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Reinventing The Wheel

Behind the scenes with Bike Engineers and Entrepreneurs. Fortified Bicycle Alliance.

Manufacturing with One Hand Tied Behind our Back

Hi all,

Time for us to give you an update on how these lights are progressing.

Delivery Date: It’s mid-January now. That means you can’t give these as holiday gifts – and that makes us really sad.  Our advisors remind us, “that’s the nature of startups,” but such reassurances aren’t going to diminish our commitment to getting you the world’s best bike lights as soon as possible.

The Problem: The bike lights have 3 unresolved bugs:

1. Front housing is loose (recently solved! See below for details)

2. Lens on/off button is hard to push

3. Secret battery door is hard to open

The Good News: We know exactly how to solve each “bug.” 

The Bad News: We are limited in the changes we can make because we’ve already started the tooling (molds) for the bike lights.  We can tweak these molds, but the tweaks must be “steel-safe“.  While we’d love to create new tooling, this would push us back 60-90 days – and you can’t wait that long. Subsequently, our engineers are basically designing solutions with one of their hands tied behind their backs.

The Solution: Jonathan, our brilliant new MechE, came up with several workarounds. In short, he came up with a clever way to machine the parts after they come out of the mold, which enables us to test our various solutions to each problem.

Here are a couple pictures we wanted to show you of items we’ve recently machined.

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 3.41.33 PM

Orange arrows point to the groove that controls the locking of the battery door.  These machined “jigs” are designed to dial in the battery collar locking/unlocking tightness. Too loose = water ingress. Too tight and it’s hard to open.  We wish we did these 12 months ago but each sample costs ~$1000 and we didn’t have enough money then.  Pennywise, pound foolish.  Lesson learned.

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 3.44.30 PM

The front housing of the light was loose.  Jonathan, came up with a clever solution: he added “fins” (green arrows) that fit into “holes” (pink arrows) and keep the housing from moving.  We’ll explain the jiu-jitsu genius of this over a beer another time, but it is genius.

Next Steps: We’ve been on the phone with the factory from 9-10:30pm four night/week for the last 3 months in order to get these solution implemented. In the coming weeks, our factory will mirror these prototypes in preparation for mass production.  Once our solutions have been approved, our Director of Operations (Bruno) will be traveling to Shenzhen to oversee production.

Thanks for sticking it through with us – we can’t tell you how much we appreciate your support.

9 Arguments Against Cycling that Just Don’t Hold Water


Can’t we all just get along?


Fortified Bicycle was launched with a simple vision in mind: to advocate for the underrepresented population of city cyclists and to empower everyone to ride bicycles everyday.

Nevertheless, we don’t hate cars. We know they’re not inherently bad and we know they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so it’s important for cyclists and drivers to engage in healthy conversations about how we can all work together to improve conditions for everyone.

Part of those healthy discussions is debunking tired myths about how cars are pure evil or how all cyclists ignore the rules of the road. This piece by Adam Mann, titled “9 Things Drivers Need to Stop Saying in the Bikes vs. Cars debate, is a great place to pick up the conversation.

So what do you think? Are there any other common narratives you’d like to question?

Kazzy Saito: Mechanic, Racer and Trail Builder


Kazzy Saito is a mountain bike racer, a trail builder and bike mechanic based out of Carbondale, Colorado. We met at Interbike and I was immediately swept up by his knowledge, his passion and his commitment to all things cycling.  We chatted recently about riding, racing and his love for his hometown.     


You came to America from Japan at the age of twelve, what were your first impressions of this country?

It felt huge. I came here by myself without my family. I went to a Japanese high school inTennessee, then lived in South Carolina until 2005 before moving to Colorado. Wow! I’ve been here over 20 years. Still living my dream as a cyclist!

When did you start getting into Cycling?

Well, I’ve been riding bikes since I was little. I was also a soccer player, but I seriously started as a XC mountain biker in 1998, then started racing downhill in 2000. I’m still racing DH, 4X, DS and XC. I just love to ride and meet new people. I love to share my passion as a cyclist.

What else are you up to these days?

I work for Singletrack Trails at the moment. We build mountain bike trails, bike parks and pump tracks. Basically we travel and build trails. And I’m a bike mechanic as well.

What’s the latest trail project?

Right now I’m in Glendo, WY building XC mountain biking trials. It’s in Glendo State Park.

What’s the most memorable trail you’ve created and where is it?

Last summer I went to Nashville, TN and built an awesome mountain bike trail at Warner Mountain bike trails. Each trail is from a different trail builder and each one has a different taste. You have to go there and ride!

What’s you favorite placed to ride?

I would say my home town, Carbondale, CO.  It’s a great biking community for sure. You find all kinds of cyclists: mountain bikers, road bikers, townies… It’s all about cycling. If you want to know about the cycling scene in Carbondale the place to go is Aloha Mountain Cyclery. They are great people. Come on out, I’ll show you around and take you for great ride. It doesn’t matter what kind of bike, because I ride all kinds!!

Another Tool to Help you Outsmart Bike Thieves

Screen-Shot stolen bikes

A heatmap detailing the most risky places to park your bike (h/t Hotpads)

At Fortfied, we regularly put all of our basic human needs on the backburner so we can focus on what matters most: creating new products that empower city cyclists own the road and ride without fear everyday. So it’s safe to assume that we get pretty excited when we discover tools that others have created that advance our mission.

That’s why we got pretty giddy when we saw this awesome new heat map put together by the good folks at Hot Pad that city cyclists can use to learn which areas of each city are particularly risky for bike theft.

Consider this one more tool in your toolbox for outwitting the bike crooks and other ne’er-do-wells who are lurking around your city.

The newest fad in bicycle tires: ice wheels!

While we’ve been busily working to empower city cyclists to own the road and ride without fear, we totally neglected the segment of cyclists who are in dire need of an Ice Bike!

Our bad guys, but never fear, Colin Furze has you covered.

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