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When we produced the V2 prototype of Stark Drive Torque (SDT) and Stark Drive Torque Max we knew it was something special and wanted it to stand out. Therefore decided to go for hydro graphics instead of simply painting the frame as we have done in the past.
On our visit to our coatings partner, we spent some time discussing what we were after as well as how we wanted torque to be perceived as the number of types of hydro graphics designs are literally infinite, at his factory, on hand he had over 2500 styles with a warehouse and access to an additional 100.000 styles
The process to apply a hydrographic is not especially difficult but that does not mean that it does not take exceptional skill, especially when the shape is as complicated as the frame for SDT. On our first attempt in fact, the shape and size was somewhat underestimated and resulted in an incomplete coating. As you will see below in our video we had to then clean, dry and repaint the bike base coat so that it could be coated again with the design. The second attempt was much more successful as you can see from the final photos.
When we go into mass production, those whom opt for a hydro graphic coating instead of painting, the process will not be done by hand, instead it would be done by machine to ensure a consistent result and accurate repeat-ability.
I describe the process in the videos below however basically these work as follows:
The process is arguably faster than regular painting and gives you the ability to add some very wild and unique designs to your bike. we will be offering a limited number of these during our launch of Stark Drive Torque on Indiegogo when we launch in August 2019.
The final result you can see below, it looks quite striking:
CEO, Stark Drive LLC
Fingerprint Recognition on a SUB-$1000 eBike
One of the coolest features we have worked hard to include for the upcoming Stark Drive Torque (SDT) platform is fingerprint recognition technology. This is a feature that is normally found in ebikes that are several times the cost of our planned $999 US for SDT. Fingerprint recognition would allow you to forgo having to carry around a key for the bike in order to use the electrical assist features and also enable you to share the bike with friends and family whom have registered their respective biometrics with the bike.
The power system on SDT instead of being controlled solely with the key can now be controlled simply by using your fingerprint to turn the bikes power system on and off at your leisure. As always all of this tech is hidden from sight inside the bike frame, something we were able to accomplish due to our use of the new Bafang line of Torque Mid Drive motors which house both the motor and controller right inside the drive system located centrally weighted on the bike. This left us with a lot of room in the frame to add features such as biometrics to control the bike.
We are not the first to include such tech on our bikes. A notable ebike already on the market by Van Moof already includes this tech but for a base price that is triple the cost of SDT. As always our company's mantra was and still is to make accessible the best technology that the electric bike revolution has to offer at a cost that makes it accessible to anyone that wants to own it.
Stay tuned for our next blog posting talking about even more unique features that will be available on the upcoming SDT!
CEO, Stark Drive LLC
The whirlwind visit to our various factories in china also included a visit to our exclusive battery manufacturing partners whom we have been working with since the launch of the original Stark Drive back in 2017. This factory has been manufacturing ebike batteries for over a decade and has a great deal of experience when it comes the technology behind a perfectly designed and long lasting battery pack.
A battery pack is not simply just a bunch of cells connected in series and parallel and in fact has a lot of circuitry and software that continually senses the state of the battery pack making sure that the cells do not discharge past their safe limit and that the cell charging cuts off to prevent any over voltage situation for the cells, which can prematurely shorten the life of the pack.
The battery cells for Stark Drive Torque (SDT) will be imported from Japan and will use the best high capacity cells available which currently include cells from Panasonic, Samsung or LG. We use 18650 cells of varying capacity in order to achieve the rated Ah rating that on the pack. We will be offering three battery capacities for Stark Drive Torque that include 9Ah, 13Ah and 18Ah which will operate at the matching voltage to the bike. It's interesting to know that as you increase the bike systems voltage from 36V to 48V and so on, that you need to add a the equivalent corresponding number of cells in series to achieve the desired voltage. For example, if you needed to achieve a total of 36V using our cells, you would need 10 cells in series, conversely, if you wanted to get up to 48V you then need 14 cells in series.
Remember though that the actual voltage of your battery will be both higher and lower than the nominal voltage during the discharge cycle. To get the full voltage of a battery when fully charged, multiply the fully charged voltage of each cell (4.2 V for li-ion) by the number of cells. So a 10s battery pack is actually 42.0 V when fully charged. The fully drained voltage would be approximately 3.0 V multiplied by the number of cells in series, which would be 30 V for a 10s pack. Our protection circuitry to prevent under voltage cuts the battery off at 27V meaning that the bike stops working as an electric bike when it drops to near this voltage and in fact if you leave your pack sitting over the winter not having charged it the battery would then go into protection mode and the default charger that we ship with Stark Drive will no longer charge the pack and a special charge is needed. In actuality, most li-ion cells can be drained down to 2.5 V, but there is very little energy left between 3.0 V and 2.5 V and it is healthier for the cells to stop discharging at 3.0 V.
In order to get the desired Ah rating on the pack, you then have to take groups of these series connected cells and connect them in parallel to reach the desired rating. It then becomes the physical space inside the battery housing that determines what the total Ah rating is on the pack as there is physically only so much space available inside the battery housing. If you wanted a 17Ah battery pack at 48V you would need a housing that is roughly 40% larger than the equivalent 36V pack.
Features and Upgrades
Just as we have with the frame, we have redesigned the battery pack for SDT from the ground up adding both a protective fuse to prevent any damage to the cells no matter if they are in use or during charging as well as a unique USB (fast charging) out enabling you to use the battery pack independently of the bike as a high capacity powerbank no matter where your adventures may take you be it a ride through the city or an excursion off road.
As we are adding fingerprint recognition to the bike, we are reworking the battery pack keying system so that the key can be removed with the bike on (not the same style as the original Stark Drive). This means that the bike can be left on and the bike can be activated by any previously registered fingerprint meaning you can share the bike with the family or friends. There is a USB port built into the frame to access the fast charging capability on the battery pack as well as one located in the bike computer, one can never have enough USB ports when on the road. The battery locks into the frame just like it did with the original Stark Drive so its protected from theft.
Battery Factory Walkthrough
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the production floor at our battery manufacturing partner in China. In this video i go through the various stations and talk about the process that is occuring at each step. The packs being made here are not for Stark Drive but the processes would be the same.
Hope you found this summary informative and something that peaks your interest for our upcoming launch of Stark Drive Torque.
Stay tuned for my next blog post where i talk about both the painting process with a visit to our painting factory as well as a preview of the working fingerprint recognition on SDT.
CEO, Stark Drive LLC
This is the first of a series of posts where I will give some insight into the design and manufacturing process for the upcoming Stark Drive Torque(SDT) - Thin & Fat Tire that will be launching on Indiegogo August 2019 (www.starkdrive.world - to sign up to get the best pricing when we launch).
Challenges and opportunities....
The road to development for SDT has had its share of challenges as we have gone all out this time to design our own custom frame design as well as our ultimate and most important goal being keeping the price under $1000 for the base model of SDT. We were also not satisfied in simply building a torque bike but wanted to add features that are not available on even similar looking bikes in the industry and we wanted to offer premium features that can be configured a-la-carté while still keeping the pricing at a fraction of others with the similar features in our industry.
Iteration is your best friend...
The first prototype of SDT which is currently on its way to the US for reviews by independent reviewers was an excellent first try at making this ultra affordable mid motor drive. The biggest feature on this prototype was the Bafang Ultra Max mid motor drive which we felt that due to the size of the fat tire bike was a must have and we could not compromise on power as it was related directly to the final user experience. Of course this motor is not cheap and it took a lot of negotiation with our supplier to keep true to our company's mantra of the most affordable electric bikes in the world. An interesting note is that just the motor alone on SDT Max costs more then the entire original Stark Drive which we launched in 2017. Of course performance follows price and this motor is a beast in term of performance, torque, and speed.
The torque on SDT Max is double that of our hub motor brethren, with for example, a hub motor 750w offering a poultry 80-85Nm torque. Not only that, the motor is must more responsive measuring the amount of pressure you apply to the pedals instead of sensing when the wheel is turning which makes it near impossible to go uphill compared to our torque where no hill is a challenge. Another benefit of the torque based motor is that you no longer need a throttle which is simply not allowed on an electric bike in many parts of the world as it changes the class of the bike to something similar to a moped with all the legal requirements that follow, complicating the use of the bike.
Frame Factory Visit
On my visit to the frame factory i got a first hand look at our two prototype frames and we discussed fine tuning and enhancements to the V2 prototype frame. Arguably one of the most important components on any bike, we wanted to get the frame perfect so that anything we attached to it would function at its best. We have designed this frame from the ground up and of course registered it internationally so that unlike the many other electric bike companies in the marketplace that simply take 'open mold' designs and pass them off as their original creations, we have done something different and i would say better then what anyone else is offering in the marketplace.
Frame Assembly Process
Here is a quick description of how a typical frame manufacturer builds the frames on your bike, be it electric or non. Its an intensive process with several steps and most importantly the precision to get every bike perfect requires an extensive amount of tooling which one of the highest costs associated with designing a frame. As each frame is different, an entirely new tooling process must be configured to ensure that every bike meets quality control standards as per the blueprints for the bike. As these prototype bikes are not in 'mass production' as of yet, they have been hand built at considerable amount extra effort and time.
I hope that this sheds some light onto how we designed Stark Drive Torque and check back here for the next installment where i will go into more details on our battery pack and how we have engineered the best battery in the marketplace for stark drive with features not found on comparable electric bikes in our class.
CEO, Stark Drive LLC
Our new Stark Drive Torque base model will launch on Indiegogo Approximately Middle of August. We have set up a mailing list sign up at
And for those whom sign up there you have the chance to not only win a free bike but also be the first to receive our launch information about the exact time that we launch so that you can grab one of the limited number of ultra affordable Bafang M400 based mid motor folding electric bikes. You can see a video of this ultra powerful motor in action below.
OUR SUPPLIERS ARE SECOND TO NONE
I just wanted to take a minute to give you an update to my trip to China whose sole purpose was to visit the companies who in partnership with Stark Drive LLC are responsible for manufacturing Stark Drive Torque (SDT). Due to excellent planning, I was incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to visit every major player who has a part in manufacturing the mission critical components of Stark Drive. From the Frame Manufacturer to the Lithium Ion Battery supplier to our artisan boutique coatings partner (AKA Painter) and finally of course the main partner factory whom we have worked together with for over 3 years where everything comes together.
IT TAKES A LOT
It was a whirlwind trip and and really opened my eyes as to how hard our partner factories work to keep up to our demanding requirements and intensive schedules.
In the famous words of Henry Ford:
Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.
I will be going into more detail and depth to each of our partners in upcoming blog posts but sufficed to say, i was exceptionally impressed by the level of dedication, attention to detail and quality of SDT. The thin tire is a perfect commuter bike for the city and even has a little animal instinct being caged inside that Bafang torque motor for some off road action. SDT Max is an entirely different animal altogether. Max hides nothing in the way of power which is glaringly apparent from the first time you climb onboard and press on that pedal to start accelerating. We will be using the latest and most powerful motor Bafang has to offer on Max topping out at 1000W. Furthermore, even though it's officially rated at 1000W, at 160Nm of torque, the internet is abuzz with ebike enthusiasts who have managed to tweak the bikes internal controllers to achieve upwards of 2500W out of this mid motor.
In my testing of STD, i was able able achieve slightly over 40kph just pedaling in the highest gear. The number of gears on the bike i tested was set to 7 however we will be increasing this to 9 on the final version meaning that with a little effort a speed of up to 50kph should be possible.
My testing of SDT Max was much more fun and a different experience altogether. I would not say that SDT Max is a bicycle that has been made electric, i would more compared it to being a motor bike that has been switched to a battery driven electric motor. In my testing, remembering im around the 100kg (220lb) mark, i was able to achieve 64kph based on a 7 speed cassette and the amount of torque when you first start off the line is exhilarating and even a bit scary the first time you try it.
There have been upgrades to both models all around from feedback we have received for the original Stark Drive as well as feedback we have from our internal testing with the two original prototype models that we received several months ago.
This was one of the important factors we wanted to address from the original Stark Drive which used a spring based shock system that was adjustable only to turn it on or lock it out and nowhere in between. This gave a limited about of choice to our original backers when using Stark Drive and we knew we had to do better. Both models of SDT now use an air compression based front shock system that is fully adjustable, both with the amount of air pressure inside the shocks as well as a dial to adjust the amount of recoil you are interested in once the system is all charged. In all there are 9 user adjustable settings on SDT with a range of 120kg to 240kg of adjustable resistance.
The battery system for SDT MAX has also been upgraded to 48V meaning a lot more power from the motor and from our testing a lot more range when not using the bike to its limits. We have calculated that you can realistically achieve over 120km of pedal assist range from SDT and over 150km of assist from MAX based on the lowest amount of assist in average terrain conditions. We have also upgraded the batteries internally to house a high powered USB out at 10W which no one else has in the marketplace. The batteries used on Torque are state of the art and the best we could achieve.
We wanted to experiment with new coating options for SDT as the bike stands out in a crowd so your paint job should as well. With our coatings partner we are now able to finish SDT using Hydrographics designs such as the ones pictured at the top of this post. There are thousands upon thousands of different designs available however we settled on the two above as we felt that these bikes were something the military would want to keep a secret if they were to take it to the battlefield.
It was by necessity that we needed to upgrade the brakes for SDT as the bikes could achieve speeds that were so fast we needed to increase the brake pad surface area to help to stop the bike faster especially considering the extra total weight for MAX we needed something that would function reliably over a longer period of time without needed to replace the pads continually. The new brakes used on SDT have been battle tested and are based on the best bicycle brakes in the industry. We are not switching from disc brakes to hydraulic brakes for base model of SDT for the simple reason that the price difference in comparison to the improvement in performance negligible. This will be offered as an option for those that really want hydraulic brakes and for those die hard bikers that can not live without them can always put them on their bikes after they receive them.
It was a dedicated effort to develop our relationship with Bafang and work with them to incorporate their engines on SDT. The mid motor drives we are using for MAX is very new to the market and only a handful of other ebike manufacturers are using the same type of engine on their bikes. We wanted to go with the best and most powerful engines that were available and after doing a cost/benefits analysis decided that the only way to go was BAFANG. Their M400 Motor at 250W achieves more torque than a 750W hub motor at 95Nm and their 1000W motor tops out at 160Nm of torque. When you climb aboard SDT and start to pedal with the assist on its as if you are pedaling on a cloud. there is no exertion or resistance just speed and acceleration.
Im looking forward to going into even more detail on SDT in upcoming posts. Stay tuned and sign up for our launch at www.starkdrive.world
CEO, Stark Drive LLC
In combination with the motor power level which is measured in Watts, another important consideration if you want to get the most speed possible out of your electric bike is to consider the bike or system wide voltage. The industry has settled for the most part on a system-wide voltage of 36V which is typical of most ebikes on the market but you can also find less expensive electric bikes operating at 24V and on the other side of the spectrum are ones operating at 72V and beyond.
Typically higher voltage results in higher RPM and theoretically a higher efficiency on your motor if its designed for such. Peak efficiency is improved at higher voltage without any appreciable decrease in battery life however the biggest impact on your battery life is drag and at higher speeds you will have the higher drag which will have the largest impact on your battery life. Increased performance and and efficiency, which equates to acceleration and greater range, will result from increasing the voltage on your bike and gearing down. This will also result in less energy loss associated with the heat in the copper and lower temperatures result in lower resistance (as we all know coppers resistance increases with temperature, the reason behind huge heat syncs for example on high powered computers processors).
For our upcoming Stark Drive Torque (SDT) Max which will operate at 48V we have chosen a 13S configuration for our battery packs. This compared to the 10S configuration that is used for a 36V pack and this has some important consequences for those that purchase batteries. A battery pack that is switched from 36V to 48V will require more cells to achieve the same AH rating that is typically used to describe the total 'capacity' of the battery pack. Typically the restricting factor on a battery pack is the space inside the battery housing and as you increase the amount of cells, you also increase the amount of internal resistance in the pack.
One of the things we have noticed in the industry has been an overly optimistic description of the range of any given pack but the reality of the situation is that you can expect about 32km of range from a 3.5kg lithium battery pack. Companies that claim 80km on a charge either have a 10kg battery pack attached to their bike or intend that you pedal for 65 km then turn on the battery for the last 15km. The Cells inside the battery pack are a constant and you can do the test yourself by weighing your battery pack as the battery housing weight is near insignificant.
What will make SDT Max super fast is the 48Vs that the battery pack delivers and in our testing we easily achieved 45-50kph with the restrictions disabled and pedaling in the optimal gear. That being said, SDT is no slough either easily getting 35-40kph mainly due to the lighter total bike weight.
As all our batteries are installed internally in the frame, hidden from view, there is no need to worry about mounting the battery. SDT Max will get you much better performance on challenging terrain and hauling heavier loads while SDT is the perfect bike for those that are just commuting from point a to b in the city. Both of these upcoming bikes will come with exceptionally well (some might say over) designed mid motor drives from Bafang and there is a lot of information on the web testing and reviewing these motors on the web in real world conditions. SDT Max in fact has been rated to function up to 2500W.
Just a short bit of information about how and why we designed STD the way we have. We hope that its going to be the perfect ebifor you and how you choose to experience the thrill of a mid motor torque based drive system instead of the more antiquated and less performance focused hub motors that are so prevalent on the market today.
CEO, Stark Drive LLC
Development on the feature packed upcoming Stark Drive Torque (SDT) is progressing as planned and we are super excited to share with you some of our more recent accomplishments including a fully functioning fingerprint recognition solution that will be available for Stark Drive Torque doing away with the need to carry around a key in order to start the electrical systems on your bike as is the case now with our first two models Stark Drive and Stark Drive Mini as seen below.
We have opted to improve not only the security of SDT by enabling biometric authentication but also to improve the overall usability of the bike in some very significant ways. For example with a key based system (which is the common standard in the ebike industry) it's an excellent way to lock out the powered functions of an electric bike so that if for example the bike was stolen, the thief would not be able to take advantage of any type of electrical assist. They have still made off with the bike however which is why we have always offered GPS tracking solutions built into our electric bikes so that in the event the worst happens the bikes location can be triangulated to a smaller area and hopefully recovered.
Keys are great and while Stark Drive's company mission or 'mantra' has always been to lower the cost of entry into electric transportation. We achieved this with Stark Drive, which started at $399 and further went onto achieve this again with Stark Drive Mini which launched at an incredible $299.
It's Hard to Forget Your Finger
The problem with keys for me personally has always been that they are a physical object that must be carried with you and there are a limited number of them. For example Stark Drive only ships our bikes with 2 keys, sure you can make more yourself however in the event that you lose your key(s) you no longer have a way to start SD as we dont keep any records of your keys.
Share Stark Drive With Your Friends
There of course is a better way which is using biometrics such as your fingerprint. Apple brought this into the mainstream with their iPhone 5S which introduced fingerprint recognition a few years ago. A phone is considerably more 'personal' than a bicycle can be however that did not mean that people could then go ahead and share their phone by registering several different fingerprints on the device. The same is going to be true for SDT. The fingerprint reader can record several dozen fingerprints and once registered anyone of these registered fingerprints can unlock the bike. You can of course still opt to use 20th century technology and go 'keyed' however just as the horse and buggy was replaced with ICE's and will eventually succumb to pure electric transportation, we believe that keys will go by the wayside as technology makes other forms of 'unlocking' more accessible and useful.
Stark Drive Torque Fingerprint Solution Proof of Concept
The fingerprint reader will be electrically integrated and protected on Stark Drive and will function similar to models produced by the incredibly innovative
which have included this technology in their bikes for several years and with a starting price of about $10,000 they are excellent value for the raw power they pack in. We at Stark Drive strive to develop equally powerful technology for our electric bikes but at a price-point making affordable to anyone that wants one.
All Teslas Are Keyless
Tesla's did away with the key almost a decade ago with their vehicles opting instead for a keycard and eventually moving onto your mobile phone for authentication. In addition to fingerprint unlocking, SDT will also include NFC options for those that want to skip having to use their fingerprint and instead use their NFC enabled mobile phone or NFC keycard or ring which will be options available on SDT
Two factor authentication?
A key can be stolen, and so can a mobile phone so SDT will have the option of including more than one factor of authentication to enable the power systems if that is something that is important to you. Giving our supporters the choice of how they want to use the technology that we pack into Stark Drive is our number one goal.
SDT Will Start at Under $1000 during our Launch campaign
We are building SDT from the ground up with our own trademarked frame design which works exclusively with the most powerful mid drive motor that BAFANG produces. Our Frame will support up to the Bafang Ultra Max mid drive motor which tops out from our supplier at 1000W however has been tested and works reliably at far higher power capacities. In fact the motor itself has been tested to work at 2500W noting that this is over 6X the average max power that a cyclist can sustain for a short period of time, if we are talking about a trained cyclist.
Configure Your Perfect Bike
As always our backers on the upcoming launch as can be seen here:
Will be able to configure their perfect bike be it:
How does NFC work and how will it be implemented:
NFC stands for Near Field Communication and is included in most current generation mobile phones as a standard feature. Its currently mainly used for making wireless payments through services such as ApplePay or GooglePay. This allows you to skip the credit card or sliding or inserting anything into a machine and simply waive your phone above a reader. SDT will include a reader which will connect to the electrical systems on the bike so by using your mobile phone or another device you will be able to unlock the bike without needing a key. The NFC unlock can also be shared with those you would like to allow to use the bike when you are not using it.
We will publish more information about SDT over the coming weeks in preparation for our launch in August 2019.
CEO, Stark Drive LLC
We have been working hard at marrying the best available components to work seamlessly together for our upcoming Torque based electric bikes and one of the key features here is the display or as its also known the HMI. The features of most electric display units on the market today are very similar displaying speed, power assist level and remaining battery power with the differences being how this information is presented. There are also advantages to going to an active matrix color display in that you have more of an operating system type interface with multiple layers allowing you to access and adjust more features of your electric bike from the display.
Bafang HMI C171 and C181 Photos Respectively
There will be benefits to opting for the color display but it will not be a requirement in order to get into an ultra affordable torque based electric bike from Stark Drive.
Such benefits will include being able to program your electric bikes settings at the system level allowing adjustments that would not normally be accessible such as top speed, voltage cut off, and other such features. There will also be benefits such as the upcoming app that will act as a companion to the bike computer to display more information about your ride as well as maps that are synced to your travel and other health data. More about this on a future post.
Our goal with the display unit is a balance between features and cost and our close partnership with Bafang in China is enabling our goals of releasing Stark Drive Torque for Under $1000 when we launch in Summer 2019.
CEO, Stark Drive LLC
Stark Drive Torque, The Ultimate Mid Motor Electric Bike
The refinement of Stark Drive Torque (SDT) and finalization of its feature set is progressing ahead of schedule and according to our plans. We have been working closely with our manufacturer to ensure that testing is running concurrently with manufacturing in order to reduce lead time on the final assembled version that we will use for our internal testing.
We want to pack as much (ultra reliable) tech into this bike as we can find. Once again although we have reinvented the frame for SDT, however, we are not interested in reinventing the wheel. All of the tech that we are including in SDT has been available in the marketplace for several years now but it has only been the high end electric bike manufacturers that had the funding (and correspondingly high price points for their customers) that could afford it.
One more thing.....POWER
Our upcoming 2 models of Stark Drive Torque will be based on the M Series Bafang Mid Motor Drives. These are industry leading mid motors that have been in development for years and we can personally attest to their power after having tested them internally with the prototypes that we have received.
250Ws but a heck of a lot of Torque
We will be launching a regular tire (non FAT) model that will be based on the 250W engine that Bafang offers. Even though the motor watts is rated at 250 does not make this motor a slouch when it comes to performance. if you check out the specifications sheet below you will note that the max torque that this motor can provide is up at 95Nm which is better then even a comparable 750w Hub motor from our competition. On top of all this the mid motor drive itself only weighs about 3kg which is less than many comparable hub motors on the market today.
Did you say 1000W, Crazy!
The Fat Tire Max model of SDT will be offering the most powerful mid motor drive that we could economically incorporate into Stark Drive without breaking the bank!. The model will have the the rated power of 750/1000W which sounds confusing but the same motor can be adjusted to work in either scenario depending on local legislation or lack thereof. A summary of the most important characteristics are below and we would like to point out that
THIS MOTOR HAS 2X THE MAX TORQUE AS OUR NEAREST COMPETITOR AT 160Nm STANDARD
SDT FAT MAX will be unrivaled in its class when its released not only due to the performance and power but also the price point which will be a fraction of anything comparable with more features then the other guys.
Stay tuned to our blog for more updates as to the feature set as well as videos of our prototypes and testing as they come available over the next several weeks. Our next post will go into more detail about the upcoming companion app which will be released concurrently with SDT.
CEO, Stark Drive LLC.