For nine years, Dave Weiner rode the same red Schwinn to his job on the west side of Manhattan. Over those nine years, he climbed through the ranks of Cole Systems Associates, a software consulting firm, and his responsibilities steadily increased as the company grew. When it was purchased in 2012, he was rewarded for his dedication by being named CEO of the 285-person North American branch.
Which is why so many people were shocked earlier this year when Weiner quit the gig at age 34. But this is what happens when you have a childhood dream that just won't die.
Now the newly minted entrepreneur is the owner and CEO of Priority Bicycles, a startup that he founded with recreational riders in mind. Weiner set his beloved Schwinn aside and designed a brand new bike--a maintenance-free model with nearly impenetrable tires--hoping it would appeal to the casual rider. And it did: Since its launch in July, Priority has pulled in over half a million dollars in sales and has caught the attention of some of the biggest names in the biking industry.
"A lot of people thought I was insane," Weiner says. "Some of them came out and said it, and others--you could see that look in their eye." What those people didn't know was that Weiner had been quietly preparing for this for years.
Planting The Seed
Feeling a rush of inspiration while working as a software consultant a few years back, Weiner sat down one day and wrote out the business plan for a still-conceptual cycling company. He kept the blueprints private--he knew how fortunate he was to have a well-paying job during a rough economic time, and he wasn't about to mess with that.
The idea for a bike business originated when Weiner was a kid growing up in the San Francisco suburb of Clayton. He worked as a mechanic in two different bike shops, adjusting gears and fixing flats for fellow riders. Eventually, he came to love the work, and a zest for biking evolved into a dream of owning his own shop.
It was a vision that kept creeping back into Weiner's head even after he moved to Manhattan to work in software. As a bicycle commuter, he was in tune with the types of issues that often plague the casual rider: faulty chains, flat tires--not to mention the ease with which a locked bicycle can be quickly dismantled by a thief. "Bikes have really evolved on the upper end," he says, "but there haven't been many advancements for the recreational rider." In this, Weiner saw an opportunity.
The tipping point came back in January. Weeks of flying to California and Europe for work had taken their toll. Fed up with missing out on milestone moments for his 1-year-old son, Jake, Weiner stepped down. "I loved my job," he says. "But I just sort of snapped."
Weiner didn't waste any time. Suddenly unemployed, he hit the streets for some guerrilla research on his next venture. He rode around Manhattan snapping photos of bikes that had been modified in any way, noting the types and the likely costs of the customizations. Weiner figured if he could build these features right into the bike, it would appeal to cost-conscious riders just looking to get from point A to point B.
An Innovative Design
To create a focus for Priority, he invented a handful of personas that he envisioned as the company's typical customers: the college student going to class, the urban dweller riding to yoga or the market, the nine-to-fiver looking for some weekend exercise. All too often, Weiner says, these people pull their bikes out of storage only to find out that something's broken. "Priority's goal," he says, "is to make sure that doesn't happen."
As any bike rider will tell you, the four parts that cause the most headaches are the gears, brakes, tires, and chain. Weiner designed his bikes with a simple three-speed hub gear that doesn't require any moving external parts. The brakes trigger when the rider pedals backward and are thus cable-free, and the tires, which feel more like hard plastic than rubber, are nearly impenetrable during regular riding. All of this drastically cuts down the likelihood that the bike will ever need repair.
Priority's calling card, though, is its chainless design. Other companies created chain-free bikes long before Weiner began designing his, but they were almost exclusively high-end models marketed to competitive riders. Weiner found a supplier willing to work with him on a more cost-efficient version for bicycles that would take less of a beating.
Most city riders remove their quick-releases--which allow the tires and seat to be pulled from the frame with one flick of a lever--in favor of bolts, a modification that runs about $50 when performed after the initial sale. Weiner decided to apply this feature to all his bikes during manufacturing. He also tacked on a water bottle cage and a kickstand--accessories that nearly all riders add, but for which retailers tend to charge extra.
In deciding how to launch his product, Weiner spoke with fellow entrepreneurs, many of whom had success on Kickstarter. He read a book on the topic, then picked their brains about what had made their campaigns successful: a professionally made video, responsiveness, and a working prototype to show to the masses.
Priority's Kickstarter campaign, which launched in July, set a goal of $30,000. It hit that goal within hours of launching. By the end of its 30-day run, Priority had amassed $556,286, with each user who donated $350 receiving a bike from the first shipment.
Weiner credits Priority's fast success to the bike's user-friendly design. Even with the Kickstarter campaign over, orders are still coming in steadily at the bike's $399 full price. "It's an entrepreneur's dream come true," Weiner says in his new office, a few floors down from his former employer. His red Schwinn sits in the back of a cramped room filled with sleek, new Priority models. "I mean, you always think you have a good idea--but does the world think you have a good idea?"
In its latest attempt to take on brick-and-mortar retailers, Amazon.com Inc. is testing plans to offer deliveries within an hour in New York City by using bike messengers.
The new service is being referred to as Amazon Prime Now and mimics the immediacy of in-store shopping by bringing some merchandise to customers in Manhattan within one hour or two, according to a person familiar with the test.
On a recent afternoon, bike messengers working for Amazon could be seen filing out of the back of a building on West 34th Street just steps from the Empire State Building, where the e-commerce giant recently signed a 17-year lease.
Amazon has been holding time trials with messengers from at least three courier services to pick the speediest and most careful for its delivery fleet, the person said. During the trials, messengers are given an address and told to bike there within the allotted time. Once they arrive, they are required to take a photograph of the building’s address and return to the ground floor of the Amazon building, which is referred to by bike messengers as “the base,” the person said.
At the base, Amazon has built a lounge replete with foosball, pool and air hockey tables; an arcade; and other amenities for messengers hanging out between deliveries, the person said. Messengers are paid around $15 an hour and work eight-hour shifts.
Funkier Bike is synonymous with design and manufacture of innovative, high-quality biking apparel for men and women. The professional experience and knowledge of the Funkier fashion chain, established in 1990, are translated directly into the biking apparel manufactured by its subsidiary, Funkier Bike. The advantages of a company that specializes in biking and is nourished by a fashion manufacturer are reflected in the result: a new generation of biking apparel - the trendiest and most comfortable biking clothes around.
"The Ecoforce 1 is a handcrafted bicycle that combines performance and beauty with environmental and social responsibility to deliver a fully functional work of art that actually costs less than most aluminum bikes of its kind. This single-speed bike comes with a reversible hub so riders can easily switch from freewheel to fixed-wheel.
The frame weighs less than 4 pounds thanks to bamboo and our recycled 6061 aluminum lugs. The entire bamboo bicycle only weighs about 22 pounds.
The Ecoforce 1 available in three colors and four sizes."
Don’t wait until you’re on the road to hone your flat-changing skills, says Lennard Zinn, author of Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance. "Practice changing a tire in the comfort of your garage using the same pump and tools you carry on your ride, and you’ll be less worried about getting a flat far from home."
Entrepreneurs, farmers, healthcare workers and students in rural Africa transport heavy loads long distances over rugged terrain to meet basic needs. Compared to walking, bicycles allow people to haul more goods over longer distances in less time - provided the bicycle is strong and durable. In Africa, the disconnect between suppliers and end-users has resulted in bicycles designed to be inexpensive rather than robust; most begin to fall apart within weeks because they are not suitable for rugged terrain and bulky loads. This has dire consequences for people without access to other transportation.
World Bicycle Relief has connected rural Africans with bicycle suppliers; the result is a robust bicycle engineered specifically for rural African terrain and load requirements. The Buffalo bike is designed, tested and assembled in Africa with close attention to end-user feedback and rigorous quality control. We are committed to providing the highest quality, most durable bicycles in Africa, and we operate with constant attention to innovation and product improvement to ensure that our bicycles meet their users' needs. World Bicycle Relief's Africa-based product management team oversees a fleet of riders who test current and potential components under the most punishing field conditions; their feedback is used to improve our bicycles. Furthermore, Buffalo bicycles are compatible with locally available spare parts, ensuring that with proper maintenance they will last for years. These design innovations make World Bicycle Relief's Buffalo bicycles the best on the market: our bicycle is built for Africa.
Why Buffalo? Our bikes are built to be as tough as the fierce African buffalo, a symbol of strength and power; hence the brand name Buffalo bicycle. In Swahili-speaking countries, our bicycles are branded "Nyati," the Swahili term for "Buffalo." All Buffalo bicycles and spare parts are carefully branded to assure the end-users that they have purchased the genuine product rather than a low-quality imitation.
Buffalo bicycle components are sourced from manufacturers in Asia who produce each part to our specifications. World Bicycle Relief's Taiwan-based supplier management team ensure our bicycles are built from the highest quality parts; they review potential suppliers, evaluate product quality, and manage shipping logistics to minimize cost. The bikes arrive completely disassembled at World Bicycle Relief facilities in Africa, where teams of highly-trained local staff put them together. Many of the 60+ full-time assembly staff have been with WBR since 2008; they take great pride in their work and ensure that each bike is properly assembled.
Even the most robust bicycle needs maintenance, particularly in the harsh conditions of rural Africa. Each Buffalo bike comes with a small toolkit and a pump for basic maintenance; to ensure that bicycle owners have access to local, qualified repair service, World Bicycle Relief has developed a Field Mechanics Training Program to accompany distribution. Mechanics are trained in bicycle assembly, maintenance and repair as well as basic business, marketing and management skills. Each trained mechanic receives a bike, a set of high quality tools, a uniform, and basic marketing materials; some mechanics work with microlenders to establish businesses and purchase a stock of spare parts. World Bicycle Relief has trained over 900 local field mechanics in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
If you haven't heard of or never used MapMyRide or MapMyFitness it would be well worth your time to become acquainted with this extremely helpful and easy to use tool. Whether you walk, run or cycle MapMyRide and MapMyFitness will absolutely add to the enjoyment and efficiency to your out door activities.
MapMyFitness is the leader in Connected Fitness – building the world’s largest digital fitness community by providing interactive tools to make fitness social, simple and rewarding. The flagship consumer brands – MapMyRun, MapMyRide, and MapMyWalk – are among the most popular apps on iOS and Android and the cloud-based platform has been supporting millions of users since it launched in 2007. MapMyFitness is an open platform, seamlessly integrating with more than 400 fitness tracking devices, sensors and wearables. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, MapMyFitness has over 100 employees and offers integrated marketing and advertising solutions, premium consumer subscription products, and a SaaS platform that helps partners of any size tap into advanced fitness tracking technology, workout database, nutritional data, calorie calculators, and 160+ million of the best running, cycling and walking routes around the world. For more information visit
My buddy Derek researched, asked questions and shopped around before he found his 2013 Cannondale SL3 at a whopping 40% discount. Asking about deals a bike shop might have on previous model year bikes is always a smart idea, especially this time of year. A great bicycle at a great price. Well done Derek!
Screaming Monkey Bike is my vehicle for spreading the word of cycling. If any post on this blog offends, befuddles or in anyway troubles anyone for any reason, real or imagined, let me know and I'll consider removing it immediately...