Time to celebrate: we’ve delivered our first batch of ebikes!
You may have noticed that we’ve been quite quiet over the past couple of months – we’ve been busy quality checking, test riding and sending out FLIT-16s to customers around the world! Seeing happy customers as they receive their bikes and take them out for their first ride is such an amazing feeling, and is what makes all of our hard work developing and manufacturing our ebike worthwhile. We can’t wait to hear about their FLIT adventures as they ride – it’s been great to see their photos and feedback so far.
To top it off, Richard Peace also recently reviewed the FLIT-16 for Ebiketips – giving our ebike 4.5 our of 5 stars, which really is the icing on the cake! You can read his full review here.
If you missed out on our first batch of ebikes, don’t fear – we’re currently building our next batch. If you’d like us to let you know when new stock is available, sign up here.
Time to celebrate: our highlights
To celebrate, we’ve put together a video of some of our favourite moments, from receiving our first manufacturing prototype, to launching our ebike to the world on Kickstarter, to building our first FLIT fleet, to delivering to customers.
If you’d like to read a more detailed version of the FLIT story and how we designed, developed and manufactured the FLIT-16, check out our three part blog series:
We’ve also summarised our favourite moments below!
First (rideable!) manufacturing prototype arrives
After years of developing concepts, building our first rideable prototype was a major milestone for us. We had done a lot of our early prototyping in the UK, but soon realised that we needed a specialist in aluminium (our preferred material) bike frames to help us develop our ebike. In the summer of 2018, we took our early ebike design to Taiwan (renowned in the bike industry for building aluminium bike frames) in search of a manufacturing partner, and just a few months after finding the right partner, we had a rideable prototype.
Our first rideable prototype
It may have been rideable, but there were still lots of things that we wanted to improve!
Back to the drawing board – after test riding and folding and unfolding a million times, we had lots of design changes to make our ebike better to ride and simpler to use. We also made some changes to make the bike easier to manufacture, so that we could then commit to investing in the tooling needed to build our ebike.
One of the real joys of working on this project was that we got to go behind the scenes of the bike industry. As a team of keen cyclists we have long ridden bikes and loved what they let us see and do in our communities and even on long rides across continents. But when we started building bikes we were able to see behind the curtain and meet so many passionate people!
Marengo & Maya: our prototype pair
Design tweaked, we went back to our manufacturing partner so that they could build two further prototypes on manufacturing tooling: welcome Marengo and Maya (our first grey and blue prototypes). These two were absolute stars, as they accompanied us to test ride events across the UK. These events were the first time that we had unveiled our ebike to anyone! It was a great feeling to see rider’s beaming grins as they tried our bike for the first time.
Test riding in front of the iconic Kings College
The big launch
Those smiles are what gave us the confidence to launch the FLIT-16 on Kickstarter – time to put our ebike in front of the world! Our campaign was initially just to raise enough money to cover the manufacturing tooling, but just a couple of hours into the campaign we had already smashed our goal… we were overwhelmed and so grateful for the support that we received.
Team ready for launch!
Test rides, test rides, and more test rides!
Throughout our Kickstarter campaign we continued to travel up and down the UK, gathering feedback from hundreds of test riders on Marengo and Maya. We fed these insights straight back into the design, making small tweaks like adding a bigger display, adjustable handlebars and more comfortable saddle – ready to build another prototype in our pilot manufacturing run.
Kickstarter complete, Blaze is born
In September 2019, we celebrated the end of our Kickstarter campaign – we’d raised over 5 times our initial target which was pretty incredible. At the same time, our manufacturing partner was gearing up for our pilot manufacturing run (we did this to smooth out any kinks in the manufacturing process before pressing go on the final manufacturing run), from which Blaze, our orange prototype, was born. Dave, our Technical Lead, went out to Taiwan that autumn to help out with the final stages of assembly, and to bring Blaze home.
Meet Blaze – our prototype from our pilot manufacturing run
Blaze was a beauty – you certainly wouldn’t miss him with that colour either! We learnt a lot from our pilot manufacturing run though (it wasn’t all smooth!), and tweaked some of the processes before we gave the green light on building our first fleet of FLIT-16s.
We all know what happened next: the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many people, this threw our personal lives into disarray and caused chaos in supply chains, but we were very lucky that Taiwan’s world-leading handling of the crisis meant that our factory wasn’t badly affected by the virus, so work continued as usual. While we had delays on lots of our components arriving from other countries due to the pandemic, we were able to proceed. We will always be grateful for the professionalism and warmth of our Taiwanese partners during what was a challenging time.
Final production, let’s go
To kick off manufacture, we began by building our lithium ion batteries. These had to be custom made so that they fit exactly into the top tube of the bike – we were going for a stealthy look! Next, we started shaping blocks of raw aluminium into the various parts of the FLIT-16 by a process called CNC milling (the gradual removal of material until you reach the desired shape). Once all parts were made, it was time for some welding action, to make the various assemblies of the bike, a good example of which is the rear swing arm (the part that goes underneath the bike when folding).
With welding complete, each part goes through a series of heat treatment and alignment processes before it is ready to be painted and finished.
Adding the finishing touches
In the summer of 2020, Dave was granted special permission to visit Taiwan (they had extremely strict travel restrictions in place) so that he could oversee the final stages in the building of our first fleet: painting and assembly.
In September, our very first production FLIT-16s came off the production line! Just a few weeks later, we had completed our first batch of bikes. These were now ready to begin their journey to the UK.
Our first FLIT fleet arrives in the UK
Their ocean voyage took much longer than we expected due to delays at Felixstowe port, so we were ever grateful to see the EVER GENIUS (our container ship) finally dock in November. The final stage in their journey before making their way to their new homes was our warehouse in Cambridge. Here, we put each bike through its paces, making sure that they were perfect before sending to their new owner.
Smiles all round after unloading our first batch of bikes
Technical Lead & Co-Founder
We had some parts break in transit which was such a bummer after all the effort we’d put in to get the bikes to the UK and then out to the US and EU again before the Brexit deadline. But I was so moved by how nice our customers were about it. They’ve made all the challenges of the last few years completely worthwhile.
Time to deliver
We personally delivered bikes to our local customers – we wanted to see their happy faces for ourselves as they received their FLIT-16!
After many late nights of rigorous quality checks, test riding and packaging each bike at the warehouse, delivering the last bike in batch was a momentous occasion. But what’s even better is seeing photos of happy customers on their new ebikes!
Alex, one of our co-founders, personally delivering to local customers
Big big thanks
It’s been an epic journey, but we’re super grateful for everyone’s support and patience throughout. We can’t wait to hear more FLIT rider stories this year, and are looking forward to sharing with you what’s next in store for us… we have some pretty big plans!
Missed out on our first batch?
Our next batch is currently being built! If you’d like us to let you know when we have new stock available, sign up below.
To join our waiting list and be the first to hear about new stock.