Set down those bottled brews. Really, stop prying them against your dear friends collar bone. There’s a better way to pop the top then hop on your ride. It has everything to do with highly machinable, lightweight 6061 aluminum and an array of anodized colors to make your bike pals snap your lycra… hey! Your lycra bike seat cover, C’mon.
New start-up SWARM (cheers for coolest design firm name ever) is bringing a fresh idea to bicycle seat posts that will make you push those pedals even harder. It’s a combination bike clamp/bottle opener and it’s their newest venture currently on invention engine Kickstarter.
We caught up with Jon Hart to talk conceptualizing the idea, going through iterations within SolidWorks and what prompted using Kickstarter in the attempt to claim supreme bike clamp/bottle opener dominance.
Taking back the Seat Post
I’m a partner in Swarm, a new design firm in Salt Lake City, UT, along with Wes Garrett and Devin Howells. The three of us have worked together for several years developing products, and have decided to hang our own shingle out. Since we’re new, we are still building our client roster, which means that we have time to work on our own projects.
Living in Utah, there are two things that we must be passionate about – biking and beer. Utah is known for its mountains, so the biking makes sense, but beer? Yep, Utah has some amazing local brews! So we decided to combine our two great passions into one amazing product – a seat clamp for your bike, but with an integrated bottle opener. We’ve dubbed the two versions Nectar and Elixir. Nectar is a fixed clamp, and Elixir is a quick release.
As with any product, the design process involved a bunch of brainstorming. We spend hours sketching ideas. How could we integrate a sharp edge for gripping the bottle cap without adding a dangerous catch point for bikers? How could we make sure that the bottle wouldn’t interfere with the rear tire, or the seat post, or the top tube of the bike? How could we make sure that when opening the bottle, you don’t spill the sweet beverage within? After many sketches, we dove into CAD (using SolidWorks, naturally).
As you know, SolidWorks is awesome for iterating through designs. Once in the CAD environment, we went through at least 10 different designs. Judging each one by both form and function. Early on we had one that we thought was a winner, but then we realized that we had accidentally ripped off the patented design of one of the premier seat clamp manufacturers. Whoops! Had to change! So after many hours of designing and tweaking, we arrived at what you see today- Nectar and Elixir. We settled on this design because it is simple, clean, strong, light, and functional. The quick release lever on Elixir hugs the contour of the clamp, and is super comfortable for your thumb. The lever is long, so you have a ton of leverage (literally!) to lock the clamp down.
Once we had the design dialed in, we had to figure out how to get the Nectar and Elixir into production. We’re new, which means we don’t have a bunch of cash just sitting around. There are 5 standard sizes of bikes, which meant that we needed to open tooling for 5 clamps, and 5 quick release levers. We were looking at a serious up front investment.
It was right about the time we were wrapping up the design that The Glif took off on Kickstarter. “Hmmmmm…” we thought. “Maybe that would work for us.” Then, as we were considering the possibility, LunaTik came along on Kickstarter and shattered every record, raising nearly $1 million. At that point we new we had to give it a shot.
So that’s where we are today. We’ve designed and prototyped the clamps, and they work oh so well. We’ve started working with one of our manufacturers to get them built, and we’ve launched our Kickstarter project. Now all we have to do is spread the word far and wide! The only way that the Kickstarter project will be a success is if we can get our project in front of as many people as possible. Almost everybody has a bike, and most people know that every good ride ends with a beer!
So that’s our story as of today. We’re super excited about Nectar and Elixir. We had a ton of fun designing the clamps, and are hoping that we can share them with the world. If our Kickstarter project succeeds, we will be able to share the joy of having a crisp, cool beer after a ride with the rest of the world. Cheers!
Really interesting, no? To see a good example of a Kickstarter project and how these guys are going about it, check out the SWARM Kickstarter page. While you’re there throw in your support for the project and be one of the first to get one of these fabulous tools to aid in all the hard work of riding and drinking.