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Why cargo e-bike can save the World

If you’re reading this post then you probably already agree that bicycles are a great way of reducing the impact on the environment, help stay fit, and also save money. But what makes cargo e-bike stand out, sure you can haul around a lot of stuff, but what does it mean – how does it change the everyday behavior of a person?

Cargo

The ability to carry everything you need with a bike is appealing, but even after years of cycling with different bikes, I’m still surprised at what a cargo bike can carry and how easy it is. When commuting with a regular bike, you’re often stuck with a backpack. This makes the back sweat annoyingly fast and puts a lot of strain on hands. Not only that, but it also means you have very limited space to carry anything. Commuting on a cargo bike means you can take along your exercise gear, children and still do weekly groceries with one trip. This sounds nice, but when you experience it, it’s a lot more, it’s revolutionary. When I think back of the years of cycling I did before a cargo bike, I wonder why I was putting up with the misery of tieing plastic grocery bags to my backpack to be able to carry even a little extra than the backpack itself managed to fit. These days my regular cargo includes a backpack with sports gear and lunch box plus a couple of Bike Hangers to be dropped off at a parcel machine on my way around the city.

Hauling with a cargo e-bike
Carrying a Cristmas tree with a Nighthawk Cargo

Cargo e-bike

A modern invention that we see making a big impact on all urban cycling is the use of electric motors on a bike – even more so on cargo bikes. Sure, a cargo bike can move fast but add some wind, hills, or a heavy load into the mix, and due to its not so aero-efficient loading area, it’s not so fast anymore and you can forget about the non-sweaty back we were talking about earlier. Yet with a cargo e-bike, any trip becomes a joy-ride. Right before converting to my electric cargo bike, I was commuting on a road bike. I like going places fast so I always needed to take a shower after a ride. Sure I was feeling like I was getting a decent exercise under my belt with each ride, but after 30 km of all-out effort every day I wasn’t looking for extra trips in the evening. Electric bike transforms all of that – you ride as far as you like, as often as you like just like you would with a car, plus you can forget all that bad traffic.

E-bike motor

Being present

Another aspect non-bike person probably never thinks of is how connected to your surrounding you are on a bike. Studies have found that cycling boosts the local economy as people don’t need to look for parking and can stop virtually right when they see a shop or a kiosk of any sort. Also, you are connected to the people that cycle and walk around you. When in a car, road rage is easy to appear, locked in a steel fortress it’s easy to feel overly superior and shout at other drivers without them hearing anything. Could you ever imagine something like this happening on a bike? When cycling in Copenhagen, I have always felt the connection first hand. When someone cuts off your way, one can get a little angry inside, but because you’re both out in the open and close to each other in this situation, people tend to smile and apologize wiping that initial anger away with a blink of an eye. Cargo bikes are often used to carry children and this is where this point becomes especially precious as instead of being a nervous person behind the wheel of a car, you can be relaxed zen-like person being the best possible example to your children.

Bicycle ride is like a meditation

Physical health

All this means you cycle a lot more. Since you don’t need to plan what you will be doing, you can pop into the shop on your way back from work, go to the gym, or other workouts without worrying how to carry the gear – commuting in a way that follows our evolutionary past. It’s only in the last century that people have started to be physically non-active. The results are clearly on display – people getting fat and developing a myriad of health issues to go along. Thanks to medicine we live longer, but years lived healthily suffer for not appreciating what our bodies have evolved for over millions of years – a hunter-gatherer walking along with the fields for hours on end. Yet in today’s World, it’s hard to find time for anything. People’s days are packed, trying to be super-efficient. So why waste that precious 1 hour or more than most people spend sitting in cars, stressed about traffic. Even when cycling with an eBike, you are physically active helping live longer, healthier, and happier. Cycling has proved to lower the risk of death and heart disease by around 50%. And the best news is that the first 2 hours spent on a bike a week have double the effect of the following hours. So you can achieve a lot with very little, and with a cargo bike, those first 2 hours are guaranteed to be achieved week in, week out.

Give it a try!

The cargo e-bike is truly the only real human-powered machine that can take on the car, and in an urban environment, throw a bunch and see the car fall. 1-0 knock-out. The reasons people come up with for not letting go of their car-dependent lifestyle are plenty – bad weather, sweat, distance, speed, you name it. But for each of those, there is a solution if you’re willing to give it a try. Everyone has heard that there is no poor weather but poor clothing. The same holds when cycling as the people of Oulu, Finland are showing us. Right on the arctic circle, people in the Oulu cycle even in the winter. How can I cycle to work when I get sweaty – don’t get sweaty if you don’t want to take a shower? Get an eBike, sure it’s a bit of an investment, but when you consider the running costs the investment will pay back in a year, max. Also in an urban environment, a bike is often much faster than a car. So get on your bike, live healthy for longer, soak in your surrounding, and be part of the community.

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How to choose a cargo bike

Nighthawk cargo in action

There’s a myriad of cargo bikes out there. Each has its own purpose and a user alike, How to choose the right cargo bike for you?

Why are cargo bikes getting more and more popular?

Cargo bikes have been around for about a century. This is a fact that many are eager to dismiss – so why is it that it seems like a modern-day invention, where were the cargo bikes a couple of decades ago? The answer seems to lie largely in the legislation of different countries and also the shift in mindset. After reading It’s all about the bike by Robert Penn (highly recommended read) over the Corona lockdown, I can’t help but agree that the bike was a strange thing to use as a practical means of transport in many countries from about 1960s to 2000. Robert’s example in the book illustrates this well – he talks about living in Wales where you only commuted on a bike if you had lost your driver’s license. He describes going to a pub on a bike, a bloke pulled him aside and asked what he had done to lose his driving license, he replied he just likes cycling better. A year later the bloke pulls him aside again – did you kill someone with your car that you still don’t have your license? If regular exercise and commuting on a bicycle were seen like this, how odd would a cargo bike have been..? Luckily we are coming out of this tunnel from the other end, people want to keep happy, live healthy for longer, be environmentally friendly by traveling less distance without petrol and in the end saving money by ditching the car or public transport subscription.

Long John

Kaspar riding Nighthawk Cargo
Nighthawk Cargo

The first and perhaps most popular type is the Long John type cargo bike. This type of a bicycle was first invented in Odense, Denmark (oddly enough, that’s where we first started) in 1923 by the Smith & Co Company (known today as SCO). Long Johns are best for people who like to have a fast, nimble, and stylish cargo bike. The cargo area is relatively aerodynamic and since it’s in front of the bicycle, it’s perfect for not only hauling packages but also children as they are visible and easy to communicate with. Depending on a manufacturer’s geometry, riding this bike can feel like riding a normal bike or take a couple of hours to get used to it. Since it’s as narrow as a regular two-wheeled bike, a Longjohn is perfect for countries with not-so-many proper bike lanes.

Trike

Family riding Trike
Trike / Bakfiets / Kastenfahrrad

Probably the second most popular cargo bike type is a tricycle with 2 front wheels and a box in-between, also known as Trike / Bakfiets / Kastenfahrrad. This version of a cargo bike is often the choice for families when both parents share a bike as it’s more easily adjustable to fit a smaller and larger rider by only rising or lowering the seat. The handlebars stay in the same place as they are attached to the box. Another consideration is the number of children. Three or more children usually don’t fit into the front of a Longjohn. The down-side is that these bikes are usually slow, when steering the handlebars move away from the rider and at slightly higher speeds they will feel like tipping over because they don’t tilt.

Long Tail

Long tail cargo bike
Long tail cargo bike

A bike that’s not so popular in Europe, but seems to be no.1 choice of cargo bike in the US is a Long Tail cargo bike. Also a two-wheeler, this bike has effectively an elongated rack in the back. The ’rack’ itself is a part of the bike frame, making it rigid. The strength of this bike lies in its dimensions – frame as narrow as a regular bike and only slightly longer. This makes it easy to store the bike and to carry it up and down the stairs. However of course the cargo ability is not comparable to the forementioned bikes. It is easy to sit up to two kids on the back with child seats, but everything else like a school bag would need to be held by the child or somehow strapped to the frame. When hauling any other type of cargo, it needs to be in a bag, again strapped to the frame with no possibility of ’just tossing it on there’.

Sidecar

Bike with a sidecar
Promotional sidecar bike in action

Lastly, if you want to stand out, then there are options like a sidecar. They are relatively uncommon, but you wouldn’t believe the number of looks we have gotten in Copenhagen when riding this thing around. Every day, someone would pull up on the side and say ’Hey, wow… A sidecar… I’ve never seen one before… That’s super cool!’ With slightly less cargo space than Long Johns or Trikes, this option is perhaps not as practical, but it turns heads like nothing else. And when allowed to tilt, it feels like a normal bike, only a bit wider. However, carrying children is not safe because of the proximity of the wheels on either side.

Electric or not

I had been skeptical about e-bikes for years, but I love them now. For years I have been riding fixed gear, single-speed, road, and sidecar bikes, and loved it. But after commuting more than 10 km one way every day, in the evenings I felt like not wanting to commute much more, perhaps needing to take a third shower too. With an eBike I estimate that my yearly mileage has grown by 30-40% just because I never need to think whether I want to ’go there’ on a bike, I just do it because it’s just as fast and convenient as a car. So if you aim to live car-free, sweat-free 5000+ km per year everyday life then yes, go electric.

So how to choose the right cargo bike

Firstly, if you’re even considering a cargo bike, you’re already doing the best thing possible for your health, the city you live in and the environment in general – cheers to this! Next, think about what you plan to do with the bike – daily length of the commute, how hilly or windy is your region, what will you carry.

Choose Trike if: commute is up to 5 km / 3 miles one way and the road is not too hilly/windy and not too bumpy. Or if you need to carry 3 or more children, speed is not an issue and you want to share the bike with your partner.

Choose Long Tail if: your only cargo is a bag that can be strapped to the frame or a child on a child seat.

Choose Sidecar if: you want to stand out or advertise your business and you do not need to carry children.

Choose Long John if: you want a bike that feels like a normal bike and goes fast with enough cargo space for 2 children and space to spare.

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Sunday read – 6 + 1 Easy Steps to Prep Your Bike for Spring

Cyclist on a white fixed gear bike in Denmark, Odense

March is here and it’s time to get your bicycle out and give it some love before taking it back on the road. This bike spring maintenance guide has some easy doable steps for anyone who wants to prep their bike for the next season.

1. Brakes

Vintage brown metallic rusty bicycle by Kp Cyclery

Check if your brakes are in good condition – tighten the cables if needed. Simply roll the bike back and forth and press the brakes. If the lever comes closer to the handlebars than you would like then use the tightening barrel by the lever or by the brakes to tighten the cable. Once you’re happy with the adjustment, don’t forget to tighten the locking ring.

2. Bike chain

In the beginning of a new season, replacing a chain is almost a must. If you’re not super geeky about maintenance and don’t ride every day then once a year can be perfectly okay interval for changing a chain, and what better time to do it than in the spring when you’re brushing off the dust anyway. So before getting the bike out, pop by a bike store and get yourself a new chain, or if don’t have the tool to break the chain then simply get it replaced at a shop. Most shops will be happy to do it without scheduling a time beforehand.

3. Bike lights

Magnetic lights by CPH Parts – find them here

Bike lights are useless if the batteries are dead or they are not blinking bright enough. Check if they are still fit to protect you in the next season. We have some good magnetic lights in the KP Cyclery webstore if you’re looking for a change. They attach to any steel frame and turn on once attached, shut down once removed.

4. Handlebar tape or grips

Light blue urban bike with brown leather brooks handle bar tape
Brooks leather handlebar tape on our KP Cyclery bicycle in Laguna Blue

Check the condition of your handlebar tape. If it is leather perhaps it needs a touch up with some leather grease or you are in the mood for an entirely new tape. Either way now is the good time to decide and order the one that will cheer you up for the season to come. Brooks is a good choice for a classic look. For a super funky look, you might want to check out the stuff BTP bartape has. As far as grips go, I really personally like the foamy model called Feather by Prologo on my Nighthawk cargo bike.

5. Saddle

Tightening Brooks B17 saddle
Use Brooks saddle key to tighten stretched saddle. Quarter of a turn at a time, tighten until you reach desired tension.

Leather saddles need maintenance once per year. Spring is the perfect time to wax your precious saddle with some bee’s wax (or any other good quality natural leather wax) and tighten it. Find ways to do it in our Leather Saddle Maintenance & Care guide posted earlier on our blog. If your saddle is non-leather, then check if its cover material is still intact and there are no cracks.

6. Tyres

Have a good look at your tyres, pump some air into them (you will find the required pressure on the wall of the tyre) and make sure they’re not punctured. A good idea is to do this a couple of days before you go riding for the first time as you might otherwise have a slow puncture and get stranded half way through the first ride of the season.

7. Bonus point – don’t get ripped off

If you’ve gone through the steps above then you shouldn’t really need professional help. Your bike is good to go. Of course a shop might tell you to come in every year for an expensive maintenance, but in reality, bikes have evolved a lot over the past decade. Only 10-15 years ago, almost all the bikes had loose bearing in the hubs and bottom brackets. These days all quality bikes will have sealed bearing, so there is really no need, or rather no way to take them apart, clean & lubricate them. So don’t get fooled by the much over-rated maintenance myth 🙂

Happy cycling!

Man and Woman walking with their bikes in the park

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Happy 2020!

Looking back at 2019, we have every reason to be thankful. This year saw us become more stable and grown up as a company, it provided memories behind the handlebars and a new product in our line-up – the Nighthawk cargobike. So here’s a quick look back at what 2019 delivered and what to expect from 2020.

Bike rides of 2019 provided thrills and a decent mileage. Having completed the Nighthawk cargobike prototype in late 2018, 2019 would become the year of proper testing. In 2019, I did 3300 electrified kilometers of commuting on the cargobike. Combined with 600 non-electric kilometers on a single speed bike, the total fell just under 4000 km. Hopefully 2020 will surpass this number 🙂

Bike Travel in Finland 2019
Most memorable kilometers of 2019 were spent on a 4 day trip in Finland. Travelling on a single speed bike, those climbs provided a challenge for my knees which gave up just 14 km before the end. Happy memories though. Trip course: Lahti – Tampere – Jyväskylä – Lahti – Helsinki.

The product of 2019 was definitely the forementioned Nighthawk cargobike we recently launched. Not only has it been a thrill riding it at speeds reaching 70 km/h, but it has also changed cycling for me personally. EBikes definitely seem to be the future of commuting and I’m excited to see what the future will shape up to be on that front for us.

KP Cyclery Bicycle Frame Buidling Jig
2019 marks the year we got serious about frame building. This is the jig that can take cargobike and regular frames alike.

2020 and beyond seem bright for us. I still can’t say that we have made it, but the plans we have for 2020 with expanding the reseller list for the Bike Hanger and launching the cargobike feel a lot more mature than the plans of the past years. Hopefully the harvest of the seeds to be planted in 2020 will carry us into the bright future we are looking for.

Christmas tree on a KP Cyclery Nighthawk Cargo Bike
Thanks so much for being a part of our journey. We are forever thankful that you are along for the ride!

Yours,
Kaspar

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DIY Cargo Bike – Part 2

Continuing where we left off, we will start with the more fun part of welding on the cargo bed area. If you missed the first part you can find it here.

Welding the cargo bed.

Like mentioned before. The bike’s geometry is made from points, what comes between them is only aesthetical. So this part was quite fun as everything that mattered had been aligned and locked into position. The only thing you need to worry about here is that you have enough space for pedals and the front wheel.
DIY cargo long john

New steerer, fork modifications.

After this step, you will notice the progress stopped. The frame was left unfinished for almost a year before having time to continue. As a next step, all the excess was cut off, and the head tube [guide to frame tubes] shortened. Also, the fork got modified to fit 20″ wheel as originally it was meant for 700c wheel, and disc brake mounts added. It’s important to check that you don’t make the fork too short or too long, so the cargo area will be parallel to the ground. Now I finally also cut away the extra parts of the down tube and fitted a new steering tube. I went for A-head stem for this. This bike was an experiment and I didn’t want to spend time and money ordering specialized fancy tubing. So I found some precision tubing that fits the stem and the headset from Onninen. It is quite heavy with 2 mm walls, but as I knew I would make it an e-bike, the weight was not too big of an issue. Improvements for next time: Go for Chromoly steerer and head tube to save some weight. Order early in the process.
DIY Cargo Bike

Outsourcing lasered parts.

Now you could do this on your own, but I saved a lot of time and also made things look nice by ordering some of the parts laser-cut like fork dropouts, steerer end, bearing holders for steering arm, etc. You can find my DXF files here if you find them useful.

The finishing touches.

At this stage, I bolted on a bottom bracket, cranks, an old chain, and went for a test ride. Everything felt nice, so the only thing left was to weld on last tubes, disc brake mounts (you can find mine under the above link), cable holders, kickstand, and then it was time for the paint shop.
DIY Bullitt cargo bike

Assembly day!

After everything arrived from powder coating, it was finally the time to assemble everything. All went smoothly and the bike was in one piece in no time.

 
 
 
 
 
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HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM! (and cure)

Early testing revealed some flaws I had described in the last post about handling. After hitting 30 km/h the bike almost always got hit by speed wobble. With this problem, the bike would be rendered useless. Luckily I didn’t get discouraged as even the guys at Larry vs Harry also seem to have a problem with this, and the cure is to add a steering damper like the one used on motorcycles. I ordered one and attached it to the bike, and..    ..it solved the problem for a while before it broke down and leaked all the oil out after just 600 km on the bike. Then winter came along and I left the bike unused until this spring. After talking to some other frame builders I heard that this problem was common, many of them had also been fitting their bikes with steering dampers. The problem seems to be that the front end just gets too light as the problem is less evident with cargo on the bike. Anyway – I set to work early spring and made new damper fittings that would increase the working range of the damper. Having now done 500 km at speeds of 35 – 60 km/h without any steering wobble it seems that the bike is finally finished. Improvements for next time: a.) Design your bike with steering damper in mind from the beginning. b.) Keep shallow fork angle, short fork rake, and thus a large amount trail. This may improve stability if you want to resist using a steering damper.
DIY Cargobike KP CYCLERY

To summarize, this project turned out a lot better than I had anticipated. Before setting to work, my mind was set at 50/50 chance that the bike would work as well as it does. The Bafang 750w electric unit works well, the geometry is working with the steering damper, there is plenty of cargo space and it goes as fast as you wish. The mileage speaks for itself – currently, I’m averaging 150-200 km per week and only use the car for a short ride once a week to keep the brakes from sticking, etc. So if you have some welding skills and you’re thinking about building yourself a cargo bike- GO FOR IT! Also as a side note, we are constructing a jig to weld some more frames, so you will soon be able to order a proper cargo bike frame from us 🙂

And here it is – doing 45 km/h:

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DIY Cargo Bike – Part 1

KP Cyclery’s DIY cargo bike anyone with an angle grinder, old steel bike and welding machine can make without any special tools.

Firstly a disclaimer. As this bike was a personal experiment then I didn’t use the regular amount of planning and modelling. Many methods would not be used to make a proper product and currently I’m constructing a jig to hold everything in place when making this kind of bikes in the future.

With that cleared away, let’s dive into this DIY Cargo Bike project. It was started 2,5 years ago and I finished the bike roughly 8 months ago. I wanted a long john type cargo bike when we decided to move to Estonia, as there will not be a luxury of so many cycle paths. So already when still in Copenhagen I started the project.

The geometry.

Something that irritates me a little when people see my bike is they say – oh did you make a Bullitt replica. In part that is true. But also true is that long john type cargo bikes were used a hundred years ago, so you shouldn’t be afraid to make something similar. Of course most of the geometry should be similar to an existing bike that has been tested and sold with success. So you can use a lot of the geometry here: http://larryvsharry.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/technical_wireframe_bg1.png
Improvements for next time: a) Plan as much ahead as possible. If you have access to 3D CAD program then use it. Model everything, check that nothing collides when steering, etc. Get the geometry right – I find 69-degree headtube, 20 mm rake and thus 77 mm trail best for our bikes.

Chopping an old bike into pieces. Welding a new down tube.

I knew I wanted to do as little work as possible, so I found an old bike, dissembled everything and started cutting away. After cutting away the down tube I took a long 2-meter tube I wanted to use for the new down tube. Then I aligned it to the middle of the fork and welded to the bottom bracket. It is important to keep the fork on the bike at this point as I was not using a jig and needed some reference points. Keeping the new down tube long would also be giving me reference points for later alignment of the new fork. Before welding, I made sure the seat tube and new down tube were parallel by bolting both the welding table. PS! If tubing sizes are different then you need to use something for distance under the frame tubes if the frame is of smaller tubes. 

Improvements for next time: a) I would consider building a jig even for 1 piece. b) If not then I would run another tube under the down tube to align the new down tube with the rear axle center. c) I would make the down tube from round tubing as it will have some rotational stress.
DIY cargo bike

Welding on a new top tube.

Now I cut off the steering tube and cut the old top tube shorter, using it as a guide for the new top-tube alignment. This way I could make sure the new steerer would end up in the middle of the bike. Had I used a men’s frame I would have probably kept the original top tube. Note: keep the guiding tubes on the frame as long as you can. They help against heat distortion from welding.

Improvements for next time: a) Make this from round tubing for more resistance to rotational forces/torque.
DIY Long John Bike

 Welding on the new head tube.

Now this one was the biggest mistake and can also be for you, so pay attention and read improvements. Steerer position will affect the whole handling. So what I did correctly was to make sure the head tube is in position before welding the cargo bed. All the tubing in between the bottom bracket and head tube can be misaligned without a problem – if the head tube, rear triangle and the bottom bracket are located correctly. So using the 2 meters long new down tube, I could be quite confident that the middle of the front hub would be in the correct position. But getting the fork exactly straight in relation to the frame is more tricky. I used an extra piece of tubing and welded it to the new down tube. The other end was bolted to the fork.
DIY cargo bike 5
Now I didn’t double-check the alignment properly here. I would strongly suggest using an inclinometer here. Or at least a spirit level to make sure the seat tube and head tube are aligned. Next comes the head tube angle. You need to make sure you have a proper amount of trail to keep the steering stable. I didn’t pay enough attention to this and ended up with almost half the trail of a Bullitt (more about trail and steering here). 

Improvements for next time: a) After setting up the fork take a photo of the frame as best as you can from the side. On your computer open the photo with an image editing program and calculate the head tube angle or just compare it to this blueprint of a Bullitt. b) I would buy an inclinometer from the web to check all angles. They are quite inexpensive, starting from 10€ on the web.
DIY Cargo Bike Trail

The Problem.

I mentioned the steering will be where you can make the biggest mistake. What I ended up with is speed wobble when running over bumps at speeds over 30 km/h. Science is not exactly sure why it happens. In my case, I think it is a small trail combined with slightly misaligned front and back wheel and square tubing for top tube and down tube which make the frame flexible sideways. What I did to compensate is that I added a motorcycle steering damper. This worked, but I want to experiment further. This year I will cut the fork again and try to increase the trail. I will post an update later this year whether this worked. I believe Bullitt also has trouble with high-speed steering stability as they also now have a steering damper for as an extra option. Improvements for next time: a) Experimenting further has shown that enough trail fixes this issue. I went for a 77 mm trail (road bikes have around 55 mm) and now it is really stable.

To be continued.. Part 2

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New product launch + more updates of this season

It’s been a long time since our last post. Despite this, it has been a joy to see a constant flow of new subscribers – sorry we’ve kept you waiting.

So what’s happen while we’ve been a little less active on the blog..

  1. New product launch on Kickstarter – Bike Hanger Copenhagen series.

    Most important stuff first – we’ve recently launched our latest Bike Hanger on Kickstarter! See and support it here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/820118192/the-bike-hanger-copenhagen-series/
    I
    t’s been in the works for a while, and we finally got the result we were aiming for. The change goes hand-in-hand with our switch in suppliers, and don’t worry, we’re still producing in Northern Europe 🙂 Now the quality is even higher and instead of chromed metal we use Aisi 304 grade tubing.
    The new Bike Hanger is inspired by white-walled flats of Copenhagen with the light colour pallette, as is the shape ,to go with the taste of bike lovers who are more into modern looks than our original vintage looking Bike Hanger.
  2. Some special work
    We’ve had a couple of cool projects where we’ve made some bike trailers and special sidecars. We can’t talk about the latter too much yet due to the status of the customer’s project. But the hint here is to look our for some green bikes and sidecars in Amsterdam. We’ll share some pictures on our instagram soon. The other custom project we just finished are bike trailer for bike rental company called Donkey Republic. Check them out if you haven’t already – they have an excellent platform for renting bikes when travelling, we’ve used them with my wife in different cities.

    KP Cyclery Bike Trailer
    First prototype of bike trailers for Donkey Republic in the winter setting.
  3. Extra project
    Another one you might be interested to hear about is a personal project where I cut up an old frame I had lying around. So I’m using the rear triangle from it and the fork. The fork has been shortened and disc break mounts have been added. The frame so far still lacks some tubes and disc brake mounts of its own, as paid jobs need to come first – but I’ll get there one day.

    The bike will feature disc brakes, alfine 8-gear hub, 750W motor and 52V 14,6 Ah battey. So it will be fast and able to carry a lot..

    KP Cargo Bike
    KP’s personal cargo bike project

Thanks for tuning in! Hopefully you won’t have to wait so long for the next one.

Love,
KP

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Berliner Fahrradschau 2017 – Our Experience from This Year’s Show

After last year’s Berlin bike show, we already signed up for 2017 in June. 2016 had been deeply positive, we got some good resellers, a lot of interest, a steady stream of sales throughout the year that followed and some genuine fans. Obviously we had some expectations going into 2017’s edition – and Berlin did not disappoint.

KP Cyclery at Berlin Bike Show
BFS 2017 was great fun – we just need to get a bigger booth next year.

How was it for KP Cyclery?

As mentioned, 2017 was similarly positive, we had a ton of interest in the Sidecar and nice Bike Hanger sales. I must admit, I thought that since our Sidecar is so different from all other cargo bike variations, there would be some that would say ‘that doesn’t make any sense’. But the notoriously engineering-minded Berliners and Germans seemed really impressed by our ingenuity. The Sidecar turned heads at our booth and even more so when out for a test ride. The tilting function amazed people with a constant crowd of cameras pointed at it. Surely there ought to be a few of them riding around Berlin soon.

KP Cyclery Sidecar Bike At Berliner Fahrradschau Berlin Bike Show
Danny showing off the Sidecar Bike – what a crowd pleaser it turned out to be. Photo credit: René Zieger / BFS

Our friendly neighbours

One might expect that all of the exhibitors at the fair would be competitors and thus not overly friendly towards each other. However in the bike industry, it is the complete opposite. We we’re lucky enough to be neighbours with other remarkable visionaires – Halbrad (half-bike in English) and Brix / Sandwich bikes.

At first sight, we thought Halbrad we’re exhibiting a type of a foldable bike. After close inspection, it turned out to be what I called an unfoldable foldable bike. Designed to be allowed on trains without bike ticket, this nifty little thing is quite fun indeed.

Halbrad Halfbike at Berlin Bike Show
Halbrad (Half-bike in English) looks like a foldable bike, but isn’t.

Across from our booth, were the Dutch geniuses from Brik and Sandwich bikes. Brix bikes stood out with their crankshaft technology and Sandwich is a bike, with a frame made from planar surfaces – you can have the fun of assembling the whole thing.

Shaft Drive Bicycle at Berlin Bike Show 2017
Brik bikes makes classy bicycles with shaft drive instead of a chain.

Our two favourites

Other than our own stuff turning heads, there were some real gems to look at. Our own personal favourites were the PonyJohn bike by Retrovelo’s founder Frank. The bike features hydraulic steering, electric motor, and electric gear. As the man himself said – ‘that’s the maximum you can get out of a bike.’ The hydraulic steering really blew my mind.

PonyJohn Cargo Bike at Berliner Fahrradschau 2017
PonyJohn Cargobike features hydraulic steering, electric motor and electric gears – wow!

The 2nd favourite of the two was KleinLaster. This bike just stood out from the rest by the sheer passion that is seen in the craftman-ship. The whole frame is beautifully brazed and later filed down for an outstanding finish. What we loved is that the frame is kept without paint, only a clear coat goes on top of the raw frame, displaying the welds in their natural beauty. And of course the chain that connects the handlebars to the front fork is just cool to look at.

Kleinlasten beautiful raw cargo bike at Berlin Bicycle Week
KleinLaster is beautifully crafted cargo bike with a chain between the handlebars and the fork. One of our two favourites from 2017.

What’s next?

As said, 2017 edition of BFS was once again a hit. We will certainly be present again in 2018. Aside from that, the life in a small and young company is always a rollercoaster and turbulent. We are hoping to do at least a few more shows this year – let’s see how things play out in the near future. Keep following the blog, Instagram and Facebook and we will surely pass on a message of other shows where you can find us.

Cheerio,
KP, Danny and the team

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Kickstarter or Indiegogo – Secret Tips of a 5-time Creator

Talking as a physical product company – crowdfunding is an excellent tool from companies to present an idea and turn it into a product fast. It is a platform that puts smaller and larger companies on a relatively plane playing field – so that all of us can pitch an idea to a large crowd like Tim Cook on Apple’s annual iPhone release. Whilst there are countless niche platforms, some regional, some area specific, there are only 2 truly global names when it comes to reward based crowdfunding – Indiegogo and Kickstarter. As we have used both, we would like to share what we have learnt so that you can make the best choice with a shortest possible learning curve.

The volume – First of all, let’s look into some general, non-project specific, numbers and comparisons between the two platforms. Firstly you should know that whilst Indiegogo is available for creators around the globe, Kickstarter isn’t (supported countries can be found here). While this can be an issue, there are many creators opting to favor the latter platform, going the extra mile to register a company in one of the supported countries. Why so? Perhaps the most obvious reason in sheer traffic – according to SimilarWeb extension, Kickstarter gets 54,7 million visits every month vs Indiegogo’s 26,9 million. Further more, the success rate on Kickstarter globally is currently 34,5% versus 9,8% on Indiegogo (up to some debate as unsuccessful project often get deleted). You can check out all stats on Kickstarter yourself by using advanced search and excel.

Kickstarter Success Rates
Kickstarter success rates on 6th of Feb 2017

Marketing budget – On the other hand if you have deep pockets, and know your way around using Google and Facebook ads, then you might look towards Indiegogo as they have implemented those tools directly into the platform. With a few steps, you can connect your project pages to tracking pixels and retarget visitors so that you have a larger chance of sealing the deal with your project visitors. On top of that, Indiegogo is moving towards being a marketplace for projects that have already been funded throught their In Demand section, which is essentially a marketplace where you can keep selling your project even after the project has ended.

Funding type and currency – Other basics we would like to mention here, but not in great detail are that Indiegogo allows you to create a project with both flexible funding and fixed funding. Flexible funding meaning that even if you don’t hit your goal, you still get the money you raised. Fixed funding means that you only get to use the funds once you exceeded the funding goal. All Kickstarter project run on fixed funding platform. Another factor is that Indiegogo lets you choose the currency for your project, Kickstarter will run on a currency of creator’s country. As we took part of an event for Kickstarter creators in Copenhagen, a crowdfunding agency showed us how badly the success rate of project had dropped once Kickstarter expanded to Denmark. Part of the reasoning being that it took so much commitment to register a foreign company to even launch a project, but one reason could simply be psychological. If you sell a product which cost 750 DKK or 99€ then it will be much easier for people to go for the 99€ price mark, it simply seems smaller, this applies especially for US based supporters, only used to dealing in one currency. This may well be a solid factor as 76,9% of all project are launched in US, thus creating a US based community of supporters.

Alright – time to talk about our specific experiences. By now, we have run 4 campaigns on Kickstarter, and we started 1 on Indiegogo. Here are the projects in chronological order –

Project Funding Goal Funding Raised No. of Backers Duration Traffic (sessions)
Kickstarter – KP Cykler bicycles 200 000 DKK / approx. 27 000 € 122 750 DKK / approx. 16 500 € 51 30 days Approx 19 000
Kickstarter – The Bike Hanger 10 000 DKK / approx. 1300 € 38 141 DKK /

Approx. 5150€

57 30 days 6468
Kickstarter – The Perfect Urban Bike 20 000 DKK /

Approx. 2700€

20 315 DKK /

Approx. 2730€

11 30 days 7995
Indiegogo – Bike Hanger 2.0 11 000 $
Flexible Funding
Approx $700 16 Stopped after 16 days 1039
Kickstarter – Bike Hanger 2.0 10 000 DKK 53 745 DKK /

Approx. 7225€

82 30 days 8782

The two projects we want to focus on are the two last ones. They are virtually the same project, launched on different platforms. Why did we launch on 2 different platforms at the same time? Well we didn’t. First we launched on Indiegogo. For the first time since launching our company, we had some funds, not much, but some funds for marketing of the campaign, and like mentioned above, Indiegogo has some things going for it that Kickstarter doesn’t. So based on our experience, we thought it would go at least as good as one of our project in the past. But this is where it all gets interesting.

Just like with other projects, we had prepared our media list, organized our contact etc. More tips on this here. We went ahead with the Indiegogo launch and got pretty decent traffic for the first couple of days. Only a few backers, but decent traffic, so we were not giving up. After the first days, the traffic slowed down, only generating between 30 and 6 visitors a day. We had set up our retargeting ads, so that gave us a little bit more visibility, but as a strong start is the most important part of a crowdfunding project, then is simply didn’t have any meaning continuing as we failed to get much funding and media coverage. Thus we wrote to Indiegogo explaining our situation and they luckily agreed to take down the project.

Indiegogo dily traffic graph
Daily traffic of The Bike Hanger 2.0 Indiegogo project

About a week after this, we launched the same project on Kickstarter. We had of course wasted some good leads as we couldn’t approach all of our contacts again, but even so, the internal traffic was about double that of Indiegogo within the first days and continued to be so throughout the project. More importantly, we got a steady stream of backers and went 5x over the initial funding goal.

Kickstarter Traffic Graph
Daily traffic of The Bike Hanger 2.0 on Kickstarter

Funding graph on Kickstarter
The Bike Hanger 2.0 funding graph on Kickstarter

Easy decision making – Although 50 000 DKK is not something you will read about on the cover of New York Times, it goes to show how different these platforms are. What’s really clear is that Kickstarter generates far more traffic for a ‘non-viral’ project – which most projects are. Beyond traffic, Kickstarter payments work differently – Indiegogo charges your card right at the time of your pledge, but Kickstarter only charges your card in the end of the campaign. This means you can decide whether you like the product or the idea today, and figure out the money part during the next 30 days (or whatever the amount of days left). And if you didn’t you’ll get a notice and 14 days to fix your payment. Now this will create a few ‘bad payments’, but it makes decision making much easier which translates into numbers.

Further more, the last graph goes to show jsut how powerful the internal community of Kickstarter is. With 16 on Indiegogo, we only received a couple of internal backers, on Kickstarter, 73% of the total of 82 backers were internal. An while we didn’t show up on any charts on Indiegogo, Kickstarter quickly upgraded us to a ‘project we love’ status directly further traffic our way.

So which one should you choose? Kickstarter or Indiegogo? If there would be only one answer, then there would probably only exist one platform. If you have a large marketing budget and a lot of online marketing experience or Kickstarter simply isn’t supported in your country, you might opt for Indiegogo. Plus one might argue that the truly viral projects get their millions on either of the platforms anyway. But for small companies just breaking into the world like us, Kickstarter simply makes far more sense. The size of the community they have built directly translates into numbers, both in internal traffic and in backers.

As an extra tip for creators – especially those hoping to start a full-time business through crowdfunding – crowdfunding alone will, in most cases, not finance your whole project. There will be all sorts of unexpected problems – for example the Coolest Cooler, which at one point was the most funded project on Kickstarter, raised 13 million USD, had to sell on Amazon to be able to ship Kickstarter products. Instead of only relying on crowdfunding, either work out a flexible deal at your current workplace or make a deal with someone who will back you financially. Crowdfunding can be seen as a platform where you prove a concept in real world. You might only raise funding for 20% of the cost of the initial setup for the production, but you prove that there are people willing to pay for this product. This gives you an option to say for example – we need 100 000€ this year, if we get 200 customers, and 40 000€ in sales from crowdfunding, will you come in with 60 000€ as a partner?

Write or call if you have any further questions or comments.

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1 month into 2017 – How are you keeping up to your personal cycling goals?

The first month of 2017 has passed. Many of you probably have set some personal goals for the new year. How are you keeping up so far? If you’re not satisfied – here are some additional motivation boosters:

2017 - let's ride.2017 – let’s ride.

As you already read in one of our earlier blog posts cycling keeps that heart of yours healthy and happy. It has proven to be the perfect cure for depression, obesity, stress and ailments in health. It is the best way to start your week, gearing you up to battle the days with renewed energy and vigor.

However, despite the numerous benefits, cycling isn’t always fun. Below are a few tips and tricks to help you retain motivation and keep paddling!

 

Set goals

You may begin to ask yourself why you should even bother getting on your bike. To avoid such an event, it is recommended to set challenging but realistic goals to follow, like setting up deadlines to complete set distances or having a sportive race.

 

Find company

Everything is better with friends! Some people prefer alone-time but others seem to be happier with company. If you’re one of the latter, you’ll be better motivated if you arrange to meet up or cycle with friends.

Sharing the joy!     Sharing the joy!

Follow a preset plan

Believe it or not, sometimes monotonous routines can be good for you! Sit down and plan a cycling routine. Go out for a ride on the same day and time every week, so that you get accustomed to cycling on that particular day and time and soon enough, cycling will be an unavoidable part of your day.

 

Buy a new bike

Maybe your old bike just isn’t doing the trick for you. Sometimes all you need is a shiny new one to reign in your heart and get you excited to break it in.

Stressed out? Feeling overwhelmed? Time to head over to the KP Cyclery in Copenhagen, Denmark and pick out your new cycle or stop by in our Online Shop 🙂

Get a new bike?

Get a new bike?

Join a cycling club

If you don’t have friends that share your interest in cycling, join a cycling club! You will make new friends, learn new tricks, have better confidence and have a consistent social circle.

Go on different tracks

You are less likely to get bored if you deviate from your usual track – take a wrong turn once in a while and explore new terrains.

Go on different tracks!

Go on different tracks!

Tell Everyone

Tell your friends, family, co-workers and anyone else you know about your cycling plans. Once you have spread the word, it will be hard to back out. Constant inquiries about your cycling plans will force you to keep consistent; after all, no one likes a quitter.

 

Ride on in 2017!

 Racing towards her fitness goal