FX Bikes

Trials vs FX

A surprising (to me) number of people compare the FX Mountain Moto to trials motorcycles, probably because both are at the light end of performance-off-road motorcycles.

The most obvious difference is that trials motos don’t have seats…it’s stand-up riding all the way.  FX has the geometry and footpeg-seat-handlebar triangle of a full size enduro motorcycle.

But you might be surprised at the amount of difference between the claimed “dry weight” of bikes and their actual ready-to-ride weight…it can be 20-40 lb+ (10-20kg)!  (See this article on dry vs wet weights)

If you get 2 bathroom scales with a wheel on each (or a more accurate setup!) your typical ready-to-ride Gas Gas will be 165 lb, maybe more.  Nothing against the Gas Gas…for what its designed for, competition trials, you couldn’t get much better.

FX starts at 132 lb ready-to-ride, so 30 lb lighter than a ready-to-ride trials bike, which is a big difference in agility and portability.

But the main differences are in the geometry and layout, e.g.

Trials bikes have a very steep fork angle so they can be balanced on the front wheel.  This becomes unstable and twitchy at higher speeds.

FX has a raked out fork angle, similar to an enduro bike, so it is very stable on steep terrain and is very comfortable on faster singletrack.

Trials footpegs are positioned to the rear of the bike for easy balancing on the back wheel, which is fine when standing up but not for longer distance seated riding.

FX footpegs are central like an enduro, keeping both wheels firmly on the ground and comfortable for stand up or seated riding.

Trials fuel tanks are about 1 quart / 1 litre with much thirstier engines than the 100mpg+ FX, which has a 2 gallon / 7 litre fuel tank.

For these reasons, any trials-based bikes that have tried using small seats have had to change their layout and end up more like enduro bikes with trials tires, with ready-to-ride weights over 190 lb.

From our experience, riders who enjoy FX the most are riders of enduro bikes AND trials bikes AND mountain bikes.  If someone is a purist, only enjoying one type of 2-wheeler, they sometimes can’t adjust to the unique riding experience of FX, which really is a crossover of all these.

Another example of the differences between trials and FX: Look at the wheels on trials/enduro…a rear trials tire weighs 22lb or so, with the heavier rim to match…around double the FX wheel weight…this is spinning unsprung mass which makes a proportionately-major difference to handling.

FX5 pre-orders pass $70k in 4 days

Members of our wait list were given an exclusive invitation on 1 November to be the first to receive deliveries of the new FX5 range of Mountain Motos heading to the United States from our factory in Italy in mid-2015.  By 5 November pre-orders had reached US$72,450, passing our initial target of $50,000 and almost halfway to our stretch-goal of $150,000.  In a few days we’ll be opening pre-orders to the public, perhaps listing on Kickstarter.com, but in the meantime we are still taking registrations at www.fxbikes.com/sales for invitations to pre-order and to be first to hear about deliveries to other countries.

Capture

FX using Navdy’s pre-ordering platform

We’re setting up our pre-order program on Tilt Open, the same platform used by Navdy but Kickstarter-style with $50,000 minimum pre-orders in total before we push the button and start the 120 day countdown to production launch! USA pre-orders opening next week or 2 to wait list customers (sign up at www.fxbikes.com/sales), then we’ll roll out Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, and other main markets.

https://www.navdy.com/

The crowdfunding is dead…long live the crowdfunding!

After years of testing different ways to produce a commercial lightbulb, Edison said, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Recently, FX Bikes tested the UK equity-crowdfunding market by offering 10% of our company for £200,000 on the Crowdcube platform. We did not fail, we just found one way to raise capital that didn’t work!

So, onto the next test, but this time it is going to be very different. Instead of looking for investment to launch production, we’ve reworked our budget and we are confident that we can now launch using pre-orders alone!

Our top finance person was Financial Director of Harley-Davidson Europe and is just triple-checking the numbers to be super-sure we can deliver if we reach a minimum level of pre-orders. We’ll let you know when that is all confirmed and our pre-order program is ready on Tilt Open, the same platform that www.navdy.com uses.

Wait list customers will be first to be invited to pre-order using a massive 20% discount voucher. That’s a US$1000 to $3000 saving, so if you are not on the wait list yet now is the time to sign up at www.fxbikes.com/sales!

All the best,
Mike Hodgkinson

FX Newsletter Feb 2014

If you are not signed up to our mailing or waiting list, here is our latest newsletter.  The text is below but it looks much prettier with pictures on your browser at this link.


 

Birth of the FX5, production plans for 2014, 10% of FX Bikes up for sale, upcoming crowdfunding.
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NZ Testing and Filming

While we eagerly wait for the professional photos and videos we have in post-production now, here are some links to some of the FX5 testing sessions we’ve been doing in the UK and throughout the length of New Zealand.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page and YouTube channel for the latest releases.

Dan and Brett Frew FMX BMX experts

Bevan Adlam MX BMX Racer

Motueka New Zealand

David Harker near Christchurch NZ

Sarah Sutherland GNCC Racer

Docklands Riders London

FX Bikes

Made in Italy

After looking hard at manufacturing in Milwaukee, USA, we decided that the capital investment and time required to set up an assembly operation from scratch is excessive for a startup motorcycle company.

Instead, we’ve visited prospective contract manufacturing partners in the USA, China, Taiwan, the UK and Italy.

Because many of our new components come from Italy, including the new FX5 chassis which will be made by a major supplier to KTM, Husqvarna, BMW and Ducati, it makes a lot of sense to assemble in Italy as well.

We’ve developed a great relationship with HM Moto, Italian distributors and upgraders of Honda 250-500cc motocross, enduro and supermoto motorcycles, Montessa trials motorcycles, and manufacturers of their own range of 50-125cc off-road and dual-sport bikes.

HM have won 11 world titles and make the most popular 50cc 2-stroke dual sport motorcycle in Europe.  Now HM is working with FX to deliver our full lineup of Mountain Motos!

FX Update

Febuary 2014

Oops, where this newsletter went, “We’ve pushed the design to the limit of lightness, ” the sentence was left incomplete.  It was supposed to go like this:

We’ve pushed the design to the limit of lightness, while building for the strength and durability of high performance mountain bikes and off-road motorcycles.  As the saying goes, If nothing ever broke, you wouldn’t have to test, so we are pushing this pre production bike hard to squeeze out any problem areas that may need modification.  So far we’ve broken the bash plate and the rear brake caliper mount.  These are easy to re-design, just a tweak on the 3D CAD engineering model to adjust thickness, materials and/or shaping.  Being so light has the major advantage of the bike not bending or breaking under its own weight, so once we’ve finalized this FX5 design you may be surprised how durable these bikes are.

The original newsletter is copied below…

Greetings from the South Island of New Zealand, where we are testing the all-new next-generation FX5 Mountain Moto during the downunder summer.

Here’s a recap of our highlights of 2013 and our plans for the new year.

The short version:

  • Our major breakthrough in 2013 was the completion of our first FX5 pre-production model in the UK with our MotoGP engineering partners, Harris Performance.
  • We are now testing the FX5 in New Zealand and will feed all we learn into final designs for production, targeted to start in the Northern Hemisphere summer of 2014, all going well!
  • Michael Hillman, ex Vice President of Harley-Davidson and F1 designer, has been with FX full time, managing engineering and production setup.
  • Michael and I visited and assessed many component and manufacturing vendors in the USA, UK and Italy.  We’ve selected final parts suppliers and Italian production partners.
  • Like every startup company, especially in manufacturing, FX needs capital.  We are currently offering 10% of FX Bikes for US$500,000 to qualified investors.
  • FX is researching Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms for launching production in 2014.

2013 and the Birth of the FX5

If you’ve been watching www.facebook.com/fxbikes you’ll know we spent a good part of 2013 in Hertford UK, just north of London, developing the first pre-production model of our next-generation FX5 Mountain Moto.

Lester Harris and his partners and team at Harris Performance have been engineering MotoGP, Superbike and prototype motorcycles there for decades, but even so, Lester says the FX5 has the lightest chassis they’ve ever built.

Downunder Summer Testing and Filming in New Zealand

After completing the FX5 pre-production model in the UK, we sent it by UPS to New Zealand for extensive testing through the long days of summer.  We’ve pushed the design to the limit of lightness,

We couldn’t miss the opportunity to film the Mountain Moto in action in the mountains of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, and some amazing professionals have pitched in to produce a video that will be released in a few weeks.

Michael Hillman Ramps up to Full Time CTO

Long time strategic advisor to FX Bikes, Michael Hillman, has been our full time Chief Technical Officer for just over 12 months now.

Michael was previously a Vice President of Harley-Davidson.  His last assignment was the acquisition of 49% of the Buell Motorcycle Company, taking it from zero to US$50 million in sales in four years.  His role included writing the business plan, developing a dealer network in the USA, Europe and Japan as well as assembling from scratch the appropriate sales and marketing infrastructure.

Prior to that, Michael was VP of Distribution and Logistics.  Other assignments included managing a contract manufacturing operation and assessing the viability of various acquisition prospects.  Michael has held a number of motorcycle design patents in the joint names of himself and H-D.

Before joining Harley, Michael was design team leader at Brabham when they won the Formula One two years running.  Kiwis Denny Hulme and Bruce McLaren drove those winning cars, so Michael’s connection with New Zealand motorsport goes a long way back.

Suppliers and Manufacturing Partners Secured

Throughout 2013 Michael and I spent considerable time in the USA (Michael is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin), the UK and Italy, visiting, assessing, developing relationships and negotiating with component suppliers, contract manufacturers, assemblers and production/distribution partners.  Michael’s vast experience in assessing suppliers’ likelihood of delivering quality parts on time has been invaluable in making these choices.  Latest component specifications can be found at www.fxbikes.com/bikes

Issue of Shares in FX Bikes

FX Bikes is working hard to reach breakeven with the minimum amount of external investment.  Until the end of February 2014 we offering 10% ownership of FX Bikes for US$500,000 to qualified investors, with a minimum investment of US$50,000.  For a limited time we are also offering 5 bundles of shares at US$10,000 each.  FX Bikes is a New Zealand company and can accept investment from local and international investors as long as they meet the requirements at this link.  FX Bikes has advanced assurance status for the United Kingdom’s Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) which offers the potential of very significant tax incentives to UK tax payers who invest.  Email Mike Hodgkinson at [email protected] for more information.

Crowdfunding and Kickstarter

If you haven’t seen www.kickstarter.com, it is the largest of the new “crowdfunding” platforms that allows customers to pledge to purchase new products if a minimum amount of pledges is reached.  For example, FX Bikes might run a Kickstarter campaign with US$500,000 as its minimum, and if 100 or so customers pledge in time, the payments are made and we deliver the bikes about six months later.

There are two main challenges we are working on before we can crowdfund the Mountain Moto.  The first is that companies listing new products on Kickstarter must be pretty much ready for production, with development completed and factory ready to set up and start shipping.  FX still has final development testing and fine tuning of designs for manufacturing to complete, then production tooling, testing and setup.

The second challenge is that we have a long waiting list of customers, so we need to be sure our most loyal supporters are first in line.  Kickstarter doesn’t allow for this, so we are looking at internal crowdfunding platforms to run through our website just prior to a Kickstarter campaign.

As always, I welcome your input, ideas and feedback.  “Hurry up and make the bikes” is good but we’ve already thought of that!

All the best from sunny New Zealand.

Sincerely,

Mike Hodgkinson

Founder, FX Bikes

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1. Click the “update subsciption preferences” link at the bottom of this and future newsletters.

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How you can help

Reserving a spot on the wait list (no cost or obligation) and sharing FX Bikes with your friends, contacts and qualified investors is the best way to help. 

If you haven’t already, please connect with us using the links below and share FX with your people.

If you have liked FX on Facebook it really helps to post comments and share pictures and pages with friends.  That way FX shows up on your stream and more people have a chance to do the same to get the word out!

Mike on LinkedIn

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Copyright © 2014 FX Bikes.  All rights reserved.

 

New specifications for next-gen FX5

FX started as a kind of motorized mountain bike but after extensive testing discovered that even the most extreme Downhill bicycle suspension, brakes, wheels, tires etc. were not capable of the kind of performance and durability our test riders and customers wanted.

So now there are virtually zero bicycle components on our new FX5 models, except for the Downhill handlebars!  It’s been a major development job to keep the ready-to-ride weight anywhere near our 125 lb / 57 kg target, but we’re very close.

Check out the latest component list and specs at www.fxbikes.com/bikes

Downhill bars are the last mountain bike parts left on the FX

Downhill bars are the last mountain bike parts left on the FX

Photos of next-gen FX in development at MotoGP engineers Harris Performance

FX Bikes is developing its next-generation FX5 production models at Harris Performance in the UK.

Harris is a famous name in motorcycles. They ran the Suzuki World Superbike team for 3 years, have built and raced many a MotoGP bike, are official technical support for Ohlins suspension, and they design and manufacture a range of very high end frames and accessories.

They also know their enduro and trials bikes, and now they are discovering all about the super-lightweight world of Mountain Moto!

We can only show sneak peeks until designs are registered sorry!  Full photo gallery and latest updates at this link

FX-5 Mountain Moto in Development at Harris Performance Harris FX5 Build_2081 Harris FX5 Build_2083 Harris FX5 Build_2086 Harris_1551 Harris_1563 Harris_1577 Harris_1583

Engine research at MiniMotoSX Las Vegas

The new range of FX5 Mountain Motos is designed to use any of the Honda and Honda-clone pit bike, monkey bike, Madass, postie bike and CT-range off-road motorcycle engines, from 125cc up to 190cc.

We’ve been researching these engines for years and have tested in our early generation prototypes: Honda CRF50, Honda-Takegawa 88cc, Honda-Kitaco 125cc, Daytona Japan 125cc, Jialing 125cc, Lifan 125cc, YX 125cc and others.

We’re now installing a Daytona Japan 190cc into our current FX5 pre-production model, and we are setting the whole bike up to take this maximum amount of power…from the sprockets, chain, hubs, spokes, rim locks and tires through to the suspension, chassis and brakes.

The problem with larger capacity race oriented engines is that they tend to be less user friendly and less durable.  This is one reason I visited the largest minimoto / pit bike race in the world…so I could go back to the pits and ask the riders and teams how their engines are going for them.

BBR seemed to win the most races running the Daytona 190cc, but there was strong competition from other teams using Daytona, the Chinese brands, and the Italian CNC-machined Bucci (rhymes with Gucci, and priced around the same level).

 

Kenny Roberts at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering 2013

Chatting with William Weslow at Moto Scoot in Milwaukee about my upcoming engine-research trip to the MiniMotoSX world championship in Las Vegas, he tells me he’s heading to the Quail Show in Monterey and I should come along to meet some good people in the industry.

Little did I know that when I got there I’d be talking with motorcycle legends Kenny Roberts, Wayne Rainey, Mert Lawwill, and Miguel Galluzzi!

I spent the most time chatting with Kenny Roberts.  One of his Team KR MotoGP frame builders, New Zealander Shaun Raven, built the first FX prototypes up to the 3rd generation FX3.

Kenny was a bit grumpy after battling the system for so many years, for example to regain US mastery in moto racing, partly by developing a strong base of dirt racers to feed into road / GP racing, as was the case in his and Wayne Rainey’s time.

I totally agree that learning and mastering motorcycling off road is the key to highly skilled tarmac riding, for both racing and street.  The last place you want to try learning how to handle a slide is when you least expect it on a highway.

The Quail show was excellent.  Monterey is an amazing location for it.  The harbor is teaming with life…we saw a huge sea otter cruising through the marina on its back holding some morsel of food…and the Carmel Valley where the Quail Resort is situated is surrounded by lush green hills that would be perfect for FX riding, but some are reserves and others are private land…time to get to know the property owners!

Check out some of the amazing bikes on show, including Wayne Rainey’s world championship winning Yamaha in original condition, which rightly won best in show.

More photos at https://www.facebook.com/fxbikes/photos_albums

 

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