Saturday, September 12, 2015

Manufacturers and vendors websites


Manufacturers and vendors websites
One of the biggest complaints regarding velomobiles is that one cannot get current information from websites.  While some manufacturers have good sites with current information, most do not.  This is detrimental to the expansion of the companies and the sport in general.  Some may say that they also have Facebook, Blog and other social media pages where they post information but it does not inspire confidence in the company when the information on the main window is stale.  After visiting these websites here are some of the questions potential customers might ask themselves:  Is the company still in business?  How many velomobiles have they produced? Will they be there when I need parts and support?  If the company is not paying that much attention when I have money to spend, how much support will I get after I have given them my money?

Where are potential customers supposed to find their information on the different models, pricing, etc. when companies do not make this information freely available? I have to scour many sources to be able to tap into the inner sanctum of information to be able to gather the information I’m regularly posting here and most of it is not from manufacturers’ site.  My hope is that the industry improves the situation and learn from the better sites.

Here is a review of the principal manufacturers and distributors.

Katanga (www.katanga.eu): Website Last update (latest news July 2014), English only, nice pictures but no information on models, specifications and price.
Raderwerk (www.milan-velomobil.de):  The company promised an updated website some 6 months ago but there is still nothing.  I’m not sure when the last update was made, the site is mostly in German with some English translation, it shows information on older models (Mk2), the price list is from 2010!
Byess (www.go-one.de): The first page indicates they are World Champion velomobile for 2013… they were also World Champion in 2014 and while there is a post in the News section about this, the first page was never updated.  The last update is from the spring of 2015, it promises the unveiling of the new Evo-Kx at SPEZI in the spring but it was not unveiled at the show and there has been no news on the project since.  One also could ask if the price quoted is still in effect.
Rainforest Design (velomobiles.ca, velomobiles.blogspot.ca):  The site was probably updated last in 2012, it shows dated information on the Milan built under license from Raderwerk and the specs do not reflect the updates and modifications that have been made on the Canadian version.  It is not clear if the Borealis and Aurora are still available for purchase.  Steve also has a Blog that provides some new information on his velomobile development work but again, the latest post if from last February. The sites are only available in English only.
Bluevelo (bluevelo.com): The site provides info on models sold but.it has remained fairly static with minor updates.  One has to ask the relevance of the Cab Bike, Team or Hornet that may not have been sold in a few years.  The site also provides some support information like user manuals for some models. The site is only available in English only.
Marvelo (Marvelo.blogspot.ca): The Marvelo site is a Blog but provides information on the development process of the SKR, specification and price. Marvelo is new and does not have the resources needed to continue on the development while keeping a website updated.  At times there are periods where the information is not flowing out but hopefully this will improve over time as the company matures., maybe a full website will come in a not too distant future. The site is only available in only English.
Velomobiel (velomobile.nl, velomobiel.wordpress.com, also on Facebook): Velomobiel.nl has one of the best presence on the Internet.  They provide current info on their products, updates on their new development projects, information on maintenance but they also provide production and order information.  Information is updated probably every week and they publish a Blog with information on company’s activities, mostly product development.  The company also posts info on events they attend on Facebook.  This is not to say that the site could not be improved but the company really makes an effort.  No wonder the company is the largest manufacturer of velomobiles in the world.  Information is available in Dutch, English and some in French
IntercityBike (intercitybike.nl): probably the second best site the company is in its second year of operation but they have made a real effort to provide information on the Internet.  They have current specifications, order information, orders and production.  The company also has a Blog to provide information on company activities.  Unfortunately the site does not contain information on velomobile maintenance or user manual. Chief designer Daniel Fenn provides information on maintenance and on development projects on a You Tube channel but the information is only available in German.  Information on the company’s website is updated regularly and is available in Dutch, English and French but not in German even though Germany is the country that has the most DF owners.
CycleJV (www.cyclesjv.com): The velomobile dealer and new manufacturer Cycle JV-Fenioux has a very nice website that provides information on all the models they sell including a lot of pictures and basic specs for each model to make it easier to compare.  One important aspect of the site is to view all the velomobiles available in stock for immediate delivery including their specs, options and price.  They also have order and production information on the models they produce.  In addition, the company has a Blog and provides information on You Tube that includes reviews of the most popular velomobiles they sell and Facebook is used to provide information on event they attend.  Information on the website appears to be updated fairly regularly and is available in French and English.
Sinner/Drymer: The website is very minimal, just info on the different models, no support info, no blog, no order or production information.  Harry Leiben from Sinner has a good web presence and provides a lot of information on the Mango including How To videos but these are not available from the Sinner website.
Leiba (www.leiba.de): Good description on the vehicles, lots of details, price lists but several broken links.  There is some limited owner support info.  It is not clear when the site was last updated.  There are no blog, order or production information.  The Information on the website appears to be fairly static, I did not see the date of the latest update. The info is available in German, English and some is available in Russian but the Russian is fairly scant. 
Alligt (alligt.nl): The site provides information on each model and price.  It also provides info on velomobile and bike parts manufactured by Alligt.  The site does provide user support info since many velomobiles are sold as kits to be assembled by the owners.  The info is only available in Dutch and there is no way of contacting the company through e-mail.   There is no blog, order or production information available.
Trump (trumptrikes.com.au): The site was changed recently but is still under construction and beyond a static homepage, there are only three PDF files providing info and price on the different models of trike and fairings.  We’ll have to see what the new site has to offer. Trump also has a significant presence on Facebook. The site is only available in English since the clientele is local.
Trisled (www.trisled.com.au): One of the better sites, it provides info on all models including specs, price and user manual.  You can place orders for parts on-line.  There are articles on records and significant achievements but there is no Blog.  Trisled also has a significant presence on Facebook.  The site is only available in English even if their clientele is more international.

There are better sites but all could improve their Internet presence.  Let's see if this review will spark improvements.

IntercityBike

ICB has produced a kit to create an attachment to serve as a mounting point on the chassis to install a bicycle trailer hitch. The attachment provides a place to drill holes to fasten a hitch to the chassis. ICB claims that it is extremely stable and is sufficient the bracket is sufficient to transmit the torque of a trailer to the chassis.  The attachment is situated near the rear hub, he further behind and slightly lower but apparently it is higher than the mounting point on the Quest. The attachment weighs about 80g including glue. Owners can retrofit any Df. but the kit can be used also to retrofit the Evo-R, Evo-K and Evo-ks.  Contact ICB for pricing and delivery information.

12 comments:

  1. Another dealer website for your list Luc.
    http://www.velomobiles.de/index.html

    Keep up the good work!

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    1. Thanks Jon, the list is certainly not complete, I wanted to present a subset but of course velomobiles.de is an important provider. Maybe I will update the list in a few months and include them.

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  2. Great summary of the situation! You read my mind! I complained a few time about this and I think this lack of information hirts the market. I was lucky to live 150km from Räderwerk to get my Milan and the needed information

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    1. But when I got it, They start to deliver the mk3. I would have gladly wait 4 more month to get one. It hurts I must say, I feel rip of my money a bit. Love my MK2 though.
      Also for ICB: no data on DF XL

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  3. Thank you for your comment, I guess that manufacturers do not realize how this is affecting their business and they focus their resources on the design and production. You provide a real life case where this information would have been required to make an informed decision. Thank you also for pointing out the lack of specs for the DF-XL at ICB, I guess I missed that. One of the reasons that I created my blog is that I saw information being disseminated regularly on forums where only a few people participate and through word of mouth. Even if I try to keep an eye for new development in the VM industry, I'm missing some regularly and people should not rely on 3rd parties as their main source of information.

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  4. But is there something we can do? Shall we edit guidelines for communication/website? Or shall we write an open letter to all manufacturer with a petition?

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  5. I'm not sure what it will take to get this problem addressed, you have a few good ideas here are a few of my own: raising the issue in discussion forums including making suggestions on what you would like to see on their site, seeking input form the community, pointing your vendor to this article and forums where this is being discussed, also use the forums to get clients to contact their dealer/manufacturer to express their dissatisfaction. I'm not sure a petition will bear any fruits IMO and since we are very scattered, it would be hard to reach many.

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  6. Great work you do. Sadly we don't live in a wold were people who maters as producers do have time enough to give all the consumers what they need. When I'm (Alligt) not able to write in my home language it make no sense for me to they to write my webpage in Englich. It would cost to much. Even in my home language it is difficult enough. Also communicating to het hole world would distract me to much of my core buisnis. Developing velomobiles and parts. I have enough customers and have no ambition to be the CEO of a big company. Everyone who make an effort to ring me know that I have in that moment the time. Not having business email is the best filter that I could think of.

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  7. Thank you Leo, you bring an interesting perspective, I would like to reply fully in my next Blog post.

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  8. When you check the right side of www.sinnerbikes.com, you will find the Blog of Harry Lieben, including the tutorial channel on youtube.com.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Harry, I just went to check and it is there however, when I select English, the text in the side box is still in Dutch. This may be why I missed it in the first place.

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    2. You are right, i've checked it also! We will change this as soon as possbile! Next to that we are working hard on a new combined website from Sinner and Drymer, and will take this comment also with it.
      The website at the moment are mostly for the first information, for other cases / questions / information etc we work mostly by email and Phone. Normally we do anwer emails within two days.
      Keep up the good work Luc, thanks!

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