mokumono hal (1024x683)Amsterdam has more bicycles than inhabitants and The Netherlands is one of the most bike-friendly nations in the world. Yet virtually no bicycles are made here due to high labor costs. Now, some Dutch entrepreneurs want to bring bicycle manufacturing back to The Netherlands by using automotive industry techniques. “We had to re-think the way bicycle frames are produced,” says Bob Schiller, founder of Mokumono Cycles.

Instead of welding tubes together, a process that is highly labor intensive, Mokumono uses robotics and an automated production process. Two sheets of shaped aluminum are pressed together and then laser welded. Schiller explains the Mokumono concept in the company’s Kickstarter video below.

Mokumono will sell two versions of their bike, a singlespeed and an eight-speed, both with the Gates Carbon Drive system. Pre-order prices are $1,150 for the singlespeed and $1,400 for the geared version. “The name Mokumono is a composition of two words that express where we are from and what we make,” says Schiller, who is launching Mokumono with his brother. Mokum is an old nickname for Amsterdam. Mono refers to monocoque, “a construction technique whereby loads are supported through an object’s external skin without internal strengthening.” While the target market is The Netherlands, Mokumono will ship its bikes worldwide. In a country where even the Prime Minister rides to work on a bicycle, Mokumono seems poised to bring Dutch bike heritage into the modern era.

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Bike industry veteran Steve Domahidy hopes his new brand will go viral. Domahidy, one of the founders of Niner, has launched Viral Bikes. His first Viral model is the “Skeptic,” a titanium all-mountain hardtail frame featuring a drivetrain kit with a Pinion gearbox and Gates Carbon Drive system. Popular in Europe, the Pinion-Gates combination produces an incredibly low-maintenance drive. The Pinion P1.12 has a gear range of 600 percent and can be shifted while coasting or stopped. The Skeptic frame features 148mm Boost rear hub spacing for tire widths of up to three inches. “This bike is going to appeal to the rider who is not very good with maintaining a full suspension bike, someone who wants to shred and not worry about derailleurs and chain slap and chain maintenance,” says Domahidy, whose resume includes design work for multiple brands including Faraday and Budnitz.

Skeptic-Frame-Profile-w-Pinion-BROWN_2_galleryOutside Magazine writer Aaron Gulley called it “one of the most forward-looking bikes we’ve ridden in a while.” Buyers who pre-order the Skeptic will get a free set of Backcountry 27.5+ or 29-inch Trail wheels from Industry Nine, with an option to choose spoke and hub colors. Every Viral frame purchase will also come with a one-year membership to IMBA, the International Mountain Biking Association.

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Hercules Futura rider

Hercules is a 130-year-old German brand that offers several premium electric bike models with Gates Carbon Drive. These state-of-the-art eBikes represent the newest chapter in the story of Hercules, whose history illustrates the evolution of electric mobility, transportation trends and technologies through the last century. Founded in Nuremberg in 1886 by Carl Marschütz, Hercules began as a bicycle company whose sturdy, workmanlike machines drew comparisons to the powerful demigod of Greek and Roman mythology. But the company did not confine itself to two-wheeled vehicles. In 1898 it introduced the four-wheeled Electric Chaise, a precursor to the automobile.

In 1904 the company jumped into the growing market for motorcycles by launching a 4.5 horsepower moto with an early spray carburetor and, hinting at the future, a belt drive instead of a chain. That was followed in 1938 by the Saxonette, a two-stroke hub motor moped. The post-war reconstruction boom of the 1950s saw Hercules launch the K100 motorcycle, and during the 1970s oil crisis Hercules sold thousands of E1 electric scooters, setting the stage for the current boom in electric mobility.

Hercules Chaise

Hercules Electric Chaise

Hercules E1

Mad style and a basket of bananas on the E1 Scooter.

Today, Hercules remains a powerful player in the German and European bike markets. Owned by ZEG, a cooperative of 960 European bike shops, Hercules sells a wide range of bicycles and eBikes including the Futura F8 Gates and Futura R8 Gates, both of which are powered by a Bosch mid-drive motor, Gates belts and eight-speed hubs. Both models come in three frame styles including step-through and step-over and feature front and rear lights, suspension forks, cargo racks and a classic “cobalt blau” finish. The eBike advocacy organization reviewed the Futura F8 Gates and rated it “very good.” Read their test report.  Consumers in Europe can test the Futura F8 Gates and R8 Gates in various cities around Germany during the Hercules Electric Bike Roadshow. Hercules also sells the Tessano Gates city bike. Electric mobility has taken many technological leaps forward over the past 130 years, and Hercules remains on the cutting edge of the effort to create a cleaner, greener and healthier transportation future.

Hercules_Futura F8 Gates_Cobaltblau

Futura F8 Gates

Hercules_Futura R8 Gates_Cobaltblau

Futura R8 Gates


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Kamran on bike

Kamran Ali fell in love with bicycling as a child in Pakistan, where he pedaled to nearby towns with friends–and practiced his wheelies. As a young man he rode 400 kilometers from Multan to Lahore. Then higher education and work caused him to set aside bicycling. He moved to Germany to obtain a PhD in computer science and began a career in software development. But the lure of the open road was strong. In 2011, he set out for Pakistan from his new home in Germany by bike. Kamran reached the halfway point in Turkey when he received sad news: his mother had suffered a heart attack. He abandoned the trip and flew home to Pakistan, spending two months with his mother before she died.

kamran_on_bike wheelie

In 2015, Kamran decided to complete his journey to Pakistan. He started in Turkey where his previous trip had been interrupted and he completed the final 7,000 kilometers through Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Krgyzstan and China. It was a mission of hope meant to inspire Pakistanis to embark on their own adventures–and shine a positive light on Pakistan, which he believed was in the news for the wrong reasons. Having ridden through 28 countries in Europe and Asia, Kamran decided this year to embark on the most ambitious ride of his life: 25,000 kilometers from South America to Alaska, a journey that should take a year and a half.

We connected with Kamran via email in Chile after being introduced by Carsten Schabacher of Stevens Bikes, which is sponsoring him with a STEVENS P18 Lite touring bike with Gates Carbon Drive and a Pinion gearbox. Kamran, who is a skilled photographer, had been on the road for more than six weeks and was in high spirits.

Kamran on bike with mountainscapeKamran on lonely roadKamran route

“My favorite sights and experiences so far have been hiking in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile and Los Glaciares Park in Argentina. The sunrise at Mount Fitz Roy as well as seeing Perito Moreno Glacier from very close was an unforgettable experience,” he wrote us. “In Tierra del Fuego and Southern Patagonia, I battled against the strong headwind every day. Patagonian Steppe is a treeless region. 
They call Patagonia “Escoba de Dios,” God’s Broom, due to its persistent wind which sweeps everything.
 People in Argentina and Chile are very friendly and hospitable. There are no facilities for long stretches of road, so whenever I saw a little house or estancia and asked for a shelter to cook or sleep the locals were ready to help.”

Kamran with windblown treeKamran on bluff

Kamran first learned about Gates Carbon Drive during his previous ride through Tajikistan. “The owner of the bike was German. He gave me positive feedback about the Gates belt. When I started looking for a new bicycle I really wanted to have a Gates belt and a gear hub. I saw the Stevens P18 and knew it was the one. I love the aesthetic and the frame design and the fact that it is lightweight. The 18-gear Pinion gives me plenty of gear ratio to climb steep hills fully loaded, and to cruise fast on long downhills. I carry about 30 kilograms of weight in five panniers. In windy places, I start riding before dawn. The dymano hub and SuperNova light allow me to safely ride in the dark. When I see other cyclists cleaning their chains after a rainy day, or changing their chains, I have a huge smile. The fellow cyclists are envious!” So are we, Kamran. So are we.

Thanks to Kamran Ali for the photographs and for inspiring us all to chase adventure. See more pictures on the Kamran On Bike Facebook page, and check his progress on his website’s route tracker. See more Stevens Bikes with Gates Carbon Drive, and learn about this Hamburg, Germany, brand here.

Kamran with ice

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Chelsea Koglmeier founded Bikes of Reckless Optimism, a “socially conscious” bike brand, after living and working in impoverished regions of Uganda and Bolivia, where she was struck by the power of bicycles to change lives and improve economic standards. Bikes ORO has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise capital for three new models including the Porteur, seen below with Koglmeier. In keeping with its social mission, Bikes ORO will donate $25 to World Bicycle Relief for every bike sold. Bikes ORO’s new models were developed in partnership with Matthew Andrew of Flying Machine, a top frame designer in Australia, and all feature low-maintenance and practical components including Gates drives. Watch the video atop this post to hear Koglmeier’s inspiring story, see the bikes in action, and learn more about World Bicycle Relief.


Bikes ORO is among the growing number of bike companies that are using crowdfunding sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter to launch their belt drive products and grow their brands. In our last post we featured Priority Bicycles’ launch of their ultimate beach cruiser on Kickstarter. Now we look at some more brands employing crowdfunding.

Faraday recently launched its new step-through electric bike, the Cortland, on Kickstarter, raising $187,821 to bring the bike to life. In addition to a Gates belt, the Cortland, below, features an eight-speed internal hub, hydraulic disc brakes and bamboo fenders. 

Faraday_Cortland-female rider

Coastline Cycle Company is a new brand founded by bicycle industry veterans Chad Battistone and Brady Sorenson that is crowdfunding The One on Kickstarter. The One is offered in five options, from singlespeed to eight-speed, and kitted out with components for urban or trail riding. All the bikes will be equipped with Gates’ premium CDX system, Shimano hubs and Race Face cranks.

Coastline Cycle Co-8SPD

Velorution is London’s top seller of belt drive bikes from Schindelhauer, Biomega, Van Nicholas, Lios and more, and they are a Gates Carbon Drive distributor in the UK. Now they are raising capital on the Seedrs platform to expand and open more shops. “The continued strategy is to offer London’s urban cyclists a curated collection of innovative, premium, exclusive and semi-exclusive brands from around the world,” says Velorution’s Gretta Cole. Watch their crowdfunding video below, and join the crowd!

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