After IDS, the SURU team spent the 22 hour drive back to our base in Halifax chewing over the feedback we received. The SURU One was liked. Desired even. But it could be better.
The Last 10% of a Project Takes 50% of the Effort
Of the thousands of people who stopped by our booth, asked about and sat on the SURU, comfort elements were most often highlighted. Yes, the SURU One comes with fenders. Yes, the bike is light. No, the production seat will not be that hard.
The engineering and integrity of the frame and chassis were immediately appreciated by everyone. The integration of dual suspension and powerful automotive-grade lighting universally praised. But everyone seemed fixed on comfort versus a conventional bicycle.
Could conventional bicycle accessories fit to SURU's unique frame design? Baskets? Panniers? Auxiliary lighting?
The long drive home gave us lots of time to discuss what options were most important, according to the people we met. The SURU One was good, bang-on the market need as far as electric bikes were concerned. But how could we make it better?
Building The Foundation
The SURU units we featured in Toronto were near production designs, but already before we departed Halifax in January we understood that additional refinements were needed. Industrial design and product development is not, despite what many have been led to believe, a linear process. You ideate, iterate, execute, evaluate and start all over again many times before you can safely lock down producible product.
With the SURU One we spent more than a year going through that cycle dozens of times, on paper, on computer and with models and prototypes. There was an early version of SURU that had the rear shocks mounted almost vertically. Another made use of elaborate castings for the headpipe and bottom bracket. We toyed with materials, handlebar heights, and endless colour and graphic variations.
What we brought to Toronto were mature prototypes that cost a small fortune to have manufactured but ironed out many flaws. But as good as they were, they also highlighted areas that needed additional strength, more interior access and the perennial pressure of reducing cost.
Listening, Learning, Adapting
What you told us, what the market said in emphatic terms, was that SURU was cool, attractive and the right price. What it also said was that SURU needed racks, wider, more solid fenders, and mounting points for additional accessories.
We listened, and we upgraded the design.
The SURU One will ship with standard 6mm holes on the rear swingarm area for mounting rack accessories. The front fork has them too. The fenders, plastic on the initial prototypes, are now powder coated steel and 20mm wider, covering the whole tire profile.
Going forward, we plan on adding greater storage features in future models, based on the feedback we get from customers. Already SURU is being explored as fleet options for businesses in the tourist, hospitality and industrial plant sectors, and those potential customers are telling us what their specific needs are.
And SURU will respond. Because while a design must "close" to enter mass production, it is never perfect, or unable to benefit from new ideas.
AS we ramp for scale production, we will continue to cast about for feedback to make every new SURU better than the bikes that came before it.