State of the Ebike Industry: Components
June 4, 2021
At the beginning of last month, we released an update on the State of The Ebike Industry. In this piece, we said that, due to the lack of availability of some of the components that we use on our ebikes, we are going to be temporarily sourcing components of the same quality, produced by different manufacturers.
Since the release of that piece, we've received many messages from Aventon customers on this topic. The views which have been expressed on this move have ranged from the extremely happy to the intensely concerned. Whilst we thank those of you that have expressed your delights at our resourcefulness and our ability to continue producing our ebikes during this difficult time, we want to address the concerns raised by those of you who have perturbed by this move.
Your opinions are not without warrant and we want to thank you for expressing them. Such action tells us that you feel strongly about Aventon and our products, as only those who feel such a connection would be so impassioned by this news as to reach out and inform us of their thoughts. We value you, your opinions, and the connections we've built up with you and this is why we're writing this piece. So, again, thank you.
We want to publicly respond to your comments and take the time to further elaborate on the topic of why and how we came to make these decisions -which we firmly believe is the right one- to source components for our ebikes from an alternative supplier.
Why Was This Decision Made?
We cannot admit that this was an easy decision to make. It wasn't. We proudly stand by the products that we've spent countless hours meticulously designing and testing to ensure that they meet our high standards. These high standards are one of the pillars that supports everything that Aventon stands for and we want to assure you that in making this decision we have further enhanced our testing procedures to ensure that everything we do continues to meet or exceed these high standards.
This decision was made by taking into careful consideration all of the factors negatively affecting the bike industry. The vast majority of these stem from manufacturing supply chain issues and a shipping bottleneck. We also took into consideration the not-so-optimistic words of experienced industry commentators and industry members.
Whilst the current state of affairs is a bleak one there is some optimism in the air that has been drummed up by the increase in demand for ebikes. But those who have been keen observers of the shipping and manufacturing industries for many decades, along with industry insiders, have all publicly stated a somber outlook toward any expected return to normal operations for these industries in the near future.
The lack of any actionable insight as to when things may return to normal left us with the tough decision of either waiting it out or doing something about it. We chose to try and do something about it.
Is This Uncommon?
In short, no. Companies switch out components all the time without telling their customers, this is why such things are mentioned on their websites on the Terms and Conditions page. It happens everywhere, from the roller skates industry all the way up through to the automotive industry. Any company that sources parts from outside suppliers, and that is the vast majority of companies out there, will have such a disclaimer on their website saying something along the lines of “we reserved the right to use suitable substitute parts for those which are unavailable”.
These disclaimers can mention a wide number of reasons as to why they would do this, from regulation changes to price changes to a lack of availability of the components themselves or the materials used to manufacture them. The global pandemic we’ve all just experienced is one example of a situation that can cause one or more of these issues to arise. We can almost guarantee you that companies all over the world are utilizing this paragraph of their “terms and conditions” to full effect as the global manufacturing and shipping industries struggle to catch up after the pandemic.
Most companies will just switch out parts when necessary without informing their customers at all. The difference between us and them is that we have chosen to tell you about the changes we’re making because we know how passionate many of you are about your Aventon products. We are telling you about these changes because we want to be transparent with you and assure you that we’re doing our due diligence when making these changes and ensuring that the high standards you’ve come to expect from us only keep getting higher.
Which Brands Are We Using?
The decision to utilize other parts manufacturers wasn’t taken lightly, and once the option was tabled a lot of research had to be done to see if it was even a viable option. Once preliminary research was conducted this option did seem like it might provide a solution to our dilemma. We conducted more in-depth research of companies and their components, including undertaking stress tests on the potential parts. These were completed by our own, highly skilled technicians, and we whittled the list down to the two suppliers below whose products were equal or better than those whose place they would be taking. The two suppliers who passed our testing procedures are Zoom and Sunrace.
Who are Zoom and Sunrace? These aren’t exactly household names in the bike world. This we know, and there are reasons as to why they’re not household names, and it’s not because their parts are of poor quality. It is mainly because they focus their products on high-level markets and, like us, they believe in uncompromised, high quality. That being said, here is a little more about each brand.
Zoom - Zoom is the flagship brand of the company HL CORP. This company specializes in the R&D, manufacture, and marketing of bicycle parts, principally non-mechanized parts: handlebars, seat posts, and the like. They also make high-end fitness and rehabilitation equipment. Zoom has a rigorous quality testing standard and each of its components complies with or surpasses the applicable ISO (an independent, international organization offering globally recognized manufacturing standards) standard.
Sunrace - Sunrace began operating back in 1972. Initially, they produced entry-level products for North and South America, but moved into higher quality components as the bicycle boom evolved. In 2000 they were purchased by the well-established, European bicycle brand Sturmey-Archer. This gave them European exposure and they, again, upped their game to compete with those at the higher end of the bike spectrum; this time in the more mature and quality-conscious European market. Since then Sunrace has become one of the select parts manufacturers for the world’s leading bicycle manufacturers and has also developed a large presence in the aftermarket market. They only ship to trade customers, i.e. bike shops, and produce the mechanical or moving parts of bicycles and ebikes; everything from derailleurs, to cog sets, to wheel hubs.
How Do We Ensure Quality?
After extensive talks with both Zoom and Sunrace, we visited both their production facilities. Here we saw their testing procedures and took their products back to our testing laboratory so that we could put them through their paces on our proprietary testing equipment. After running extensive tests on all of their components we were satisfied that these brands also met our own high standard and that they would be a great fit for our products. In addition to running our own tests, we also partnered with Zoom to ensure that the products we would be receiving from them met our quality standards.
As we currently do with every part we receive from any supplier, each component we receive from Zoom and Sunrace is subjected to an in-house, 10 point inspection by our technician before we allow it to become a part of one of our ebikes. Once we have assembled the final product we run it through an extensive set of tests to ensure that all the components have come together as one perfectly functioning whole that meets our high standards. This process has been a part of our manufacturing process since we started Aventon and it is a key pillar of our rigorous, quality control program.
To reiterate: we will not skimp on quality, and nor will we skimp on safety. These two features of any product are inherently intertwined and the question of cutting back on either never even thinks to cross our minds. Each of these components is put through its paces before it even makes it onto one of our ebikes and this ensures us that it fits our high standard of safety and can live up to the rigors of life on an Aventon ebike.
Factory testing of a suspension fork.
Factory testing of a shifter.
What About Bike Partner Stores?
This decision wasn’t made without first hearing the voices of those whose jobs and livelihoods are focused on the distribution, sale, maintenance, and larger reputation of our ebikes. All of the ebike shops in our network are fully onboard with this idea.
All of the owners of these bike shops are themselves acutely aware of the situation we’re facing as they themselves are also struggling to procure parts for any and all the ebikes they stock and service. They are grateful that we have taken the initiative and that they can continue to expect to receive and sell the “exceptional products' ' that are Aventon ebikes.
Furthermore, we’ve also heard from some of these shop owners and technicians that the parts that we’re using are ones they’re familiar with and have willingly fitted to ebikes prior to this change. You might recall Mike, the conversion expert and owner of Mike’s E-Bikes in Illinois, who we introduced to you through an article a few months ago. He has this to say about Sunrace components:
"My experience with Sunrace brand components has been on recumbent trikes where I convert the trike to electric assist. The quality of shifting has been excellent, and my customers have had no issues with reliability or ride performance."
We gave some of these highly experienced folks these new components to test themselves and they all came back with glowing reviews. We knew that if this change was made without the support of these experienced folks that no matter how excellent the new components might be, we were bound to fall flat on our faces. Having these guys’ support and also reviewing their positive and critical feedback only helped to confirm that the decision we were considering was in fact a very good one to finally go ahead and make.
Not only did we receive great feedback on the components themselves but we found that many shop owners were thanking us for being the first to take these intuitive steps to ensure that we can continue production of our products and, importantly for them, provide them with peace of mind when it comes to part availability. Bob, an Aventon Power Seller and owner of Groove E-Bikes in Irvine, California kindly allowed us to reproduce his comments here:
"I understand some have expressed concern regarding Aventon's use of alternative components on recent bike builds. Given what's happening in the bike industry, I commend Aventon on working creatively and intelligently to overcome part shortages, continuing production and still providing a great bike at an amazing value. At Groove E-Bikes in Irvine, not only are we an Aventon power seller, we carry several other brands, all of which are struggling to secure parts and maintain production. Using alternative components is 1) the only way bike manufacturers can continue to produce products, 2) the quality and performance of the Aventon product line is not compromised, and 3) this will have zero impact on getting shop support and service."
We want to thank each and every person who wrote, commented, and DM’ed us their opinion on this topic; we wouldn’t be where we are today without you or your passion for our product. We hope that in this piece we have managed to quell those feelings of doubt which arose from this change that we announced just a few weeks ago.
As we said before, this decision was not made lightly. We took our time and did our due diligence on these companies and the components we were considering. We want to continue to fulfill people’s seemingly unwavering demand for our high quality ebikes and we’re happy that we were able to find a solution to doing this.
Finally we’re extremely happy that our distribution, sales, and warranty partners are all on board after rigorously testing the products themselves and, as we’ve said before, we couldn’t do it without them. We also couldn’t do this without you! We hope this piece has answered the many questions of why? how? and what if? that arose from our customers and we truly appreciate how forthcoming you were with your passion for our products through your concern for their future and we hope that this explanation satisfies your worries.