Kicking off a new era in bike innovation

If you haven’t heard of it, you must either live on the moon or in a cave, because cycling enthusiasts are using Kickstarter to change the world.

kickstarterAlmost four years ago to the day, Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler launched crowd funding website Kickstarter, a truly excellent venture that puts creative people in touch with other people with wallets.

The idea is beautiful in its simplicity. Anyone can pitch their ideas to Kickstarters’ audience of investors in search of the elusive cash required to kickstart a dream; while anyone and their dog can invest in any project, so long as they accept that they might well lose their investment.

No banks, no lawyers, no hassle.

The vision worked. At the time of writing, the site had successfully funded 39,557 projects and had raised some $484m. Of those, 27 were for more than $1m. Successful projects include reprinting the out-of-print The Order of the Stick books; a diverse array of film, theatre and dance productions; the world’s thinnest watch and an iPhone dock, to name just a few.

And increasingly, cyclists have got involved. On 27 September 2011, Revolights founders Kent Frankovich and Adam Pettler were celebrating having raised more than $215,000 via the website to fund their integrated wheel lights innovation, while on 23 December last year Emily Brooke successfully raised $55,000 to support her blaze bike light idea.

In fact, so common have bike related projects become that a post on discusses the top-10 bike-light projects on Kickstarter; while this one from lists the 10 wackiest cycling projects that failed to get funding. A list of 10 ‘bike-light projects’ on Kickstarter. 10. Bike lights.

But some of the projects currently live on the website are well worth a look. This one, by Horse Cycles, has already raised enough cash to support a brand new, all-American manufactured bicycle called the Urban Tour (see image above). And, despite it reaching its target, there’s still time to get involved – pledge $3 and receive a handsigned postcard as thanks for your support, pledge $200 and receive an urban tour threadless stem with brass bell made by the same company, pledge $1,900 and you get a full bike.

A different type of project entirely has been kicked off by Patrick Brady, founder of the excellent Red Kite Prayer cycling website who is using the platform to raise enough money to produce a book of his writings and, in the process, fund his baby son’s hospital fees. So far, he’s raised $13,721 of his $20,000 target. 11 days are left to go.

Here’s a cool bike rack, here’s a wacky reinvention of the wheel which will have supporters of super stiff racing wheels rolling their eyes, and here’s a bamboo lifestyle bike.

Go play.

David Rae

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  1. I watched every video in the KickStarter series — and Emily Brooke’s Blaze bike laser/light was easily the top idea. The Orp horn is a good idea but I think he should concentrate on developing the best horn, not a horn/light compromise (commercially available CygoLite, Niteride etc. LED lights are just too good and inexpensive these days). FWIW, I “developed” a sub-$20 horn for my commute from two $7.50 personal alarms and a switch — with each one putting out ~130 dB. Maybe not the prettiest thing but not too heavy, the 9v battery lasts forever, and people hear me coming — and then some. Viz.:

  2. Nice work with the horn Melty – that’s what we need more of; hair-brained home inventions. You should send in a picture!

    As for the Sunday Read, we are rethinking the whole concept. It’s proving hard work to commit to the type of article we want to write every week, with everything else life involves (not least getting out on our bikes). Watch this space though, we have some interesting ideas.

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