Saturday, December 1, 2012

Apple Maps Uses 7 Year Old Data & Can't Be Updated


If you use an iPhone you already know that Apple Maps for the iPhone sucks.

But, what you don't know is that it REALLY sucks. Bigtime.

When it launched, we heard, like you did that Apply basically did a sloppy job of this thing. Oh yea, so you'll be driving around and Apple doesn't know where the Statue of Liberty is or they'll steer you down a dead end road or whatever. So what.

The day I upgraded my software I checked our location on the map products just to see what we looked like in the new kit. Sure enough, Apple had us wrong.

They have us addressed in a town 2 towns away from our actual address in Redwood City and what that says to me is that Apple either a) got their GEO data for free [which is weird, because, you know, they are Apple and could buy California if they needed to] or b) got duped by whatever vendor they bought the GEO data from.

The business data they're using is over 6 years old, at least. I know this, because one of the mapping databases that used to be in circulation over 6 years ago used to pin us in Belmont, rather than Redwood City, at the same address that Apple is pinning us in. At the time we didn't really care because we didn't have much of a retail brick n mortar presence and even now we rely mostly on e-commerce, but now that Apple has it wrong and they are using this utterly crappy data on a device as popular as the iPhone,  it's becoming critical and embarrassing.

At least daily, a local customer or two is steered to the wrong location while using their iPhone for directions to our shop. The correct address is just a click away on Yelp, if a customer would click over, or if Apple would have just got their data from Yelp, instead of the Book of Crap.

So, we get calls from iPhone users, Apple customers and Motostrano customers, totally lost trying to find our shop, which is 10 minutes by car from where they are. Really. Fortunately for us we have a web site, rely on it for advertising and so forth.

So, the fact that the data is wrong is not even the big problem here.
 
It would be fine if Apple, you know, downloaded some Geo data from some defunct web company with some failed IPO, or got it off of some former Mapquest or Viciniti or Zip2 employee's laptop from 1998, puked it up to their crappy mapping application and then, like ALL THE REST OF THE BUSINESS DIRECTORY databases currently in use today, allowed the business owner to claim their location in the database in order to provide real-time updates.

But they don't and no one in the tech blogosphere has to my knowledge dug up the real fault with Apple maps here and realized that the little Report a Problem buttons don't do anything If they did, 2 months later addresses would get updated. They're not.

If they are being read, then they must have one guy at a desk in Sri Lanka Mississippi getting paid $.20 a day to do the updates and he's a little backed up.

Where's the quick and dirty patch that fixes this?
Where's the fire-fighting team that does a quick update of data? 

An apology for this map product really was not enough to fix this disaster of an application. Apple should have immediately deleted the thing from the iPhone and went back to the drawing board. In today's "iconomy" you can't put out a mapping tool that's worse than Yelp or worse than Google if you're Apple and call your tool a mapping tool with real business directory information in it.

All over the world grannies are using their iPhone to navigate the planet and getting lost. Businesses all over the country are being mis-represented by Apple and losing business from it, causing frustration with customers and so forth. Kids getting lost on their way to their friends house or to the new McDonalds that is 4 years old that Apple doesn't know about because it's data is 6 years old

Fix it, Apple. Or Delete it. Start over. Apologizing did nothing but make you feel better for fucking up. Put a little OUT OF ORDER sign on Apple maps until you get it to where it needs to be for your customers and for the people who's lives depend on the data you're using.






Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Keeping It Real

Some one once said that all marketers are liars. In fact, he wrote a book about it and called it "All Marketers Are Liars". And while the bald guy who wrote the book of the same name may be right about a lot of things, I don't believe that the work involved in informing customers about your business is a process of lying. And though there's obviously more to the theory behind Seth's discussion of marketing, as a small business owner trying to get a message out to an ocean of customers, I don't like to think of what I am doing as "lying".

But "lying" is rampant in our industry. Take this blurb I stumbled on recently at a competitors web site. At the bottom of their site, it reads "Motorcycle Parts are in high demad [sic] all summer, but with over thirty warehouses around the country, we have access to over a million aftermarket Sportbike Parts and OEM parts and accessories." Looking at the Google street view of this business, I can deduce that it's not a very large company. In fact, it appears to be a few companies rolled into one small office park unit, with no real warehouse to speak of. Yet, the business wants to project a hugeness to their customers by making the claim that they are somehow connected to "over thirty warehouses around the country" where they stock all of their massive inventory and because of this massive inventory, you, the consumer, might expect things like quick delivery, always in stock products, awesome discounted prices (because they have too much inventory) and gobs and gobs of unmatchable selection. 30 warehouses! That would be more warehouses than all the distributors in the industry put together. It would be more warehouses than any of the largest national motorcycle chain stores.

It's a common trend. More than likely the company behind the claim is a one man shop with a desk and a shipping area for returns and stuff. A web site got stitched together. A supplier with negligent dealer requirements gave them a book with wholesale prices and a dropship program. A Paypal account got started. Bango. Instant e-commerce.

On the other side of the spectrum, the larger motorcycle accessories retailers have all tricked both the consumer and Google into convincing them that they are not really retail companies at all, but completely neutral content publishers, pumping our product reviews by blog, video, social networks, bogus customer reviews and so forth. Another kind of lying.

Take companies like Motorcycle Superstore and Revzilla, where they've taken huge advantage of Google's love of video and blog content and devoted thousands of hours of video and thousands of lines of text to the work of reviewing nearly every single product on their web site. To the lost consumer, all this free content seems like a great way to "research" the products that they're after. And to some extent, it is. But what's happened, at least in the motorcycle industry - and Im sure others - is that 3 or 4 companies have managed to eat up all the main eyeball real estate on Google for just about every high-margin motorcycle product available to the consumer and 3 or 4 companies is all it takes for page one of a Google search to be completely dominated by just those 3 or 4 companies, every time.

Variety is going away - actually it's gone - for mainstream products. Neutral reviews are going away. A few larger companies are dominating the entire range of top brands on line because of this and the smaller companies have been squeezed out. 

To their credit, the top e-commerce companies in moto have even succeeded in convincing their own suppliers that they are more important than other dealers, are even equivalent to media, to magazines, who need to preview clothing before the public gets access to it so they can have time in advance to create their video reviews. So, for instance, just like Cycleworld, Motorcycle Superstore gets to not just preview a new product line, but gets to keep it for weeks and create biased videos and review content around it without any actual experience with what the end user might think of it.

Imagine- the video reviews and pages and pages of blog content for every product a company like Alpinestars or AGV puts out now are created before any unbiased consumer has any chance to even use it. And the video reviews aren't actual reviews or guides. They are marketing spam designed to get to Google first so that you'll read it, link to it, watch it, review it, like it on Facebook, share it etc. Revzilla isn't going to delete a product from their catalog that they think is kinda crappy. You might want to buy that crappy thing! They're going to give a review of it, stick it on a video and blog about it and leave it there for you, the researcher, to buy whether it is in fact crap or not. And there's a lot of crap to be reviewed and sold. But it doesn't matter, because you'll buy it anyway and you'll buy it from Revzilla or Superstore because you did a search for it and found it and it moved around in a video and two guys stood there and talked about it for you for a few seconds and so that made you think it was ok, because you wanted it anyway.

All this perpetuates a forward motion real estate claim of grabbing your attention for the products you might have wanted to buy from a company that may not have a devoted content team waiting to create hours of video for that new release of a product line.

It's free marketing for the manufacturer. Manufacturers are tickled pink when people make good quality videos about their products and they didn't have to pay a dime for the production work.

It's inexpensive guaranteed marketing for the retailer, as long as too many competitors aren't doing it.

It's kind of a trap, for you, the consumer.

If you don't see a product or brand on our web site, more often than not, it's not that we forgot about it, it's that we purposely omitted it. It's not our goal to try to convince our customers that we are some massive 30 warehouse multi-national conglomerate, indiscriminately adding any product we come across to our catalog. We'll turn down whole brands from our site because we don't think they'll sell, or they don't fit with what we're trying to do. We're not here to give free advertising on our web site to companies whose products may not sell well for us. We'll also remove products that are redundant, have fitment problems, sizing issues, a lot of warranty issues etc.

We'll also remove products where their market is just too saturated. GoPro is a great product. Every one wants one. Every one has one. You can buy one everywhere. You can buy it at BestBuy and Amazon. So why would we want to try to sell that too? You wouldn't. So we don't.

We don't really have much time or resources to devote to making videos of stuff or blog posts about stuff. We'll do a review here and there if it makes sense to do so, but for the most part we have other things that we're doing. 

All of this ties into what we are trying to do currently at Motostrano is simply convey to customers that we are a store. A real store. With a web site and an image and a collection of products that reflect the activities that we're into and what we hope you'll be into. We are a destination and a group of people who work at a place that you can visit, that you can call on the phone and order on our web site through. We're not trying to be "just like" some other company and we don't have some rule the world strategy. We're just trying to sell some products that we like.













Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stromer Electric Bike Elite

Demand is extremely high for the Stromer Electric Bike. Here are some photos we took from a recent sales call

Stromer Electric Bicycle

Alpinestars Slipstream Rider Backpack


This is a close-up image of the material used on the Alpinestars Slipstream Rider Backpack. In our worthless and totally biased opinion- one of the best backpacks ever produced.

alpinestars slipstream backpack

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bicycle Repair in Redwood City

Motostrano Suburbanbikes now offers free pick-up and delivery service for bike repair in and around Redwood City. Call us or text us and we'll pick up your bike, perform any required maintenance and bring it back normally within 24-48 hours.

Motostrano's bicycle mechanics are among the best in the business. No bad attitudes. No gimmicks. No rush jobs and no un-needed work. Just straight talk and good advice from the pros.

If you are in Redwood City and need your bike fixed, call us, email us or text us for an appointment.

We offer full service bicycle repair, from complete tune-ups to complete tear downs, assembly.

650-918-6259

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

High Wheel Coffee


In our tenth year in business, Motostrano has always tried to be different, to change, to evolve and offer new things for our customers. As the basis for the company, we've always tried to be something more than just a store where you look at things, check a price, buy and leave. We've always wanted to make the shopping experience at the store something unique and real.

In keeping with that spirit, this month we are launching a new effort in our store that's on a totally different tangent and another plain. High Wheel Coffee is a joint effort between the people at Motostrano, the owner Joe and 4 young and energetic entrepreneurs who've spent the past few years gaining some deep knowledge about the caffeinated beverage: coffee. The other thing they've spent the past few years doing is developing relationships and friendships with local coffee drinkers and bike people, so that an opportunity for a real bond and community opens up.

On the best of days, this is what Motostrano has always tried to create. And, let's face it, the past 3 years have been harder than ever to maintain that kind of community. When the opportunity came to meet with Zach, Rae, Enrique and Maurica and talk about their interest in building a new spot for locals get great coffee, get their bike serviced and experience real community in the area, we got down to business and tried to come up with a way that made sense to add in a coffee store to our storefront in Redwood City.

To be honest, we have no idea if this venture will fly or not, but we're giving it a try and hope the world goes for it.

The first thing that had to be established was that no one had any money to do anything. If this was going to happen, it would be using found stuff, borrowed stuff, free stuff, or really cheap stuff. After a few meetings to get all up to speed, we all seemed to be under the same vision.

As of this writing, High Wheel Coffee is being fabricated, brought into reality, from ideas. So far, we've carved out a space by moving the whole front office at Motostrano "elsewhere" to the back of the store. The walls got new paint and now we're going to lay down some new flooring. Next it's time to bring in the coffee machinery and start brewing.

No one in this is in any position to fail. The four kids starting this and putting the time in don't have day jobs. The dreams and time and effort they are devoting to this is real.

In a few weeks, local Redwood City folks will be able to ride, walk or drive to 926 Broadway, experience the smell, the smiles and tastes of High Wheel Coffee. Park your bike in front of the store, or in the store.  Sit at a table and chart out your next route while your ride gets a new set of rubber put on. Listen to some tunes, talk to a person.

We're excited. Are you? Show your love and be a patron.

High Wheel Coffee opens on September 29.


Stromer Electric Bicycles are in Stock

After a short dry spell, Stromer Electric Bicycles are in stock again.

We received a fresh shipment of 2012 models including elite and standard bikes.

The Stromer is a Swiss designed bike now owned by the famed Swiss racing bicycle company BMC.

The Stromer e-bike is taking the e-bike world by storm with one of the best, lightest and fastest e-bikes on the planet.

We have the hydraulic brake version in stock!

EVENT: Motostrano / Suburbanbikes / High Wheel Coffee - The THiNG

September is Motostrano's 10 year birthday!! To celebrate this miraculous accident (and some other stuff) we are planning a "Thing". The "Thing" will take place on Saturday 29 September and last most of the day and maybe even some of the night. If we're feeling really delusional, we'll stay up all night and ride out to the beach and watch the sun rise and jump in the ocean. Probably not. "The Thing" is hoped to be a day of hanging out, having fun, learning, hugging, drinking, riding, creating, listening, trying stuff out, talking and sharing ideas about the future and the past. We'll invite ghosts and figures from our past and we'll lure unsuspecting prospects and total strangers from our future and introduce them to the now. We'll honor the dead and respect the living, toast to our close calls and laugh about our crashes. We will invite our friends and you can invite friends and they can invite friends. 

If you enjoy any of the following: motorcycles, bicycles, coffee, people, ideas, transportation, speed, wheelies, music, thumping music, friendly people, food, creativity, art, photography- you might enjoy this event.
 
So far, we know there will be test rides on our various Suburbanbikes (pedal and electric) vintage and modern high-octane-fueled racing supermoto and street motorcycles, a two-wheel inspired art show in the evening time, probably a band, hopefully the opening of High Wheel Coffee in our front office, most likely a single-speed/cruiser bicycle race out front. We're inviting reps from our moto and bike camps to come in and show us some stuff, more like an expo than a store. They'll be food and foamy suds and wine. We want to have any local bike-builders, customizers and modifiers show up and pass on their craft to the young and uninitiated. If you are really good at doing something or making something, or know some one who is, show up and tell others about it. Have a micro-business you're working on or at? Bring it. We will post more info here and in our newsletter and tweeter as it manifests itself. 
 
stuff to do: 
  • test rides on our various Suburbanbikes (pedal and electric), Felt, Ultra Motor, Stromer, Vanmoof
  • vintage and modern high-octane-fueled racing supermoto and street motorcycles on display
  • a two-wheel inspired art show in the evening time
  • probably a band
  • the opening of High Wheel Coffee
  • excellent, steaming hot coffee
  • a single-speed/cruiser bicycle race out front
  • reps from our moto and bike camps
  • food, suds, wine.
  • you, us! 
the action starts around noon. we hope you can spend some time with us! 

Supermoto Wheels From The Pros

Motostrano has been selling supermoto wheels to customers worldwide for a long, long time. In fact, nearly 10 years.

Not a lot has changed in that time frame. We've added a few brands, a few options, but for the most part, the options have remained about the same.

Our best wheelset, the Excel Talon Supermoto wheels are the way to go if you want the best spoked wheel you can buy. The best rims, matched to the best hubs, by the best spokes. No brainer- and thought the flow of inventory has in previous years been a little on and off, it's been more on than off lately and that's a good thing.

Our best tubeless wheelset, if you can get them, if you can wait for them - the Marchesini Supermoto wheels will set you back more cash and more time if you decide to bite the bullet and go tubeless. A good thing to do too if you're a bawler and want the best performing wheels you can own. Just be prepared to wait for your order as NO ONE STOCKS them, not even the dudes in Italy. You place your order, you pay, you wait.  Either that or you don't get wheels.

Warp 9 is a barebones way to go if you just want some damn wheels and don't need the best and want to keep as much dough in your own wallet as possible. And who doesn't want that? Wheels that spin, rotors that stop, sprockets that go. That's really all you need right? Warp 9 Supermoto wheels are the ticket is this is your attitude.

There's a cheaper alternative too and one that's as good as most of the above. Motostrano will lace up new rims to your stock hubs with new spokes. No need to buy a new hub and you get great rims from DID and spokes that do the job. Instant supermoto wheels.

Chances are, if you see a bike rolling down the road or the track with supermoto wheels, they got them from Motostrano.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Why We're Selling Bicycles


We've been selling motorcycle (bicycles with motors) stuff for the past ten years or so. We've been selling bicycles and bicycle stuff for the past three years or so and this year a few of our moto customers have recently expressed bewilderment about the fact that we're selling bicycles (motorcycles without motors), so we thought we'd address that here.

Over the course of the past 10 years, Motostrano has evolved constantly. When we began operation in 2002, we sold used bikes on consignment out of a small garage across from a TacoBell and a block from a strip club called the Hanky Panky. From there we moved on to various aftermarket stuff; exhausts and rearsets, billet stuff, etc. For a while we imported a line of motard bikes from Italy called Vertemati. Then we added clothing to the mix and in a few years time became one of the biggest Alpinestars clothing retailers in the US. For about a year we had a tire machine and installed tires. We've always altered our catalog per hour hearts desire. Constantly evolving.

There's a weird assumption in the motorcycle "community" that a motorcycle shop must look and smell a certain way. That's not what we're about. Motostrano has always been about being something different, not normal, even totally weird: strange. Rarely has any one come to our store for the first time and felt totally comfortable. We do things differently, usually on purpose.

We do this for a living, not to uphold a certain image, or fit into a certain mold. It's a creative endeavor, as well as a full time job. If we didn't constantly change, we'd go crazy.

Though some motoheads just cant bring themselves to climb aboard anything with two wheels without a motor, a large percentage of us actually enjoy other activities besides motorcycling, watching motorcycle races, or talking about things related to motorcycles (and guns).  Most professional motorcycle racers ride bicycles for training purposes. Almost all of us started out on BMX bikes as kids and many of us enjoy mountain biking, riding beach cruisers or road bikes.

As an accessories company, Motostrano has some particular focuses and expertise. We used to be big into clothing. As a small company, our clothing focus lost out to other online companies that could better grab market share in the search engines by spamming Google with endless blog postings, videos and product reviews, positioning their site links higher than ours.

With a focus on hard parts, our motorcycle business has moved more online than ever and has also grown on an international level. We send supermoto stuff all over the world.

Here in our store we didn't need to devote so much space to motorcycle parts, particularly when locals would simply use our store as a place to try something on and then go buy it online at Ebay, or whatever. In order to stop the Showrooming that over half our in-store customers would do in our store, we made a conscious effort to stop stocking things for in-store purchases.



Bicycles are really fun. Reallllly fun. Perhaps we're getting older. Maybe we enjoy the slower pace, the safer aspect of riding a bicycle vs a motorcycle. Mostly, they are simpler. They're healthier. They're less expensive. Our customer base has grown exponentially since selling bicycles. We now have things for 8 year olds and  80 year olds. 

Many of our existing moto suppliers make things for both moto and bike. Alpinestars, Troy Lee Designs, Kali Protectives, Dainese, Bell, SixSixOne all make stuff for both. Motostrano sells both too.

For the foreseeable future we'll continue to sell the motorcycle stuff we've been selling for the past 10 years. We'll also continue to grow our bicycle business. We also want to open a coffee shop in the store. We might also sell surf boards some day, or skate boards. Whatever we want.







Tuesday, August 7, 2012

We Like Old Stuff

 Straight from the garage sale to our workshop, this old vintage Schwinn cruiser came in and left in a swirl of thumbs-ups and fond memories from all the folks who used to have an old Schwinn cruiser. new wheels, new tires, tubes. new lanes to cruise. new smiles to spread.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

MVD Racewear in the USA at Motostrano

Motostrano has been importing and distributing MVD Racewear now for 3 or 4 years. Motostrano is the US Importer for MVD, a company based in the Netherlands. You can order MVD gear on our web site, or by phone or by visiting our store.

You can also contact your local motorcycle accessories dealer and invite them to call us to become an MVD dealer. We are actively seeking MVD dealers through out the US to represent the line.

MVD offers a leather riding and racing jacket that is specifically suited for Supermoto. There is also a leather pant and gloves, as well as a jersey.

The styling is likely not what Americans are used to, but the graphics are stand out. Good stuff.

http://www.motostrano.com/MVD-Racewear-s/2292.htm


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Motostrano Supermoto Wheels

The summer of 2012 is proving difficult for the budget supermoto customizer and conversionizer. Wheels from Warp 9 and DNA have been coming in at a sloooowww rate due to a variety of demand and supply issues.

As a result, we've come up with a new product to get folks wheels quick and cheap. Our Motostrano wheel package has been modified to include a set of wheels using D.I.D. supermoto rims laced to OEM hubs.

This kit is available as wheels alone, or as wheels and tires and wheels and tires and brakes. A good solution.

Laced by Motostrano's professional wheel builders.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

VANMOOF 3.7 28 Bike
Add caption


No more loose hanging cables! No more rusty dynamo's dangling in your spokes! No more lights stolen off your bike! The secret lays in what's NOT there.

The VANMOOF № 3 has a striking aluminum anodized rust-free frame with a highly advanced and unique Philips LED light system built inside its tubes. These LEDS are powered by a fully integrated dynamo hub in the front wheel.

The coaster brake is great for the city: unbreakable, light and safe. The thick wide wheels make riding on and off pavements and obstacles go problem free. The broad handle bar, weatherproof SYAD saddle and durable Schwalbe tires top-off the smooth no-nonsense look of this ultimate urban commuter tool.

High quality is our number one priority. Therefore, we have chosen for the best parts only. And all this for an affordable consumer price. You don't want an expensive bike in the city!
Features
  • rame size 580 mm
  • bike weight 36 lbs
  • frame anodised Aluminum
  • drive chain anti-rust
  • wheels 28" Aluminium rims
  • brakes Shimano roller brake front and rear
  • speeds Shimano 7 speed
  • tyres Schwalbe Road Cruiser
  • saddle SYAD
  • lights Philips
Vanmoof!
 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Test: Ultra Motor A2B Metro Electric Bike


Today we're riding the latest model of A2B Metro bike from Ultra Motor. This bike has been around a good while now and the latest model Metro has numerous upgrades over previous years that make the A2B one of the best bikes in our catalog. This bike has a hyper-modern design, yet rides like a very plush cruiser, with full suspension, great brakes, wide bars.

The Ultra Motor A2B Metro is the bike to get if you don't mind having a bike that doesn't look like a bicycle and behaves more like a moped. The bike's frame, wheels and tires are all wide and burly. As a result, the bike is very planted. Excellent tire grip. Excellent mountain-bike like handling due to the bike's wide bars and full suspension.

What's different in this newest model is a seemingly more powerful motor, a speedo, a front headlight and a tail light- all nice amenities on a bike that is already well-appointed with excellent grade, European-spec controls and levers. 

Out of the box, the A2B Metro doesn't need much, but our technicians still go through each bike to tune and setup the bike's brakes, suspension and derailleur.

The A2B has a comfy seat and the riding position is up and just right for scoping out traffic.

The number one useability test we give an electric bike is how well it does on hills. This latest A2B takes on hills with ease. It's a heavy bike, so it may not be as agile as a Stromer, but it's no slouch either.

The other thing we look at is the bike's controls. The A2B has few controls and those it does have area easy to figure out without reading a manual to do so. Like an Apple iPhone, a well made e-bike should be self-explanatory.

Riding this bike is fun. Commuting is actually fun aboard an A2B. As a bike, you can take it on the side walk and skirt around traffic jams and overly long traffic lights. Skip through traffic and get to the front of the pack with ease. With power you can ride more confidently than a standard bike rubbing elbows with buses and semis with your extra wide girth.

Unlike the Velociti, which has both a battery and motor at the rear of the bike, the A2B is perfectly balanced. Motor at the rear, batter in the front down tube of the frame. 

The bike that comes closest to the A2B in terms of quality and power would be the Stromer Deluxe. In contrast to that, the A2B differs by being more motorcycley. The Stromer benefits by being more bicycley. Ie. if you want a good pedaler and a bike with a motor in disguise, the Stromer is the bike to get. If you dont' mind not looking like a bicycle and you want a plush comfy modern cruiser ride, the A2B is one to consider.



Friday, April 20, 2012

Electric Bikes For People Moving


Riding around town on electric bikes gives you a unique perspective. You are not a bike. You are not a car or a motorcycle. You are something foreign, new, cool and futuristic.

You arrive silently. You startle pedestrians on the sidewalk in an entirely different way that a barreling Harley bombing down a silent suburban neighborhood might. You appear out of no where.

You are a little invisible, unknown. In disguise.

One of the bike brands we took on over at motostrano on a few months ago was the electric scooter/bike hybrid, the FlyKly. Not so much on purpose, mind you. The Flykly came to us when the company's owner contacted us seeking help for a local warranty job for a local customer of theirs who had some technical problems with a recently purchased bike and needed help. Due to our electric bicycle expertise and our general good-guyedness (excellent reputation), or maybe it was our dumb willingness to tinker around on something entirely foreign, we were hired to fix some broken Flyklys and in the meantime, we decided to try and sell them as part of our general electric bike catalog.

Interesting bikes. More scooter than an actual electric bicycle, but still, legally, a bicycle with pedals and an electric motor. Or, a very slow scooter with pedals and no gas.

We fell for them a little. They were cute, cheap and, we thought, being hired to work on them would help us get to know them while selling them.

The only problem with that idea is that the FlyKly marketing/sales strategy is primarily an online buy-direct strategy. Had we known, or realized, this at the time, the FlyKly would have remained a curiosity, but not a part of our catalog. So, in 6 months time, we haven't sold any FlyKlys, nor will we ever, because, any one can buy a Flykly bike delivered directly to their door, with free shipping, fully assembled, with no sales tax at the company's own web site for about $2000. If you buy it from us, you pay sales tax and have to lug it home.

But, in the 6 months that we tried to sell them, we have learned that they are sure not without their fair share of challenges. Ie. while we didn't get calls from prospective buyers, we did receive many calls from post-buyers looking for technical or warranty help on the bikes. The rate of issues to sales is really too high by our standards. Normally, we'd sell a few units, get a warranty question. In our case we've sold no units and worked on quite a few.

Though the FlyKly strategy is a buy-direct strategy, these bikes really need to be set-up by experienced technicians, who at least can do basic safety-checks, brake adjustments, wiring reviews and other safety-oriented things. The bikes aren't ready to ride out of the box and I would consider them unsafe at best without the standard tests that an experienced dealer might put the bike through before letting granny get on the gas and get down to the grocery store with unadjusted brakes, or wiring that's not right, or tires that aren't properly inflated.

Qith only one unit on the sales floor as a demo, our FlyKly has primarily been used as a test mule/ burrito-getter. The "vintage" model that we have, in fact, features a perfectly sized front storage compartment that will fit 2 burritos, some chips and a drink just fine.

In just a few months owning the bike and using it only sporadically as a lunchmobile, the battery did go out and FlyKly was quick to replace it, and the bike's charging unit, as a warranty repair.
No complaints there.

Since our one test bike has had no customer interest, at all, I decided to bring it home and give it a full long term test in my neighborhood and at least get some use out of the bugger.

The FlyKly is for the most part a scooter in disguise. It has pedals, but everything else about it is scooter. The pedals and the max 20mph speed limit mean you don't need a license, insurance or even a helmet to ride it.

Unlike a bicycle, the FlyKly allows you to ride two-up, ie. with a passenger, making the bike an excellent people shuttle.

I have 3 kids and we live multi-block hilly roads away from anywhere they have to be at all times. So, to get from A to B, it's either a long slow walk or a quick boring/pointless drive in a gas guzzler car. Our cars are a Chevy 2500 V8 truck and a ML350. The Truck is great for hauling mega tons. The ML is a great multi-state touring vehicle. Neither make any sense at all for short trips around town.

As a people mover, the FlyKly is an excellent tool. There are standard scooter type passenger folding footpegs as well. The seat holds two adults just fine. The FlyKly also has all the standard safety features of a traditional scooter. Headlight, turn sigs, mirrors, horn, highbeam low beam, tail light. There's a center stand.

The brakes on our "vintage" model are pretty bad. Drum brakes, unlike the modern version, which now comes with disc brakes. They lunge, they surge, they are very uncontrollable. Acceleration is weak, but not unbearable. Even riding two-up, the bike will creep up to 24 mph with ease and hold it there in flat terrain.

The FlyKly loves coasting downhill and does do with grace.

Once you hit a serious incline you will need to start pedaling to assist the bike. It likes help. The bike is geared so low that you can only help it at very low speeds, just before it teeters out and stops. For very large hills, you're off the bike and walking.

The riding experience is great. One thing you learn when you ride an e-bike is that cars really suck. They are really quite awful and 90% of the time totally unnecessary. Not only are they entirely too fast and dangerous and they stink and they're ugly, but they are obnoxiously loud for no real reason and pretty much are out to kill you, always. Riding the Flykly is so nice and quiet and silent, the moment you encounter a car, you're fearing for your life and shocked by the awful sound that a car makes vs the quiet of an e-bike.

Hopping on to the FlyKly I am a little reminded of what it would be like to hop onto a Speeder in StarWars. It's elegant, fast, quiet. It's agile, yet bouncy. It zips around instead of snorts around.

Kids make you a hero when you ride around the neighborhood on a scooter. My daughter hitches a ride to school with me, riding proudly on the back with her dad, holding on for deal life, instead of lulling mindlessly in the back seat of an unnecessarily gigantic car. It's a little dicey dodging all the speeding blind-driving multi-tasking mini-van drivers in the morning, all of them waving to each other from their rolling mini-houses, as if the roadway were a social gathering instead of a transport system.

So, you are playing a constant game of dodge ball and you're often the ball. You don't have the power of a motorcycle to squirt yourself out of trouble and your size is, well, you're small on that big road with all those big cars.

Yes. It's peaceful aboard a FlyKly. It's enjoyable.

I bolted over to pick up my daughter from school the other day, dodging piggish cars along the way, all of them lined up in front of the school, loading zone taking up too much space, like a parade of elephants at the circus. One person per car, each picking up one person. Engines, radios, air conditioning. All on. Driver consciousness, off. Most of them, only to u-turn in a residential zone and drive 3 blocks back home.

A great advantage of owning a FlyKly is you can get in quick, quiet and small to any public commute area. Is your kid's school pick up zone log-jammed with a thousand mini-vans each with a lagging parent checking their email not realizing their kid is already in the car? No problem. The FlyKly gets you in between all that with a front row seat ready to pick up or drop off in complete stealth mode. You're outta there before any crosswalk duty can waive you over. Other parents and kids will look at you and think 'wow, that's pretty cool'!

Speaking of picking up and dropping off. In my neighborhood, parents really love to speed through our quiet residential area at speeds up to 3 times the posted 25 MPH limit. The stretch of road we normally take, on our street, is a particular favorite of these Momcar racers. Old ladies checking their mail, picking up the paper, folks going out for a jog, kids walking to school. Nothing seems to stop these morning racers who risk limb and life to uh, get to work.

Picking up my daughter, we said hi and my little sweetie-pie climbed on the FlyKly and took hold . It would be a couple minutes until we both realized we were together and in silence. The FlyKly is so quiet you forget you are on it. Your thoughts aren't muddled out by road noise or radio noise. So, we started to talk in the quiet hush of the wind. It was refreshing and enjoyable, making being a people shuttle, enjoyable.

You only have to wear a bicycle helmet on the Flykly. This means you can talk freely, unencumbered by bulky helmets or loud noise.

The only noise you'll notice is the obnoxious sounds of other cars. And this is a serious concern. On your electric bike you may find yourself at a 4 way intersection where you will be the most quiet thing on the road, wondering why the other vehicles sitting there doing the same thing as you need to be so GOD DAMN LOUD.

The FlyKly and electric bikes in general are robots. The gap between riding a FlyKly and sitting on R2D2 is minimal.

The FlyKly does hills in a crappy kinda way. It can handle minor inclines, even riding two-up. Increase the grade a lot and you will need to get on the pedals.

When you're on the pedals, the FlyKly takes a leap back in time a little. The small little crank arms spin freely and work with minimal push and tug, but you're pedaling rapidly to inch the bike over any crest. This is when the bike reminds me of a little futurebiopunk steam accessory. The motor is pushing, you're pushing and squeaking.

The suspension on a FlyKly is dreamy. So dreamy, me and my kids like to bounce around on it like a pogo-bike. In fact, if only we could add some power to the bike by bouncing on it, that would be ideal.

Aside from the small jaunts down to the sandwich shop, this is the first long-term study I've read of the FlyKly. So far, it's a fun, little scoot. Long term, I want to know how long the bike's battery and motor last under the stresses of daily use. I'll post updates here as things develop with this bike. So far, it's a neat little shuttle bike and I kinda a like it.

FLYKLY PROS:

  • Compact scooter is light, easy to move around while stationary
  • It's small enough to fit in the back of most SUVs or wagens
  • Comfortable seat, even for 2
  • Seats two unlike most electric bikes
  • Full-featured scooter bits- lights, signals, brake light, head light, mirrors, keys
  • Front & rear suspension
  • Front & rear brakes
  • Hums along very quiet
  • Good speed and decent torque
  • Looks like a regular scooter
  • Low seat height makes it seems like you're going faster
 FLYKLY CONS
  • Uses 4 separate keys for storage, ignition, lock and seat, all different
  • Doesn't do hills too well
  • One gear pedaling
  • Weak gauges
  • Awful horn
  • Crappy plastics
  • Bad brakes
  • Battery monitor tends to show 100% full until it needs charging then it rapidly drops
  • Handles very vaguely
  • Charging unit has no on/off switch

Thursday, April 19, 2012

TEST UPDATE: Stromer Electric Bike



Motostrano has been selling the Stromer Electric Bicycle now for oh six months or so. In spite of the fact that I have full faith in humanity's ability to create solutions with technology, like you, I still hold out a chunk of skepticism when it comes to some stuff. And, even though electric bicycles have been around for practically a hundred years- there's still a lot of smoke and mirrors, a lot of crap-tech and junk-tech that manages to get to market. So, unlike a bike with no motor- we're always in "test mode" with electric bikes.

Maybe we are being too hard on them? Comparing an e-bike to all the qualities of a non-motorized bicycle isn't totally fair, perhaps. A traditional bicycle can sit around in a garage for fifty years and still function basically as it did when new. An electric bicycle has other things going on that reduce it's lifespan significantly.

Still- we want these investments to last and perform as long and as good as possible. We expect a lot of them.

6 months into it our Stromer e-bike test mules are going strong. Batteries have held up. Motor power has held up. We've knocked them down a few times. Rode them in the rain and forgotten to charge them a for a while. This is what we want to know.

The Stromer is, by far, the best electric bike we've used to date.

It's also a lot of fun. It's fun to ride and it's beautiful to look at. It goes up hills great. It goes down hills and stops great. It performs in traffic great and its switches and cables, motors and battery all are holding up to the ultimate test: time.

It looks good too. The Swiss flag gives it away as something European, but so does its lines and architecture. It's a solid bike and feel the same way a Mercedes or BMW feels on the road. Good plastics. Good paint. Good fixtures. These are the things you would expect from a European machine of any kind and the Stromer delivers.

Well, it's not made in Europe. It's designed there and it shows. It's a beautiful electric bike.

Sales demand has been very good as well. We have sold more Stromer electric bikes than any other electric bike to date, and this is still our most expensive electric bicycle.

Stromer Electric Bicycle

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

NEW: Icon Elsinore Boots



We received our first load of the new ICON 1000 Elsinore Boots. They are now shipping.

Good looking boots. Extreme looking boots with a comfortable fit. Madmax would wear these, but so can Joe Moto whether he be on a Supermoto hooligan bike, a KLR 650 ADV bike or some blacked out Cafe Racer. It's a classic moto boot. A motorcyclists' motorcycle boot.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Twowheelsteals.com, We're Phasing it Out...


Attention Motostrano Shoppers: Over the next few days (hopefully) we'll be phasing out our Twowheelsteals.com web site and moving all the of the deals and inventory over to the main Motostrano.com web site under the CLEARANCE tab.

As cool as the TWS site was, it was always a placeholder for clearance deals, deals of the day and close-out stuff until we integrated this same system into the main motostrano web site. Managing two separate sites was always a bit of a chore. So, presto, the wait is done, and we'll be offering the same deals, the same one-off or limited inventory programs and savings at motostrano.com so you can combine shopping carts and all that good stuff.

That is all. Have a nice day.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Felt's Steampunk Muscle Bike: the Deep Six


Motostrano has taken delivery of a small batch of the limited run Felt Deep Six cruiser. What a bike. We wanted them all but Felt would only give us a few. Beautiful deep paint. Matching rims. Details. Cream fat tires. Details.

Felt has created a masterpiece with the Deep Six. This is the kind of bike you first bring into your living room, dim the lights, put on some Monk and sip on something deep and mysterious while admiring its lines, its shadows and its undulations.

We were talking about this bike today in the studio and as much as any bike should be ridden, we feel that this bike should not. It's kind of a fantasy bike. An imagination. It feels a bit like it comes from another world and perhaps doesn't actually operate in our world. Or it maybe has some secret controls of operation. Should be steered by an alien with 3 heads and 2 fingers.

But it doesn't and you can ride it.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

NEW: Koso Sportbike Mirrors


We think the mirrors on a motorcycle are one of the most important function and design elements on the bike. So, when ever a good new mirror comes out, our ears perk up a bit.

We spotted these in a new vendor catalog recently. New for 2012, the Koso TT Style Mirrors look like the real deal and could be used tastefully on a lot of bike builds.

NEW: Alpinestars MOAB Knee Protectors


We'd been pre-selling the new Alpinestars MOAB Knee Protectors before they actually came out for about a month. Damand for these burly knee protectors has been vibrant. When they finally came in it took 2 more orders just to ship our back orders on them and so we finally have time to post about them up close.

These are beefy knee protectors. Designed for Mountain Bike, but honestly we think they could hold up in motocross, supermoto and supermoto. Maybe even the street, if you like flashy white.

The Moabs come in 2 sizes, offer full knee and shin coverage and have 3 large adjustable straps. They are sold as a pair and Alpinestars recommends using the Alpinestars knee sock for additional comfort.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Stromer Electric Bike - Commuter Modifications


We have been working with the new Stromer Electric Bicycle now for about two months. The base model of the Stromer is the Deluxe Model of last year. Same bike, same price, upgraded.

As a base bike, the Stromer is excellent. We are calling this the Mercedes of the electric bike world. It really is that good. But, there are some simple improvements we've been able to incorporate into the bike and we have created our own model from the modifications. We're calling it the Commuter.

In actuality, the mods come from actual customer requests on bike orders. The Stromer, we are finding is quote popular with Silicon Valley execs who are happier commuting by bike, instead of car. And why not? It's the best way to travel.

So, for starters, to mod this bike into an effective commuter, we added a Topeak rack to the back. The bike has a disc brake, so we used the rack that allows space for the disc brake. Next we added fenders. After adding the rack, there was really no room to add a full rear fender so we purchased a down-tube mounted plastic spash guard that is nice and wide and will deflect road debri and water off the rider just fine. We then added a plastic front fender, the slide-on type. Both of these are matt-black and match the bike perfectly.

The standard seat on the Stromer is a little hard, so we swapped it out for a slightly more comfortable "comfort" gel seat. It has the same look as the stock one, is not too bulky and is a lot more comfortable.

Finally, we changed out the front chainring with a 43 tooth sprocket, giving the bike some added top end speed.

We'll soon be adding on some luggage, perhaps a front rack and some other gismos. One of the addons that haven't worked out yet was an integrated light system, connected to the bike's main battery.

The Stromer Electric Commuter bike is available at Motostrano/Suburbanbikes for $3050 including all parts and set-up.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Some new Alpinestars on the way

Alpinestars gave its dealers a sneak-peak of some new things that will be coming out next month for the spring 2012 season. Though, not really helping any of us as buyers, or you as customers, this pre-announcment does give us Internet-savvy shops a head start on the brick-n-mortar folks to get on the blogosphere and start talking about stuff we have absolutely no real experience with but will "recommend" to customers any way, at least in a blog post, along with heftly links back to our product pages and even make up actual "product review" videos about this stuff we don't know anything about, so we can elbow up to the top of the rankings in Google as soon as possible, stake our claim, as it were.

There's a few interesting things in the new release. One of a new Alpinestars Race Replica Suit that is being called the Alpinestars Race Replica Suit For Tech Air System
because it's integrated with their hi-tech air system you can buy from Alpinestars directly. Only 2 days after the announcement, we already have customers calling us from as far away as Australia looking for the new suit. It's more expensive than the old Race Replica. It comes in different colors than the old one too.

The other unique item in the collection is the Alpinestars Quick Seal Out kit. Called the Alpinestars Quick Seal out Jacket and Pants, this is an upgrade of sorts over the RS jacket and pants pull over item Alpinestars has had out for some time, if you are old school you'll remember the Alpinestars El Nino suit.

Are these two things great? Is the rest of the stuff great? We have no idea, but we hope you'll buy them from us before the other guys because we made this blog post.

Monday, January 16, 2012

AGV Rossi Eyeball Helmet - Limited 2012 Rossi

AGV ROSSI EYEBALL HELMET
The all new AGV Rossi Eyeball Helmet - Limited 2012 Rossi is now available. We have our first stock rolling in and all eyes are on the EYEBALL helmet from AGV.

What a cool helmet. We've seen the Limited Rossi AGV helmets since the first one came through our store and this certainly is one of the most interesting designs. It's not too whacky, but whacky enough. Has some style. A little 2001 A Space Oddysyish

Motostrano customers typically collect these helmets, so please buy early. Even with the economy as it is, the AGV Rossi helmets sell fast.

"Welcome to the coolest AGV Rossi Limited helmets to come to our shores here in a loooong time. Enjoy. Called both the "EYEBALL" helmet, it's also the AGV Mugello helmet for 2012. Worn by Rossi, the fastest racer in the world.

The GP-Tech is AGVs range topping race helmet and as such we believe you?d struggle to find anything better than this. Shell: SSL ? Super-super-light Carbon-Kevlar construction Number of Shells: Three shell sizes Ventilation: IVS (Intergrated Ventilation System) with channels hollowed directly into the shell Padding: Coolmax, Hygienic Treatment, Removable and washable (inc neckroll) Visor: Clear, flat anti-scratch and no-fog race shield with tearoff system, XQRS Extra-quick release system Retention: Double D buckle"