount of care we take in shipping our bikes. A couple of our customers have started using these as pet beds or child play areas (after taping the sharp edges of course).


OK, back to the journey thing…
  1. Making Bikes is hard. Making great ebikes is even harder. I have pretty much devoted all my evenings and weekends for the past couple of years to get here.
  2. I was amazed to see the unbelievable range of component choices for bikes. Some of them actually have a great concept but really poor engineering, or poor reliability. IMO, there is actually a tradeoff when it comes to picking top shelf components. The top choices solve fewer problems, but they do it consistently, and reliably.
  3. After a year of iterating, the problems I am trying to solve now are not component based - they are mostly usage and ride quality based- e.g. Q factor, bike weight, better cable routing, more integrated batteries etc.
  4. Belt drive-only bikes. This is one of the best decisions I have made - I knew belt drives were good but the performance has been amazing. This decision has been reinforced by seeing quite a few other providers switch over to belt drives. Excellent quality and reliability.
  5. Coffee is not a good thing - esp if you have more than 5 cups a day. I have now switched to green tea. Damn, (good) green tea is expensive. I hate you Bigelow.

Watt Wagons is not my full time job, but I hope one day soon it will be. Not sure if this is a place to discuss personal stuff but I wanted to share that I have also had excellent support from my SO - she has been very encouraging and supportive throughout the process. We also have twin kindergarteners at home - so that makes this whole endeavor even more precious and special. Even though it has not been super easy over the past 2 years, it is an immense advantage to have someone who understands you, and still loves you for it.

Another thing I learned at the beginning is to always ask my customers for feedback - and strive to improve every day. There are a few things that I have made as a result of direct customer feedback. e.g. changing chainring to 60T, adding more powerful lights, updating the geometry, adding better cable routing, better packaging etc etc. I hav been fortunate to have customers who want as close to the perfect bike as possible.

I have also tried to be super customer focused and somewhat proactive.The feedback I get from current and past customers blows me away. Customer service and customer experience is truly a “value” pillar for me. I want it Watt Wagons be an excellent customer experience company on top of a bike company. There is definitely a lot of room for improvement but hopefully I am trending the right way.

I have also started to learn what makes big bike manufacturers tick - I am amazed by what Specialized, Bosch, Giant etc are doing with their bikes. There is SO much absolutely cool stuff out there.

My focus in 2020 is to keep rolling out a better product, better build quality, and continue to nurture and grow Watt Wagons. There is a lot to improve, lot to process. I hope to continue my quest !

Special thanks to @Ravi Kempaiah for his incredible guidance. Thanks to @Timpo , @Thomas Jaszewski , @Ayl , @vincent , @jono1331 , @KellyH, @BillP , @KellyH and many many more for amazing feedback, helping build a better bike.
 

BillP

Member
whats all the wires behind the seat..??is that a controller..they didn't build it into the motor?
anyway that seat looks like the first thing I would change(looks like murder)..other than that ..a very nice build...

The Brooks B17 Imperial saddle is one of the most comfortable seats out there. Like any solid leather product it takes a little breaking in. Usually after a few hundred miles is when it is formed to your butt bones.
 
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