My name is Ryan Battle and I love to ride my bike. A couple years ago, I started noticing an influx of Smart Cars in Austin as a number of new, car-sharing services came to town. The idea of getting around without owning a car intrigued me, but I quickly realized there was a missing piece. Everywhere I went, I saw this...
This isn’t good. For the Smart Car OR the bike.
That’s why I invented the Free2Go bike rack system - the world’s lightest and most portable bike rack, designed exclusively for Smart Cars.
For people who prefer the flexibility of getting around in a variety of ways – by bike, by foot, by bus, and by car sharing services – the Free2Go bike rack makes it easy to switch from two wheels to four wheels (and back again), so you can be where you want to be when you want to be there.
Lighter than a Laptop
The Free2Go rack system (all components) weighs in at 1Kg (2.2 lbs) and can easily fit in a backpack, a bike pannier, a messenger bag or a purse.
The Softflex® strap on each mount also enables the bike rack to be easily attached and carried by the bike itself.
The Patent Pending design has been engineered for strength and durability and incorporates features that enable a wide variety of bicycle types and sizes to be safely and securely transported for wherever life’s adventures may take you.
Getting to This Point
It's true what they say. Every invention begins with an idea. What they don't usually tell you is that, in order to turn that idea into a reality, you have to go through dozens of notebooks, hundreds of sketches, countless illegible scribbles, and about a thousand revisions.
For the second prototype, I turned to 3D printing. I was amazed and at how fast the pieces were turned around and how precise they were to the design drawings.
With a few basic alterations, I moved forward with a local metal works shop to create the threaded metal cores and then sent those off to the prototype shop to have the overmolds applied.
It was with this initial functional prototype that I really started to hone in on the best design. I originally believed that the weight could be kept down by going with the rear peg approach. However, as it turned out, the peg weighed more than the stirrup because of the longer steel mass in the core.
At this point, I also realized that it would be more expensive to have the manufacturer fabricate different molds for the front and back (stirrup and peg), so I simplified the design (and reduced costs) by creating two identical stirrups.
In order to get the weight down even further (so that it would be easier for people to carry), I had to find a material that was just as strong as steel, but a fair amount lighter. After weeks of research, I found 7075-T6 extruded aluminum. As you can see in the following pictures, the old stirrup (just one stirrup) was 1.8 lb while the final design of two stirrups plus the strapping system came in at ~2.23lb.
With these design changes made, I could finally turn my attention to manufacturing.
Made in America
While many people have suggested producing the Free2Go in China, I don't feel that the overhead is worth the cost. I prefer having a relationship with the manufacturer along with the ability to visit the facilities whenever I want.
After months of research, my needs were met by a pair of brothers in Kent, OH who have been running a manufacturing company for 40 years and learned the trade from their father. I paid them a visit before agreeing to do business with them.
Since then, I have worked closely with the two brothers on the development of the Free2Go molds, negotiating production costs per unit based on order sizes of 500, 1000, 5000.
Shortly following these images came a short run of test racks that were inspected with a fine-toothed comb, making sure that everything was as it should be with gate markings, nit lines, etc.
By manufacturing the Free2Go in the United States, I think it shows that sustainable innovations are good for our environment and our economy.
Ready to Launch!
Finally, after more than two years of research, prototyping, rigorous testing and user feedback, I’m excited to say that the Free2Go rack system is ready to launch. Now I just need your help to take it that extra mile and get the first production run (500 units) out to market.
Where The Money Will Go
Should this dream be fortunate to meet its funding goal, the money will go toward the following activities:
-First manufacturing run of Free2Go racks
If you have ideas, suggestions, words of encouragement, please let me know! Feel free to send me a message here on Kickstarter as well as Twitter and Facebook.
- Twitter: @ForTheSmart
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/ForTheSmart
Thank you so much for all your support and I hope to see you on the road and on the trail real soon.
Risks and challenges
We have worked diligently on our sourcing of components, identification of manufacturers, working with skilled engineers, etc.. to make Free2Go what it is today. As mentioned above it has been a long and thoughtful process that allowed us to arrive at this point. On the assumption that our campaign will be successful we have already produced and inventoried in Kent, 1000 T6 aluminum rods, 1000 tension joint knobs and identified the sourcing for the strapping system. We simply need your help in getting over the final hump to bring this idea to reality.
The Free2Go team
- (45 days)