Faraday's Unexpected Visitors from Across the World
Working late last night, there was a knock at the door. Drop-in visitors are typically folks who have seen Faraday’s sign in the window and are curious to learn more or take a test ride. At this time of night, well past dark, that seemed unlikely. The visitors turned out to be Pablo and Olga, touring cyclists from Spain who were riding literally around the world on two incredibly heavily-packed touring bikes.
What brought these two to our door? Pablo and Olga have been riding their bikes for the past two years, from Spain to Russia, then across the Pacific (by plane or boat, hopefully…) to Alaska, where they’d ridden down to California, on their way to Patagonia at the tip of South America. By the time they reached San Francisco, though, the dampness of the city’s epic fog got the better of the headlight on Olga’s bike, and the electrical connectors attaching it to her generator hub became corroded and ceased to function. They had spotted the word “electric” in the window of Faraday’s shop, and came knocking in the hopes we could fix Olga’s light. They came to the right place. We dug up some replacement connectors, attached them to her headlight, and in no time her generator hub was working like new. Just to be on the safe side we sent them packing with a few spare connectors, just in case they had another breakdown in, say, a few thousand miles.
It was fun to meet Pablo and Olga. They were friendly and thoughtful guests, and the fact that they had been living on their bikes for over two years told me that we shared a passion for the experience of seeing the world on two wheels. I wished I could jump on a Faraday and ride south with them … at least as far as Santa Cruz! The experience also reminded me of an important part of our design process with Faraday. Sourcing electrical connectors is surprisingly hard, and we spent literally months finding the right mix of connectors for Faraday. It was a search that eventually took us to the enormous electrical markets of China, where we hand-picked exactly the right mix of connectors required for the Porteur from nearly half a dozen different vendors. We committed early on not to cut corners on connectors – we would use only parts that were mechanically sound, waterproof, and, nicely designed and made. Olga’s headlight was actually a very nice, high-quality European model – but it cut corners by using an electrical connector that was poorly equipped to handle riding in damp, rainy conditions.
People sometime ask me what makes a Faraday bicycle expensive. They typically assume that there’s one single item – the frame, the battery, the motor, etc. – that accounts for the vast majority of the bike’s cost. I’ve never had an easy answer to this question, but last night, as Pablo and Olga headed off on their long journey to South America, I realized the answer. QUALITY. The common thread that ties a Faraday’s many hundreds (if not thousands) of pieces together, and in may cases contributes to their expense, is quality – an unwillingness on our part to cut corners on any one item lest we sacrifice the quality of the whole experience. It’s our insistence to go to the far corners of the world to find the right part, even for something as seemingly simple as an electrical connector. We just think it’s the right thing to do. But, we’re also excited for the day when one of our customers has ridden as many miles on their Faraday as Pablo and Olga – and we’ve designed our bikes so they’ll never find themselves knocking on windows at 9 pm in a strange city, looking for new connectors.