A little over a year ago I sent my first email to Eric of Lunacycle.com right after he first started his ebike ebusiness. 2 months ago I packed up the minivan and headed out on a 6000-mile journey to meet him and see the whole Lunacycle operation. The idea was that I would actually work for him for a month and get paid (wow a real job) helping him set up his new ebike shop in LA. Driving across the US was a pretty hard thing to do by myself and I when I was doing it couldn’t help but have the overwhelming feeling that this was a nation in serious decline. I have driven across the country about 25 times in my life and where there used to be a lot of interesting shops and stores decades ago, now it seems like America has become an endless string of Walmarts, strip malls and fast food restaurants. In so many ways it was intensely depressing, what happened to American culture? When I hit LA, my depression took hold pretty hard and it became hard to function at all.
I’m not sure what made me think that I could just drive across the country and work for a month like a normal person, but in retrospect it was pretty nieve of me. While it was great meeting Eric and Ashley, after a few days I felt like I needed to flee LA from the traffic and the noise and mostly all the people everywhere. Eric didn’t judge me and he wasn’t a jerk, instead he just dropped everything he was doing and decided that we should do some riding together. He got in touch with Josh Fisher from the shop and arranged a night trail ride with him and his dad Curt Fisher in Torrence. Although I could not work for Eric in the time I was there, that was the night that changed my trip to LA and this article is about how everyone associated with Lunacycle influenced me for that month I was on the west coast.
It’s easy to judge someone who suffers from Depression if you’ve never had it. My belief is that this comes from the inability of people to imagine themselves ever getting really sick. I consider myself a depression survivor, in that for vast stretches of my life I’ve had a hard time seeing the silver lining and mostly just resented being alive at all. When I get sick I have a mantra that I repeat over and over in my head “just do the work”. The work is not working at a job, but rather working at myself. Taking care of myself, eating enough of the right kinds of foods, getting enough sleep, getting several hours of exercise every day. If I do all those things with enough focus and energy I can usually crawl my way out of the deepest depressions.
For the last several years I’ve done really well, but the election and a healthy dose of news addiction were what started the decline. Although news addictions sounds pretty pathetic, I have a very addictive personality and I have to be very careful how much sugar I eat, how much TV I watch and how often I check Google News. I can’t even consider having a drink, or eating desert or doing so many of the things that most people take for granted. The slightest indulgence sends me over the edge.
I had seen Josh and Curt originally in the Father’s Day video here which I still believe is the best video Lunacycle has ever released. Every time I watch it I feel like ‘these guys have it, they have what everyone else is trying to get’. I think of my own relationship with my partially estranged son and I feel like sometimes I would do just about anything to have him want to go for a bike ride or a hike with me.
Meeting Curt and Josh Fisher was everything I thought it would be and more and that night ride was a huge turning point for my trip to LA. Curt had a house in Torrance that we all met at and we spent two hours hitting tons of great single-track trails around Curt’s house. There was even one drop that scared me pretty good and Eric almost lost it on when his bike light flew off the handlebars on a very sketchy descent. I was riding my crappy full suspension build ‘My Little Bronie’ with a 14Ah 52v GA shark pack and everyone else was on 50 Amp Ludacris powered fat bikes. At one point we ran into a large group of other mountain bike riders and I was surprised that they were genuinely nice about our ebikes and instead of scowling and giving us a hard time they said stuff like ‘nice ebikes’ and ‘those must be fun’. This is a very far cry from the kind of reactions I’ve gotten accustomed to on an ebike which generally are far more negative. I’m not sure if it is just that the people in California are nicer than everywhere else in the US or the fact that it is the only state with an actual reasonable set of e-bike laws that is why the attitude is so much better there.
After the ride, Curt brought out his 72v 3000W Cyclone Luna cargo bike build. In my wildest dreams, I never thought that the bike would be as much fun as it was to ride, but it was all that and more. I spent almost 30 minutes just zooming up and down the road at night at almost 40mph while Curt and Eric watched on. At one point I even went to hit a big bump in the road to see how well the non-suspended cargo bike would do and while I expected to be thrown off the bike the fat tires absorbed almost all of the impact. It was such a great build I resolved to make one for myself and documented his ebike on my blog here. That was the first custom build that anyone else had ever done that I felt was worthy of a place on my blog.
Curt was incredibly friendly and offered to let me stay in his vacant home in Torrance during my stay in LA. I refused at first, mostly it was because I didn’t understand how someone who I had just met would so happily hand over the keys to his really nice house in a really nice part of LA. I thought he was absolutely crazy. After a while, I began to realize that Curt felt like he intimately knew me from this blog, and that it had helped him get into ebikes in a big way. I get a lot of negative flack from people on the internet and sometimes it can be hard to see that my efforts actually are much more of a benefit to many people than I am likely to ever realize. I write because I feel like it is something I can do to help me understand myself and the world I live in. If people can get benefits off of my efforts then that is a great thing, but ultimately my creative endeavors are a completely selfish act.
My first impression of Eric was that he looks like a crazy homeless person. His passion for ebikes far outweighs his interest in personal grooming or how he is dressed. It’s funny to see him walk into the most expensive hotels and restaurants and plop down like he owns the place and just start ordering stuff. He was incredibly generous when I was there, although I could not eat most of the fancy foods that were ordered. I’ve figured out that a strict diet of rice and beans and lots of veggies is really what I need to stay sane. Any sugar or wheat products always affect me in a very negative way. Eric was incredibly accommodating to me and not only offered me a place to stay but also cars, bikes, anything I needed to make my stay more comfortable. The thing that struck me about Eric was how many balls he was able to keep in the air at one time. The Luna warehouse is way too small for their operation and everyone works like crazy to get all the orders filled in an orderly fashion. When you go to the shop it is always totally chaotic all the time. Eric is more like a father than a boss, he has a playful kind of energy and an intense excitement about the ebike industry that I’ve never seen in anyone else. Other ebike shop owners often seem more interested in profits than the products they are actually selling. Eric is the exact opposite, he doesn’t seem to care that much at all about money and is much more interested in creating new and exciting products to sell. Like me, he is someone who actually rides, and when you get on these ebikes and start pushing them to their limits you quickly realize that we all have a long way to go.
I had talked to Ashley a couple times briefly on the phone but mostly knew her from what Eric had said about her on the phone. There are people on the internet that say that Ashley is in some way being exploited by Lunacycle, and nothing could be farther from the truth. If Eric is the father of Lunacycle then Ashley is undeniably its mother. If Ashley was to get hit by a bus, then Lunacycle would simply no longer function. While Eric is the idea and internet man, Ashley is the undisputed commander of the Luna army. She makes everything happen and keeps track of so many things in her head at the same time. Not only is she beautiful, she is also Chinese so she understands the Chinese culture and customs. In many ways, the relationship between Eric and Ashley is a perfect match as it bridges two distinctly different cultures with a beauty and grace that I have rarely seen. Although she is incredibly attractive, she never uses that for leverage. People work hard for her because she is just an awesome person and they really love her. Ashley is also a 50% owner in Lunacycle and from what I can tell she works every bit as hard as Eric does to make things happen. When I was stranded with a dead Lunascooter on the Strand and Eric disappeared for 90 minutes Ashley was the one I called. She is the command central and always knows what is happening everywhere. She got us an Uber back to our cars and billed it to the Luna account and we didn’t have to deal with paying for the ride or the tip. When I was in LA I told Eric several times that his relationship with Ashley is the most important thing in his life and to not take it for granted and to never forget that.
Josh is the closest thing to a shop manager you will find at Lunacycle, but it can be hard even for him to control all the chaos. I loved talking to Josh, and he shares my passion for not only ebikes, but also for riding intermediate singletrack terrain. He is charismatic and smart, when he does videos they are not only informative but also compelling. In front of the camera, he is a real natural and you can tell that he is one of the few people on this earth that is totally comfortable in his own skin. He doesn’t try to pretend he’s something that he is not, when he doesn’t know the answer to a problem he goes out and finds it instead of trying to bullshit his way along. In short, he is a large part of what Lunacycle is and the direction that it is growing in. Like Eric and Ashley he seems a lot more interested in the people than in profits. The overwhelming feeling I got at Luna was that they were going to do everything they possibly could do to take care of their customers, even if it meant they were going to make a lot less money doing it that way. Josh invited me into his home while I was there where I got to meet his beautiful wife Danae. Not only was it some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in my life, the next morning I got to go trail riding with Josh and Danae for about 90 minutes in Torrance. To have a wife that cooks like that and can hit the trails as hard as she does makes Josh one of the luckiest guys I know. His father Curt is one of the nicest, smartest and most generous people I’ve ever met. Not only did he let me stay in his house in Torrance for a week, he also offered up his summer-house at Joshua Tree for us to stay in for a week. The amount of trust and love he shared with me and my wife was incredibly moving for both of us during a very trying time for us.
Josh The Professor
Josh the Professor is in charge of all things battery at Lunacycle. He is quiet and funny at the same time, but he also knows his stuff when it comes to batteries. Luna is working on doing things that no one else is doing on the scale they are. They have invested in a full machine shop and while I was there some dude from SpaceX was there carefully measuring bike frames with a 3D machine. The coordinates for the new frames get fed into the plastic molding machines which allows Luna to build really nice custom battery boxes for any frame they get their hands on. While I was there they also got a very large format 3D printer which would also be able to easily make large battery boxes for any frame. Eric is talking about actually building custom 18650 battery packs in the US which no one else is doing on a massive scale right now. Without Josh, it would be impossible for them to do that as Josh is the man behind the custom packs at Luna. When Eric wants to try the new Luna Apocolypse scooter with a 72v pack he just says ‘Josh make me a 72v pack for the Lunascooter’ and walla, one will magically appear a few hours later. I really loved Josh’s energy and enthusiasm for ebikes. He was not only smart, but had a solid work ethic and seemed to enjoy being part of the Luna team.
While there were many, many other people that worked and contributed to the success of Lunacycle, these were the main 4 of the Luna dream team that I got to know best during my time there. I have spent over $5600 on kits and bikes from Lunacycle in the last year and a half and I can say with some certainty that I have never regretted a single penny I’ve ever sent them. Every product that has lot lived up to my unreasonable expectations they have repaired or replaced for free. I have never gotten any flack from them about breaking stuff and in so many ways they look at my abuse of their products as being incredibly valuable for their business. I doubt there is anyone out there who rides the Lunacycle products harder than I do, and my testing of their products helps them to build better stuff to sell. Although it is a shame that I couldn’t work and contribute to Lunacycle the way I wanted to, it was still an amazing experience for me to see their operation and meet the people who make it happen.
Right now is a pretty hard time for Lunacycle. Their competition is not ‘playing fair’ and has decided to try to sick every government agency they can on them in the hopes that the business will get shut down (true story). I can’t tell you how distasteful I find this, and when I look at these other ebike kit sellers doing this I have to wonder what kind of darkness is in their hearts. How do they sleep at night while trying to rat out the competition instead of just lowering their prices and trying to compete like they should? They are not interested in moving the industry forward, they are interested in only one thing, and that is their own profits. When you worship the almighty dollar then you end up missing out on all the really good things in life. When it gets right down to it the question really arises, who do you want to give your money to? If you support ebike profiteers who slander other companies and try to mislead their customers about what their products are and where their products come from or who makes them then after a while that’s all you’re going to be able to buy from. The reality of the situation is that the best thing that Luna could do is close up their US shop and move to Hong Kong and run the whole business from there. They could make a lot more money and charge a whole lot less for their products. Eric is committed to creating jobs and many of his products right here in the US (mounting adapters, chainrings, tools, custom batteries and boxes). The fact that it is a little more expensive than many Chinese ebike kit resellers has a lot to do with the fact that labor in America is a lot more expensive. Again you have to ask yourself, who do you want to support?
When I spent time with Luna I felt like I was part of a family. It might have been a large, disorganized and somewhat dysfunctional family, but there was no shortage of love. I knew when Lunacycle first started that I wanted to support Eric and everything he was trying to do because electricbike.com was such a huge part of my introduction to ebikes. I really wanted to find a way to pay him back for all the work he did with that site. Although my site gets a tiny fraction of the traffic that electricbike.com does, I have worked hard in many ways to imitate his site a try to create something that is actually really useful to people. I try not to review products that I don’t actually use, and I try to keep the content relevant. I don’t know if I’ve succeeded, but I really have tried. I want to help grow Eric & Ashley’s newly formed empire of Lunacycle.com and electricbike.com and I will do everything I can to make that happen, the rest is up to the Luna family.
I am glad to think of myself as part of it, even though I’m not really part of it at all.