Earlier this week an Indiegogo campaign came to my attention via one of their emails, Storm Electric Bike.
This thing looks awesome, it promises to be an affordable (but simple) electric bike. I snagged one via the campaign for 499$ plus shipping, other electric bike options from current manufacturers and distributors start north of 1000$. What makes this one different you ask?
Storm doesn't have a bunch of bells and whistles. It does NOT have regenerative braking which requires less parts so less to build, it is fixed gear (while some current electric bikes are 10-speeds) so again less parts-less to build, all of the parts used to make this bike are off the shelf parts meaning no need to pay for custom tooling and molds, again significant cost savings.
Sure at 499$ via the campaign Storm Sondors is unlikely to make much per bike, however this is just the crowd-funding price. Obviously when these sell retail they'll cost more, and that is where the profit comes in. Via the campaign comments a competitor is constantly fear mongering claiming this bike can not be made that his costs such and such and it's impossible to make a 499$ electric bike... yet that competitor's bike is 10-speed, has regenerative braking AND FOLDS IN HALF all of which cost more, he's also already at the retail point and is likely making a considerable profit per unit.
Look folks, I've looked at what it would cost ME to build a similar bike from off the shelf parts in small quantities with no contacts and no ability to order in considerable quantity. I estimate I could personally import all the parts for 30 bikes (including duties and brokerage fees) for less than 499$ each. It's doable. Also keep in mind, crowd-funding isn't the same as going to the store and buying something. Usually at best a prototype exists and the campaign creator(s) have little to no experience in manufacturing anything outside of their workshop so contributing is a risky gamble. One should NEVER expect to receive a single thing they contribute for, you are contributing to someone's dream. In this case however, Storm Sondors has decades of experience in prototyping and mass manufacturing (McDonald's happy meal toys) and likely has dozens or hundreds of contacts in various manufacturing, distribution, logistics, warehousing etc areas as well as an intimate understanding of reasonable timelines and challenges that will likely be faced to manufacture his bikes. I gave 499$ to this campaign and I do not regret it, I feel confident in my decision to contribute based on my above comments and the fact that several tech journalists have been allowed to use the prototype unit and their reputations give them ZERO reason to lie about their experiences using this bike from a currently unknown manufacturer.
Their are individuals crawling out of the woodwork to constantly slam this campaign, claiming it's a scam, claiming I'm an insider/work for Storm or Agency 2.0, claiming it's a giant scam and I'm part of the conspiracy to defraud people out of 3.1 million dollars and counting, etc. It's getting quite ridiculous. The individuals claiming such I deeply suspect of being direct competitors with a currently manufactured bike with similar specifications that starts around $1200. Why do I suspect this? In the early comments of the campaign a direct competitor was posting the link to his product and making the exact same claims. Now it's 'anonymous contributor' making these allegations (and claiming such to news outlets which, without verifying his complains, are reporting everything he tells them as 100% true, and that's just sloppy journalism).
This bike is more than able to be made (at a profit) for the $499 price, it is now $599 and is scheduled to increase yet again. Keep in mind this price is for BACKERS of the campaign and is NOT the final retail price. Also keep in mind Storm and company will make the bulk of their profits selling accessories and upgrades after retail launch of the bike.
It amazes me how many people don't understand crowdfunding and think they are BUYING a bike like they would on Amazon.com