The Evelo Blog

Electric Bike Tour

Riding 4,000 Miles Across the United States to Test Our Bikes

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In early 2012, we were getting ready to launch EVELO.

We spent the previous year getting everything in place for the launch, but still knew that we had an uphill battle. As a new company that focuses on online distribution with a product that starts at around $2,000, we not only had to create awareness about our electric bikes, but also prove to our clients that our products were reliable and worthy of their business. As a young company, our work was cut out for us.

Now, a while back, prior to starting EVELO, I realized a long-term dream of mine by completing a 27,000km overland journey from South Africa to England in a 1980 Land Rover. It was a life changing experience since you spent several months on the road and had to rely on yourself, your team members and the communities of people that you’d meet along the way for everything. That experience led to an idea…

An unconventional way to launch a company

One afternoon, I was meeting with EVELO’s co-founder Yevgeniy about the upcoming launch of EVELO, and we came up with an idea. At first it seemed a bit impossible, but as we started to think more and more about it, it started to make sense.

What if we do the first-ever trans-American electric bike trip on our bikes? By riding around 4,000 miles from New York City to San Francisco, we’d be able to really put our bikes through the ultimate, real-world test and ensure that the product can handle anything that our clients will put it through in the future.

The great plan about something as audacious as this was that if there were any problems or issues, they would surely come out as we’d ride over 75 to 110 miles per day in varying terrain – from the Appalachians in the East Coast to the long stretches of road in the mid-West to the more difficult terrain on the West Coast.

A trip like this would help us discover problems before they impact our clients, improve the product by getting a comprehensive first-hand experience using it, and show our potential customers what the bikes are actually capable of.

It wouldn’t stop there, though. With a trip like this, this would give us an opportunity to connect with people in different cities all across the country to learn more about their perspectives on electric bikes and their needs. What better way to collect that feedback than by letting people all over the country test our electric bikes and chat with them face-to-face about their experience.

The more we thought about it, the more we felt that it was the perfect way to get started. So, within a few months, the plan was put in place.

I recruited a long-time friend of mine and cycling enthusiast to be my partner on the trip. We set up meetings and presentations with various groups in about a dozen cities along the route. And on April 7th of 2012, we set out from Brooklyn, NY on the Aries and Aurora models and headed West to San Francisco.

We blogged about the entire two-and-a-half month experience and almost 4,000 miles on the road on the Trans-American Electric Bike Tour site and, if you’re curious to hear more about it, I invite you to check out that blog.

In the end, we were able to put our money where our mouth is. The bikes themselves performed superbly, although we were still able to get a ton of insight that helped us improve everything – from the product itself to how we interact with the customers these days.

It may have been unconventional, but it proved to be an invaluable experience and really helped us get EVELO off to a fantastic start. And, of course, we had one hell of an adventure along the way.

3 responses to “Riding 4,000 Miles Across the United States to Test Our Bikes

  1. I realize that evelo needs to keep costs down and together with the online only sales are able to offer a more reasonable ebike but I think that made, ( not just assembled and shipped) in the USA would give your product better marketability domestically. Sure some high end foreign components would be used like at present but there are many new and emerging component manufacturers here and even the frames could be made here ( I know that many high end bikes in Europe also use Asian components) Add 10 or 20 percent to the cost of the bike and you are still lower than most ebikes out there.

  2. Hi Edward,

    Thank you so much for your feedback and insight!

    I certainly see your perspective on this. Interestingly enough, there are a few other considerations that play a role here:

    1. Lead Times – considering that the entire ecosystem for building bikes – electric or others – is so much better developed in Asia, to complete a production cycle there may take 3 months vs. 6-9 months in the United States. This allows us to react to the market demands better and more efficiently.

    2. Quality – to be honest, we’ve found that the quality of the components out there can vary tremendously, just like it can vary within the U.S. If you work with quality vendors, well-trained and well-paid labor force, and have strict quality control guidelines, the quality of the product built over these is very high.

    If it was just a price-based decision, it would be easier – but there are so many factors that have to be considered and it’s not entirely clear that the benefits outweigh the extra challenges.

    That said, it is something that we’re always considering and thinking about. I really appreciate your feedback and thoughts on this!

    Boris Mordkovich

  3. I’m a 73 YO retired man who stopped riding my trail bike a couple of years ago. I honestly didn’t think I would ever ride again. Then my wife, after extensive research, purchased a lightly used Evelo from a wanna be commuter in Seattle, Wa. The bike wasn’t capable of meeting his commute needs (too much stop and go traffic) so he wanted to sell it. After I got the bike, my wife liked it so much she purchased a new one. Some of my cronies give me a bad time about riding a “cheater” bike, but I pointed out that if I wasn’t riding this bike, I wouldn’t be riding at all! That shut them up!
    In one of those bizzare moments of “what a small world we live in”, as we were riding our bikes, a young lady named Anna, tracked us down as we stopped for coffee, and with much excitement, exclaimed that she knew all about these bikes and that she had ridden them across the country. Your biking companion right here in our little town…how cool is that! So I just want to say: I love the bike…the service is exceptional and the product is great!

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