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Bike for a Kid is an in house charitable program that donates bikes to underprivileged children. The program began when we created FLO in February 2012 and was originally funded through the sale of ceramic bearing wheels. That changed when we discontinued our ceramic bearing wheel line in 2016 and today we use 1% of all FLO sales to fund Bike for a Kid.
Jon and I have been giving back in some capacity for most of our lives and adding a charitable arm to FLO was only natural. Riding bicycles helps children build self-confidence and improve health. Making bicycles available to as many children as possible was a great mission the perfect compliment to our business.
|Giving a safety presentation at a donation event in Kona Hawaii.|
Finding those truly in need has always been a top priority, and all donations have been delivered to organizations that specialize in working with underprivileged children. After-School All Stars, The Boys and Girls Club and Path Hawaii are a few examples of such organizations.
|Building bikes at a donation event|
Jon and I built every bike by hand in the beginning. The first 50 bikes took us eight hours to build and we eventually reduced that to four hours. We stored the bikes in our two bedroom condo and transported them to donation events using U-Haul trucks. Friends volunteered their time to help when the program started to grow, but we eventually needed help.
|Building bikes by hand|
|Bikes stored in our two bedroom condo|
That help came when we partnered with More than Sport after meeting owner Chris Lieto at a Kona party in 2014. More than Sport has helped find charitable partners, organize build/donation events, and improve program exposure through partnerships with professional athletes. They’ve been and continue to be a major asset to the program.
|Registration at a More Than Sport Bike for a Kid event|
|Building a bike with professional triathlete Linsay Corbin|
Our most recent event was hosted at the Competitor Group main office. Staff from Triathlete, Women’s Running, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and more helped build the bikes and shared the story with their audience. This corporate partnership was a first for Bike for a Kid and we hope to continue working with more businesses in the future. We also plan to host our first international donation in Japan next year.
|Volunteer building a bike|
We will be donating 112 bikes at our next donation event in Kona Hawaii during the 2017 Ironman World Championship. This will mark our 16th event and bring the total number of bike donations to 1,462. Bikes will be built at the More than Sport booth on Ali’i drive during race week, and we’d love to have you help us build a bike. It only takes 10 minutes and you’ll get to meet some pretty cool people.
We hope to see you in Kona!
Did you know the way you inflate your tires can ruin the results of a wind tunnel study all together? Data from a wind tunnel test, or any test for that matter, is only as good as the protocol used to collect it. Jon and I have always been very transparent with our testing protocol and we wanted to share some information with you today that might surprise you.
Anytime you test in a wind tunnel you want to minimize the number of variables you have. A variable is anything that is not consistent. Every time you introduce a variable into your test, you risk skewing the data. If the variables are large enough, the data collected in the test can become useless. Here’s a very easy to understand example of a variable, and how introducing it would render the data in a test useless.
Let’s assume that you are comparing two wheel brands in a wind tunnel. You are comparing a FLO 60 to a comparable 60mm deep wheel manufactured by “Wheel Brand X” to determine who has the fastest wheel. You mount a 23c Continental GP 4000s II tire on the FLO 60, and a Specialized Turbo Cotton 24 on the Wheel Brand X wheel, then you run the test.
Our Tire Study data shows that the difference in drag produced by those two tires alone can be up to 196.4 grams. That difference accounts for nearly 60 seconds in an Ironman race and makes it very clear why the “different tire variable” would render the data useless.
When the Variables aren’t Obvious
What’s surprising is how many hidden variables exist. These are variables that many companies and independent testers simply miss when testing. I’m going to illustrate my point with tire pressure.
Jon and I conducted a tire pressure study to illustrate how tire pressure affects aerodynamic drag. In that study, we found that altering tire pressure by only 5 psi can change the aerodynamic drag by up to 57.5 grams.
The solution to this problem seems obvious. Take your floor pump to the wind tunnel, and make sure that you inflate all of your tires to the same pressure. The problem that many testers miss however, is that the accuracy of a standard floor pump is extremely low. According to Silca, the industry standard for accuracy of a floor pump is +/- 5% of full scale. Assuming the scale of the pump is 0-160 psi, each reading is only accurate to +/- 8psi. This means two wheels pumped by the exact same pump can have a pressure differential of up to 16psi. Even when the person conducting the study has good intentions and is trying to keep the pressure the same, they are unknowingly introducing an error of up to 57.5 grams of drag and potentially more.
Always on a quest to find better and more accurate data, Jon and I used Silca’s “The Truth” pressure gauge the last time we were in the tunnel. We have since purchased our own version of the measuring device that we’ve aptly named “The Truth 2.0”. The Truth 2.0 is the most accurate digital pressure gauge made by Ashcroft. This $1200 pressure gauge is accurate to 0.05% of full scale and comes with it’s own calibration certificate. Our calibration certificate shows that the pressure readings taken with our gauge have no more than 0.02% error. With a 200psi full scale, this means the pressure measurements were accurate to within +/-0.04psi. Even considering the labeled worst case of 0.05% accuracy, our gauge is accurate to +/-0.10psi.
Does a small pressure variance exist when using our testing device? It does, but I think we can safely say that we have done all we can to eliminate any variability in our data created by pressure differential.
What Does this Mean?
The next time you are looking at the results from a wind tunnel study, ask yourself how the tire pressure was set during the test. If the study was designed to compare wheels and the tire pressure was set using a standard floor pump, there may be 57.5 grams of error in the measurements you are reading, and potentially more if a the specific tire used in the study displays a different drag variance than the Continental GP 4000s II we used in our study. If the study was designed to compare different bikes and the tires on the bikes were pumped up with a floor pump, you can then double the potential error. This means the results could be off by up to 115 grams of drag simply because the tires were inflated incorrectly.
Jon and I are continuing to improve our own testing protocol and will discuss all of our changes and some other commonly missed variables in this blog series.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. Please leave your questions and comments below.
We announced the development of our gravel wheels last week. As we have done with the development of previous products, we asked for your suggestions. We know that your suggestions will ultimately make a better product and we appreciate all of the feedback we have received so far. We wanted to take a minute and highlight some of the specifications we’ll be designing around. We’ve also worked with the kind folks over at 3T America and have a 3T Exploro frame on route. We will be using the 3T Exploro during the design process. The fact that it’s an aero gravel bike that accepts 650b and 700c wheels makes it perfect for the project.
|3T Exploro Frame|
We originally thought that we would focus on a 700c size wheel only. However, there have been many requests for a 650b sized wheel so we have decided to add that to the list. To be clear, we will design each wheel independently to optimize the design for each wheel size.
Our goal is to design a wheel that is optimized for both aerodynamics and rolling resistance. We have been studying rolling resistance lately and will be discussing our research in depth throughout the design process.
We will be collecting wind data and modifying our optimization algorithm to design the wheel. The algorithm will include a depth range for the rim. During the optimization process, the depth of the rim will be selected.
We will be building the rim for the wheels out of carbon fiber. In our opinion, it is the material of choice for this project. A faired wheel leaves openings in the fairing and will not work for gravel riding. For this reason, the wheel will be a carbon clincher.
We have had many suggestions to offer convertible hubs and we think it is a great idea. We will work on providing hubs that are compatible with both quick release and thru-axle skewers. We will also work on having options for standard cassettes and XD cassettes.
The wheel will use disc brakes. We are looking at center lock and 6 bolt options.
While the exact build specifications are unknown at this point (ie. number of spokes), we will likely offer a few options for both front and rear wheels. We are also considering selling rims individually.
While this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, it does serve as a bit of an outline. We recognize that we won’t be able to build everyone’s perfect wheel, but we are very happy with the suggestions we have received so far, and feel that the end result will already be much better.
Thank you again for your suggestions, and we welcome more of them below.
Have a great day,
Why do businesses start? The list of reasons is endless. For us, the desire to start FLO revolved around solving a problem. That problem was that good quality cycling wheels were expensive. We wanted to produce a cycling wheel that was as good as the best in the industry but cut the cost by up to 1/3. Our Bike for a Kid and One Wheel One Tree programs are no different. Both originated because we were focused on solving a problem. Problem solving creates the excitement that makes each day at FLO incredibly enjoyable and drives the vision of our brand forward. Our next stop forward is focused on a new problem. A problem that we are very exited to try and solve.
What’s Next for FLO?
For many years, we’ve explored new ideas for what could be next for FLO? Over the years we worked on developing a power meter and mountain bike wheels but both projects came to an end as the industry changed. In order to start something new, we had to find a problem we were both passionate about solving. That passion has become developing a gravel wheel.
Why Gravel Wheels?
The gravel industry is an exciting new sector that we find fascinating. If you’ve even visited a gravel race like the Dirty Kanza you will understand what we mean when we say that most bikes look like they’d make a good fit for Frankenstein. Random components from different disciplines are slapped together to make “the best” race bikes. Recently, there have been a few companies who have released gravel specific bikes. The Salsa Warbird is a prime example of one of these bikes. We see the need for a gravel specific wheel and designing one has become our new focus.
If you’ve been around since the beginning of FLO you will remember that the development of our road wheels was chronicled on our blog. The development of our gravel wheels will be no different. So here’s to a new chapter at FLO. While the vision for the wheel is clear, the wheel is for you. We want you to join us on our journey and offer your input to help shape our new gravel wheel.
3. Bike for a Kidイベントの開催のため訪日する予定です。
Some “consumer direct” companies manage domestic shipments themselves but will use an international distributor for international shipments. This is a hybrid model, which raises the cost of products. Our Definition of Consumer Direct Sales is a bit different. We believe in a pure consumer direct model and ship directly to the customer regardless of their location. Our Import Guide covers all questions for our international buyers.
So, how much money do you save when you buy consumer direct? The two examples below compare consumer direct costs vs. buying through an international distributor and bike shop. You may be surprised by how much you save.
1. Our retail pricing is equal to the wholesale price of companies who sell through the standard distribution model. (This is actually true).
2. Markup for an international distributor and bike shop is typically around 40% (but we’re going to show you what it looks like at 40% and 20%)
Example One – Consumer Direct Cost
FLO Wheels Bought Directly from FLO (consumer direct): Front FLO 60 and Rear FLO 90 Carbon Clinchers: $1,148 USD
Shipping Charges: $78.50 USD
USD to GBP Currency Conversion Rate: 0.81
Import Country: United Kingdom
Import Duty Rate: 4.7%
Value Added Tax (VAT) Rate: 20%
Import Method: CIF
Total Consumer Direct Cost: 1,248.19 GBP
Example Two – International Distributor and Bike Shop Cost
Wheels Sold to an International Distributor: Front FLO 60 and Rear FLO 90 Carbon Clinchers: $1,148 USD
International Distributor Markup: 40%
Bike Shop Markup: 40%
USD to GBP Currency Conversion Rate: 0.81
Import Country: United Kingdom
Import Duty Rate: 4.7%
Value Added Tax (VAT) Rate: 20%
Import Method: CIF
Total Consumer Cost at 40% Markup: 2,289.85 GBP
If we were to use 20% markup instead of 40%, the cost would be the following.
The Total Consumer Cost at 20% Markup: 1,682.35 GBP.
Compared to a typical markup for an international distributor or bike shop (40%), buying consumer direct saves you 1,041.66 GBP!
Even if markup was only 20%, consumer direct still saves you 434.16 GBP.
Let us know if you have any questions regarding how consumer direct saves you money or about importing wheels to you country.
FLO is a US based consumer direct brand. This sales model offers many benefits such as lower product cost and direct communication with our customers. (Additional information is outlined in our Consumer Direct Sales Article. We understand there are some limitations as well. One of the most common questions we get from international customers is, “how do I import your products?” To help lessen the confusion and simplify the process, we created this Import Guide and an Import Duty and Tax Calculator.
A product is imported when a product is shipped to your country from another country. The imported product is inspected by a customs officer who verifies the product matches the description listed on the import documents. The Customs Officer then assigns the taxes, duty, and any additional fees that may be required. In case you are wondering, FLO ships your product with the proper documentation.
Import Duty Rates, Tax Rates, Additional Fees and Minimus Rules
The country sets the tax and duty rates for products being imported. Our Import Duty and Tax Calculator considers the duty and tax rates for each country. Some countries charge additional fees, which are also included in the calculator.
There may also be a minimus rule in your country. Some imports below a certain value are not charged duty and/or tax. The minimus rules are considered in our calculator.
How Import Duty and Tax is Calculated
Import taxes and duties are calculated in one of three ways. Our calculator incorporates the proper method for all countries.
1. Based on the price of the product, also know as “Freight on Board” (FOB)
2. Based the price of the product, plus the price of shipping, plus the price of insurance, also known as (CIF).
3. Based on unit of measure. This can be weight, volume, quantity, etc.
Normally, duty is calculated first, and then tax is calculated by adding the duty to the proper method listed above.
Unfortunately, we are not able to lower the invoice value for imports. This is illegal in the USA.
In most countries, the examining officer determines the import duty and tax charged up. This means that the required payment can vary from what our calculator estimates.
Please make sure that you understand that our calculator provides an estimate in your own currency. Currency rates can change daily so the numbers may not be exact, but we can assure it will be close. The goal is to give you a good idea of what to expect for your import costs.
Shipping To International Countries
Wheels sent to an international location typically take 2-3 weeks to arrive. Ultimately, the delivery time depends on how quickly your product gets through customs. Most of the time, there is no reason for the wheels to be delayed. In rare cases, wheels may be held for an additional inspection causing a delay in delivery.
We use United States Postal Service (USPS) for international shipments. USPS rates are much lower than other shipping companies. For comparison, a set of wheels shipped internationally with USPS costs about $80 USD vs. $400 USD for a set of wheels shipped internationally with a courier like UPS or FedEx.
|Canada Post Office|
The USPS does not have international locations, so your local postal carrier will complete the delivery once the wheels enter your country. For example, Canada Post takes over in Canada. Your tracking number, provided once your product has shipped, stays the same throughout the shipment entirety. You can call your local postal carrier and use the USPS tracking number to locate your wheels.
Paying Your Import Duty and Tax
You will be required to pay the import tax and duty prior to your wheels being delivered. How payment is processed is determined by your country, not FLO. Many countries accept payments online, by phone or in person.
Typically, your local postal carrier will contact you when your wheels are ready to be released and fees payed. However, they may not always contact you. If you are watching your wheels via the tracking number and see them stop at customs, it’s best to call your local customs office or local postal carrier and give them you tracking number. They will be able to look up your shipment and can help you with the transaction.
You will not be responsible for paying any sales tax in the USA. Only residents of the state of Nevada pay US sales tax.
Warranty issues are handled by FLO directly. If you have an issue with your wheels, please contact us.
If you have any questions about importing FLO Wheels to your country please contact us to ask. We are more than happy to help you understand the process.
When FLO started in 2011, we made the decision to sell our products via a consumer direct sales channel. The industry standard at the time was to sell products through a retail bike shop, but for us, selling directly to the consumer made more sense. This became a key part of our business model. So why did we choose to forge a path in a new direction? It’s a win win for FLO and the consumer. For FLO, the feedback from our customers leads to more specific research, improved design, and an overall better product. Our customers end up with a well engineered cycling wheel, direct communication with the brand, and great pricing.
Where We Are Today
Today, the industry is in the middle of a massive change. Shimano has cut most distributors from their business model, Trek has introduced a new sales model for their bikes, and Canyon breaks ground in the USA this year. In an attempt to break away from the retail sales model, the aforementioned companies are adopting a hybrid sales model, which is considered consumer direct by some. However, at FLO, we believe in a pure consumer direct sales model. Why? Because we believe it is best for the brand and the consumer. Read on to learn how we are defining consumer direct sales.
Hybrid Sales Model
Several brands are trying to find hybrid models that incorporate traditional retail and consumer direct sales. There are several reasons for this.
|Traditional Retail Bike Shop|
1. Existing brands that traditionally sell through retail break down their distribution network when converting to a consumer direct model.
2. Customer support and service is usually handled at local bike shops when you sell through retail stores. If a retail brand makes the decision to stop retail sales, their existing support network vanishes.
3. Selling internationally becomes challenging. Typically, there is an international distributor that handles distribution in the foreign country and the shops handle product support and speak the foreign language.
Issues We See with the Hybrid Sales Model
In our opinion the hybrid model doesn’t fix the problems, it applies a band-aid. Here are a few thoughts on the issues created with a hybrid model.
1. The cost of the product traditionally stays the same. The margins of consumer direct sales go up for the company selling the product, but the consumer pays the same.
2. Support is split between shops and the brand. This makes it confusing for the consumer and can deliver a less than desirable consumer experience.
3. International sales are still handled through international distributors. This greatly increases the pricing internationally and in most cases, domestically.
4. International customers are not in direct contact with the brand. This is bad for the brand and the consumer since the conversation between both isn’t happening.
5. The consumer view is changing. Consumers are choosing to buy directly from brands and expect the brand to take care of warranty and support issues, should any arise.
Issues We See with the Consumer Direct Sales Model
Over the past six years, we have learned a great deal about consumer direct sales. In that time both the industry and the consumer have changed. We’ve combed through our analytics and sales numbers and identified the following issues with the consumer direct sales model.
1. Shipping product internationally is confusing for international buyers. Some common consumer questions we receive: Do you ship internationally? Do I have to pay import duty or tax in my country? How long does shipping take? Is warranty covered internationally?
2. Language becomes a problem for international buyers. Most companies create a website in English or their native language and customers who do not speak these languages are left trying to comprehend what they can. This is one reason why brands choose to use international distributors.
The Benefits of the Consumer Direct Sales Model as We See Them
The benefits of consumer direct sales are mutual for the brand and the consumer. These are the benefits we’ve seen after six years of consumer direct sales.
|Distribution center where FLO Wheels are processed and shipped.|
1. Cost. The MSRP of traditional retail (brick and mortar bike shop) is 5x the manufacturing cost, simply because the product changes hands so many times on the way to the buyer. With consumer direct sales, multiple lines of markup are cut out and the price the consumer pays is greatly reduced.
2. Communication. There is direct contact between the brand and the consumer. This keeps the messaging to the consumer pure and allows the brand to receive accurate and timely feedback from the consumer. All of this creates a worldwide relationship between the consumer and the brand, instead of just a local one.
3. Support and warranty are handled directly by the brand.
How We Are Defining Consumer Direct Sales and Improving our Model
In its purest form, a “consumer direct sales model” means that a consumer buys a product directly from the brand manufacturer. This is regardless of where the customer lives. At FLO, we started with consumer direct sales, and we are now fine-tuning our model by introducing two new improvements to our site.
1. We are making an effort to educate our international customers on importing products from the USA. To do this, we have a blog article that acts as an Import Guide with an accompanying Import Duty and Tax Calculator. The calculator allows you to pick the wheels you’d like to purchase and will estimate the full cost of importing the wheels into your country in your currency.
2. We are converting our site to different languages and will provide customer support in those languages. We’ve started with Japanese. Our Japanese customer base has grown considerably and the numbers show that 100% of the site traffic from Japan originates on a Japanese language computer.
As we learn and adapt, we will bring on language support for additional countries. For more details on our converting the site to Japanese, you can read our FLO Cycling – Hello, Japan – Our Language Conversion Journey about our site conversion.
The industry is changing and we are making efforts to create the best consumer direct sales model we can. The benefits for the consumer and FLO are just beginning. We’d love your feedback on what you are looking for from FLO as we improve our consumer direct sales model.
1. 当社の新しい2016年のホイールは、実地の風の条件を調査した後に設計しました。 その調査の中で、平均ヨー角が私たちが最初に考えていたよりずっと低いことが分かり、そのことを踏まえてホイールの新製品を開発しました。 2012年のホイールと比較した際の2016年のホイール (高いヨー角向けに設計しました) の空気抵抗の改善はかなりのものです。 これらの短縮時間とライアンさんによって算出された平均ヨー角は、当社の全ての実地データと正確に一致しており、当社のNet Drag Reduction Value (純抵抗低減値) の公式とも一致しています。
2. 当社の風洞テストの結果を見ると、FLO 60 Carbon Clincherは低いヨー角でFLO 90 Carbon Clincherよりわずかに速くなっています。 Ironmanフロリダなどの比較的低いヨー角のコースでは、FLO 60 Carbon Clincherは、リムがより深いFLO 90 Carbon Clincherに本当に勝っています。 ただし、コナなどの比較的高いヨー角のコースでは、90 Carbon Clincherの方が速くなっています。 これは、非常に実力のある自転車走者、または微風時のレースで走る自転車走者が考慮すべきことです。
3. 元の調査 (パート1とパート2) と比較した際の時間の差は、レースの日にアスリートが体感した現実の天気のデータを使用したことによるものです。