Posts in the category How To

#BikeStartup: 3 Steps to turning your big idea into a product cyclists will love

The various prototypes of the Fortified Defender

The various prototypes of the Fortified Defender

Slava Menn is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Fortified Bicycle.  He loves biking, building, entrepreneuring, and teaching.  In this monthly series, he shares his team’s hard-learned startup lessons with aspiring entrepreneurs.

Last month we discussed how haters will tell you not to start a company and why you should do it anyway.  Then we covered the first three lessons for launching your business:

  1. Turn your pain into a product idea
  2. Figure out if others need this product
  3. Do so qualitatively first (talk to people) then quantitatively (surveys)

Now that you’ve completed the first three lessons, you’re so confident the world needs your product that you start mass-producing thousands of units, right?  Not so fast…

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DIY Video Shows You How to Give Your Bike the Tron Treatment

Victor Does is a web series based in Sweden that posts DIY tutorials for various projects, from building a beer can lantern to electrolysis rust removal. This particular video shows you how to turn your bike into a “Tron Style” glow in the dark vehicle. The point is to make your bike not only look rad, but also to add another safety component while riding at night. The glow in the dark paint portion of the video is simple, but the UV LED soldering component is a bit more complicated. For those of us with no electrical wiring knowledge, this video might not be completely comprehensive; you may have to dig around other sites to learn how to connect Ohm resistors in a parallel circuit. That, and making the wiring a bit cleaner. But if you’re able to get the required items and have the time to put them together, this could be a really great weekend project that would add another level of safety to your nighttime rides.

Bike Startup: Why They’ll Tell You Not to Launch Your Own Company, and How to Do It Anyway

Fortified Bicycle Defender theft proof six gun commuter bike light

Original Theft-Proof Defender Bike Light

I bet you have a really great bike product idea. Cleaner gear shifting, better pedals, lighter shocks, glow-in-the-dark tires, tastier supplements, smart-phone performance tracking. You watched countless Shark Tank episodes and Kickstarter videos and thought, “Hey, I can do this.”

When we launched Fortified Bicycle in 2012 we had lots of ideas, too. Like most ideas, ours were borne out of a problem. In our case the problem was bicycle gear wasn’t designed for urban cyclists. Our first bike light product came after a friend had his light stolen. Riding home that night he was hit by a driver who couldn’t see him. So we made the world’s first anti-theft bike light and it got our company off the ground.

Everyone told us not to do it, and they had genuinely good and persuasive reasons: the bicycle industry is really tough; making products in the U.S. is too expensive but if you make it overseas the Chinese will copy you; and so on. Our favorite came from an industry veteran: “How do you make a million dollars in the bike industry? Start with $10 million.”

Well, we did it anyway. And because we’re teachers at heart, we’ve shared our battle-learned lessons during guest lectures at MIT and Boston University, and in past articles. Now, we’re teaming up with Bikerumor to bring these lessons to future bike entrepreneurs in a new series. Let’s get started…

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Gamut USA Announces New Athlete Sponsorship Program

Gamut Sponsorship

We hear it all the time – “how do I get sponsored?” If you’ve been thinking that or think you have what it takes to be a sponsored athlete (hint, it’s more than just being good at bikes) then you should take a look at Gamut USA’s newly announced athlete sponsorship program. Gamut is now accepting applications on both Gamutusa.com and Hookit.com for the 2015 riding season. Available to riders at all sponsorship levels and product categories, their recent announcement of the acquisition of Point One racing means if you do get sponsored, you’ll be hooked up with some pretty sweet gear.

Bikerumor Suspension Setup Series: Full Series PDF – Free Download!

free PDF download of the Bikerumor Suspension Setup Series articles

Last week, we wrapped up our six-part suspension setup series. But, we realize it’s not always practical to hunt down the particular session you need, so we compiled the whole thing into a handy dandy PDF. Just download it here, drop it on your phone or tablet, and POW! it’s there’s when you need it. Feel free to pass it along to your riding buddies or link to it from your shop’s web page. Happy trails!

Want a Bamboo Bike? Build it yourself with the Bamboobee BIY Kit

Picture9

If you’re a fan of DIY, you might want to check out the Bamboobee Bike’s BIY kit. Designed as an economical way to get your own bamboo frame, the kit takes is a step further by providing the raw materials to build a frame along with some instruction. If you have been longing for the satisfaction of building your own bicycle frame, this is probably as easy as it gets – until Lego makes a life size, rideable bike that is.

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Suspension Setup Series #5: Is Your Suspension Humming the Right Tune?

bikerumor-suspension-setup-series-tune-markers

Many shocks have tune markers on the outside to show how the frame manufacturer spec’d them. It’s Greek to most of us, but suspension tuners will use that info as a starting point.

Like a song stuck in your head, the internal damping tune of your suspension is what makes it sing. So far, we’ve covered everything you can do yourself: Setting Sag (Part 1), dialing your compression (Part 2) and rebound (Part 3) damping, and adjusting air volume (Part 4). For the vast majority of riders, these user-friendly adjustments are going to get your mountain bike tackling the terrain like a champ.

But, as with anything made to work as well as possible across as broad a spectrum as possible, there’s always a chance it’s not going to work right for you. And if none of the other tricks worked, you could look at a new suspension fork or shock that has more adjustability built in. Or you could just order a new shock with a softer or firmer tune directly from Fox, Rockshox, Manitou, DT Swiss, Magura or whomever. That might be an easier solution then sending it off for custom tuning, but it would be missing the point.

“For a custom tune, we consider rider weight, riding style and, for rear shocks, the leverage ratio curve,” says Kevin Booth, founder of Suspension Experts. “The manufacturers don’t always have all of this information available to them, so it’s not possible to offer the perfect fork or shock out of the box. So while stock suspension comes out of a factory designed around an “average” sized rider, it has to be able to function for a rider that is anywhere from 100 lbs. to 300 lbs. It’s easy to see the opportunity to make it work better. To accommodate this broad range of potential riders, the external knobs tend to offer very coarse adjustments …swinging wildly from one extreme end of the adjustment range to the other. A suspension tuner’s job is to narrow that range of adjustment to work well for a particular bike (leverage ratio curve) and rider (weight).”

That means even a different stock tune is still going to be made to fit a very wide range of riders rather than you, specifically. So, how do you know when it’s time to look at a custom tune?

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Suspension Setup Series #4: Fix Your Ride by Adjusting Air Volume

bikerumor-suspension-setup-series-air-volume-adjustments

Rockshox Bottomless Tokens take up space in the positive air chamber, letting you adjust air volume in about five minutes.

In Part One, we discussed the most basic of starting points to get your suspension set up properly: Sag. In Part Two, we covered most of the compression damping settings, followed by rebound in Part Three. Those were the low hanging fruit and, for most riders, should put you in a pretty happy place on your bike. After all, most bike manufacturers work very closely with suspension brands to develop a shock tune specific to the bike it’s going on. But, shocks and forks are tuned to work best for a broad range of riders, and sometimes your size, weight or riding style put you on the fringes (or beyond) of that range, letting the standard external controls getting you only part of the way there.

“We always use sag as a starting point, but it’s not an absolute for everyone,” says Darren Murphy, owner of PUSH Industries, a suspension tuner out of Loveland, CO. “A lot of people lock into that, though, and running more or less sag than is recommended is not a bad thing. Don’t feel like you have to lock into a certain number. Everyone’s riding style and size are different.

“But when you’ve gone through the compression and rebound settings and the ride quality is good but you’re either not getting through all the travel or your bottoming out all the time, that’s when you should start looking at your air volume.”

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to adjust air volume…

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Suspension Setup Series #3: Set Compression & Rebound to Maximize Traction

Bikerumor how to set up your mountain bike suspension guide for maximum performance - rebound and compression damping tips

In Part One, we discussed sag, which puts your suspension in the right position, setting the stage for good performance. In Part Two, we talked about low speed compression and the various “platform” settings available on modern forks and shocks, recommending you try them wide open to fully utilize all that R&D that went into them in the first place.

For Part Three, we’ve once again turned to Duncan Riffle (Rockshox PR manager & 2x U.S. DH Champ), Mark Fitzsimmons (Fox’s pro athlete suspension tuner), Eric Porter (veteran pro mountain biker, Manitou test athlete) and Josh Coaplen (Cane Creek’s VP of engineering).

As a quick primer, your compression and rebound circuits control the motion of the suspension by controlling the rate of movement. Without it, you’d basically be riding a pogo stick. They do this by forcing oil through an orifice, and the size of that hole controls the speed at which the oil flows through it. Smaller holes mean slower oil flow, which means more damping. Bigger holes mean less damping, which equals faster movement. There are two types of control over hole size. Usually for low speed, you have a fixed port size with a needle or some other barrel that opens or closes access to that port in steps. High speed compression is typically handled with a spring or shim stack holding a seal over larger ports. With enough force, the shims flex or the spring is compressed and the ports are opened, letting more oil flow through to handle big hits. The strength of the shims/spring dictates the amount of force required to flex them. Your particular fork or shock may operate differently, but the principle is the same: Control oil flow and you control the rate of compression or rebound.

Here’s how to use that to your advantage and help keep the rubber on the trail…

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