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How does one go about starting a bike company?

shredden.

Chimp
Jun 11, 2012
25
0
I am still in school (not for much longer) and however realistic it is, it has been a long time dream of mine to start a bike frame company. Neglecting the whole marketing/will people actually buy it? side of things, can anyone give me even a very rough outline of what it takes? I am assuming the best way to do it is to get the front and rear triangles made in Taiwan? Roughly how much would a factory in Taiwan charge to actually make frames?

I know that it is very far-fetched, but we all have dreams!
 

kidwoo

Celebrating No-Pants Day
Aug 25, 2003
22,001
1,683
In my pants
You just pile up stacks and stacks of hundred dollar bills and throw a match on them.

Achieves the same long term outcome.
 

Kanye West

220# bag of hacktastic
Aug 31, 2006
3,450
164
A bunch of money to buy into the up-front tooling costs, a bunch more money to purchase enough volume to bring the pricepoint to something reasonable, a design (complete with geometry, tolerances, inspection drawings, etc), OEM accounts with enough money to throw at them to get a decent pricepoint for build kits, a bunch of money for marketing and distribution, and a bunch of money for product liability insurance. Among other things.
 

UiUiUiUi

Turbo Monkey
Feb 2, 2003
1,381
0
Berlin, Germany
probably the best idea is to first work at another bike company ^^ do an internship see how they do their business see what you like about the whole process and then learn for a year or two or longer then ask yourself whether you really want your own bike company or do something else :)
 

General Lee

Turbo Monkey
Oct 16, 2003
2,867
0
The 802
probably the best idea is to first work at another bike company ^^ do an internship see how they do their business see what you like about the whole process and then learn for a year or two or longer then ask yourself whether you really want your own bike company or do something else :)
Also learn Mandarin and be willing to relocate to Taiwan for an extended period of time. Otherwise expect the factories to give preference to their bigger and more important clients. Actually, they'll do this anyway but at least you'll have a fighting chance.

But mostly just do what kidwoo said.
 

norbar

Turbo Monkey
Jun 7, 2007
9,507
317
Warsaw :/
Also learn Mandarin and be willing to relocate to Taiwan for an extended period of time. Otherwise expect the factories to give preference to their bigger and more important clients. Actually, they'll do this anyway but at least you'll have a fighting chance.

But mostly just do what kidwoo said.
Forgot the "expect the factories to screw up a large % of your designs. They will do that anyway but you can find it if you are in place"


but tbh you can start small but working at another company will teach you a lot.
 

atrokz

Turbo Monkey
Mar 14, 2002
1,556
79
teedotohdot
How good are you at marketing?

Can you generate a great deal of hype around a product that is no better than anyone elses?

Can you put a spin on some suspension design (if you make a FS bike) and use graphs with very narrow variables to explain how it's better than anything else ever created?

Can you keep a straight face when you say your product is made with a higher quality than anyone elses?

Can you incorporate 'vorce vectors' and 'COG' into every paragraph you write?

How thick is your skin?

Are you arrogant enough?

Can you grow facial hair enough to d-bag style it?


Might want to figure out those questions prior to jumping in the 'scene'.
 
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jonKranked

Press Button, Receive Stupid
Nov 10, 2005
54,588
4,117
media blackout
also, if you went to school in the US, there's a very high probability that you'll have loans to pay off. starting a bike company right out of college isn't gonna help you with those.
 

jonKranked

Press Button, Receive Stupid
Nov 10, 2005
54,588
4,117
media blackout
How good are you at marketing?

Can you generate a great deal of hype around a product that is no better than anyone elses?

Can you put a spin on some suspension design (if you make a FS bike) and use graphs with very narrow variables to explain how it's better than anything else ever created?

Can you keep a straight face when you say your product is made with a higher quality than anyone elses?

Can you incorporate 'vorce vectors' and 'COG' into every paragraph you write?

How thick is your skin?

Are you arrogant enough?

Can you grow facial hair enough to d-bag style it?


Might want to figure out those questions prior to jumping in the 'scene'.

do you like nissen cup o' soup?
 

Verskis

Monkey
May 14, 2010
458
8
Tampere, Finland
Can you put a spin on some suspension design (if you make a FS bike) and use graphs with very narrow variables to explain how it's better than anything else ever created?
Don't forget the importance of an acronym or trademarked name for the chosen suspension linkage design.
 

dilzy

Monkey
Sep 7, 2008
567
1
The first post is probably the best one, buy catalogue frame, attach shiny root beer colourway, profit.
 

sikocycles

Turbo Monkey
Feb 14, 2002
1,101
14
CT
Design a bike.
Take a 50% deposit.
4 weeks later ask for another 25% deposit.
Once you get the 75% deposit disconnect your phone and email
Get addicted to Meth and disappear
 

atrokz

Turbo Monkey
Mar 14, 2002
1,556
79
teedotohdot
do you like nissen cup o' soup?
MSG goodness.

Don't forget the importance of an acronym or trademarked name for the chosen suspension linkage design.
You raise a good point. Add that to the list.

The first post is probably the best one, buy catalogue frame, attach shiny root beer colourway, profit.
And neon. Don't forget neon.



Edit: Now watch this guy go off and start the next big company.
 
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ritche

Monkey
Dec 3, 2011
311
19
Go to the local races, introduce yourself to bike insiders, talk about your suspension design, don't forget the photo ops (important) and sell them your T-shirts.

that's how e13 started!
 
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Sandwich

Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
15,837
939
01776
Lots of wonderful suggestions in this thread...

two ways I can actually see it getting pulled off, however:

One is to design bikes as a hobby and see what happens. Have access to a skilled welder and a machine shop? Make a few frames for friends expecting no profit. Other people want one? Start charging oodles of money. Hey, you've actually made a profit! Start negotiating with welding houses for bulk frames. Machine your own linkages, attach to frames, sell them. Get so big you farm out to taiwan. See Turner, intense, Banshee, so on and so forth.

Two is to find a catalog bike that you like, buy 100 in raw, paint them your favorite color and attach bright stickers, then sell sell sell. This seems to work for a surprising amount of companies. With the availability of cheap, good welding in taiwan and mainland china, you can get bulk frames for pretty cheap. If you turn enough of a profit to keep the lights on, you can talk custom frames. See Deity, Transition...

Designing a custom frame and trying to manufacture it in scale is going to require too much investment capital to compete with trek or specialized or others. I have to imagine you'd be far more profitable creating a buzz in your local scene with option 1, or just whoring yourself out in option 2. I don't know how they're doing, but guerrilla gravity has seemed to take option 1, and they're still around so far. Maybe they can chime in with some info.

There does seem to be a giant, unfilled gap in the DH bike world. There are practically no frames available for less than $1800 (and that's last years v10). It doesn't seem like it should be impossible to source a catalog frame, make just enough changes to get good geometry, and sell the frame for less than that. Hell, lots of people are very picky about their shock and other components, so the concept of a complete bike isn't even entirely necessary. You could probably even buy a decent setup mail order to ship your own bikes with and still charge less than many completes from big companies. That's the approach that I would take if I were starting a company. Undercut the competition, source a nice reliable, uncomplicated frame, and charge half what the big boys do. Sponsor a local team and see what happens.
 

time-bomb

Monkey
May 2, 2008
951
11
right here -> .
Stay in school longer. Get a degree in business that specializes in small business management and start up and minor in marketing and then you won't have to ask a bunch of idiots on a forum how to start a business ;)
 

Full Trucker

Frikkin newb!!!
Feb 26, 2003
5,576
1,302
[303]
I thought about being as openly snarky as the rest of these clowns, but then decided as a small business owner myself I should temper my snark and make it slightly understated, while attempting to give actual advice. Here goes.

Neglecting the whole marketing/will people actually buy it?
If you give them a compelling reason, an Eskimo will buy ice cubes from you. This could be in the form of marketing "hype", actual product benefits, cost or value, and a myriad of other things. Asking will "people" buy something is too vague. You can ask me if I will buy something, or you could probably ask me to help create a campaign to entice people to buy something, but I can't tell you if "people" will buy it. Especially when you don't even have an "it" for people to buy yet.



side of things, can anyone give me even a very rough outline of what it takes?
  1. Collect underpants.
  2. ????
  3. Profit!

Kidding. Simple answer: either make or have made bike frames, somehow "spread the word" that they are available, cross fingers. But really, start with a business plan or concept. Outline what you plan on doing, and why. What sort of bikes? What price? Why would someone want your bike? Are you fulfilling a niche or a broad category? Identify a target consumer, find out what THEY want in a bike, or a bike company. This is just a short list, but yeah. Do these things. Also take into account what YOU bring to the table. Are you short on cash but have industrial design experience? Do you have loads of cash but zero knowledge of anything in life? Are you both broke AND stupid? Said above: learn about entrepreneuring and you won't be asking us idiots how to start a bike company.



I am assuming the best way to do it is to get the front and rear triangles made in Taiwan?
This is "a" way to do it. It might even be the "best" way, depending on how you approach the above question. You might find that your target consumer doesn't want a "catalogue" frame, but rather something hand-built for ease of maintenance and durability, in the U.S. and A., designed to have particular, well thought out ride characteristics, by people who actually love riding bikes. Ahem: http://www.ridemonkey.com/forums/f19/guerrilla-gravity-new-frame-manufacturer-colorado-251038/



Roughly how much would a factory in Taiwan charge to actually make frames?
No idea, and most here probably don't have a clue either. Probably moar than you have in your piggy bank, certainly moar than I have in mine.


Also, this:
You just pile up stacks and stacks of hundred dollar bills and throw a match on them.

Achieves the same long term outcome.


HTH. :)
 

iRider

Turbo Monkey
Apr 5, 2008
1,878
236
Get DW on board. People on RM will preorder your design after they have seen a blurry spy shot, they will wait for it for 1 year to be available w/o complaining and when it finally hits the shelfs they will post "reviews" praising how good it is 10 seconds after finishing a parking lot test. ;) :D
 

atrokz

Turbo Monkey
Mar 14, 2002
1,556
79
teedotohdot
I thought about being as openly snarky as the rest of these clowns, but then decided as a small business owner myself I should temper my snark and make it slightly understated, while attempting to give actual advice. Here goes.
Hey Man! Everything I said was pretty darn helpful. I mean, it's pretty much exactly the formula other companys follow!

(true story)

:P
 

mattmatt86

Turbo Monkey
Feb 9, 2005
5,354
10
Bleedmore, Murderland
sell directly, don't use dealers, use saved money to offer cheaper bikes than the rest
Road Bike companies have been doing this for years. Buy a shipping container full of unpainted carbon catalog frames. Paint them with your companies name and some "unique" graphics, get an amateur racing team together to spread the name and create "hype". Make a half baked website and sell directly to the consumers at 30% below the big boys (Trek, Spesh, Giant).

Then sit back, let the money come in, move to an island and start working on that VW beetle swap. ;)
 

weedkilla

Monkey
Jul 6, 2008
362
10
There are two bits of advice in this thread that are worth remembering. Keep studying, and work for someone else.
Studying small business management is a great idea, shortcut your way through the millions of ways most small businesses go belly up.
Work for someone else, make the stupid mistakes that we all make on someone elses dollar. Work up to at least a position where you manage people and interact with suppliers and customers.
Once you've done this you have half a chance of making ANY small business survive, even if you have decided that building bikes is dumb you have skills that will allow you to work for yourself.

The classic entrepreneur way of course is to go big and flashy, go broke. Try again, go broke. Try again, claiming you've learnt from your own mistakes, maybe go broke or go HUGE and sell everything to trek.

I choose the first way (in my own business), but there are plenty of success stories from both.