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EcoSpeed's $75,000 Kickstarter campaign ends Sunday

Published September 29, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. (BRAIN) — EcoSpeed, which has been making mid-drive electric bicycle motors since 2001, is in the last days of a Kickstarter fundraising campaign that would enable it to ramp up production.

Brad Davis, EcoSpeed's general manager, said the $75,000 fundraising target would allow the company to finance its first-ever production run of its made-in-America retrofit kits. The Kickstarter campaign ends Sunday at 6 p.m. Pacific time. As of Monday, EcoSpeed supporters had pledged more than $51,000, or about 68 percent of the goal.

Kickstarter does not release funds for a project — or charge pledgers — unless a campaign reaches its fundraising goal. Davis said EcoSpeed would use the Kickstarter funds to build a run of 50 kits, instead of its current practice of making them one by one as orders come in. The ability to underwrite a production run would be much more cost- and time-effective, he said, and make EcoSpeed more responsive to demand.

"We were always just able to do that person's order, and then the next person's order," Davis said. "We never had stuff on the shelf ready to send out. We were never able to really have a good dealer network because we just didn't have the inventory." By showing customer interest in EcoSpeed's kits, the Kickstarter campaign should help the company attract other business funding, Davis said.

"We really did build this with a grassroots, ground-up kind of style. So doing Kickstarter is a continuation of that, but it's our leap. It's taking us to the next level so we can do really do some production runs," he said.

Company founder Brent Bolton designed the first EcoSpeed motor in 2001. The company now offers three types of retrofit kits: one for traditional bikes, one for tadpole-style recumbent tricycles, and one for front-load cargo bikes. The motors incorporate a freewheeling crankset drive so they can be used with a bike's existing cranks. Davis said the company doesn't need to do any more development on the kits.

"They're done. They're tested. They're awesome," he said. "We need to start producing them and focusing on getting them out into the world instead of doing them one at a time."

He said about 75 percent of the EcoSpeed kit components come from U.S. suppliers. The controller, for example, is homegrown.

"We designed that from the ground up. We have the circuit boards printed just across the river from us in a small factory. We do final assembly of it in house. We also did the programming here," Davis said. The parts of the freewheeling crankset are machined in Portland as well.

Davis acknowledged that EcoSpeed is a David to the Goliaths of companies like Bosch, Shimano and others that have helped popularize mid-drive e-bike motors.

"We are a small company that started just because of the passion for it," he said. "We focus on a retrofit kit. We're not trying to sell an electric bike. We're giving [customers] the option to turn their best bike, or their dream bike, into the best electric bike they could ever have."

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Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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