A Stockholm based company aims to bring electric bikes to the masses by offering a folding electric bike for $1,000, while 150 early adopters can bag one for just $399.
Following coverage on business site Forbes, where Stark Drive owner Oscar Stark was likened to Henry Ford and his Model T, the worldwide launch for the Stark Drive e-bike will debut on Indiegogo in February.
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Stark intends to launch several models, but the launch bike itself is quite interesting. Rather than the bare bones, rigid approach of rival companies such as Sonder, the Chinese-built Stark Drive e-bike can be specified with features such as full-suspension, 21 gears and mechanical disc brakes. In fact, buyers will get the choice to upgrade over the 36v 250w standard motor and can tick options such as a computer, cargo rack or locking system.
Stark also insisted on a folding design stating “we chose folding for the simple reason that over in Europe as in larger cities space is at a premium. The ability to fold the bike enables the user to bring it on public transport, small elevators, or even their vehicle: such as the Tesla, with ease.” The fold also makes for a bike that’s easier to secure, as Stark puts it “the folding capability of our bike enables you to lock both wheels and the frame to a piece of street furniture protecting your bike from theft in a much better way than a non-folding bike would.”
Stark, an engineer in the renewable energy field, once wanted an electric bike himself but found the cost of such machines priced him out of the market. After research into the subject, Stark struggled to determine quite why such bikes were so expensive, which turned out to be something that pushed him to create his own direct sale electric bicycle.
We quizzed Stark on the hurdles involved with creating such a bike, asking specifically what was the largest challenge: “The biggest hurdle in building the first generation Stark Drive was finding a factory we were comfortable with to deliver a quality product, consistently with a high manufacturing capacity” he explained.
Cost analysis of comparable bikes highlighted that the component with the biggest influence on the bike’s price was the battery pack required. “We narrowed down battery manufacturing companies that offered high quality units (based on what's currently available) and their history on the market. This search took a while but persistence paid off eventually.”
We know what you’re thinking, where’s the catch? Well, the direct sale model from China doesn’t skip the hefty shipping costs associated with such a product and so each Stark will cost a minimum of $200 to get to your door, and for early backers that’s more than 50% of the bike’s price. Despite this, Stark insists the pricing is a bargain compared with that of Sondors, who he claims charge over $400 to ship a bike to himself in Sweden.