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From Building LEGOs to Designing E-Bikes
by Bryce Casey
I’ve always liked building things. When I was a kid, it was LEGOs. These simple plastic bricks were the beginning of my foray into manufacturing and product design. My brother and I would dump thousands of pieces on the floor and spend hours, days, even weeks of our childhood digging through vast piles to find that one piece we needed for whatever we had dreamed up. If I had something in my head, there was no stopping until it had materialized in brightly colored plastic.
Another large portion of my childhood, and my life for that matter, was spent on two wheels. It started with my first bike: a red K-mart special with training wheels and a coaster brake. My parents had a big yard and a long driveway so there was plenty of riding to be done right out the back door. Over the years the wheels got bigger, but I always longed for something more. I wanted power. One of my friends had a motorcycle, a two-stroke Yamaha PW50, and I wanted nothing more than to take that thing for a spin. In third grade, at the age of eight, I finally got the chance. I went for my first ride on a motorcycle, and it was awesome. After that, my dad wouldn’t hear the end of it until he finally broke down and got a bike for my brother and me. It was a mint condition Suzuki RM60 from 1982 that he got from a friend. It was fast. The thing could do wheelies with a 200-pound guy on it, and to make it even more fun, the brakes were awful.
From then on I was addicted. I got my learner’s permit for street riding when I was 16, and would spend weekend mornings riding the canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains on bikes borrowed from my dad. When I moved up to San Luis Obispo for college, I bought my first street bike, a Suzuki DR-Z 400 Supermoto, kind of a cross between a dirt bike and a street bike. It’s been so great, that I still have it to this day.
After college, I bummed around Europe for a bit, moved back to my parent’s house and eventually, had to get a job. A friend of my dad’s was involved in a small company in Los Angeles called Derringer Cycles. I had never heard of them, but after a quick Google search, I found tons of pictures of these gorgeous little mopeds, and thought, wow that could be really cool… certainly better than working in a corporate office. When I started working there, I noticed more than a few things on the bikes that I thought could be improved, but after a few months, Anz left Derringer and I was stuck picking up the slack. It was pretty overwhelming for me, a fresh college graduate just months into my new job. But when the new owners hired another guy, we set out to make those much-needed improvements to the bike. We redesigned the frame, cut build time, and improved overall quality.
Everyone loved how the bikes looked, but most people that bought them didn’t want to deal with the maintenance that came with a gasoline engine. We knew that we had to go electric, since this would remove much of the maintenance and complexity that came with the gas-powered models. I had an idea in the summer of last year for a board-track-styled electric bike that would incorporate our new frame design and elements of vintage board track racing motorcycles, while using Li-NMC batteries.
Now, we need to get the E-bike into production. My goal is to keep as much production in the United States as possible. I found frame fabricators in Portland, Oregon to make our custom frames, a metal fabricator in Northern California to make the aluminum tanks, and a fiberglass shop in San Diego to make the composite version of the tank. I have to order at least 50 frames to meet minimum order quantity, and we have to pay for tooling upfront, so we decided that Kickstarter would be a great place to get this funded.
From Legos, bikes, and motorcycles, my love of building things and going fast has culminated in this gorgeous, powerful E-bike that I’m proud to say I designed. Help make it a reality here.
This project is part of GOOD's series Push for Good—our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.
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