The Story So Far
It all started back in 2014 when two creative, techy types moved from a product research studio in Dundee to the tech-agency scene of London. Each morning they dropped down their respective escalators, diligently minding the gap, ready to embark on their daily pilgrimage via Londons expansive transport network. This pilgrimage soon became a penance.
I grew up in the Northern Irish countryside where the cows had more elbowroom on their way to the market than the commuters on the Central Line. Cows don’t even have elbows!
But Nav saw light at the end of the tube. He got a bike and saw his commute shrink by 20 minutes and with his leg day sufficiently un-skipped, was feeling pretty good. But there are practical issues with cycling 10 miles each morning, such as having to fill at 30L rucksack each morning with a supply of fresh clothes, towels and beard oil (when you know, you know).
It was during this time that he was travelling around China and noted that the locals were getting around the city on electric bikes. They were heavy, ugly and had the words 'Lead Acid' written on them. But everyone had them and so it sparked an idea.
Back in the UK the e-bikes here just weren't ticking the right boxes, which is ironic because they what they were. The top of the range bikes were either ugly, heavy or cost as much as used car while the DIY versions were held together with cable ties and duct tape. No-one's going to lock a £3k e-bike out on the street, carry 20kg's up a flight of stairs or run a charging cable out their window to top-up a battery.
Electric bikes have the potential to boost urban productivity, free up time and clean up city air, but the hardcore cyclists were snubbing them while the average commuter was intimated by the cost, weight and safety. 30% of all bikes sold in Holland are electric; they know what's up! London needs more bums on saddles and e-bikes are considered one of the means of achieving this.. The cost and practicality of the current models aren't helping. Why pay thousands for an e-bike with a 50 mile range when your commute is only 10?
Jack had also sought refuge in two-wheeled transport. His commute had consisted of 3 tube changes over 6 zones with an average temperature of 5-degrees-above-comfortable. It was consistently inconstant; producing journey times anywhere between 45 minutes and 2 hours. His upgrade was a 40-year-old single speed bicycle with some questionable modifications. It cost the same as a monthly tube pass, and saved him on average 30 minutes per day. The time saving was addictive. He wanted more. Jack became Nav's co-conspirator of various concepts; good, bad and the unsafe.
So, in true engineer-cum-entrepreneur fashion Analog Motion emerged from a spare room over 2 years of evenings and weekends. The goal: to design an electric form of transport people actually want to ride, rather than have to ride, at the right price and in fitting with London lifestyles.
Over a dozen prototypes later, with multiple failures and scar bearing injuries, the designs for each component were sent to a factory in the far east who had decades of experience producing electric vehicles. We sent the money and waited.
We bank transferred a considerable amount of money to people we had never met, in a city we’d never been to build a product that didn’t exist. And as soon as we did, radio silence.
We messaged every factory contact we could find, our bank, their bank, the neighbours dog. Everyone. 2 weeks passed before we received a response, ‘Sorry we were on holiday’. And so began lesson one with working with far east manufacturing. Know the Chinese holiday calendar.
35 days laters, with cryptic VAT and Duty invoices settled, we hired a van and drove to Felixstowe to collect the first production samples.
UK Customs still use fax. We still have no idea what these number mean.
The bikes arrived. And they were great. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to us that a factory that specialises in electric vehicles could bring our ideas to life with so much care and craft. Our specifications were detailed, based on real world tested prototypes and it paid off.
The first round of bikes were put in the hands of beta testers who immediately put them through hell and this feedback informed the next round of bikes. We updated the frame geometry, drive chain, cable routing, handlebars, saddle and control electronics.
It wasn’t all good though. In the spring of 2016 our only production ready prototype was stolen, right from under our noses. Named Rusty due to the unpainted frame (back then the frames were steel) We suspect it's still being loved and ridden daily with care and diligence. *sigh*
Rusty looking rusty
Fast forward to today and the production model bikes have graduated from the hands of our beta testers, having been road tested daily in every possible condition, racking up an impressive 50,000kms and counting. Thanks guys!
And now you can get one too.
Bluetone Modes on the production line
Electric vehicles are the future of urban transport. Here in London, the Mode e-bike is the first electric vehicle designed specifically for this city. You can be the first to own one.
We've got some really exciting new stuff coming in 2018 too, but more on that later.
Nav & Jack