WE SHIP WORLDWIDE. ALL PRICES IN US$
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.
Stark Drive Team
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.
Stark Drive Team
Stark Drive LLC
I have finally landed back, 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.
Stark Drive Team
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.
Stark Drive Team
Stark Drive LLC
What a whirlwind trip it has been so far. Approximately 24 hours from my home, 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 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.
WE 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, the whole Stark Drive Team want to thank our backers for making all of this possible.
Stark Drive Team
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.
The deposits have been sent and production is progressing. I have received my visa to travel to China and my flight is booked for the arrival on the 27th of June. I will be enduring a 22 hour journey from home to Shenzhen.
On arrival my one and only purpose is to inspect every single bicycle to ensure that it lives up to the standards that are the basis for our brand and product. Our backers are going to be our ambassadors and we want to get things right. There are some areas where we need to focus and develop such as the portal for the GPS tracking solution that some of our backers have chosen to include with their units. The systems will still work but the portal is more generic and not as user friendly as we want it to be in the future.
Furthermore, we are currently still developing our user guide although the bike is very simple to use and does not in essence need any type of guide per say. The assembly is 95% complete with only the front wheel and pedals needing to be attached before you are ready to go.
Below we see some, unfortunately, grainy photos from production. Our representative in China does not have a smartphone with an incredible camera as is glaringly apparent below but in the first image you see the factory manager. In the second and third photos you see the parts storage for the bikes that are being constructed. When i get there i will be filming in HD quality the actual production of the bikes as well as taking several photos and even taking Stark Drive for a spin around Shenzhen to show it off to the world.
We want to express our sincere gratitude to all the backers that believed in us even after the tortious events of several months ago that had me flying around the world trying to figure out just what happened. for more information on this you can read my previous blog post.
Stark Drive Team
Stark Drive LLC
The story of Stark Drive has been a tumultuous one fraught with anfractuous events that were prodigiously unexpected and required consummate all encompassing desire to achieve our goal of launching the most affordable and fully equipped electric bike in the world.
It was November 2016 when we originally launched on Kickstarter. Due to our altruistic and countrified view to our first launch we had originally anticipated that we would immediately make headlines and virally spread through the interweb about a company offering a fully featured electric bike for less than the cost of most standard non-electric bikes. After launching we worked especially hard to contact journalists, blogs, and media providers to help us to spread the word about Stark Drive with little success. The unfortunate truth is that its normally only after a product is successful that these outlets become interested in reporting on new and exciting products.
Here is where the story takes an interesting turn: Ilan Cohen and Alana Jesse from Indiegogo contacted us about 10 days into our campaign on Kickstarter and began discussions with us on ditching Kickstarter and instead launching on their platform. They were very excited about Stark Drive as at this point a similar product (Mate) had already been ultra-successful on their platform and they were looking for the next big thing which could earn them their commissions. We were roused with this apparently magnanimous offer where unlike Kickstarter they promised along with our launching on their platform that they would dedicate campaign managers to our team and guide us at every step in order to ensure success.
We thought that this was just the boost we needed in order to make Stark Drive work and bring it to life so we accepted Indiegogo's offer and cancelled our project with the intention of following the step-by-step instructions that were then provided to us from Indiegogo in the form of guides with helpful hints such as setting up mailing lists, being more active on social media and basically spreading the seed of Stark Drive everywhere we could. They also encouraged us to write up our campaign on their site so that they could review, fine tune, and approve it. They also encouraged us to draw inspiration from other successful campaigns with similar products especially recent ones such as Mate.
We vigilantly followed all of their instructions and were especially pleased when after reviewing our campaign text, they said that it was near perfect and that it was a major step forward to ensuring our success.
We re-launched Stark Drive on February 15th 2017 to much fanfare and success with us achieving our initial funding goal in less then 10 hours.
Our support team was overwhelmed with the amount of success and sheer number of people contacting us with questions, words of encouragement, and most importantly contributions.
Days passed with our campaign seemingly picking up more and more steam and with this success we finally started receiving some media attention with journalists now interested in writing about Stark Drive. This in turn drove more traffic to our campaign and so the cycle continued.
Somewhat strange however was how we had been contacted several times by the Owners of Mate both before we launched (during our promotion prior to launch) and even during our campaign making foreboding comments that we should not be launching our product and that we were a scam and that we could not possibly be selling a bike for $399 USD as their bike costs more money to buy from their manufacturers then we were selling our bike for. We were 'unrealistic with our pricing, retards, and that our bike was made of paper'
However as we were seemingly gaining more and more ground with our campaign, Mate had a problem and conspired with their legal team, specifically Simon Kristoffersen (rocketadvisory.com) in order to try to find a 'solution' to the problem of Stark Drive.
I have to give credit where credit was due in terms of the creative method they used approximately a week later on February 23rd (after rocket advisory emailed us and began asking questions unrelated to our campaign) their lawyer sent a DMCA request to Indiegogo fraudulently stating that Stark Drive was copy of Mate (A bike style that has been sold since 2011 and can be purchased on nearly every street corner in China). The unfortunate thing about DMCA notices are that in nearly all cases the website receiving the complaint does no investigation if the complaint is legitimate or not in so much as they become complicate and potentially financially liable if they do not immediately take down the content immediately according to the regulations that are behind the DMCA process.
However, although the original DMCA complaint was fraudulent, Indiegogo is not without fault with respect to the events as for some reason they decided not to follow the proper DMCA procedure both easily available online and on their own Terms and Conditions . After receiving such a notice they are within their rights to take down the infringing material however the next must be that this notice is sent to alleged infringer (in this case Stark Drive) so that they can reply with a counterclaim (under penalty of perjury) at which point the content must be restored and the complainant can then move forward to initiate legal proceedings if they truly are confident in their claims.
In fact when our original campaign was taken down, we had no idea why because we received nothing except a notification that our campaign was going to be cancelled. We fruitlessly tried to contact Indiegogo by all means available to us: their non working phone number which is basically an answering machine, email, twitter, facebook and several of our backers also tried to contact them to inquire why our campaign was cancelled with a stock response provided that 'we were under investigation'.
At that point, i decided to do something a little brazen and booked a flight to New York to visit the offices of Indiegogo personally to inquire about Indiegogo's procedures, their trust and safety team and how a campaign is supposed to run.
Having arrived to their offices, i simply asked if i could talk about launching a new campaign and speak to someone there about that. During the meeting and after seeing what we were interested in launching, the representative Frederico Ribeiro immediately mentioned the Mate campaign as one that we should mirror as closely as possible as they had achieved so much success. More interestingly when i revealed that this bike was a commonly available model that has been available for years in china he stated that its against Indiegogo's terms and conditions to simply resell a product. Ironically, after our campaign was taken down, a new one showed up which is the exact same as Stark Drive albeit that its 5x the price of ours! Or this bike which is only 2.5x the price of Stark Drive I guess Mate has no problem with them because they dont compete with their pricing model nor do they seem to be getting much traction in their campaign.
Upon returning home to Sweden pigs must have learned to fly because we finally heard from Indiegogo, well not exactly Indiegogo but their lawyers whom finally responded to a letter that our lawyer had sent to them when our campaign was cancelled over a month ago. In it they stated a lot of interesting information about why the campaign was cancelled as well as banning me from visiting any of their offices in the future.
Of course we had received none of the funding we had so diligently raised so we up the preverbal creek without a paddle and at this point didn’t know what to do or how to proceed but nothing worth doing is every easy and our passion to get Stark Drive to market overruled ever giving up on finding a solution and a way forward.
Exploring our options we temporarily considered trycelery.com which is a crowdfunding platform that one runs from their own website and we eventually settled on crowdfunding our launch through our own website and set out to inform all of our original backers, or at least those that had registered through our website.
it took us an additional couple of months but after our website was redesigned we launched again in April.
The launch was successful and we did achieve enough to bring Stark Drive to market however unlike some of our competitors we actually will be making the first delivery of Stark Drive to our early backers days after our campaign ends. We hope that these early supporters will be our ambassadors and this will help to generate even more traffic to our site and that sales will skyrocket at that point.
In regards to the fraudulent DMCA, well this story is unfortunately just beginning and we are expecting the process to take years to resolve if the responsible party does not settle with us as any responsible, serious company would do when they are so clearly at fault.
We want to thank everyone that believed enough in Stark Drive to support us and help to make it a reality. Our companies benevolent maxim is simply this: To enable everyone to have the opportunity to be able to own an electric bike with price no longer being a factor in the decision making process.
We believe that in the near future all bikes will be electric just as we believe that in the future all vehicles will be electric.
Thank you! ♥
We want to express a huge amount of gratitude to all of the backers that believed in us even when we experienced setbacks and still supported us. To all of you out there, you will not be disappointed. Many crowdfunding campaigns are launched haphazardly and without a real plan assuming that things will just work out if they succeed in meeting their crowdfunding goals. This is generally never the case. We have been planning and developing our relationships with our manufacturers, logistics partners, as well as our action plan a year before we officially launched on Indiegogo back in February 2017.
Nothing happens by chance and if you fail to plan you plan to fail.
This can be demonstrated by the fact that we have already placed our first major order for hundreds of bikes with our manufacturing partner and they have started gearing up for production. Just as expected, they have confirmed it will take approximately 45 days for the first batch of bikes to be completed, this is why Oscar is traveling to meet with them at the end of June to inspect the first batch to ensure that they are up to standard.
Quality control if of the utmost importance for us as is delivering to our customers in a clear and expected way. Keeping silent on delays, making promises that are not kept and other ridiculous situations are not part of Stark Drive DNA.
You early backers are going to be our Ambassadors and we need you to spread the word once you receive your Stark Drive. Keep in touch with us, share your stories, and photos on social media and let everyone know that you have been a part of launching the most affordable and fully equipped electric bikes in the world.
Stark Drive Team
Stark Drive LLC