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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Re: Question about your blog

On Wed, Mar 5, 2008 at 12:11 PM, Kelly Green <kelgreen19@rmartinbikes.com> wrote:
Hello! This is Kelly from R Martin Electric Bikes, and we were wondering how we would go about getting a link on your blog. It's very extensive and just the sort of thing we are looking for. Our website address is www.rmartinbikes.com Thanks so much for your time!
R Martin Bikes
You could always send a product sample ;-)
The electric assist bicycle hasn't hit big yet, and I think this has been a failure more of marketing than of technology. While they don't have the elegance or human-powered virtues of regular bicycles, they can be extremely efficient and very practical.  I don't have to tell you this...
Your bikes look good, and your discussion of power and batteries seems sensible.  Of course, I'm not an expert in that area.
The bikes look good though--nice diversity, well-accessorized, good price points.  OK, they're on, in the context of an article about Electric-assist bikes in general, with a resources section.  Can you help me with more information about battery technology, product design, etc.?
I do have some comments
  1. Some of your bikes are almost "long-tails" (see http://xtracycle.com/), which is great.  I don't know if the ideas of passenger capacity and well designed cargo capacity are marketable for you, but those are things I care about, things that make bikes more useful. 
  2. On the E300, GREAT BASKET!  Go further: get the rear rack lower over the rear wheel--a lower load provides greater stability.  Also, this rack looks like it might need a bit more support on the sides in order to support a pannier.  Stock a grocery pannier.  You already have JANDD products, and they make a good one.  Show the bike with a grocery pannier mounted to the rack, and a bag of groceries in it, carrot tops hanging over the side. 
  3. While we're on the topic of marketing, find a web-designer, and upgrade your site.  It's sad but true: image is everything.  I'm sure cash is tight, but under-valuing good marketing has to be one of the most common reasons start-up businesses fail.  Find yourself an art/design/architecture student at UT ;-)
  4. These bikes should have an integrated (or at least included) taillight as well as a headlight.  It's irresponsible to give people a headlight, more or less telling them that the bike is ready to ride in the dark, without providing a taillight.  I see that you recommend adding a battery operated taillight, which is good, but again, if you're going to include the headlight, you should include the taillight.  I know what typical retailers pay for typical blinky taillights, and I'm sure you could get then cheaper (but do stick with Planet Bike).  Just include one with each bike, call it liability insurance on your balance sheet.  Better would be to link the taillight to the main battery.  I'm not good at electricity, but I know there are plenty of wired taillights out there.  Whatever you do, don't mount the taillight on the seatpost.  It should be on the back of the rack, or the rear fender.
  5. I can't tell from your website whether the batteries can be removed easily from the bikes.  I keep my bike locked at a bike rack outside, pretty much 24/7.  I would need to bring the battery inside charge it.  I imagine many people who live in apartment buildings or condos with "bike-rooms" could be in similar situations.  Can the batteries be removed, and brought inside for charging?  On second look, they appear to be removable, but your website could use more information about the charging process in general.  Are the chargers "smart"?  How long does it take to charge from 10% to 100%?  From 50% to 100%?  What if I leave it plugged in too long?
  6. Please, please make the steerer tube on the L1 longer by at least 1.5", preferably 2", and raise the stem with spacers.  This is HUGE.  Your market is not limber 20-yr-olds.  And, you can always cut them shorter, but you can't go the other way.
  7. The suspension forks should go.  They're cheap and they don't work that well.  Fatten up the tires and let a little air out if you want suspension.  Maybe its a market research question.  If you explained how pneumatic tires _are_ suspension...
  8. While we're on the subject of tire pressure, please stock and recommend a floor pump, and say something about tire inflation.  Something like this:  "Bicycle inner tubes tend to loose air preasure over time, a lot like a helium baloon..." 
  9. It would be nice to have _some_ gears on the commuters (five to eight would do), but I don't know how much that would add in terms of cost.  Ideally, I'd want an internally geared hub, but I don't know if that's possible with the motor in the hub too.
  10. I have to plug the grocery pannier once more.  It's a no brainer. The JANDD one is good, but Breezer makes my favorite.  
  11. And a U-lock, I mean, really! 

Well, there you go.  You didn't ask for business or marketing advice, did you?  Well, I'll send my invoice separately... ;-)  --David


darren said...

Unsolicited question #12 -- battery disposal?

David said...

Thanks, Darren. Good Catch.

Bike there, with directions: