We are pleased to announce that due to our fantastic relationship with Paypal and the progress we have made with the manufacturing of Stark Drive, we have been granted access to their lay-a-way program which lets you take up to 6 months to pay for Stark Drive.
The program is open to anyone in the US and the checkout procedure is exactly the same as before except that if you choose, you can pick a 6 month to pay option giving you the freedom to enjoy the benefits of the worlds most affordable electric bike today and take up to 6 months to pay.
CEO, Stark Drive LLC.
We originally launched on Kickstarter on November 1st. We were very green to crowdfunding and did everything wrong. We realized just how wrong after about a week on Kickstarter and having raised only about 17K US. We were at that point contacted by Indiegogo and they were very interested in us bringing over our project to their website, especially with their recent success of a similar project: Mate.bike.
They promised to assign us a representative that would help us at every step of the way if we agreed to cancel our launch and relaunch on their platform. That is one major difference between KS and Indie due to what i believe notoriety of the two websites in the internet sphere. Kickstarter has a much broader user base and from what I have been lead to believe much more traffic.
We accepted the offer and then we were set out on a path of success with hundreds of pages of guides that were sent to us about how to launch a campaign, generate buzz, interest from publishers and online influencers etc.
We on our relaunch which was February 15th 2017, we had quite a different experience in our launch having achieved backer support of approximately 285.000 USD before out campaign was put under 'review' by the Trust and Safety Team at indiegogo.
Here is a very important point i want to make in regards to being put 'Under Review' and 'Suspended'.
Stark Drive Electric bike has to the date of this blog update, NEVER been suspended from Indiegogo. We have however been 'Under Review' for a very long period of time. I don't believe any actual 'reviewing' is actually going on.
To see the difference refer to the image at the top of this blog post. Titan Note, another Swedish project, has clearly been suspended from Indiegogo, and other crowdfunding sites, however Stark Drive, has never been suspended anywhere.
Some websites has stated 'Suspended' or 'Cancelled' and while i would agree the end effect is the same, the actual status of our project is still 'Under Review'.
Perhaps it will still be 'Under Review' when the first bach ships early august to our awaiting backers.
CEO, Stark Drive LLC.
There has not been so much posted in the way of test rides of the final assembly model of Stark Drive and I had the opportunity to test the model of Stark Drive Advanced (inclusive of all the various accessories included). The model that i test drove is meant for our backers where their laws allow for speeds up to 35kph and the acceleration from 0 to full speed of this model is fantastic.
The we will publish other videos as well as a video with the factory manager(s) in the coming days.
CEO, Stark Drive LLC.
When we originally started the process of trying to build and supply a super affordable electric bike to the world, I never in our wildest dreams anticipated that it would end up with me having to fly across the world to get answers for a sudden and unexplained cancellation of our project, neither did I (or my team) anticipate that we would be tortiously interfered with having our super successful crowdfunding campaign cancelled.
Its strikes me, Oscar Stark, as very odd that if one was really interested in the environment, helping people with sustainable transport, and removing the financial barriers that have been the norm in the electric bike industry for the last several years, that one would be opposed to as many participants as possible in the electric bike market with the sole aim of helping to flood the market with electric bikes which in itself would help to put pricing pressure on the well established and slow moving incumbents that have languished on their fat profit margins for so long.
Its not fair.
Imagine if flying were only the domain of the rich, there goes sun vacations, visiting relatives in distant lands or even experiencing the sheer wonder and beauty that the world has to offer.
Imagine if vehicles were only left to the rich, this was abolished quite quickly with Mr Ford building a car for the masses at affordable prices. It pleases us that some journalists have compared us to the Ford of electric bikes.
Imagine if medical care were only left to the rich. Granted some countries do have very high costs for medical care but conversely those most populous countries in the world have excellent systems in place to treat their huge populations.
By the same vein, my personal idol Mr Elon Musk has what a decade ago would have seemed like aspirations fit for someone to enter a psychiatric ward, wanting to lower the cost barrier of entry into space so that the common man could afford it (albeit, a fairly wealthy common man with approx. 200.000 USD in his pocket).
At Stark Drive, we are not interested in becoming rich from the sales of our electric bikes, our goal is to be an enabler; an enabler that allows anyone no matter from what class or social standing to be able to get and use an electric bike. No country should know this better then Denmark which according to an informative literary work that I have had the pleasure of devouring (The Almost Nearly Perfect People: The Truth About the Nordic Miracle by Michael Booth), Denmark prides itself on all people being equal no matter what their occupation or social standing. Taking into consideration the analysis provided in this novel (by a non danish person whom has lived in Denmark for over a decade) it struck me as very odd the behavior of what i affectionally call 'our competition'.
According to this informative novel which i recommend everyone interested in the history and current status of Scandinavians, Danish people are beacons of trust and according to an economist named Bjørnskov, Danish Trust saves the Justice system 15,000 DKK per person per year. For example they did an experiment in 1996 Readers Digest by dropping wallets in the Danish central train station and only two countries were all 40 wallets that they dropped returned, Denmark and Norway. Furthermore, according to a 2011 OECD survey, 88.3 per cent of danes expressed a high level of trust in others, more then any other nationality. (Note all this information is from the book mentioned above page 72, and 78 in the ebook).
Well, we have come a long way since 1996 it seems. Trust is no longer the status quo from what we at Stark Drive have noticed, at least when it comes to our competition in Denmark and their legal representation.
Many of you may be aware that they had our Indiegogo project cancelled after having raised a little shy of 300.000 USD in a little under a week. We were well on track to surpassing the highest crowdfunded project in Sweden, until a fraudulent DMCA notice was sent to Indiegogo.
We were also the victims of horrendous libieilous statements made not only on their Indiegogo page under the comments section but also on several of the websites where stark drive was written about in their respective comments sections. We know it was them due to the errors in english they made which are common language errors made by Danish speakers, as well as IP address information.
Its counterproductive to pay a bunch of lawyers to hash things out in court, we know this but that being said, should we compromise our integrity and stand by while a rapacious few try to limit the availability of technology to those that would otherwise not be able to afford it?
Stage one is the public apology from our competition after what will probably be a lengthy and counterproductive legal battle.
(to the effect of helping to enable the supply of electric bikes at least).
Stage two will be the lawsuit for tortious interference.
The irony of the situation is not lost on us here at Stark Drive. We are well on our way to delivering Stark Drive to our backers a mere couple of months after our campaign ended whereas our competition has not delivered to many of their backers for the better parts of a year with promises every few months that the deliveries will arrive. Yet we were called a scam? Strange but anyways, one positive note is that there are several thousand more electric bike enthusiasts in the world and hopefully this enthusiasm is contagious.
Oh, and check out trustpilot: https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.mate.bike
Seems a number of not so positive reviews keep disappearing with only positive ones remaining.
With ♡ from Stockholm
CEO, Stark Drive LLC.
After a weekend of recuperation, I have regained some as-semblance of the resetting of my internal time clock after my extremely long and delayed flight back from Asia. What will follow in the next several blog updates will be further and more detailed information about my factory visits to the facilities that are producing Stark Drive as well as videos of the same.
On initially arriving to the factory, we were greeted by the following scene while waiting for the elevator. These are not units of Stark Drive but rather completed electric bicycles for another customer that the factory works with. This factory supplies electric bikes all over the world, although from my discussions with the factory owner, no one has been able to negotiate the steep pricing discount that our team has managed.
Further more electric bikes that are palatalized and ready for shipping around the world. Of note is that we have negotiated boxes that are much more durable then the ones pictured here in order to prevent any form of shipping damage. Further our boxes are much more detailed and indicative of the quality product that you will be receiving from us. These are generic boxes. You can see what Stark Drives box will look like in a previous blog post.
Here you can see the works building the bikes after receiving the frames and components from other factories in China. I liken the process to Henry Fords Model T production with each worker having their own operation and responsibility to complete before its passed onto the next phase.
Here you can see the release for production Stark Drive City Prototype. There have been some enhancements to it in regards to the LED display and the motor disabling mechanism. We are also going to be adding something that we have personally never seen on any electric bikes outside of china. A locking mechanism that disables the motor wheel through a key lock system. Although locking systems that fit over the top of the wheel and through the rim are common, this is a new system that fits alongside the motor within the wheel that totally disables the wheel through the use of a key. Much harder to bypass such a system which is why its more commonly implemented in China. We are not sharing any photos of this system yet in order to prevent anyone copying our idea. It is something that will be able to be added to Stark Drive after the fact at marginal extra cost.
Here you see the LED system, Key Locking System as well as the other standard features of Stark Drive.
We will be sharing more photos and experience as well as photos of Stark Drive Advanced in upcoming blog updates.
Overall we were super impressed with the quality of the components which were shimano on these particular prototypes. We have promised Shimano or equivalent to all of our backers and unlike what some competing companies have commented that for the price we charge our bikes must be 'made of paper' one can clearly see here that its actually Aluminium 6061, not paper that our bikes are made with.
CEO, Stark Drive LLC.
I have finally landed back in Stockholm, after a 27 hour (total duration door to door) flight from China. The trip proved to be challenging in many ways, not the least of which was the fact that there is a very strict enforcement of internet data into and out of China and I found myself unable to connect to our website in order to post updates after initial (somewhat) successful updates that were posted. Further, uploading photos and such media was very difficult and time consuming with my connection continually getting reset. Something that should take a few minutes here in Sweden would literally takes hours if it worked at all in China.
It was not my intention to have a media silence during my visit but it seems that unfortunately this is something one must deal with there.
There has been some people that have expressed concern that there is something wrong with production, let me assure you that there is not. Production is proceeding and I will be posting some videos and photos of the process very soon in following updates. That being said, the process has seen some very unique and unexpected delays.
You may or may not know that the economy is completely centrally controlled in china when it comes to resources such as steel, aluminum, petrol etc. This means that the amount of raw materials needed in order to produce Stark Drive (namely the frame) can be impacted if the government decides to limit the amount of aluminum that factories can purchase. Apparently this was in a bid to reduce the amount of environmental impact that the smelting process was causing. Below you will see a translation of the reason for the delay as given by the factory owner, which was difficult to translate into english through my interpreter.
The factory owner had finished approximately 50% of the initial order when he was hit with this purchase restriction and this in tern has delayed manufacturing but not stopped it. As you can see in the video below, these dozens of bike frames have been completed and are awaiting painting.
Having travelled to china for over a week with the sole purpose of inspecting completed bikes and arriving to find that the order was in fact not completed was extremely frustrating for me.
Our original agreement was exceptionally clear in that the bikes were to be finished for my arrival which is the only reason i had booked the trip. One area where I had not been diligent enough in specifying in the contract was a penalty clause which would introduce some type of monetary penalty if the order was not completed as per the agreement. As such, while there i drafted an addendum to the original agreement which now includes a significant penalty clause if the upcoming order completion date is not fulfilled. Below you can see Lance and the factory owner comparing the addendum (paper on the desk) to the original contract. It is an arduous process as the factory owner does not know any english.
The factory owner was reluctant to sign this addendum and rightly so, but for me it was not up for debate, backers of Stark Drive have been promised their rewards and I am not interested in repeating the performance of my (in)famous competitor which had not delivered their bikes to backers for the better part of a year after their initial promised delivery date.
Furthermore, the fat tire bikes (for those whom have ordered one) have turned out to be a bit more complicated then initially thought. The original folding bike mould that the factory uses is not able to support 'fat tires' and as such a new mould must be manufactured which will add to the delay for just this model of bike. For those of you that would like to switch your order to regular tires, that is perfectly fine, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do so and credit you the upgrade fee. However, that being said, we have a special incentive for those of you that are willing to be patient.
Normally your $200 shipping fee would be for boat shipping and then local carrier however due to this error which was on the part of the factory, they have agreed to airship the fat tire bikes in order to compensate for the extended manufacturing time at no additional charge to us. This is quite an offer as the costs to air ship are far greater then ground shipping. If you choose to keep your fat tire bike note it will be an approximate wait of 50 Days for the mould and final assembly of your bike to be completed but air shipping only adds a couple days to that whereas boat shipping takes anywhere from 2-3 weeks plus the transit time once it reaches the destination port. If all that is taken into account, the time extension is a wash.
All this being said, you're probably asking the question: 'I didnt back a fat tire bike when do i get Stark Drive!' and the completion claus having been signed i can now report that the official MUST BE FINISHED date for Stark Drive at the factory is now August 8th. Im mentally and physically preparing myself for an additional unplanned trip to China around this date with the sole purpose to inspect each and every Stark Drive unit before it is shipped (not including the fat tire models). NOTE: The fat tire bikes will not hold up shipping for the non-fat tire orders.
As im extremely tired after the trip, I will be posting additional updates with regards to factory production, meetings with the factory manager, experiences while in China etc. in upcoming updates over the coming days. I just felt it was important to get this information out to all you backers as soon as possible.
From Stockholm with ♡
CEO, Stark Drive LLC
Well today I had meetings that might help to further fight the high cost of electric bicycles worldwide. A little history about the current batch of Stark Drive:
When we originally set out to manufacture Stark Drive we had gone to several factories submitted to them RFQ's otherwise known as a 'Request for Bids' as it were to determine what the market prices were in various manufacturing facilities. The bid process is basically one where we would set out certain specifications and criteria that must be met and the factories would in tern (if they were interested) respond to our quotes with their best prices for various quantities of Stark Drive. As a logical part of this process we had decided to include all components including all electrical components in the quote. This included the battery pack for Stark Drive.
Of course if one analyzes the price of an electric bike in-depth as we had, you will quite quickly determine that the battery pack does make up for a substantial cost of the entire bike and this cost is something that can have a substantial impact on the final price.
For this reason I instructed our team in China to start investigating companies that specialized in battery pack production and our team found an excellent factory not far from our manufacturing facilities that had a branch whom are a major supplier for several industries including laptops, mopeds, electric bikes or basically anything that takes the standard lithium ion cell systems such as the 18650 packs that are so common today. For example these 18650 cells are the same cells that have been used in all Tesla vehicles up until the Model 3 debuts, after which they have created a new standard 2170.
Well I received a grand welcome, to put it mildly on arriving to this factory.
I then sat down to discuss our requirements and investigate more into the testing procedures of this factory as well as their capabilities. Its very important for us at Stark Drive to provide a quality product to our customers that will last and without the battery an electric bike is well, just a bike!
During the meeting i was informed that approximately 2 years ago the Chinese government had taken drastic steps to improve the operational battery properties of lithium ion cells that are sold on the open market due to the increased media attention on the so called 'exploding battery packs'. Before this, there was not much regulation on lithium ion cells in China and therefore people associated Chinese cells with low quality or counterfeit cells. It was then the Japanese and Taiwanese that dominated this market as they had much stricter requirements on their cells as well as independent inspectors that would visit their factories unannounced to inspect their facilities.
This has now changed. The factory that I am talking with is UL certified and inspected on a regular basis. They strive to break with the old prejudices that have been associated with Chinese cells in the past. Currently Stark Drive uses high quality Panasonic cells but if we want to have the lowest prices in the world for the upcoming $299 USD electric bike we have to consider all our options and if we are able to find a factory that adheres to our stringent quality principles as well as providing us competitive pricing we are not going to overlook the potential savings to our customers worldwide.
Here you can see a load testing machine which basically simulates the load that would be placed on these cells if they were installed in an electric bike. The discharge rate is then monitored digitally and recorded to ensure that it adheres to the pre established limits as per their design.
Further load testing albeit on a smaller scale, these would be used in cellular phones or other smaller electronic components.
Here you see a device that is used to quickly solder together battery packs. This is only for used for laboratory testing purposes. They have an automated machine that moves faster then the eye can see in their larger factory about 20km away.
It was an excellent discussion and we are pleased that we are closer to developing the ultra affordable electric bike that we can distribute to everyone in the future. As I have predicted in the past with the increasing energy density of cells as well as their miniaturization, in the future all bikes will be electric with it being up to the user whether or not they want assist and how much.
After visiting China, which is somewhat of a leader in electric transportation solutions, i will now add to that prediction to coincide with the upcoming paradigm shift that will soon be happening to the everyday automobile in that no longer will one own a vehicle, they will only hire one when they need one. China is already at the forefront of this type of system with hundreds of thousands of bikes all across the country just sitting on the street with one of the major players below.
This is a bike you dont own, you simply scan a code through your smartphone and it unlocks and you can ride it to your destination and just leave it there for the next person. It's a paradigm shifting user experience and one that Stark Drive wants to help to bring worldwide, with the primary requirement being that the bikes must be so affordable that they become common place an thus ubiquitous.
Signing off here for today.
What a whirlwind trip it has been so far. Approximately 24 hours from my home in Stockholm, Sweden to our factory in China. I arrived extremely jet lagged but was determined to get as much done as possible. My first day here I have managed to visit both factories that are producing Stark Drive and have met with both Factory owners whom are also brothers. I have several video updates but the connection speeds where i am are extremely slow and I will have to wait until i return to Sweden to post these. Here you see us enjoying a warm cup of excellent Chinese tea.
These brothers love electric bikes as much as we do at Stark Drive, and one of the most impressive things i have noticed since i have been here is that there is no one that uses petrol powered mopeds, everyone travels with electric powered bicycles, mopeds, or cargo carriers. In this respect they are light years ahead of us in Scandinavia and the rest of the world.
As you can see both this factory, and the sister factory (run by the factory owners brother) specialize in electric bikes of all shapes and sizes. We were fortunate to find a factory with their credentials and experience for the price that we agreed to. I want to especially thank our team in china lead by Lance for his hard work in negotiating the agreements that allowed to make available the most affordable electric bike in the world.
I also have some exciting news which will be talked about more in-depth in the near future but for those that have read our Master Plan you will know that we intend to launch a mini version of our bike in 2018. Of course we must uphold our principles of the most affordable electric bikes in the world and our initial intention was to launch this at the the price of $399 making it super affordable but as always we strive to make the unbelievable happen and improve with every iteration of our product.
Currently its looking extremely likely that in 2018 we will be able to launch Stark Drive Mini with a slightly shorter range with an appearance similar to the photos, completely foldable weighing in at only 10kg for the extremely unbelievable price of $299 US! We will be launching via crowdfunding through Kickstarter. We will shortly be launching a signup list for those that are interested in our upcoming launch. This will serve to be an unbelievable 1/3 the price of our potato loving competitors to the south in Denmark. This is the perfect electric bike for the last mile, super light, foldable, and lasts about 45km with pedal assist or about 15km on pure electric.
Once again, I and the whole Stark Drive Team want to thank our backers for making all of this possible.
CEO, Stark Drive LLC.
This will be the last post from the European side of the world. My flight departs tomorrow and i will be landing in China approximately a day later. Good news however in that we have now received confirmation and photos that our Stark Drive branded locking mechanism has been completed.
Based on a commonly available and durability tested design which offers you excellent theft protection as well as being light weight and compact so as not to detract from the design of Stark Drive when attached.
Everything ordered during our launch will ship together with your Stark Drive Electric Bike in order to save on greenhouse gas emissions as well as reducing the total lead time from production to use.
We are very passionate about delivering the best product possible which is why every single Stark Drive Electric Bike will be QC checked as well as being wrapped in tamper proof packaging and duly packaged in extra crush and impact resistant corrugated packaging. There is still time to get your Stark Drive Electric Bike starting at an unbelievable $399 USD plus shipping anywhere in the world.
Our electric bikes not only come with the best warranty in our price class in the world but we also are less then half the price of our nearest competitor with more fully equipped electric bikes.
Thank you for all your support!
CEO, Stark Drive LLC
More and more, governments are waking up to the fact that although collective transportation solutions are important to reduce not only the total amount of traffic flow in a city center and to improve air quality in cities, there are still pressures exerted on the the total funds available to build out such systems versus their total use to subsidize their implementation and further expansion.
In order to keep the prices on collective traffic at a reasonable level as an incentive to use the services the volume of passengers must always be high and consistent but with any expansion of such systems you will always have lower volumes of traffic flow in direct conflict with the aspirations of city planners.
A solution that some governments are providing incentives to are the subsidization of electric bicycles. This due to the fact that before the introduction of Stark Drive, one could easily spend thousands of dollars on a reasonably spec'd electric bike. This barrier to entry was too much for most and incentivizing the purchase with a subsidy helped many people to make the decision to go electric. Of course now that we have introduced our Ultra Affordable range of electric bikes these incentives are making Stark Drive more affordable then ever.
Oslo is one city that has started with such a discount, albeit specifically for Cargo Electric Bikes currently:
There is also France that is offering its residents an incentive to purchase electric:
Electric bikes have a plethora of benefits such as extending your range of travel, helping you arrive to your destination without breaking a sweat, portable and a perfect last mile solution in the case that your public transportation system is not as expansive as you would like.
We will continue to work to help push the prices of electric bikes lower so that this no longer hinders ones decision making process when deciding how to solve their transporation needs.