After changing our production process, hiring a U.S. based mold maker and redesigning the entire tool, we are close to getting the first parts out of our new mold. Keep your fingers and toes crossed. Next week is going to be exciting.
It's fun to live in the city that has bike path everywhere. You can ride to stores, go shopping or commute without ever spending a dime on gas or parking. Allowing you to spend your money on things that actually improve your quality of life, like eating better food and going out with friends . This is what I remember life was like growing up in Germany and most European cities that I have visited.
Now almost twenty years later, it looks like this trend is jumping across the ocean and starting to creep slowly into US-Cities. There are more and more bikes path and many corporate offices encourage commuting by bike and offer bike parking. The benefit of the physical exercise and the stress relieve is a win win for everybody. Most people that have changed to commuting on bikes have turned the most hated slice of the day into their personal highlight. So please consider where you live and think about how important bike-ablity is for you:
Location - location - location
It's good for you, your wallet and everybody who lives in a city. Before your next move you should read this blog post from rent.com and think about how important a bike-able location and bike friendly apartment is to you.
We just posted an update for all of our Kickstarter backers with a new timeline.
(Set yourself goals and go for it)
Why did I race a fixed gear crit and why I can’t wait to do it again?
I wanted to celebrate my return to racing after a five year break with something special, a race that requires skills, power, endurance and is not quite as dangerous as downhill racing. The Redhook Crit seemed to fulfill all of the above requirements plus the added controversy from anonymous sources that it is only for hipsters, messengers and misfits. PERFECT.
Now that I knew the event, I had to start training and prepping for it. Training was kind of a problem because when I signed up for the race I actually still had my wrist in a cast from a motorcycle crash in October. I couldn’t really do much of anything, riding the rollers or home trainer wasn’t an option since the sweat was starting to turn the cast slowly into a chemical weapon that could stink up a room in a flash.
So I focused on setting up my track bike for the event. Sounds easy, right? NOT, there wasn’t really any info out there on what the racers are using. I had just bought a 2013 Leader 725 frame and wasn’t really sure what the setup should be. What gearing? What crank length? What tires? After days of research I decided to stick with a little easier gear than the recommended (by the promoter) 50x15 and installed a 49x15. Being paranoid on pedal strike when flying thru the turns also led me to mount 165mm cranks. The luxury of owning two wheel-sets allowed me to have both, my dry tires (tubular conti sprinters) and wet tires (clinchers conti GrandPrix 4000) at the race at the same time.
Setting a goal:
Once the cast came off I started training and getting in shape. There wasn’t as much time as I needed, but I thought it should be enough to at least qualify for the main event and be part of the big show that night.
Not knowing if there was any practice or if the course would be closed before the race, we (my better half and me) showed up at the Brooklyn Cruise ship terminal just a little before 10:00 am. The main entrance gate had one very persuasive Irish guard that only let the volunteers enter and made the racers line up left and right next to the gate. This is where we stood for the next 1 ½ hours and I witnessed the first sign that this wasn’t like any other high level cycling competition. The gate was supposed to open at 10:30am and the women’s qualifier was scheduled to start at 11:00am. But nobody was complaining, everybody just seemed to be hanging out with their team-mates, friends and fellow riders. We were told that because of a missing security guard we had to wait until the NYPD gave the green light to enter the Terminal. No big deal. This was the most chilled out line of racers I had ever seen. I have been to many races where this would have caused mayor drama and your standard spoiled prima donna pro racer would have had their knickers in a twist and a mayor meltdown. But not here, everybody was just enjoying the good company (and the good weather) and waited. Sooooo cool.
Hanging out and waiting for the gate to open:
Our home for the day:
After picking up my race package we where given a pit number. The pit was a small space that we shared with a couple of other racers. Who were those other racers? I had no idea but it was kind of like moving into a small apartment and meeting your new roomies for the first time. Everybody had a little corner, a chair and enough space to store their bike and race bag. The atmosphere was very calm and everybody looked like they knew what they where doing or really good at faking it. Whatever the case, this is where we meet Javi from PR and another local New Yorker Matt who had raced this event before and everbody was more than helpful answering all my annoying questions and giving some insides on what was about to happen.
Qualifier (being in group #6)
I knew I had to earn my stripes doing this event for the first time, but I wasn’t really sure what that meant. Turns out being in group #6 was it. This is where most of the guys that have never done this line up at the start and have twenty minutes to put down a fast lap hoping to qualify for the main show later that night. Organizer and mastermind of this event David Trimble gave a little speech before start in which he said “this group usually has some crashes in it, so please be carful and keep it safe”.
Whoops, (we were doomed) as soon as he had mentioned crashes I could see some riders looking nervously around and clearly getting their anxiety level close code red.
This going to be interesting!!! After a one-minute countdown we were off. I wanted to start out easy, watch, learn the track for a couple of laps and hopefully find another racer who was willing to work together with me getting a fast lap in.
We had just finished our first lap, when on the right side two riders were heading side by side into the chicane and tried to occupy a small space between the field and barriers that could only fit one rider. There it was, they tangle bars and down they went. (no serious injuries) It was kind of strange, I think everybody was waiting for the mandatory first crash in group #6 and once it happened we could finally start focusing on doing what we came here to do. Fast laps on bikes without brakes. I ended up doing two full out sprinting laps and had the second fastest lap in group #6. But what did that mean? Apparently not much :)
There were five more groups after us, and with fast Teams working together setting new lap records heat after heat.
These guys were all fast:
85 riders qualify directly for the main event. If you qualify anywhere between 86 and 150 you have another shot, but you need to race the last chance qualifier. Well, I ended up 91st , if I would have been one second faster and I would have qualified the easy way. But hey, why easy if you can have it difficult?
I love bikes, but I also love good food. David (the organizer) managed to combine the two!!! (PERFECT - I was in heaven). Thanks to some of the best food trucks, lunch was amazing.
Last Chance qualifier:
This was a 14-lap race where the top ten finishers qualify for the main event. It was fast, controlled and I felt relatively safe riding thru all the turns in a tightly packed field. I stayed the whole race between the 2nd and 5th position and finished 2nd. Cool, I did it. I qualified for the Redhook crit.
The MAIN EVENT:
Since I made getting here the goal, I had already won. I could relax, try my best and see what happens. The atmosphere was amazing. The entire course was packed with spectators (some more drunk than others) and it felt more like a party than a bike race. Since I started all the way in the back I knew I would have a hard time making it to the front. (if ever) This got even clearer to me after the race started. The pace was super fast and the pack was all strung out. I was getting whipped around at the tail end of the pack for about twenty minutes before loosing contact with them. I found myself in a small group of six riders trying to close the gap, but another five minutes later we were far off the pace and getting close to being lapped. It was a little disappointing when we got pulled out of the race, but as soon as that happened I knew what my next goal is going to be. - and here it is:
A new goal:
“I want to finish a Redhook Crit in the main field”
HOOKED ON REDHOOK
Thanks to AirBnB and my credit card’s frequent flyer miles we are heading to London for the second round of the Redhook Crit series. Team DaHÄNGER also doubled in size since my wife Stacy is going to hang with the Lady’s as well.
This is going to be fun,
Life is too short to wait, go for it.
The new manufacturer is in full effect right now and we are happy to say that their vision for the DaHÄNGER is in line with ours. We never wanted to just make another cheap bike hanger. The goal from the first day was to create a contemporary design solution for bike enthusiasts with the highest quality and durability. Made in the USA will allow us to keep a close eye on quality control and keep improving as we move forward. The new team involved is experienced in manufacturing interior design pieces and is going to make this even better than we could have hoped for.
Stay tuned for our new product release timeline,
Where we are right now:
I don’t make any of this up, all the timelines I have been announcing throughout our project are more or less the timelines I have been given to by our manufacturer (and I usually add a little more to be safe) but nothing ever seems to happen on time. There is a constant over promise and under deliver theme, which makes me look like an idiot. To a certain degree I don’t mind being the scapegoat, but enough is enough. Anybody who knows me understands that I stand to what I say and I expect others to do the same, especially in business.
Just a quick recap: after breaking/bending the mold core three times (once was a welded patch job gone bad) over the last 12 month we had ordered a third core, but this time without any ribs. It’s basically solid steel to achieve the strongest tool possible. This was back in December. We had received the complete mold from our manufacturers subcontractor in China here in the US. Our manufacturer had inspected it and was putting the final touches on the core, removing some of the material to make complete parts. Last week was supposed to be the start of production. The following is basically what I was told during my phone conversation with our manufacturer last Friday:
“ IT BROKE AGAIN” after about thirty parts - our manufacturer in New York said he started seeing changes (material in places where it shouldn’t be) in the final product. He climbed into the machine and checked the mold for any problems, and there it was. In the exact location where the ribs used to be in the previous cores were holes and cracks all he way from the front to the back. They had only one explanation for this. They told me that when their Chinese sub built our third core they must have accidentally used the old CAD file and made another one with the ribs. When they realized that this was not what we ordered they welded them shut, finished it off and sent it to us.
Holy crap, this sucks!!! What follows is a weekend filled with me cursing, screaming and basically being impossible to deal with (ask my wife). I didn’t really talk to anybody about it, since I needed a clear head before responding and not to burn any bridges to move the project further along. But I did look at the parts that came out of that mold that I had received from them about three weeks ago and there it was. I could clearly see material where the cracked welds were located. (…and I do blame myself for not catching this !!!!!!) This core had cracked welds in it three weeks ago and nobody told me. Ok then: so clearly somebodies pants are on fire, (either Chinese pants or American pants) but what do I do know, and who cares? I need my product so that I can start shipping!!! I don’t want to get into a high school drama about, he said this and I said that. I am too old for that shit. (but the truth will set you free and karma is a bitch)
The solution: We paid a lot of money for a functioning injection molding tool and that is what we are going to get. (or a refund) I am going to give them one more chance to fix it and proof to me that I should continue working with them. Obviously, as we all know now, their timelines are completely useless and who knows when and if they ever will complete this. That is why I am also putting our plan B in full effect, which is what really excites me the most about the future.
THE GOOD NEWS:
We are placing an order for a rotational mold with a highly qualified rotational molder in Pennsylvania. They are going to start making us a new roto-mold-tool and can start production in 6-8 weeks. The reason why I am so excited about this is, that in their product catalog are some really nice, beautiful high-end coffee tables and interior design pieces. They do know what we need and are happy to have us on board.
The only negative of the rotational molding process is that the part per unit costs are much higher and production speed much slower. (only about 100 units per week with one mold) But as I see it, slow production is better than no production and quality always beats quantity.
I am truly upset about how all of this has played out over the last year. But there is one thing that has not changed and keeps me going: “I love our product”. I use it on a daily bases in the garage and in our living room. I get a ton of e-mails from all of you who want this and I am truly thankful for all the support. I have no doubt that when you finally receive the DaHÄNGER you are going to be happy with the outcome of our Kickstarter project.
Again, thank you for hanging in there,
Here is the latest material testing and tooling adjustment video.
We are getting really close to having complete parts to send out.
Some more tests are needed next week.
Creating something new that is quality takes time.