Friendly Advice To New Buyers -- Avoid Indiegogo & Crowdfunding

Catalyzt

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Don't want to start a war here, and there may be rare exceptions. But I am just reflecting (while Seeker is in for a tune-up) on how I wound up finding this great community-- and avoided losing $800.

I already had Survivor, and realized I need a second bike that had more range and better suspension. I stumbled across what I first looked like a great deal, but turned out to be a pretty well-thought-out scam: The Avarax-E. Here is a link to some evidence of the campaign, complete with the (mostly fictional) names and pictures of the slimeballs who enabled it. Pradeep Rana, I believe, is a real person who competed in a real long-distance bike challenge in India a year or two ago. Shame on you, man.


This bike does not exist, and will never be built. There is an entire community of people on social media now who have been ripped off by this campaign, and are trying to get their money back. Most of them have failed, and have no recourse.

It's easy for most of us who have been here a year or so-- myself included-- to look at this campaign now and realize that it's bogus. But as someone new to both crowdfunding and e-bikes, it took me several weeks... okay, a month or two... to figure that out. The price is just a bit too low-- I'd believe this bike existed for $1,700, and $1,000 might be a legit crowdfunding price-- and the weight is too low as well: Maybe a bike like this, with a CF fork, would weigh 42 pounds, but not 38. And if it had a CF fork, it couldn't be priced under $1,000-- that was what tipped me off. (As well as the seller not responding to my emails with these specific questions, while he did respond to everyone else who asked simpler questions like, "When does it ship?" "Can I get these other perks, too?" etc.)

But it almost makes sense, the numbers are just slightly outside the norms and laws of physics, engineering, and product pricing. I think this was a really sharp hustle: E-bikes are a new product, a hybrid of new and old technology, it takes a long time to learn what's a reasonable product and what isn't. I'm not a sucker, I've bought shadier-sounding stuff on Amazon or Ebay that turned out to real. (I just got a $60 3-watt guitar amp that sounds absolutely fantastic through a PA cabinet, and would be fine for playing small clubs.) In fact, I can see why-- to some folks-- the BikesDirect website, where I bought a fantastic bike that has given me over 500 trouble-free miles so far-- looks shadier than this ad campaign does.

They ALMOST got me, guys. My cursor was HOVERING over the "Buy" button.

I can see where there might be situations that would be exceptions-- if it were a campaign by a designer with a track record, for example, or that you knew personally, and you were an experienced buyer who knew exactly what you were looking for.

But if you're new to this? Don't get played. Stay far away.

My personal opinion? This is vulture capitalism at its worst. I'd be thrilled to see Indiegogo go out of business. No disrespect to those who disagree. But I am so grateful for the great advice I got here, and if I save a single person from being taken in by a scam like this, I'll be a happy man.

If you're tempted? Just slow down, post your questions here, strike up a dialogue with some of the more experienced folks. Sleep on it, think it over.

Mad respect for EBR. Thanks so much.
 

ActionJackson

Well-Known Member
Region
Asia
City
Tokyo
This is vulture capitalism at its worst. I'd be thrilled to see Indiegogo go out of business. No disrespect to those who disagree.
EXACTLY my sentiment. I’m sure there are a few exceptions, but for the most part crowdfunding is a scam perpetrated by people who don’t have a genuine innovation to hawk.
 

Bikeknit

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Kansas City
I looked at this and saw several red flags besides the first one, "how is this possible at this price?" How many ebikes have you seen that can fully charge in 90 minutes?

Here's my list of things I see in lots of scams and see in this one.

1. Self cleaning. Really? Have you ever heard of a "self-cleaning bicycle?" Did they just throw that in?

2. Lots of typos and small grammatical errors. A lot of the copy is awkwardly worded. This could be for any number of reasons but sure doesn't look like a company that pays attention to the details. "We also a manufacturer of the bike parts ..."

3. Generic phrasing. "The most ebike display possible". What does that mean? "We have been working in ebike industry for a long time..." How long? In what capacity?

It is always good to put more investigative effort into anything that looks too good to be true. Thanks for the heads up on this one and glad you didn't click on the "buy" button.
 

ruffruff

Well-Known Member
You mean I'm not getting 4.2 million from someone killed in the Concorde plane crash in 2000?
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I was one of the few backers who got this product, and its a great product. I had no idea I was so lucky compared to most of the other backers. These guys wanted to do right, but the system is stacked against them and this guy - if you can sit thru the thing - shows why its such a bad model.


The only crowdfunded project I would touch is one from a player that has already established themselves as a bona fide retailer and who is using crowdfunding to test the waters on a new model.
 

antboy

Well-Known Member
The only crowdfunded project I would touch is one from a player that has already established themselves as a bona fide retailer and who is using crowdfunding to test the waters on a new model.
100% this. I've never backed an "out of the blue" company, as they fail way too much. The video you shared is a perfect example of someone Kickstarting with good intentions, but WAY too early in the development stage, and not enough grasp on the realities on the ground.

A friend of mine Kickstarted his business, but he and his wife spent months finding the right material, and the right stitching, and 100s of samples to friends (I was a beta tester), and had a significant cash outlay before even creating the Kickstarter page. It wasn't until he was ready to scale up that he launched his first campaign, knowing all the logistics from start to finish. Of course there's always challenges, but like a good Boy Scout he was prepared.
 

ruffruff

Well-Known Member
I was one of the few backers who got this product, and its a great product. I had no idea I was so lucky compared to most of the other backers. These guys wanted to do right, but the system is stacked against them and this guy - if you can sit thru the thing - shows why its such a bad model.


The only crowdfunded project I would touch is one from a player that has already established themselves as a bona fide retailer and who is using crowdfunding to test the waters on a new model.
Wow interesting story. I teach a design class, might have my students watch that!
 

Catalyzt

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I looked at this and saw several red flags besides the first one, "how is this possible at this price?" How many ebikes have you seen that can fully charge in 90 minutes?

Here's my list of things I see in lots of scams and see in this one.

1. Self cleaning. Really? Have you ever heard of a "self-cleaning bicycle?" Did they just throw that in?

2. Lots of typos and small grammatical errors. A lot of the copy is awkwardly worded. This could be for any number of reasons but sure doesn't look like a company that pays attention to the details. "We also a manufacturer of the bike parts ..."

3. Generic phrasing. "The most ebike display possible". What does that mean? "We have been working in ebike industry for a long time..." How long? In what capacity?

It is always good to put more investigative effort into anything that looks too good to be true. Thanks for the heads up on this one and glad you didn't click on the "buy" button.
All good points. The later ads were a bit better, they cleaned up the grammar-- this is an archived page or something, I think. On their (now defunct) website, they did have a picture of a bike factory, and videos of guys riding prototypes and haul-assing through the forest, people carrying the bike with one hand. The self-cleaning thing, to me, was an orange flag, but not quite a red one... it just seemed too weird to be a scam. I figured, okay, maybe they're legit and they just have some terrible marketing guy.

I was one of the few backers who got this product, and its a great product. I had no idea I was so lucky compared to most of the other backers. These guys wanted to do right, but the system is stacked against them and this guy - if you can sit thru the thing - shows why its such a bad model.


The only crowdfunded project I would touch is one from a player that has already established themselves as a bona fide retailer and who is using crowdfunding to test the waters on a new model.
This is a great video-- making my way through this slowly between clients, still haven't finished the last ten minutes. Fascinating.

My theory is, the people who dreamed up the Avarax are completely different from the folks who created the bike mirror. I think the Avarax people were straight up criminals, and the reason I think so is the way they responded to questions-- or didn't. I also checked out the physical address for their 'warehouse' in New Jersey, and the other tenants are a moving company that scammed people-- held their belongings hostage until customers paid twice the price.

Seems like the bike mirror campaign was plagued by both extreme cluelessness and predatory online marketing pirates. They exist in my business, too-- I'm a psychotherapist, and I'm forever getting spammed by weasels who are trying to tell me how to grow my practice by letting them design my advertising, or by using their cloud-based medical record system or video-chat platform.

Uh, sorry, I'll administer my own website, keep all my records out of the kloud and on a physical hard drive, so if someone wants to ransom them, they pretty much have to break through my office door and point a gun at me-- which is not that easy, and, er, wouldn't work out that well. My clients are generally young adults, and against all expectations? They think my 1990s-looking DIY website is totally dope, that the UI is refreshingly easy to navigate, and the design is really retro and cool. 😁
 

Gionnirocket

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Y. O.
I was one of the few backers who got this product, and its a great product. I had no idea I was so lucky compared to most of the other backers. These guys wanted to do right, but the system is stacked against them and this guy - if you can sit thru the thing - shows why its such a bad model.


The only crowdfunded project I would touch is one from a player that has already established themselves as a bona fide retailer and who is using crowdfunding to test the waters on a new model.

The system is not stacked against them... By his own admission they went into a venture with an over abundance of ignorance.
He's a product of everything on social media is real and everyone is a winner and gets a trophy.
 

Gionnirocket

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Y. O.
But on a soft skills note....I'm guessing the next time he attempts one of these projects he will succeed. He seems to have learned a lot of good lessons.
There are very few substitutes for experience... Especially experience from failure.
The very core of why everyone does not deserve a trophy
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
In the early days of this forum, the CF subforum was loaded with scams for $99 ebikes. Some were so obvious, they were shut down by the crowd funder page for violations of Terms of Service, yet the same guy would start another one there, and post it under the same name here.

On the other hand, in 2014, I think Sondors pioneered the electic fat tire bike in the US with his crowd funded single speed model. I think it was $499-599. Legit successes fostered imitators and con men.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
I didn't have a Sondors, but I did have a 500W bafang fat bike motor from CSC in China. It had a 36V 15-17A controller, probably same size as Sondors. Not that bad for me, but I did buy Luna's Hot Rod controller, 25A? Thought it would be plug compatible, but it wasn't. Sondors used an ignition switch to start the bike, etc. Had to figure out how he did that, without owning a Sondors, and then make my own harness. With 52V, picked up 8 mph that I never use.

Luna must have rolled back the amps on that controller, because I think it's 20A now? Customers must have fried a lot of them.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Like Sondors. Those first bikes were absolute dogs. Luna and others sold hundreds of thousands of USD in upgrades to make the Sondors eBikes acceptable rides.
Depends on the rider, though... and the expectations. I know tons of people who still ride an original Original (350w fatty) and they're still thrilled with it. And even people who wore out their 8.8ah 36v battery after a few years of riding, then came back asking about buying replacements.

Me, I test rode the bike with those bits just to make sure it worked. But after that one ride around the block I had a spare controller and 52v battery (both from Luna) already in the garage. So I knew coming into it I wanted more and the $599 bike plus battery and controller was still well under market value for the time.

Later, I assembled a bike with the 36v parts I took off the Original (after new wheels, two 52v hub motors to make an awd and a whole lot more stuff), and gave it to a friend, on her first ride she giggled in delight and shouted out how she was never riding a normal bike again (true story).
 

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Minnesnowta
Depends on the rider
I saw hundreds of support questions and purchases for upgrades from dissatisfied buyers. Again Luna sold an amazing number of controllers batteries and displays for upgrades. We have very different experiences.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
We have very different experiences.
Yeah no doubt. The rider 'population' I was drawing from comes from the Sondors community, where as you know I am a moderator on their main user group. The bikes were in fact bought by many with the expectation that they were going to pull the parts off out of the gate and upgrade them. Part of the appeal at that time was the fact that they were cheap and used a relatively open platform where upgrades were readily available. But those 'modders' - of which I was one - were still relatively few compared to the masses who bought them. A 36v battery with a 15a peak, 10a continuous controller is tremendously underpowered by our mutual standards (and the standards of many others, for sure)... but for a lot of folks they were really happy with it.

The two I bought for my daughter and son-in-law were the 48v/17ah 'X' model and we upgraded those with Bolton 25a controllers, and I put on Magura brakes (back in the day when I could buy them cheap from a German web site), but they are still going strong.