As we’ve been providing side panels and the existing wide box, we’ve also been asked for a closable cargo box for a while now. The main goal of this box would be to allow courier and shipping companies to include the Nighthawk as one solution to the last-mile problem. But, more generally, it would allow private and professional users to have a cargo bike with a ‘trunk’ so that the bike could be left alone for a moment without the risk of getting items stolen.
The design criteria of such a box would include:
the ability to be locked on demand
a capacity of around 200 litres
being sturdy and dependable, while trying to avoid being heavy
We spent some time on the choice of a lock that would fit our bill. We were initially thinking of having the top of the box slide onto a lock with a slanted bolt so that closing the box would not require any additional action from the user. This did work but got quickly annoying as one had to unlock the box to open it again explicitly. Another quite similar variant of this lock did provide more flexibility, though the lock would either be in the open or closed position, and the drawer would open and close itself easily provided the lock was open.
Physical properties of the Business Cargo Box
We wanted to maximize the space used on the cargo bed (to provide the needed capacity) while staying light. Thus, we used the same DiBond composite featured in our wide box. Once the box is mounted on the cargo bed, the whole system is even sturdier than we initially thought! In the final design, we achieved a capacity of around 230 litres for the box, for an approximate weight of 11kg.
Weatherproofing of the Business Cargo Box
The physical design of the box tries to avoid rain needlessly leaking into it. Some sealing profile has also been added at the end of the drawer to cover sharp edges and close the gap between the drawer and the box when closed.
The result is a pretty nice looking box! Putting it together and seeing it take its final form was quite satisfying. Some details need some refining, but these are primarily small details: the first iteration is already used to carry stuff around today.
Not all customizations mean that we have to go above and beyond our regular tubing, geometry and so on. Yet they can still be totally out of this World and memorable. Like this custom glow-in-the-dark Nighthawk Cargo Bike.
Request from the customer
A glow-in-the-dark paint to make the cargo bike stand out during dark winters.
Process of the Custom Glow-in-the-Dark Cargo Bike
For phosphorescent paint, our standard powder coating process cannot be used. The glow-in-the-dark effect is achieved by adding phosphors into the paint. Powdercoating is a process where the paint is is attached to the frame with an electric current in a powder form. This powder is transformed into flowing paint in an oven at roughly 200 degrees centigrade. Phosphorus has a melting point at 44,15 degrees and thus it would just melt into the paint and have its glowing effect. As a result, this means the paint had to be applied in a wet form in a way cars are painted with a paint gun.
Luckily we found a car-painter who was willing to take on the job.
The result was a real looker. As it is hard to get the full effect with photos, but when you see one during the dark hours of winter, riding through Copenhagen, then you know it’s a Nighthawk!
“The glowhawk is as bright as smooth. Don’t know who likes this bike more, my son or I.”
It has been another unique build we finished. As always, one can get a bit anxious with design changes and their effect on the rideability, but this time things turned out even better than anticipated. So this is a story of the custom XXL Cargo Bike.
Request from the customer
The customer wanted a stealth matte black looking cargo bike with a large cargo bed. The customer wanted the cargo area to be 100 x 50 cm large.
Process of the custom XXL Cargo Bike
3D modelling once again is central in this kind of customisation. For example, it was easy to change the dimensions of the cargo bed, but we also wanted to be extra sure that the frame would still be stiff enough. For it, we added removable reinforcement bars to the sides of the cargo area marked in yellow below.
Since we had not built a bike in this size before, we were confident, but at the same time, a bit anxious about how exactly the bike will handle. Taking it for the first spin, our anxiousness disappeared. The bike handled really well, and you could hardly notice the larger than normal size. The bars on the sides of the cargo area really worked their charm, and the frame was stiff.
The mission of our cargo bikes, similar to all cargo bikes, is to have more cycling, healthier people, coherent societies and fewer cars and less pollution in the World. When this vision gets through to political parties, we know there will be an impact on what we do. This vision has come alive thanks to Estonia’s Reform Party. The party has been the political leader for the majority of Estonia’s short history and is lead by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.
Request from the customer
Electric bikes with step-through frame for local elections so female politicians can use the bike with a skirt on. Bikes have to be painted in party yellow and custom graphics are needed for the cargo box.
Process of the Custom Step-Through Cargo Bike
As always, modern 3D modelling comes in handy when making custom geometries. We dropped the top tube of the frame much lower and moved the battery from the head tube to the bottom of the top tube. Templates of the box and windscreen were sent to the graphical designer at the Reform Party who added their slogans and design.
Result of the Custom Step-Through Cargo Bike
The result turned out stunning. We ended up liking the design so much that we are now considering making the step-through cargo bike a standard option for the frames. We think it looks still agressive and sporty enough to carry forward the essence of our bikes, but at the same time practical and unisex. In addition, we ended up making the whole box from a reflective material that adds to the looks and safety of the bike.
“Thanks so much for working furiously against a tight deadline with the last day all-nighter. The bikes look amazing!”
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, but this is a fact that many are eager to dismiss. So why is it that it seems like a modern-day invention? The answer seems to lie mainly in the legislation of different countries and also the shift in mindset. A bike was a strange thing to use as a practical means of transport in many countries from the 1960s-2000. Luckily we are coming out of this tunnel from the other end. People want to keep happy, live healthy for longer and be more environmentally friendly. By traveling less distance with petrol, we would save money by ditching the car or public transport subscription.
Long John cargo bike
The first and perhaps most popular type is the Long John type cargo bike. This type of bicycle was first invented in Odense, Denmark, in 1923 by the Smith & Co Company. Same place we first started. Long Johns are best for people who like to have a fast, nimble, and stylish cargo bike. The cargo area is relatively aerodynamic, and it’s in front of the bicycle. For example, it’s perfect for hauling packages and children as they are visible and easy to communicate with. Depending on a manufacturer’s geometry, riding this bike can feel like riding a standard bike. Since it’s as narrow as a regular two-wheeled bike, a Longjohn is perfect for countries with not-so-many proper bike lanes.
Probably the second most popular cargo bike type is a tricycle. This bike, also known as Trike / Bakfiets / Kastenfahrrad, has two front wheels and a box in-between. This version of a cargo bike is often the choice for families when both parents share a bike. 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 cargo bike
The Long Tail cargo bike is not so popular in Europe but seems to be the no.1 choice of cargo bike in the US. Two-wheeler as well, this bike has a long rack in the back. The rack itself is a part of the bike frame, making it rigid.
This bike’s strength lies in its dimensions because the frame is as narrow as a regular bike and only slightly longer. The size and weight make it easy to store and carry it up and down the stairs. However, the cargo ability is not comparable to the bikes mentioned above. It is comfortable 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.’
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 regular 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. I have been riding fixed gear, single-speed, road, and sidecar bikes for years and loved it. After commuting more than 10 km one way every day, in the evenings, I felt like not wanting to commute much more and perhaps needing to take a third shower too. With an eBike, I estimate that my yearly mileage has grown by 30-40%. I never need to think whether I want to ’go there’ on a bike 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.
Choosing the right cargo bike
In conclusion, 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 – cheers to that! Next, think about what you plan to do with the bike: the commute’s daily length, how hilly or windy your region is, and what you will carry.
Choose Trike if:
The commute is up to 5 km / 3 miles one way.
The road is not too hilly, windy, and bumpy.
You need to carry three or more children.
Speed is not an issue, and you want to share the bike with your partner.
Choose Long Tail if:
If you’re carrying a child on a child seat or
Your only cargo is a bag that straps to the frame.
Choose Sidecar if:
You want to stand out or advertise your business.
You do not need to carry children.
You wish to use your bike as a normal one.
Choose Long John if:
You want a bike that feels like a standard bike.
Has cargo space for two children and room to spare.
This will be the first post of a series that will be featuring our Nighthawk custom cargo bike builds. Unlike most other manufacturers, we produce our own frames and don’t outsource this work to the Far East. Doing so, allows us to modify each bike to needs and liking of the customer. So too was the story with this bike.
Request from the customer
A pass door to be added for a dog or a child into the left-hand sidepanel. Sidepanels should be black without logos. Custom color – RAL 4009 – pastel violet.
We suggested that the door should open forwards. So just in case, the rider forgets to lock it, it will slam closed when riding rather than get stuck somewhere. Custom color for panels and frame is not a problem.
We started by 3D modeling the door opening. Once that was done, we knew the sidepanel would need some reinforcement not to bend around the door. We figured the easiest would be to add another layer of sturdy DiBond material around the door and try it. If that fails, we would weld a small metal frame for the door. Next, we acquired several types of hinges and latches from a local hardware store to test.
The pass door worked like a charm right from the start. We managed to find a latch that has a spring stopper inside so there is always some tension for the latch not to open accidentally. The double layer of DiBond around the door worked well and panel is rigid. Client choose Pastel Violet for the frame, which turned out to be a real looker! Another great custom cargo bike on the road!
“It looks sick man. […] I’ve already sent the photo to a few mates and everyone’s commenting on that door. Amazing job, turned out a lot better than I expected. […] I went for a one hour bike tour outside the city under pouring rain – it was a fantastic ride!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 –
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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?
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!
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.
Whether it’s to get to a friend’s house or school in the morning opting to go on a bicycle could perhaps be the best decision you make all day. Apart from the perk of having a good looking bicycle, riding on it can help you in ways that you didn’t think possible; especially in terms of your health.
When you ride a bicycle you’ll be surprised to know that your body is actually hard to work, and cycling involves a lot of muscle movement both in your arms and legs. Cycling regularly can increase the strength and flexibility of these muscles. With a constant stimulus your muscles not only grow in size but also strengthen up. After only a few months of cycling you’ll find extra strength in your legs that you didn’t have before. This can help you in sports other than cycling as well, for example soccer.
Cycling is also very good for your heart, not only does it strengthen your heart rather it keeps it young and healthy. The heart is the most vital organ in the human body responsible for pushing blood to each and every single muscle in the body. When you ride a bicycle, your heart rate increases and your muscles demand more blood. In this way the heart receives its daily exercise that is incumbent for a long and healthy life.
People who want to lose weight and want to do it fast can also opt for cycling for it is one of the surest ways in which you can lose weight within days. The amount of exercise the body goes through during cycling helps your body break down fats which automatically results in low fat levels in your body. It also helps maintain those of us who want to maintain our bodies and works as a perfect tool for fitness as it increases you stamina.
Cycling is also optimal if you want to increase your brain power. It lightens up your grey matter and helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus (the region responsible for memory). It also boosts blood flow and oxygen to the brain which fires and regenerates receptors which adds to the basic health of your brain.
You can also expect to live a lot longer if you decide to take up cycling as a habit. King’s College London compared over 2,400 identical twins and found those who did just three 45-minute rides a week were nine years “biologically younger” than their counter parts. What we take from this is the fact that those who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer from a cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, all types of cancer and obesity.
With cycling, you can do no wrong and there is absolutely no reason for you not to take up this habit for it can lead to a better and healthy life that ensures a bright future for you and your kids when you grow up.