They said it could not be done. Everyone knows bikes are made overseas because the cost of manufacturing bike parts in the US is too costly. We tried to manufacture parts in China and learned many new lessons. Low cost does not mean total lower cost. Lower cost is often driven by higher volume requirements which we were not ready to ship 10,000 pedal sets a month. Shipping parts to the US requires costly logistics coordination, customs requirements, tariffs payments on parts made from China, and not to mention the challenges of shipping something 8000 miles damage free.
Spoiler alert- Covid changed the entire world. Startup companies like ours were pushed quickly to the back of a long growing line waiting on product, parts, or even simple updates. I quickly saw that this was the end of a how we were making product. Small company USA was not a priority for most suppliers in our supply chain. Even if they really wanted to help, they were crushed with labor issues and their suppliers.
How can I be so foolish to not see the risks of sending work to someone I never met and build a business on email promises? I started this journey with a commitment to the idea and myself, that it’s not about the money. Then I made it about the money. Enamored with the idea that we can save money and maybe even turn a profit in the first year in a capital-intensive business. I thought if iconic brands like Shimano, Cannondale, Cervelo, Giant, Huffy, and even Schwinn are all made in China and Taiwan, why can’t we?
This journey started with a hunch about making me a faster rider by changing how bikes are configured. I’m not the first, and won’t be the last with a hunch, but I am one of the few who invested 7 years conducting clinical studies on that hunch. I did so by winning a grant that provided the launching point and funding the research on the idea and see if that hunch is correct. I won $100,000! This was my window to dedicate my career to validate a hypothesis and a commitment to do my best to create jobs in Ohio. The grant administrator kindly steered me through my early stages. Their guidance on overseas manufacturing were “do the best you can to stay here, but don’t kill your business if you can find a better source overseas” I mentally validated my decision when I learned cost to manufacture was 80% less than I could in Ohio. I thought this was a no-brainer. Of course we should send this to China.
Putting the business on pause gave plenty of time to reflect. What really are our values? What is really important to the business? My reflection showed the more things change, the more they remain the same. We want to make the product in the USA. We want to create jobs for those who are limited in their ability to work, but need a place that will accept them for how they are. We will be selective with who we do business with. We need to do all this in a manner that is kind to the Earth.
Next for Nikola Pedals is new pedals for anyone who is looking for a better way to ride, better for your body, and made in the USA. Look for updates June 2022 for the new pedals. Thank you all for your amazing continued support. Could not and would not do this without you!