Volata Cycles is an innovative new brand based in San Francisco and Milan that is using digital technology to create next-generation bicycles that improve safety, decrease maintenance and smarten your ride–all wrapped up in a stylish Italian design. “When you buy a car you don’t need to acquire lights as an accessory, or an iPad as a dashboard. As cars have evolved, also bikes need to evolve,” says Marco Salvioli, co-founder and CEO of Volata.
This evolution includes a 2.4-inch app-based computer integrated into the handlebar. Riders can access apps for weather, directions and heart rate, receive smartphone notifications, and more. One feature we like is the integrated 96 decibel horn, which allows you to honk back at bad drivers. The Volata also inclues a GPS-based anti-theft system with a motion detector that informs the owner if someone tries to steal the bike. It has front and rear lights, and a hub dynamo that charges a battery to keep everything powered up.
Salvioli is an automotive engineer who came up with the concept for Volata in 2014 while developing smart IoT platforms for automobiles at the University of California-Berkeley. He partnered with Mattia De Santis, a bicycle designer in Milan who is Volata’s chief technical officer. Volatas are assembled in California, where the company’s marketing and operations are based. Design and R&D is done in Milan.
Unlike some handlebar-mounted smartphone applications, the Volata’s computer is controlled by a thumb joystick that ensures riders keep their hands safely on the bars. It also features a Gates Carbon Drive belt system connected to an Alfine Di2 electronic shifting rear hub for low-maintenance durability. The price is $3,499. Volata is now taking $299 online deposits with the balance due upon delivery in July 2017. “Volata merges all the heritage and creativity of Italian design with the innovative spirit of Silicon Valley,” the company says in its press materials. Check out these features in the slick video below.
Volata comes in four sizes, two colors and three saddle options. The company plans to introduce more accessories including racks, frame bags, fenders and more. Customers will be able to book a test ride during events the company will host, and at showrooms Volata aims to open in late 2017. Honk if you like it. volatacycles.com
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. mokumonocycles.com
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. faradaybikes.com
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.
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!
Santiago, Chile, is one of South America’s most vibrant cities. Inhabitants enjoy food, arts, architecture and culture to rival the great urban centers of the world. Now this metropolis of more than five million people is undergoing a bicycling Renaissance. “Santiago is fairly flat and has a sunny climate that makes it perfect for urban cycling,” says Ricardo Salas, a founder of Brava Bikes. “Over the last decade there have been various public policies aimed at reducing traffic and improving the health of the population, which have resulted in an explosion in the use of bicycles in Chile. At this point we lead Latin America in daily bike use.”
Brava is a new bike brand based in Santiago that specs the Gates Carbon Drive system on all of its models. Pictured atop this post is the Láscar, a fixie with bullhorn bars. Below is the Cay singlespeed, followed by the Ralún eight-speed.
Brava’s founders decided to launch an urban bike brand after careers in architecture and design, and they spent two years designing the bikes and creating the brand identity. Details include leather grips and Brava-branded leather saddles. The aesthetic is both classic and modern. Below is the Macá singlespeed followed by the Lanín eight-speed.
Brava sells online and plans to open a brick and mortar shop soon. “Everyone at Brava loves classic bikes for their style, simplicity, and functionality. We think that the bike is a magnificent machine, and even a work of art,” says Salas, who commutes on a Cay.
One of his favorite rides is the trail up to San Cristobal Hill, a park overlooking the central city. “Another interesting urban route runs through Parque Forestal, which takes you almost the length of the city and passes through a sculpture garden and past the Contemporary and Fine Arts museums.” Another is Parque Bicentennario, located in the Vitacura area of Santiago. “This 30-hectare park is one of the city’s most important green areas. It is a popular place to spend time outdoors due to the trails and other activities,” Salas says.
The London Design Museum is located along the River Thames near historic Tower Bridge. Twenty-five years old, it is one of the world’s leading museums devoted to contemporary architecture and design. The Design Museum is currently hosting the Cycle Revolution exhibit, which “celebrates the diversity of contemporary cycling in Britain.” The exhibit’s tagline is: “Extraordinary bicycles and the people who ride them.”
Cycle Revolution, whose posters feature a Gates Carbon Drive system, is a multi-media exhibition that includes films, photography and several halls filled with bicycles of all types: historic antiques, clunkers, racing machines, cargo bikes, and modern commuters that are driving the UK’s bike revolution. “A record number of people are now riding bikes in London,” according to the exhibition guidebook, “with a total of 610,000 cycle journeys made every day.”
The NYC from Biomega, below, is among the stylish commuter bikes highlighted. Based in Copenhagen, Biomega’s motto is “furniture for locomotion,” and its philosophy is to create bicycles with the same intensity of design and function as automobiles.
Cycle Revolution also features award-winning Berlin-based brand Schindelhauer (below), and a well-written description about Gates belts and their emergence in the bike market.
The exhibit likewise features the work of Dutch wooden bike maker Paul Timmer. Timmer’s bike is made of ash, with aluminum dropouts and headset.
Cycle Revolution runs through the end of June. If you live in London or plan to visit, the Design Museum is worth a trip. Thanks to curator Donna Loveday and London’s leading urban bike shop, Velorution, for recognizing the role of Gates Carbon Drive in the evolution–and revolution–of modern bike design. designmuseum.org