We received the first prototype bike seat backrest today from our factory in China and overall we're very pleased. The backrest installed easily, was very sturdy and comfortable, and panniers were easy to hang onto the side rails of the backrest frame. There are some elements of the prototype to clean up, but overall it met all of our requirements and is very close to being ready to start manufacturing!
The factory did a great job packaging the prototype, almost too good in fact. It was triple-wrapped in bubble-wrap, then completely taped up. It took me almost twenty minutes to cut away all of the bubble-wrap!
We did some home-grown load testing to make sure that the backrest could support reasonable weight against it and it held up without a problem. We also filled a pannier with over 25 pounds of water and hung it on the side rail and there were no issues at all. It's very sturdy, and we have just a couple aesthetic elements to clean up to be ready for production.
As soon as the Chinese New Year holiday is finished the factory will start making a second prototype, accounting for all of our change-requests based on this prototype. Hopefully manufacturing won't be too far around the corner from there!
Earlier this week Blake finished up the designs for our bike seat pannier hooks! We spent a couple of weeks trying to figure out a way to make the pannier hooks compatible with the backrest. Then we decided no need ... we'll just make the backrest capable of hanging panniers onto the side rails of the backrest, and avoid the compatibility issue altogether!
The factory is shipping this prototype out to us as we speak and we expect to receive it sometime next week. We'll provide an update as soon as we have this new prototype in hand. If all looks good, we'll start manufacturing right after Chinese New Year!
Remember, ALWAYS wear a HELMET!