Are E-bikes Just Mountain Bikes With Motors? We Asked a Bike Designer

Mike Giese is an industrial designer based in Salt Lake City who has designed products for bike brands like Revel, Trust, and most recently, Evil Bikes. Evil just announced their first electric mountain bike, and we’re curious to learn about some of the design challenges that were involved.

In this episode we ask:

  • How do industrial designers and engineers work together? Does one usually take the lead on starting a new bike project, or are you working in parallel from the beginning?
  • Is it beneficial, or even possible, to simply take an existing mountain bike design and electrify it? Or is it better to start from scratch? Why?
  • Evil is using a Shimano e-drive system in the new Epocalypse. Is choosing the drive system one of the first steps? Why choose Shimano for this bike?
  • What are the challenges involved in designing a frame to accommodate a motor and battery?
  • Are there any unique challenges with wiring, or is it pretty similar to internal cable and hose routing?
  • How do build kit considerations differ for an e-bike vs. a traditional mountain bike?
  • We’re seeing e-bike innovations, particularly in components like tires and brakes, trickling down to traditional bikes. Are there similar opportunities when it comes to frames?
  • Was the goal to give the e-bike a similar ride feel to other bikes in the Evil lineup, or did you see this as an opportunity to deliver something unique?
  • How do you make decisions about touch points and usability for things like power switches and charging ports?
  • Do you think e-bikes are closer in spirit to motorcycles or bicycles?
  • Who do you see as the target customer for electric mountain bikes like this one? Is it geared toward more experienced riders, or do you think it will appeal more to folks who are new to the sport?

Check out some of Mike’s work at mikegiese.com, and see the new Evil bike at evil-bikes.com.

A full, automatically-generated transcript of this podcast conversation is available to Singletracks supporters.

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Transcript

Jeff 0:00
Hey everybody, welcome to the Singletracks podcast. My name is Jeff and today my guest is Mike Giese. Mike is an industrial designer based in Salt Lake City who has designed products for bike brands like revel trust, and most recently evil bikes. Evil just announced their first electric mountain bike, the Epocalypse, and we’re curious to learn about some of the design challenges that were involved. Thanks for joining us, Mike.

Mike 0:27
Hey, thanks for thanks for having me. Definitely appreciate the opportunity. Love the love the chance to talk shop.

Jeff 0:35
Yeah, right on. So what’s your background? How’d you get into designing mountain bike products?

Mike 0:40
I mean, honestly, it’s all just kind of fueled by my passion for two wheels in that no goes all the way to my upbringing. I grew up at the startup, h h Racing motocross. And that was definitely very well ingrained in our in our family. We went to the track every weekend, my my brother, my dad, my stepmom, and myself, that was definitely a big part of our lives. And that definitely sparked the spark the flame for that tool, passionate mind, which is really kind of got me to where I am today. My first kind of hack at Hack at actually doing some sort of design work was having the opportunity to get a custom helmet painted around I was at age 11. So my brother and I got got some brand new, you know, white shiny helmets, we had the chance to sketch up some rudimentary colored pencil designs and gave those designs to the helmet painter who was actually a local local dude in town. So sure enough, those helmets came back just as we sketched them, you know, with, you know, look just like the colored pencil drawings. Mine was hot pink with checkered flag slime balls, glitter, gold pins, definitely the works and it was everything that an 11 year old would would want. Then, kind of fast forwarding a little bit that motocross kind of motocross way of life for us transitioned into hack, she turned pro and started racing the pro ranks at age 16. So I traveled the country racing the AMA outdoor motocross nationals for about seven years. And you know, shortly after turning pro, I realized I wasn’t really lighting the world on fire by any means. So I started to go to school for for engineering. After a few years of engineering, I switched over to design ID. And around the same time of switching to ID from engineering. I kind of got ingrained with just a laundry list of injuries from Racing motocross, and essentially that burnt me out from the sport. So I definitely left the professional side of racing and focused on on school and also growing my interest in bikes and more specifically, I was drawn to the downhill mountain biking side of things just because it’s, you know, close correlations to Racing motocross and yeah, obviously growing up you know, my my brother and myself we had bicycles and you know, kind of any kid we roam the neighborhood on our bikes, we built jumps and active construction sites, which probably wasn’t as hard as you know, even like wander down to the local skate park and then you know, watch the big kids you know, ride bikes and the bowls and stuff like that. Fast forwarding a little bit. Age 16 is kind of when I actually really found mountain biking I went up to the local bike park trestle bike parking Colorado and I brought my hardtail dirt jumper up there and didn’t have a front brake you know, slick street tires and as it was very sketchy it was definitely a hook into the sport for myself and that’s kind of when I realized like whoa like I definitely want want to be a mountain biker so yeah at 16 is one that you know real transition started hitting fast forward to college after my switch to ID I switched my mindset from one to you know, being the Moto industry say like you know an end goal as a entry level engineer in school was like you know the word for say like Pro Circuit Kawasaki work for the factory team making cool trick high end parts in the background. Yeah. But uh, you know, as my kind of switch to focus to bicycles, kind of, you know, switch my focus in career to the cycling and mountain bike industry. This is actually when I kind of stumbled upon evil. I was I was, you know, searching online for for my next mountain bike and saw an evil revolt. And I was just fascinated by the name fascinated by the looks of the bike and just the overall ethos and presence of the brand. And you know, as a as a your design student and an aspiring Downhill Racer, I reached out to the owner, Kevin Walsh, and kind of started our conversation, you know, essentially led to our friendship down the road. Cool. And then, yeah, after college, I got to start my career at a small design agency in northern Colorado. We designed products for the outdoor industry, mainly focused on motocross OS Motorsports and cycling. So everywhere from you know, Moto helmets to mountain bike knee pads to motocross gear to goggles, gloves, you know, anything under the sun that, you know, is a wearable piece or functional piece in the outdoor industry, we definitely had our hands on. So it was pretty cool to get involved in a lot of products outside of the cycling industry. Yeah. And then out of the blue, I got connected to Dave Wiegel, through through my friend Kevin Walsh, and Dave was working on this on this new project, which fast forward was later known as trust performance. So I got on board with chess performance at the at the ground level, I was definitely, you know, definitely thankful to be working alongside industry legends like haps, elega, Jason shears, Dave Wiegel, and you know, a few other other other ground level employees. And it was definitely a super cool experience to kind of, you know, be a part of a team that was kind of pushing the bounds of what’s, you know, acceptable within our mount bike industry. It’s definite polarizing products, like as, as it would agree, you know, yeah, looks and function aside, but it was a good exercise and very cool experience to think outside the box and work alongside you know, like individuals who, you know, aren’t afraid to, you know, push the bounds and do do something different than following my time and trust performance. Once again, my good buddy, Kevin Walsh, here, last of me over and convinced me to move over to the dark side and join evil. I was, I was already extremely talented staff that they had, you know, the design team evils always been, you know, badass, that, you know, evils always had great bikes, I was definitely lucky to join alongside them. And being evil, you know, was an end goal of mine ever since I found mountain biking. You know, like I said, going back to the revolt days, I was just fascinated by the brand fascinated by the product and walking through the doors, you know, first day of working evil definitely felt pretty surreal. And yeah, the rest was history.

Jeff 6:59
Yeah, so is your role at evil? In industrial design role? I noticed you guys have like, kind of it is interesting job titles. But essentially, you’re, you’re doing industrial design.

Mike 7:11
Yeah. So you know, he was a relatively smaller company. So we all wear a lot of hats. So you know, my job title he now it’s funny, but it’s a arts and crafts, you know, so that’s basically it. Anything creative, you know, anything under the sun that I can help you out? Advance the advanced business forward? But yeah, Id and frame design is definitely my pinnacle. First and foremost. Skill?

Jeff 7:34
Yeah. Well, so explain to us sort of how industrial designers and engineers work together? Because it sounds like you had started out in engineering, studying that, and then moved over to industrial design. So like, what’s, what’s the difference? How do those two fit together? Yeah, totally. So

Mike 7:52
it was actually, you know, kind of beneficial to have that little, you know, getting my feet wet in the engineering side of things, and then switching over to ID, because engineers definitely think differently than then, you know, Id people or frame designers, but, you know, from the start of the project, you know, obviously this changes case by case, project by project and, you know, obviously, business by business, but the fundamental groundwork of any mountain bike frame project is, you know, laying out the conception of geometry and kinematic, okay, our engineer Dave Wiegel, he builds on our kind of geometry story and our kinematic based off conversations that we have as a group, you know, surrounding what we want the bike to be, how we want the ride, you know, how we want the feel on trail and the overall experience that we want to give to that customer? You know, like, are we trying to give a fast, go fast, you know, plow bike, are we trying to give like a, you know, super playful, enjoyable, fun bike rides. So these are all kind of stuff that we worked with the engineer, you know, Dave, we go through does all our kinematics, you know, these are the conversations that we have to kind of create this bike in this, you know, product story that we want to give the customer and once the kinematic is done and dusted, US ID, industrial designers, we start laying out the bike, it was going to look like from extremely rough standpoint, you know, so like, super rough, crude silhouette sketches trying to figure out like, okay, the top two is going to dip this low, yada, yada, yada. And we, you know, turn around at the, you know, early stages of that and go back to the engineer and say, Hey, like, you know, how does this work? Is this gonna? Is this gonna work structurally? Is it gonna break? Is it gonna, you know, be too stiff, not stiff enough, yada, yada. And then usually, you know, Dave, make some notes on okay, you know, like, you know, raise his top to blow this top cheap, you know, the whole 10 yards of trying to make the structure as strong as as you know, dialed as possible. And then that kind of paints the picture of the box that you know, we into play play with him in terms of ID and making the frame look good. So it is a very parallel path working with frame designers and engineers alike, you know, it’s definitely back and forth and a lot of fly bit of effort across the board.

Jeff 10:01
Yeah. I mean, it sounds like an evil and I would imagine other bike brands, sounds like engineering is kind of the start, right? Like, there are certain issues with the geometry and the, the way that the suspension is going to work that, like, those can’t be changed. And so that kind of takes the lead. But I’m sure there’s also conversations and like, maybe arguments at times about like, with the industrial designers coming in and saying something like, oh, we want this to have, you know, super clean look, we want to make, like everything internally routed? And then I’m sure the engineers are like, Well, yeah, that’s gonna be tough. And also like, what about when people are working on their bikes? Isn’t that gonna be a pain? And so yeah, is there? Like, how do you kind of decide who who wins those arguments? Like, is it? Is there somebody who’s like, the final say on stuff? Or? Like, how do you know who takes the lead?

Mike 10:58
Yeah, that’s, that’s a definitely a very gray area, probably, you know, for for a lot of other brands as well. It’s like, right, like, you know, the usually the ID staff is, you know, has a very love hate relationship with the engineering staff, right. Like to note, the engineering staff very realistic, and the IT staff is very, you know, like, pie in the sky, like, make it look crazy. Cool. You know, so like, it is like, definitely, you know, both parties have to swallow their, their pride and work work as a team. And, you know, kind of kind of per per topic, you know, the final final say, party, you know, changes, you know, in terms of aesthetic, obviously, ID has rain, and in terms of structure and strength. Now, obviously, we have about on engineering, so it’s definitely a dance, you know, kind of working as a team, for sure.

Jeff 11:47
Yeah, yeah. And I guess there’s like varying degrees of that too, from brand to brand, like, a race oriented brand, is probably going to be more on the end of like, this thing just has to work. And it has to be like, you know, dialed versus another brand that’s like, oh, we just want our stuff to look cool and work well enough. Yeah, interesting. So let’s talk about electric mountain bike design, and how that’s different from traditional mountain bike design. So one of my first questions is, like, is it beneficial or even possible to take an existing mountain bike design and just electrify it? Or is it better to start from scratch and say, this is this is a brand new thing? Like, let’s figure out how it works?

Mike 12:32
Totally. Yeah. I mean, that’s definitely double edged sword, you know, so I guess the answer is yes. And no sure. You can, you know, say for example, take our reckoning frame and throw a motor and battery at it, that doesn’t mean that it’ll, it’ll ride good, you know, the, the way that we want we took the approach of rethinking the strategy from the base level for this bike, you know, starting at the ground floor, we base this project off with a simple ethos of building ebike around the platform of our ever successful, you know, evil reckoning. That’s our long travel trail Slayer. And we felt like That was the best current platform to kind of base an E bike from the ground level off of but you know, like I said, it’s not as simple as just throwing a motor on a traditional bike, we tuned our kinematic you know, to go alongside with this added weight and you know, have the added electrical system you know, while allowing it to get along with our current shock tunes for you know, spec sake. So, that was definitely a fine balance of you know, creating this kinematic base around this this added weight that was you know, the start of the project and I was the biggest challenge point at the at the very ground level of this project then, beyond kinematic we had to reevaluate the geometry and slightly adjust some of the numbers have better play with you know, set electrical system and overall patching concerned the, you know, the biggest thing was was the motor and that kind of drove our chainstay length out from our you know, traditional evil for 30 chainstay length to the 442 That’s aspect on our on our apocalypse, okay, and you know, that I touched on that chainstay we actually were actually quite proud of that 442 number that’s one of the shortest in the you know, ebike field with a traditional 29 inch rear wheel ebike so it makes our makes our Apocalypse extremely painful to ride and very fun and it definitely still rides like an evil which is universal foremost in our brain when we were working on this project even going deeper, you know, you can’t add all that weight on the current two profiles structure of a traditional bike so we had to rethink every last two to profile on this bike you know with add weight we engineered and kind of made some need to two profiles to add stiffness were needed and you know, kind of give the added support for the added weight touching on the stiffness side of things that was the biggest goal is bike we admitted a pretty hard line the Santa allow this bike to be written as hard as as analog predecessors and we all love to go on long jumps, you know, hooks, the flat the occasional with that, that doesn’t come back in time, right? Like we all we all have those upper sleeves for sure. So we wanted to build a bike that that can, you know, withstand anything that you threw at it. And a big piece of this puzzle was sticking to our super boost, rear end for the Add wheel stiffness, you know, the wiper spoke pattern just pairs nice with the added weight. And then we also stuck with a wide main pivot structure enough to hopefully stop by feeling like a wet pool noodle, you know, when you’re running hard. So you know, just like bike, definitely, you can ride it hard, or as I can evil, but it’s still, you know, very, very well well put together from the tube standpoint in the stiffness standpoint.

Jeff 15:35
So yeah, I mean, it sounds like the goal was to give this ebike like a similar ride, feel to the reckoning. But at the same time, it seems like maybe there’s an opportunity, because this is like, this is different, right? You have a motor, you have a battery. And so I don’t know, for me, if I’m on an E bike, like I ride a little differently, right? Like, I’m much more focused on the dissents than the climbs, like the bike probably doesn’t have to climb as well, as a reckoning, right? Because he got that added little boost of power. So are there things that are purposely designed to be a little bit different? Or was it like, we got to make this thing as close to the, to the analog bike as possible?

Mike 16:16
Yeah, so I mean, I think the biggest thing that was purposely done different than the, you know, reckoning, for example, was the added chainstay length. So most of our geometry is very in line with the reckoning minus that add chainstay length, and that was just strictly due to motor packaging. But it was honestly a pretty happy accident. You know, we’re all kind of on the fence, like what this you know, 442 chainstay length will feel like on the trail, and we were all pleasantly surprised that like, okay, still feels like an evil still, super snappy, super playful, but you know, it can hold straight line be extremely stable. So that was definitely the biggest, you know, forefront in our minds while while you know, bring this thing from the ground floor. Was that added chainstay length? And what that does the RAD feel?

Jeff 17:00
Yeah, yeah. So no, no thoughts about like, making it more slack. Because you figure people are going to be going downhill more or, you know, worrying about the seat tube angle, for example, maybe that’s not as important, but it sounds like you guys kind of stuck to the same same script.

Mike 17:17
Totally, totally. Yeah. And like, you know, our, like, classic geometry story of evils. Like, we’re not trying to push the bounds of being too long to Slack, you know, that, like, we have very, you know, usable geometry across the globe, right, like nothing like, we have the stance that when bikes get overly long and overly slack. You know, those obviously weren’t good for steep downhills, but, you know, most of the most of the globe and most of the populace doesn’t ride over the steep downhills. Right, so like, we tried to make a bike that’s extremely fun and playful a ride on any sort of trail, you know. And, you know, with that being said, like, put our bike on the on the steepest downhill around and it’ll still shine. Right? So we in fact, we feel like we found that secure geometry recipe that, you know, works the best of all occasions, and we didn’t feel like we need to kind of dabble in changing that on this on this. ebike

Jeff 18:08
Yeah, I mean, the the chainstays like you’re mentioning that is huge. I mean, every ebike that’s out there right now, that is a challenge. I mean, they’re they have super long chainstays and they don’t feel as playful and so yeah, it sounds sounds exciting that you have potentially this ebike the rides much more like a regular bike.

Mike 18:27
Very much. So yeah, like, while you’re riding it, it’s, you know, pretty frequently, you kind of forget that you’re on any bike that’s like how, you know, playful and fun is ride and honestly, it’s it as much fun as bike ride right now.

Jeff 18:39
Yeah, awesome. Well, so evils using the Shimano drive system on this bike is choosing the drive system, one of the first steps given that you have to kind of design the frame around that.

Mike 18:52
Totally, yeah, yeah, kind of kind of what you mentioned, we’re using the Shimano EPA drive system, and we paired that with the 630 watt hour battery. So that’s a Shimano ‘s biggest battery out they offer at the moment okay, that was you know, definitely first and foremost when when we were building this bike, you know, because as as you know, every third party motor and battery vendor has has a different package volume for their drive unit and the silhouette that comes with that. So firstly, you know, say say, Okay, we’re gonna use the EPA system, you know, that like has everything that we want in this bike and then we take that and build a bike around that because that’s our biggest packaging constraint is that motor and battery so that you know once you have that silhouette nailed down about okay, this the motor that you’re using, you can place a shock you know, wherever you want, you know, close to the motor or you know, make it play nice with with said package. So, that was definitely the first first step in you know, picking, picking this this this bikes motor system for sure.

Jeff 19:51
Yeah, yeah. So what ultimately made you guys go with Shimano over some of the other systems that are out there?

Mike 19:59
Yeah, totally. Yeah. I chose Shimano due to the fact that they have been in the bike game for quite some time now. They have a great product and evals had a great relationship with Shimano over the years, we felt it was important and honestly our duty to give the customer a platform that was globally supported and backed by a brand like Shimano. Using Shimano allows us to spec a package you know, from like, basically a one stop one stop shop standpoint. You know, the bike is Specht with Shimano head to toe. So it kind of creates a unified experience for the customer of being on a Shimano supply bike.

Jeff 20:33
Yeah, yeah. Interesting. So we talked about, you know, sort of the idea of designing a frame around the battery and the motor. And I’m curious about, like, some of the strength considerations. You know, a lot of these bikes, like you pull the battery out, and it’s like, it doesn’t look like that things should even be able to support itself, right? Like, it’s really thin, like, you basically don’t have a continuous carbon tube on a lot of these, right? Like, it’s kind of just an open cavity. Like, how does that work? Like, is that a challenge to design the layup and everything to make that strong enough? Or is it? Is it pretty easy to do with carbon?

Mike 21:11
Yeah, totally. So yeah, I mean, this, like, goes, goes back to working with the engineers, right? Like, we had made the choice to have, you know, an open cavity down to one or you buy for, like, click battery swaps. And, you know, kind of what you said, you know, it isn’t a closed loop down tube. So, you know, the strength, obviously, is less than, say, a full closed loop, but we, you know, cleverly build the two profiles, cleverly, you know, work with the factory to build the carpet laminate to, you know, it’s just, it’s just as strong, if not stronger than, say, a full wrap down to with an integrated battery. So, you know, that, you know, comes back full circle to the engineering side of things on the start of that project, we kind of pick the road that we want to go down with this, you know, open down to design, and build our frame around that to, you know, kind of optimize that structure to be, you know, full full strength with that open down tube and still, like, allow for, you know, quick battery swaps.

Jeff 22:07
Yeah, yeah. It’s pretty crazy. Because I remember when the specialized came out with the SWAT system, right, where there’s like, a giant hole cut out in the down tube, and people are like, whoa, like, I didn’t know, that was possible. This is like, that times four or something, right? I mean, it’s a huge opening. And it’s like, on the underside of the tube. And yeah, it’s just amazing. The engineering that’s goes into that, and that it’s even possible.

Mike 22:33
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, it’s a, it’s a lot more involved than just say, taking taking a hacksaw and cutting a hole. There’s definitely a lot of man hours and engineering to you know, build that structure that actually, you know, accepts a large hole like that, and you’re down to, and now we’re definitely stoked, stoked with with where it landed. And, yeah, stoked on the usability of being able to take your battery out in an instant.

Jeff 22:57
Yeah. Well, let’s talk about the wiring challenges that are involved in that. Is that pretty similar to internal cable and hose routing, when you’re figuring out where all these cables go? Or is there like, additional challenge and figuring that out?

Mike 23:12
Totally. Yeah, that’s a that’s a huge pain point in making any ebike right, and I’m just asked, that’s every company across the board. Yeah, this kind of rat’s nest of wires that you have to try to, you know, build a nice spot in the frame. Right. You know, like, that’s just one of the one of the challenges of many of making on these bikes. And, yeah, unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just throwing some, you know, some internal carbon guide tubes at it, you know, with, with a, you know, obviously, people want the most pinner, tidy package frame, but it’s a balancing act of meeting room for the wiring while keeping the frame, you know, snug to the drive unit and battery, we’re able to package everything in a sleek way that gets the best of both worlds. You know, we built some enough internal spaces for wires to sit in job or job or tubes to route through, you know, wound healing and given enough tolerance for like, you know, see adjust height and you know, usability like that. And the goal was to build a package that was easy for our team in house to assemble while still looking sleek on the trail. So

Jeff 24:10
yeah. Yeah, I’m just amazed. I mean, if you’ve never written an E bike or looked at one, you know, you might just assume like, what like you got to run a wire from the battery to the motor and like, from the battery to the handlebar, but there’s actually a lot of stuff going on there. Right? You have like a speed sensor on the rear wheel so that it knows like how fast you’re going and, and all that stuff. So you got to route through the chainstays for that. And then the handlebar itself. Most of these like the Shimano stuff, I believe it’s it’s routed through the handlebar, right the wires and then they go somewhere.

Mike 24:56
Yeah, so great, great touching point there and notable change on our spec for this apocalypse is the evil energy bar. This is in a pocket specific handlebar with built in internal routing for the assist switch. This helps us you know, keep the cockpit free of wires and looking less like a motherboard on wheels, right? Like we’re trying to make a clean, user friendly experience and not trying to scare people off with a bunch of wires and you know, stuff coming from the handlebars. So we’re definitely excited to launch this evil energy bar to the world.

Jeff 25:26
Yeah. Why is that that the wires are routed through the handlebar? I mean, like our brake cables aren’t our shifter cables aren’t Is there a reason why it needs to go through the handlebar? Is that just another? Was that the the Ides having their way? And like making it? Make it just look nice? Yeah,

Mike 25:45
exactly. Yeah, yeah. So there isn’t a need for go to the handlebar. You know, like, you can just as easily say, like, you know, attach it to the dropper post and run it with that just the goal is to attach the assist switch to the handle to the computer handlebar next to the stem. So we have felt that, you know, like, you know, just just like our brake cables or shift cables are in the frame, why not put that wire through the through a handlebar and make it as clean as possible. You know. So that was definitely a stylistic choice versus engineering choice on our end. And yeah, we just felt like it. It was the right direction to go to make the cleanest looking cockpit and product.

Jeff 26:24
Yeah, it does seem like the electrical wires, though. They’re definitely much thinner than like a shift cable or brake hose and maybe are they prone to, like, snagging and stuff on the trail? Like, is that a concern at all?

Mike 26:38
Yes, and no, I mean, it’s all it’s all where you lay it out, right? Like, say your speed sensor, if you route it on the outside of your chainstay for example, like of course, you’ll be more proud prone to, you know, grabbing sticks and grabbing, grabbing stuff as you ride by but um, yeah, we definitely made the choice to keep our wires internal, and all of our cables internal, just, you know, have it sleek, you know, for example, you’re picking up your bike, you know, on, on plug your speed sensor or your you know, master computer, you know, like we want to keep keep this as user friendly as possible and as welcoming as possible. So that’s, that’s why I made a choice to hide all the wires and everything that we could inside the frame discreetly.

Jeff 27:16
Yeah. Right on. So how did the build kit considerations differ for ni by versus a traditional mountain bike, you know, a lot of us laugh when we see like a new product. And we’re like, oh, this is an E bike saddle. And it’s like, it’s not always clear why the saddle needs to be different for an E bike, for example, is are there a lot of considerations like that for the build kit?

Mike 27:40
Yeah, totally. So I mean, once again, the biggest thing with E bikes is the added weight to the system. And now with that added weight, you definitely want to spec you know, stiff wheels high and, you know, high end goods, great badass suspension, you know, to help fight against the added weight. Thankfully, on our traditional bikes, we are a spec top line wheels, top line suspension, great tires, so we’re able to carry over a big portion of our build spec to to the apocalypse, which, you know, obviously makes everything on our back end run more efficient. So, we’re definitely, you know, made that choice to stick with our, you know, a lot of our carryover parts from our traditional build kits, just because we build our analog bikes to you know, punch above their weight, which, you know, in fact, works on the eBIKE SYSTEM.

Jeff 28:26
Yeah, that makes sense. It seems like it’s also an opportunity to like, you know, some components they might sacrifice like comfort or durability or something because they’re trying to cut weight whereas on an E bike, that’s less of an issue because it’s already a heavy bike and also it’s it’s doing some of the work for you so you’re like cool e bike you want to carry this stuff for me like I don’t mind an extra you know 100 grams on my saddle or tire or whatever, right?

Mike 28:55
Yeah, yeah, exactly. I mean, I think like the biggest thing is durability on eBuy try it there’s like more you know power going to the drive train more power going to the brakes. So you definitely want you know, earlier earlier chain for example, or you know, for piston brakes versus say if you’re an XC bike you want to piston brakes to help with weight so like yeah, the the weight argument you know, like it all depends on where you kind of position this this bike if you’re building a lightweight you know, kind of xc style like micro dose you bike then you know, you would make lighter weight spec decisions but we like wanted to build a build a bike that like you know, you can you can ride through its paces, ride as hard as you want, you know, everyone from the base level customer to whatever rampage winning Kurtz or we can ride the same bike and still have fun on it. Right. So we carry over a lot of the same same parts that are tried and trusted on our on our analog bikes.

Jeff 29:49
Yeah. Well, so on the topic of eBUY components, we’re seeing a lot of innovation in the components like in tires and brakes, trickling down to today. Digital bikes. So companies are, you know, they need a higher spec for E bikes because of the additional weight. And then writers are finding, they like that higher spec stuff because they’re riding their traditional bikes harder and need that same amount of power and durability, or there’s similar opportunities when it comes to the frames, like are there things that you guys learn from creating an E bike frame that maybe you can take to the regular bike frames and improve them somehow?

Mike 30:30
Totally, totally. Yeah, I mean, like, go with any product, right? Like, every year, the bike should be getting better and better, you know, taking taking your inspiration at the start of a project from, you know, bikes are working well, you know, like learning from stuff that isn’t working well, and just always like trying to make a better product. But in terms of trickling down to analog bike, I would bet that, you know, some of the manufacturing techniques and kind of stiffness strategies will start to trickle down analog bikes, stiffness is a big part of making an E bike. So you know, that knowledge and strategy will definitely be sprinkled across the board and, you know, to its traditional predecessors, and I mean, there’s there’s always endless opportunity for making improvements on the modern day, analog bike, and ebike. Honestly, I mean, while we’re, while we’re talking about improvements, you know, like, I bet, I bet, you know, on ebike side of things like stuff will start to get smaller, quieter, more powerful, longer range, you know, starting to look, blur the lines from the aesthetic of analog bike to a to a to an E bike. So I think that’s where you’ll see the most advancement. But you know, in terms of trickling down to analog bikes, you know, frames, you know, analog frames are so good already, you know, so there’s only, you know, the ceiling is semi capped, in my opinion. So I think it’s going to it’s going to be a balancing act of stiffness and weight at this point. So take some of those stiffness strategies and figure out how to make them lighter for a traditional bike.

Jeff 31:54
Yeah, interesting. Well, as an industrial designer, I’m curious to know how you make decisions about touchpoints and usability for stuff like power switches, and charging ports. Because a lot of this stuff is new, right? Like bikes have been around a long time, and the design has evolved. And like, we’re at a pretty good place where it’s like, alright, we know what a bike should look like, and how it should work and that sort of thing. But e bikes, they add some new things. So do you run focus groups and do usability tests? Or do you look at what other people are doing? Or how do you figure out like, how to do something that hasn’t really been done? Or? It’s been done, but it’s not like established yet?

Mike 32:36
Totally? Yeah, I mean, as anyone does, we did extensive market research and, you know, internal polling to figure out what people wanted in terms of touch points. We constantly took the position of trying to make this thing look as discreet as possible, you know, we buried the power button underneath the top to hit the charger port on the non drive side that try to keep it discreet and hidden during photos. And, you know, touching back to the evil energy bar, you know, we designed the handlebar to hide the hide the cockpit wire. So yeah, our end goal was just to make it look less like a calculator on wheels, right, like, you know, make it make it look more like a mountain bike make it more acceptable to the normal mountain bike consumer, you know, just like get get more people interested in the bike space.

Jeff 33:20
Yeah, interesting. Well, yeah, I mean, you’ve talked a lot about the idea of sort of making this E bike look and feel more like a traditional mountain bike that we’re all used to. I’m curious with your background, and pro Moto and also mountain bike racing. Where do you see E bikes fitting? I mean, it seems clear that you see them more as mountain bikes than motorbikes but are they their own thing possibly to like, do you think one day we’ll we’ll have like a third category where E bikes look like E bikes and regular bikes look like regular bikes?

Mike 33:54
Yeah, that’s that’s interesting one you know, honestly, we I tried to steer away from the correlation between Moto and ebike we feel that it’s honestly unhealthy for the growth of the ebike sector in our sport and just you know, further delay the the adopting of the bikes into our local trail systems. I mean, sure, it is a motorized bicycle, but it’s still bicycle and the rider still has the same joys and experiences as a normal bike if not more. Yeah, you know, while while riding the apocalypse, you’re under no no illusion that you’re riding a motorcycle, you have all the same joys same you know, self expressions of riding, riding a normal bike and all while doing all while so you know, doing three times a lapse, you know, so here’s out there for longer having the same amount of fun if not more in a big negative side, or negative outlook on E bikes is the is the workout side of things, you know, so it’s like, if you want more of a workout, it’s just all how you ride it, you know, you can burns more calories by switching over to say trail or ECO mode to get those, get those legs burning even more. You know, it’s just so much more experience of just twisting the throttle like a like like a motocross bike. So we’re definitely taking the stance of, you know, we don’t want to correlate, you know, riding a run ebike same as random motorcycle, we’re definitely trying to, you know, push the side of the argument that like, this is still a bicycle. It’s just a different experience. And, you know, it’s just gets more people out on the trails.

Jeff 35:16
Yeah, yeah. I mean, that makes it makes perfect sense to me. And yet, there’s still so many traditional mountain bike riders who are adamant that like, you add a motor to a bike, it’s a motorcycle. But it’s pretty clear once you see one, once you ride one that it is closer, much, much closer to a mountain bike than a motorbike. And, I mean, are there is there an analogue, though? Like, is there? Are there products out there that are essentially electric motorcycles? I mean, like, I mean, I haven’t done a lot of research, but there’s like the cake brand, right? That

Mike 35:50
like, sure, for sure. Yeah, there’s like products, there’s more of an electric motorcycle. Exactly. Yeah, there’s some products that were starting to blur the lines a little bit, you know, like, for example, the cert on bike paths, like definitely making a insurgency in the mountain bike audience, just because it’s, you know, roughly roughly close to the size of mountain bike, it has, you know, say, a mountain bike fork and shock and like, you know, price points definitely low. And I think they’re going across, you know, kind of going after that, like mountain bike customer. So yeah, you know, touched on the sarong the cake, and probably a few others out there. There’s definitely some products that are blurring the lines. Yeah, so it’s definitely a balancing act of like, we definitely want to separate ourselves from say, a full power twisted throttle. The electric product, this definitely still bicycle.

Jeff 36:35
Yeah, yeah, it makes sense. What you’re saying to that, like, as long as these electric bikes, electric mountain bikes that are being built are designed to look and feel like a mountain bike, like, that’s what keeps them in that realm. Right? Like, as soon as we start making it, like giving it its own sort of aesthetic, and, you know, design consideration, then then it becomes a separate thing that we’re like, how do we, how do we regulate this? Where can you write it? Like, you know, but But if we’re keeping it sort of in that mountain bike realm, you know, going forward, then I think I think that makes sense. For sure. So who do you see as the target customer for electric mountain bikes? Like the apocalypse? Is it geared more toward experienced riders? Or do you think this is going to appeal to folks who are maybe new to the sport? Yeah,

Mike 37:26
I mean, our our target audience is very open ended. I mean, we didn’t build a bike, that’s good for one sole target audience, I you know, but rather, build an extension of our brand and our brand ethos, which is getting people on the trails, having fun on your bicycle, you know, that’s the end goal, that’s all while we do it, the apocalypse is welcoming to say, everyone from a newly found mountain biker, you know, all the way up to you know, like I said, Before, the Rampage winning current story, right, like, we built a bike that can handle anything, and everyone that you throw at it, you know, while still being user friendly. To the base level, base level of consumer. Yeah, definitely don’t want to know, position our products, as you know, experienced rider products are high end, I mean, not not high end, they are high end, but we don’t want to position them as like, you know, you have to be an experienced rider to, to ride evil bike, definitely want to be welcoming and inclusive to everyone. And, you know, they all kind of go goes back to how we, you know, tried to hide a lot of the electrical components and hide the wires and make it look friendly for you know, everyone from that base level consumer to the, to the, you know, the, you know, experienced mountain bike veteran.

Jeff 38:34
Yeah, that’s interesting, because, you know, the electric bikes that I’ve written, have a hard time imagining, like someone who’s brand new, like getting on one and being able to ride it, right, like, and also the cost, right? Like, that’s a, that’s a big investment to make, if you’re like, I’m new to this mountain biking thing. And, to me, it it kind of, you hear a lot of people that are concerned, right, that there are these people who are gonna, like, never ridden a bike before, and they’re gonna buy an E bike, and they’re gonna go to their local trails, and they’re gonna, you know, not know the rules of the trail, and they’re gonna, like, cause all kinds of problems. Now, I just have a hard time imagining that happening, because it seems seems unlikely that someone’s gonna, like, for the first bike, they’re gonna buy one of these. I mean, do you see that at all? Or do you really think that this is something that like, I don’t know, people could could somehow start out with Yeah, I

Mike 39:28
mean, you know, like, obviously, this is this is our first ebike so you know, it’ll definitely be a learning curve like who’s who’s going to buy this thing? But yeah, I would tend to agree with you that you know, this most likely won’t be someone’s very first mountain bike you know, due to to the price point and the complexity of the bike. But say for example, if there’s an entry level rider who has a you know, analog bike you know, that this definitely a welcomed addition to their fleet. Yeah, you know, it’s definitely going to be interesting to see you know, who are who are targeting Audience is is with this with this bike and you know who our real customers are you know, but just like just like any any any evil bike you know we’re like trying to sell sell our brand in our you know inclusivity to our brand right like you know being a part of a part of evil you know being an evil owner you know people take pride in that it’s cool to see people’s passion in our brand and in our product.

Jeff 40:22
Yeah, yeah, it definitely seems like a great bike for I mean, replacing your your trips to the bike park almost right. Like you can just pedal this thing up some some pretty nasty climbs. And then yeah, just have fun taking it down.

Mike 40:37
Yeah, exactly. I mean, like, during our testing phase, like we have this time one of our test spots close to Bellingham, it’s a pretty nasty, shallow road. And like, we took the bikes out there and like we can actually pedal up, you know, obviously going going a different way than just around the road, but we can pedal up quicker than we can shuttle, you know, so it’s like, it’s basically a self self shuttle. You know, if you’re solo you don’t have any friends around with but you still want to go to your local shuttle spot, you can, you know, bring the ebike out and pounce on laps or, you know, if you’re crunched for time on afterwork ride, you can you know, put it in boost mode and blasts up the hills cache that last bit light you know, for the for the trail down. And, you know, there’s just so many different use cases for these bikes. You know, it is so much more than just you know, being lazy with it with it with a motor under your feet. You know, like there’s so many different races. It’s it’s a cool story come to life and tell that story.

Jeff 41:27
Yeah, for sure. Well, Mike, thanks so much for telling us about ebike design and a little bit about the E pocalypse sounds like a really awesome bike. And I’m sure people are gonna be stoked to learn more about it.

Mike 41:41
Totally. Yeah, I mean, Thanks for Thanks for having me on the show. Definitely a big fan of what you guys do with this podcast. For sure an avid listener. So um, yeah. Thanks for having me on board talking shop. It’s always fun. Looking forward to yeah, see what people think of this bike.

Jeff 41:55
Yeah, awesome. We can get more info about the bike at evil dash bikes.com. And you can also check out some of Mike’s other work at Mike z.com. We’ll have the both of those links for you in the show notes. So we’ve got this week. We’ll talk to you again next week.

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