Ludovico Santasilia and his business partner Alberto Bellotti identified a gap in the cycling making industry which led to the creation of Velorapida. They now enables cycling lovers to drive a ‘bicicletta’ that bears a strong design with attention to details and a very innovative technology. Although electric cycling have evolved to become more effective it still means showy battery systems that kills any nice overall design as stylished it might be. Now this has been made history since Velorapida makes it possible to even totally hide the battery. As car makers such as BMW or Volvo are presenting new solutions that either inhilate any noise or make the battery charging invisible, it is clear that Santasilia and Bellotti have spotted the right gap. What is now a main stream trend is of course relevant for bike users as well, technology is essential but it must remain discreet. However their collection that is both for men and women has really nothing to hide ! Here we talk with Santasilia (pictured above, and with Bellotti below) in an exclusive interview.
Madame Business : I don’t know about Italy but in France we are confronted to a negative state of mind that tends to slow down any attempt of enterpreneurship. How do you handle with this issue in Italy ?
Ludovico Santasilia : Italy is since a long time going through a crisis, which is not economic, but cultural. It involves all the principal categories, from the church to the businesses, the politics and trade unions, sport and culture. You have to be crazy to start up a new company today in Italy. Unless you have a good idea. Something that no one thought about before. Something that you are the first to like. But It is important not to think at geographical markets: our market is not Italy, is electric biking with style, around the world, thanks to e-commerce.
MB : How did you start Velorapida ? What makes it so different ?
LS : Velorapida started because there are still “gaps” in the market, space for new ideas and niche positioning: you see a lot of nice and elegant bikes around the world, but no vintage electric ones. Nothing. We decided to produce an electric bike with an Italian style, we put together beauty and technology. How we made it? We thought that bringing the battery in front and hide it in a leather bag, reducing the cables, was possible and would make it more beautiful. We found a laboratory in Milan, they loved the idea of producing an e-bike different from the one they were producing or selling before. We started to study and test our first bike, the Style model, the first electric bike in the world with rod-brakes. A Velorapida doesn’t look like any other electric bike. In fact, It doesn’t look like an electric bike: Its battery hidden away in a hand-stitched leather bag or woven basket, the Velorapida is a celebration of vintage-style frames and accessories, artisanal craftsmanship, and the highest quality materials
MB : There is a lot of buzz about both Made in Italy and Made in France labelled products ? Are Velorapida made in Italy ? And what about the industrial process ?
LS : Each Velorapida bike is handcrafted with a fine attention to detail, is equipped with a 250 watt motor and electric battery coming from China which allow it to develop a speed of 25 kmh with an autonomy for 50 km. The frame is one of the lightest in its class, is liquid painted as per the best Italian tradition, its weight is lower and the colour is more vivid highlighting the details. All bikes are equipped with an LCD display to control and adjust the speed (5 levels) and check the mileage. Velorapida mounts automatic transmissions SRAM inside the rear hub with the advantage of having the chain taut and always in line: therefore allows a comfortable ride even when there is no electrical function. Is equipped with front and rear brake mode, the wheels are spoked by hand with stainless steel spokes reinforced for added strength and safety. The vintage lighting system comes from Germany.
MB : Ludovico, you know I myself ‘drives’ an Abici Granturismo so I am quite a fan of what you call ‘vintage’. But what I like about Velorapida is that it doesn’t put technology aside caring only about style. How did you manage that balance ?
LS : We have been lucky to find the right partner to produce our bikes: is an artisan in Milan that first of all liked our project and understood that the market is changing and bikes are becoming luxury products. But they also knew the technology inside an electric bike. When we started the tests we were not sure about the final results: we have been the first in the world to produce an electric bike with a battery in front. We use a special battery and built a special structure to contain it and we reinforced the front wheels. It works and our first customers just love it!
MB : How do react to new urban policies, evolving social behaviors … all inviting a lot of us to actually use bikes and change our vision of mobility ?
LS : I think that we have to consider three different kind of potential customers: those who want a bike to move at low costs, those who are real bikers and like the freedom of biking, those who like beauty and love to experiment the freedom of moving with a faster bike. We target this third category. They don’t like Ferrari. They like an old Alfa Romeo that goes as fast as a Ferrari. In the first months of activity, we discovered that all those who tried our bikes, loved them and bought one. After a short ride they were screaming with happiness and surprised about what an electric bike is. The development of the market will therefore be affected by public policies and by the strong competition that brings innovation, but even more by word of mouth. If biking gives you a sense of freedom, electric biking gives you a more powerful freedom.
MB : Any upcoming projects for Velorapida ?
LS : Innovation and customization. First of all we will develop “customization” more and more: Velorapida offers the possibility, upon request, to design a personalized electric bike, choosing the frame, the colours, the handlebar and most details. We deliver your personalized e-bike in 3 weeks. Then we are launching within Christmas a new model, The Chrome, a rod brakes electric bike with every single detail chrome plated. We are also testing new smaller batteries with iphone charger. We are developing our sales to Hotels and we are now entering the UK and Germany markets. Next countries we will target are Denmark, France, Holland, Switzerland, although consumers can already buy on line on Velorapida.
MB : Any enterprise you fancy or that inspires you ?
LS : Spotify. The music streaming market existed since a long time, but they found a “gap”and started a successful business out of it.
Grazie mille Ludovico !
You can order your own Velorapida on the shop with delivery wherever you want : Velorapida