Our Company Is Evolving Like A Pokemon!

Our Company Is Evolving Like A Pokemon!

Posted by Ryan Gillespie on Dec 29th 2022

Our Company Is Evolving Like A Pokemon!

Hello, and thank you for checking out this latest company update. After almost 5 years in business, and 8 years of R&D, It feels as though our small organization is going through the type of evolution characterized best by the action cartoon called Pokemon! Though we’ve experienced growth spurts before, this one feels … different … permanent … intentional … and highly satisfying! We have again reached the point where one man can only do so much in one day, but this time, we’ve taken up the challenge in a different and more efficient way.

New Guy

We recently brought in another human to join the team at Sol Mobil. He is also named Ryan G, as if things weren’t confusing enough ... Ryan Gustman, from Winston-Salem, has teamed up with Ryan Gillespie, of Sol Mobil, in order to help bring the company up to the next level of professionalism and effectiveness. While he will retain his day job as an IT professional at Wake Forest hospital in Winston, he will also continue to work part time with Sol Mobil in order to upgrade the physical hardware of our organization, as well as help address additional staffing and infrastructure needs going forward. Speaking of staffing issues, we’re hiring!

We Are Hiring:

Though Ryan Gustman has a limited amount of time he can devote to Sol Mobil, one of the most important things he’s currently managing is our search for a new administrative & operations person. While we have become functional experts in the light electric vehicle industry, we are not as strong on the administrative side of the business, and have identified this as one of the biggest possible improvement areas. Please click here to view and apply for this position on LinkedIn if you’re interested.

Mobile e-Bike Workshop:

Our mobile electric bike workshop, which has been built into a 1998 Thomas school bus, has already proven its utility; but after a little more of the interior is build out, we will be capable of performing the following services anywhere in North Carolina (plus much of the Southeast by special appointment):

1. Repairs, maintenance & e-bike conversions on any type of e-bike or e-trike

2. Sales of new e-bikes, e-trikes, & custom’d services

3. Assembly of new e-bikes and e-trikes, as well as build-ups from a bare frame

4. Composite frame building suite

5. Tour support & outdoor event sound stage

6. Electronics workstation for parts prep, wire harnesses, and custom sized batteries

7. Fully functioning 'wheel house' including truing stands, a good selection of rims & hubs, as well as the Morizumi spoke cutting and threading machine, which creates visually perfect, factory quality custom length spokes.

8. Coffee

9. White glove delivery and included ‘First Ride’ service (new e-bike orientation, Q/A + first ride)

10. more ... coffee!

11. Fleet maintenance & consulting

12. B2B Services

Over the last year, we have started running the bus on select trips to the Triangle area of North Carolina in order to attend to customers in places like Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Wake Forest, Hillsborough, and more. We are beginning to schedule more trips to WNC and the Charlotte area as well. This is in addition to the local e-bike bus service we provide in the Triad, which includes Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point. Starting January 16th, our winter shop hours at the warehouse in Winston-Salem will be Wednesday through Friday, 12-5ish. This is partly so we’re able to schedule these regular trips on the other days of the week, and partly so we can catch up on parts fabrication and other things.

This has proven highly satisfying to both us as well as the customers; instead of loading your heavy, awkward-to-pickup e-bike into your Prius, then driving it to and/or from our warehouse in Winston-Salem, simply notify us to stop at your house, place of business, or other public meeting point, such as a park or greenway. Then we can schedule it into the next upcoming trip to your area. Imagine test riding your new dream e-bike on your regular commute to work … before purchase! What if your bike shop not only offered ace e-bike customization and repairs, but carried out these services just a few feet from your front door? We figured we needed a larger vehicle than a Sprinter, for instance, because we wanted to make sure we could service and transport e-trikes as well, including Stein Trikes, Sunseeker, and the Organic Transit ELF. As well, we needed additional space in order to properly prep all the wires & electronics for assembly in addition to the necessary regular bike parts required for an e-bike build.

Have you ever played Grand Theft Auto, and wished you could dial in the instant delivery of an e-bike right from your cell phone? Well … we’re not quite there yet, but we’re about as close as it gets. We offer some of the most exotic, highest quality e-bikes in the world, professionally assembled and fully warrantied, now delivered to your front door anywhere in North Carolina. If we aren’t listed as a dealer for the brand you want, we can usually still source it for you. And if the bike you want doesn’t exist - yet - well then … that’s kind of our speciality :).

New ELF Replacement Antlers And More!

Since Organic Transit declared bankruptcy in 2019, there has not been a great way to source replacement king pins (known as Antlers by most ELF owners). In 2021, we made a new set out of steel to explore the viability of making these for customers. But after this, we found that it was not an efficient use of our time to make these antlers out of steel using the existing shop space and equipment we have available.

Fast forward to now: we have actually made a 3D model of a viable front suspension system for the ELF. It was to be contained within a replacement Antler component, and would offer up to 3” of independent front suspension. But after finishing the design, and doing a simple voice of the customer study, we realized that we would have to charge more money for the system than people are willing to pay. To properly outfit an existing ELF with just front suspension (not counting the rear!), it would cost in the neighborhood of $3,500 after install, which is the going price for an entire used ELF in fair condition. This seems like a hard sell at best, and additionally, we found in the design process that suspension is better integrated into the vehicle if the rest of the vehicle gets redesigned as well. This is something that has been in the works for a few years now, and something we are not keen to rush for several reasons. So in the meantime …

We designed a new replacement Antler that doesn’t have suspension! It has the same dimensional constraints as the original ELF Antlers, but with a few fresh new updates coming from the millennials who are comfortable with making robots do all the hard work :).

Our new v5 Antler will be made using the same size steel tube as previous antler versions, plus precision machined aluminum clamps, which are then epoxied and bolted to the steel tube. Then you simply slide in a 20mm stainless steel bolt, and lock everything together with that big 20mm nut. It has a plate for the disc brake mount that also contains mounting holes for the Grin All Axle Hub Motor’s torque arm. That way, anyone who buys these Antlers has the option to install the mighty Grin All Axle Hub Motors if you so desire. This gives the ELF 3 wheel drive, and makes things more reliable, since the torque from the motor + pedaling is spread out over all 3 wheels instead of being concentrated on the rear wheel alone. The dual front hub motors also allow for twice as much regenerative braking compared to a single motor mounted in the rear wheel (which is what we now recommend for ELFs).

We have introduced a host of new ELF replacement parts in the last year, including steering arms, windows, now these Antlers, and more. We also made torque arm mounting plates for the Grin All Axle Hub Motor, so you can actually install these front motors on any ELF with existing antlers. We introduced new ELF rear dropout plates recently, which replace the rear sliders, and allow for perfect alignment of the rear wheel, as well as better tire changes without having to mess with all those washers and rusty nuts. This also causes your motor wire to be better protected, and by the way, it has a derailleur hanger for the blasphemers out there who are just downright tired of their NuVinci IGH, and wish their local bike shop would be more willing to work on their ELF’s gear shifter system.

Thanks for tuning into the latest update. We have an action packed year planned for the growing solar e-bike community in 2023. In addition to the Sun Trip California, we will also be helping out with the Pulitzer Electric Aircraft Race, a 4 day, 2000 nm electric aircraft race that will terminate in a little ‘ole town known as Kitty Hawk, NC. As previously mentioned, our bus will be more accessible, and in more towns than ever this year, and on top of that, we are also putting the final touches on a new vehicle known as the SolMobil - we promise you’ve never seen anything like it.

Happy new year! Until next time,

  • Ryan G.