I think what I have are great ideas for bike products all of the time. I think of them, and then I realize it would take a great deal of energy to make the ideas a reality, and even then the likelihood of success is questionable. I don't know the exact number of new products that don't succeed, but I'm guessing it's pretty high. I guess it's too bad I did not think of a site like Kickstarter where everyone with the next big idea can get someone else to pay for it.
While I might not be the creator/innovator of a new product, maybe I can play a part in making a new product a reality. Bike Hacks was contacted by the brains behind a new bike that is in development. The bike is called FABIKE and I thought it would be cool to interview the creator, Fabio. Fabio has more than bike design skill because his native language is not English and yet he pulled off a stellar interview.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you live, how did you get interested in biking, etc.? And have you worked in the bike industry previously?
I was born in a small town in Italy where I grew up and lived for 21 years. In 2001 I moved first to Milan and then to Torino to study and start my career in the design Industry, and since then I’ve been working in this industry for important international brands. Three years ago I moved from Italy to Prague.
During these years I’ve never been directly working in the bicycle industry, although I had a big cycling heritage coming from the past of my family! Already in the early 50’ my uncle, assisted by my father, was bringing glory to my little town with his cycling team. After them many of my cousins followed up the tradition, but I’ve always been more interested in bicycles than in cycling if that makes sense.
Bicycles were a big part of my childhood. I completely disassembled and reassembled a race bicycle when I was only 11, and at 15 I saw for the first time how to build a bike frame. Only after few years I moved to Milan and I realized the richness of the knowledge I accumulated during my childhood and I got passionate about the urban cycling. I just discovered it was the best transportation possible in a city.
How long have you been riding and what is your coolest bike memory?
How long I have been riding? Since I remember! Ok, let’s say that as an adult I’ve been seriously cycling almost every in the city since 2004. I think my coolest bike memory is a trip from Stockholm to Prague done in 10 days, on a fixed gear (not all the way cycling though, sometimes I jumped on a train too).
Is riding a part of your daily life? What bike(s) do you ride?
Definitely! I ride my bike almost every day. I use it to go to my office and back, I go shopping, for a drink with friend and for some short trips during the weekend. It happens of course to leave it at home time to time, sometimes I enjoy also walking and taking the public transit.
Actually I own and ride three different bikes:
- A Jamis Sonik – fixed gear.
- An old German Kotter race bike from the 80s (I bought that second hand because I could mount on it up to a 700x32 tyre, impossible to do with the modern race bikes).
- The prototype of the FABIKE – usually in single speed (freewheel) configuration.
What inspired you to create the FABIKE?
When I moved to Prague three years ago I had to face a different environment than I was used to in Milan and Torino. Prague is a very hilly city, the surfaces are always rough in the center due to cobblestones almost everywhere, and in the winter the roads are often snowy or icy.
In these conditions I realized that my fixed gear was really tough to ride, that a normal race bike wouldn’t have been much better and that my old Kotter with big tyres was not anyway satisfying me from the point of view of performance and weight.
At that point I started designing the FABIKE, a bike that could satisfy a demanding urban cyclist in all the need and situations he might be facing. Super light weight, comfortable, agile, safe, able to change from fixed to geared, and why not… with a cool look!
The bike industry is pretty crowded, what is it about the FABIKE that will make it stand out?
One of the most important features of the FABIKE are its dropouts, designed in a new way never seen before. They are some vertical dropouts enabling you to switch from 120 mm to 130 spacing (with or without hanger) and slide them with a micro adjustment so that if you use them in fixed version you don’t need any chain tensioner.
This system, together with the possibility to mount up to a 700x35 tyre makes the FABIKE the only “three bikes in one” specifically thought for the urban cycling. You don’t need any more to have a fixed gear bike, a geared bike and an off road bike, you can now have all of them in one with a super light weight and saving space in your flat/garage.
How far along are you in making the project a reality? How are you raising money to run the business?
At this point the project is practically ready to be put into production, the only thing we are missing is… the money to start. For this reason we will be seeking to raise money via one famous crowd funding platform where individuals can help fund new product ideas. We hope that people will help us to make this big dream become true. We will let BikeHacks.com know when we have chosen a fund generation site.
Where will the bike be manufactured?
The FABIKE frame will be produce in China (like almost all of the big producers do) under our strict supervision and quality check. The components will be produced partly in Taiwan and partly in Italy. The final step of painting and assembling will be done in Italy too.
How many people are working on the project right now?
At the moment we are 6 people: me, an architect (my cousin), a mechanical engineer, a cycling couch (another cousin), a sales person, a business start-up expert.
Bicycle theft is a big issue in urban areas but I have yet to see a bike company integrate theft deterrent technology into their products - locks and such are a separate industry. Have you thought about integrating anti-theft ideas into your design since it is aimed at an urban market?
We thought about this possibility for some time, but finally we decide that even if we would have come up with a nice idea “integrated” in the bike it would have made the bike only heavier and less performing but not safer than using a good lock. So, we abandoned the idea.
Do you have a price point in mind?
Yes, we do have a price point in mind, but I would prefer not to declare it here. Of course you can imagine that a bike with this materials, technology and performances can’t be for everyone. Though, especially considering the prices of the other bikes available on the marker with the same weight of the FABIKE, we think that our price will appeal to many cyclists that are looking for a real high-end bike specifically thought for the city.
Anyway, stay tuned for new on a fund generation site where soon the bike will be offered at a special price and with international delivery included.
A large number of BikeHacks.com readers like to attach things to their bikes, are you going to offer a lot of braze-ons so that people can get creative with what they add to the bike?
We do have in mind few braze-ons to propose to our customers to get creative with their bike, but for the moment we decided to start with the bike only and introduce them later. Now we want to focus as much as possible on the bicycle itself and not get distracted by other things.
Anyway the FABIKE uses all the most common standards for seat post, handlebar, pedals and things like this, so, the people will be easily able to add on the FABIKE all the lights, mud guards etc available on the market.
What is one bike related product you could not live without?
I wouldn’t call it a product, but one thing I can’t really live without are all the blogs, forums and portals related to bicycles and all those people passionate about urban cycling that everyday make me feel like cycling has had renaissance, and that I have spent more than two years of my life for something meaningful. Thanks to all of you people!
Do you have a bike hack you have come up with to share with our readers?
Well, as I said one of the most important and innovative parts of the bike are the dropouts. It’s now fun to see how it was the very first attempts to make some interesting dropouts. These images are from more than three years ago.