What a ride! After spending much of the past few months in Taiwan, we're really happy to say that we now have a manufacturer-built prototype in the UK. It's been a crazy journey to get this far. Let us tell you a little bit more.
Welding in the frame factory
Since our last post, Dave has been working closely with the manufacturer on our ebike design. When in the UK, this typically involves a 7am start so that Dave can beat the time difference and talk to the factory and suppliers before they end their work day in Taiwan. This call sets the work for the day, ranging from redesigning parts of the bike so that they better fit manufacturing processes, to coordinating with the battery supplier to ensure that our battery and ebike frame fit seamlessly together. Our team then works through these problems in the UK before sending the results to Taiwan in the evening, ready for when the manufacturer starts work a few hours later. They then repeat the process on the other side of the world.
However, for much of the time, Dave hasn't been in the UK. He has been in Taiwan working with the manufacturer in their own offices. Although this helps with the early mornings, it doesn't mean that the work is any less intense. Days can involve anything from doing quality control on machined parts, to meeting with suppliers to test component weight, look, and feel, to troubleshooting unexpected assembly hiccups at the factory. During all of this, Dave has gotten to know our manufacturer well, all the time learning more about everything from the intricacies of the East Asian bicycle supply chain, to details about the pantheon of Chinese gods (our manufacturer has a small temple at his warehouse - although many gods are represented, the company boss is a particular devotee of Sun Wukong, also known as the Monkey King).
The warehouse temple
Dave and Alex have spent a number of years each living and working in mainland China. Dave in particular has spent over four years in Beijing and has managed to achieve a sufficient fluency in Mandarin to study for a master's degree in automotive engineering in that language. However, although both Dave and Alex have visited Taiwan and love the country's rich and distinctive culture, neither of them has worked on the island before. So we are particularly thankful to be working with Jasper, the boss at our manufacturer partner, who has welcomed us to Taiwan with open arms by introducing us to suppliers, showing us around, and even inviting us to a mid-autumn festival BBQ at his family home.
Dave, Alex and Joe taking a break at the mid-autumn BBQ with Jasper
Welding the frame
Boxing up the prototype