Affordable organic bicycles made from bamboo. Help us kickstart the production of our next bike model – the Koala One singlespeed!
About this project
Our vision: Affordable Organic Bicycles
Everyday, you’re going places. From here to there and all over again – it could be anywhere! We get it. Life is crazy. What’s your mode of “going” though? Tired of fueling up, finding a parking spot and running to catch the bus? Free yourself from all the fuss and get on a bicycle! It’s fast, doesn’t need fuel and takes up minimal space.
Every single journey you make every day could be making a difference. And you wouldn’t even have to think twice about it. That’s exactly our vision at Koala Bicycles. We’ve put in the hard yards so that your everyday mode of travel is not only ecofriendly in use, but also sustainable in production. Life is crazy enough. So we want to make sure you’ll never think twice about the right mode of transportation again: because quite simply – It’s your Koala One.
From Protobike to Koala One
It all started with Proto#0, our very first prototype. We call the first 12 bikes we built theProtobike-Series, because that’s what they are: Prototypes. In the process, we discovered that bamboo is perfect for building bicycles: Durable, lightweight, strong and 100% natural! The tricky thing is the joining of the bamboo tubes. For this crucial part, we rely on our special joining technique based on swiss-made flax fibre.
Evolving from there, we designed the Koala Lifestyle frame. This frame is very work-heavy – roughly 25 to 30 hours are needed to build just one bicycle. So we only produce very few for a relatively high prices – they are unique masterpieces. Because we also spent a lot of time developing new ways to build bikes, our production capacity is limited to one per week.
For the next big step, we developed a way to build bamboo bicycles in batches. As a result, we are able to build bamboo frames in standard sizes at relatively low cost. However, this is where we need you.
A batch-production is only feasible if, well, you have a batch to produce.
So with this campaign, we aim to presell one batch (=25) of bicycles. Together with you – the backers – we can bring the Koala One to life!
Open design process
The design process is not completely finished yet – because we want to take into account the preferences of our backers.
Therefore, we will send you a questionnaire after the campaign has been successfully funded. The survey will contain choices for you individually but also choices that will influence for the whole series!
As a result, all the data provided here for the Koala One frame is preliminary and subject to change after the campaign. Along the way, we’ll continue to be perfectly transparent about the process and there won’t be any surprises.
Rewards – what’s in it for you
Bike Accessories – Upgrade your bike!
Because not everyone is looking for a new bicycle for 2017, we offer some exclusive Koala approved bike accessories.
These are tailored made for the campaign. Because everyone’s support capability is unique, there is a wide range of rewards: from 8€ to 50€.
The minimum pledge is chosen such that your choice of an accessory will cross-finance the production of the main thing: The Koala One Singlespeed.
Chose a laser-engraved bike bell to make sure nobody will ever block your bike lane again. Available in 5 different colours because every bike is unique and so should its bell. Nice and crisp sound. Fits to all common handlebars (Dia. 25.4mm and 31.8mm). If you are not sure if it fits your handlebars, just ask! A picture by e-mail would help: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether rain or sunshine never skip a beat on your Koala Bicycle! That’s why you should always have a pair of sunglasses at hand – especially for cycling. It protects your eyes not only from UV light (UV-400 and CE certified), but also from anything that may fly into your eye while cycling: Dust, insects – you name it.
Our Kickstarter-exclusive range of bamboo sunglasses are made from the same type of bamboo as our bikes (Moso). They are super-light and available in 8 versions. The 5 natural and carbonized bamboo versions (models 1—5) are available from 25€ (earlybird special). The 3 painted versions (models 6—8) are available for 30€. There is no earlybird special for the painted models because we prefer them to be immediately recognizable as bamboo sunglasses. But in the end, it’s your choice!
After the campaign, we will send you a link where you can chose your desired model number.
If your glasses should not suit you, you can change models after you receive it.
We will charge you the extra shipping cost though.
Fall is coming, days are shortening – better get some LED bike lights! Super-easy to mount and use. Simply charge it via USB, just like your smartphone. Available as front light only (40€), or as a front/back light combination (+10€). Complies with StVZO in Germany and is CE-certified. Fits all handlebars up-to 31.8mm Diameter (front) and all seatposts up to 31.6mm Diameter (back).
The Koala One – a singlespeed bamboo bike
This is what it’s all about: Our singlespeed bicycle Koala One. The Koala One is designed forurban environments. It enables you to get from A to B quickly because of its agile frame-geometry and its lightweight components.
Preliminary frame geometry:
Because we can only produce one batch (25 bicycles) for this campaign, we are limited to one size for all frames. However, it is designed to suit both females and males between 168cm and 185cm. If you are slightly higher or smaller, please contact us. We will send you instructions to measure crucial body dimensions to see if the frame would suit you.
Preliminary choice of components:
- Frame: The Koala One Frame!
Sourced from chinese moso (毛竹, lat. Phyllostachys edulis) bamboo (~900g),
swiss-made flax fibre (~300g),
epoxy resin (~400g),
small amount of high-quality aluminium (~200g) and
lacque based on natural oils (<10g).
Aluminium alloys used: EN AW 6061, 7020 and 7075.
Rims: 622-19 Euroline Rim from Schürmann, made in Germany.
Tires: Continental Ultra-Sport II 28-622.
Tubes: Schwalbe Nr. 15 SV 40mm.
Custom ordered from our suppliers.
Sourced from Aluminium (Alloys EN AW 5754, EN AW 6061), fatigue endurable and resistant to corrosion.
- Grips: Cork grips providing excellent riding comfort.
- Brakes: Stiff, rigid front and rear rim brakes sourced from Aluminium.
- Chain: Made from Niro-Steel (no rust!) and lubed with high-quality oil.
- Saddle: Brown vintage leather saddle with spring suspension.
- Pedals: MKS Sylvan Touring
Beautiful aluminium pedals from MKS.
- Bell: Your choice! Chose one of the four bike bells available (see above).
All components come in a polished silver appearance.
Extra goodies: As a special reward for buying a bike, you will receive front and rear lights and a pair of sunglasses!
After the campaign, we will send you a survey to choose your pair of sunglasses and the customizable parts of your bike (e. g. bell colour).
Quality and Safety
Bamboo is strong and durable!
By treating bamboo right, it becomes durable against good (UV-light from the sun) and bad weather (rain, snow). The mechanical strains and stresses are handled easily by the bamboo tubes.
We use the bamboo tubes as they grow in nature. By selecting and heat-treating bamboo we are able to control technical parameters to a certain degree.
However, there are still some variance in quality. This means that each Koala One will have slightly different properties than every other bike frame.
We as the producers, want to make sure that we only ship out bicycles that surpass todays norms and safety requirements.
Teststands to ensure quality and safety
To ensure that no mistakes in production or defects in material make it to our customer, we will test every single bike frame on our self-developed teststands before shipping.
We have already built a small teststand to ensure the safety of the wooden handlebars we used for the Koala Lifestyle. You can read more about it in our blog. It is built for two purposes mainly: Firstly, to ensure safety and quality, surpassing the requirements of DIN EN 14764 (the current safety norm for city and touring bicycles), second, to build up our teststand experience.
Our first teststand was a success, and we already started developing a big one for the Koala One. On this big teststand, the frame/fork combination is tested. Our aim is again to surpass the requirements given in DIN EN 14764. We will be able to adjust the testing forces up to 1682 Newtons (required is 1000 N, corresponds to 170kg) per pedal. Because every bamboo stick grows uniquely in nature, we will test every single bike individually.
Our aim is that the bikes will arrive early 2017, the bike accessories later this year (end of October and early November). For every reward, the expected time of delivery is given directly in the reward section (on the right).
We try to deliver the rewards as fast as possible. However, there is still a lot of work to do before starting production and delays may arise.
1. Further prototyping of Koala One frames. (October)
We have already build prototypes that are similiar to the Koala One frame. But to refine the process we will build a technical prototype, that will have the same specifications and appearance as the final product.
2. Production samples for testing purposes. (November and December)
Ahead-of batch-production, we will produce samples to test out the production process. These frames are produced almost exactly like the batch-produced ones. They will serve as a reference in testing purposes. We will test these frames both on the teststand and on the road as well.
3. Monthly Batch-of-5, start of production (January)
In January, we plan to produce the first 5 Koala One frames in one batch. Because it is the first batch, we expect it to take up to a whole month.
After testing and mounting (of the components) these bicycles will be delivered to our earlybird backers. With testing and a buffer for any eventualities, we plan to deliver them before the end of february.
4. Weekly Batch-of-5, start of batch-production (February)
After completing the first 5 bicycles, we aim to be ready to built the bicycles in batches. We will start with a small aim of 5 bicycles per week, translating to 20 bicycles a month.
These are the bicycles for our first-batch customers. Expected delivery is before the end of march 2017.
5. Regular production (from March)
The final goal of the campaign! A running production of bamboo bicycles. With all the processes set-up, we plan to have a production capacity of roughly 30 bicycles per month (one per day).
Step-by-step, we will higher the frequency of our production pipeline. The next milestone will be a monthly production capacity of 50.
The journey of Koala Bicycles would not have been possible without our partners.
Our special thanks go to Hans-Sauer Stiftung supporting our membership in the Makerspace on the campus of the Technical University of Munich. The employees of UnternehmerTUM Makerspace GmbH (the company behind the Makerspace) also helped realizing our project.
Thanks also goes out to our first marketing partner PlanetBox. Since they were immediately convinced that bamboo bikes are a good idea, they helps us a lot by doing pro bono marketing for us.
In the very beginning, both the ETH Entrepreneur Club and the ImpactHub Zürich where of great help. ETH EC provided the first funding (we won the ETH EC Award 2015) and ImpactHub Zürich provided us with a coworking space for the first couple of months.
The company MayTec helped us greatly in building the first teststand. They are the supplier of the aluminium profiles – the main part of our teststand.
Use of funds – Full transparency
First of all, we will pay 19% in VAT to the german government (or, depending on where you live, your local government). Also, 8% of the funds are needed to sustain Kickstarter and its payment provider. For the funding goal of 20.000€, this translates to 16.700€ left.
Most of our funds will be used to buy components and source materials. Because we only built the frame, the other components are bought from suppliers. We save you from the hazzle of selecting compatible components and ship you a bike. For a minium sales of 25 bicycles, we expect to pay 10.000€ on components, materials and personal costs for the Koala One production.
But before the production can start, there is still some work to do and investments to make. We will need to buy and build tools, set-up our production facility and try out different manufacturing possibilities. We expect a tooling cost of roughly 2.500€.
In addition to tooling, we also need facilities to ensure our high quality standard. We will built another teststand to individually test every Koala One that we will ship out. The cost estimate for this test-stand is 2.500€.
All in all we expect to pay 15.000€ on the production of the first 25 Koala One bicycles. The rest of the funds is used to set-up the production of the rest of the rewards. On the small rewards, there is a certain margin for us to cross-finance the production of the main thing: The Koala One.
We have included buffers in our calculation for unforeseen events and the risk of starting the production of a new product.
Information for our international backers (outside Germany)
Worldwide shipping is available in all countries served by DHL.
The backer is the importeur, we are the exporter. All import taxes and duties have to be paid by the you, the importer.
Please be aware that running times for international shippings are inherently longer!
Law and Jurisdiction of Germany apply.
Risks and challenges
There is always risk involved in developing a new product.
We minimize the safety-risks in our bikes by thoroughly testing everything on teststands and on the road. Because tests may fail, it could mean that we have to redevelop (which takes time and costs money) the bike frame to change production processes.
Delays may always incur from unforseeable events: problems with suppliers, difficulties in production – you name it.
However, we included some buffers in the timeline and are fairly confident to be able to deliver according to the estimates.
For international backers: There might be custom fees and/or taxes involved. As stated above, they have to be paid by the importer (you).
Also, this might take additional time.
For the non-bicycle rewards, the risk is small. All rewards have been already sampled and quality-tested both in labs and in practice.
The production will immediately start after successful funding!