The Origin Story of WAU Bikes
A few years back, on the streets of Nottingham, there rode a very early prototype for a new and excitingly different e-bike. It had been hand-built and programmed in a little Beeston garage. It looked sleek, smart, and safe - and clearly, it had been designed to go the distance.
Right from the start, this prototype had fans, known officially as an early adopter audience. These lovely people would see the bike in action and would very kindly voice their approval. The most common piece of feedback, we noticed, was something along the lines of: ‘Oh, wow!’
Our community, which would then continue to blossom, had just given us our company name.
Only, we gave it a little twist. WΛU. We Λre Underdogs.
Our ethos is about winning against all odds. Our story is all about you. Let’s take it back.
The rise of the e-bike
In the UK, there are well over 12,000 miles of signed cycle routes, consisting of shared use paths, minor roads, disused railways, canal towpaths, and traffic-calmed routes in towns and cities.
Add to that the endless network of unofficial paths and country roads, which twist and turn and rise and fall throughout the land. All of this, and more, is just aching to be explored.
For many people, the rise of the e-bike was exactly what was needed. All the joy of riding a regular bicycle, just with a bit of extra help, enabling the user to go further than they’ve ever gone before on two wheels. This was surely the best way to undertake long and exciting tours, to explore new horizons.
But there was a problem
Much to our surprise, riders quickly realised there were no long-range e-bikes on the market. They did not exist. The batteries, while plenty powerful, were sorely lacking in endurance. Quite simply, they could not go the distance. All those miles of potential exploration were going to waste.
What’s worse, even the bare-bones, completely stripped-back short-range e-bikes found on the high street were labelled with a 40-50% distributor mark-up. These bikes were much, much too expensive; riders everywhere were experiencing extreme levels of sticker shock.
You deserved better. Looking from the outside in, we saw not just a problem, but also a solution. So we shared our concerns on social media, touting an idea about a possible long-range e-bike. And the response - from friends, family, and the riding community - was nothing short of overwhelming. The message was clear: a new kind of e-bike was needed, one that could tackle range anxiety while also ensuring road safety, anti-theft, and nationwide servicing. You’d waited long enough; it was time for us to act.
The journey begins
In the beginning, there were three. Linas, with a background in business and mechanical/electronic tech engineering. Crystal, an expert at all things medical, negotiation, and people. And Tony, taking automotive engineering to new and exciting places.
The year was 2017, the nights were closing in, and the micro EV industry was set to explode.
As founders, we plundered the depths of our personal savings to get things up and running. The first-ever WΛU bike was hand-built and programmed in a small garage in Beeston, Nottingham. It was a prototype, and it was beautiful.
Following this, we worked around the clock, running a successful IndieGoGo Campaign supported by early adopters/backers, without whom none of what followed would have been possible.
Further design and testing was done here in Nottingham and Milton Keynes. From day one, our end-users were the true leaders. They showed us the way. As a result, all of the proprietary 7-ton battery cell injection mould toolings, software, and frames, along with the world-first 360-degree smart lights were made. These were the shiny new tools on our shiny new flagship. The WΛU bike was roadworthy, reliable, and ready to shift gears.
Things get crazy
Clearly, production needed ramping up.
We partnered up with a factory in Hong Kong - and then lost count of the number of flights we took. The three of us worked shifts, day and night, on the assembly lines to assist with both the quality and the speed of production. The demand was snowballing, and there was no way we were going to leave it unanswered. Looking back, it was all a blur: sleeping on factory floors, living off noodles, working 100+ hour weeks, and generally doing whatever it took to get our bikes delivered on time.
This wouldn’t have been possible without you, our customers. It was your passion (as well as the noodles) that fueled us. Without it, we’re not sure how we could have gotten through that crazy, crazy time.
And it was all worth it! The WΛU community grew. With the first year under our belts, the first big angel round funding campaign was raised to further expand the community and develop the product. With your feedback and support, this was a joy to fulfill.
Fast Forward to 2020. Covid. Suddenly, people had more time on their hands. Many looked out their windows and realised that there was a whole lot of country to be explored. This led to a spike in the micro EV industry; people were hearing about e-bikes, and were evidently keen to try one for themselves.
Rather quickly, therefore, our forecasted 2020 stock sold out. Demand was soaring, and no amount of noodles could help us to meet it. So the race was on: more British engineers were hired and trained, bolstering the workforce with their passion and expertise. Thanks to them, WΛU bikes were back in the fast lane.
The wheels keep turning
The WΛU bike is now in its fifth iteration, and our audience is now global. As well as the UK, WΛU bikes can be found in the US, Canada, Mexico, Germany, France, Belgium, and Japan, to name but a few. To serve such a wide range of cultures is a dream come true.
We recently made one of our most significant moves to date, opening a new factory in Essex. All the designing, testing, and manufacturing is now done here in Britain, bringing it full-circle. In addition, we’ve been lucky enough to work with the British Bentley engineering team, whose expertise helps to ensure that the quality of our bikes remains second-to-none.
And because of all of your continued support, WΛU bikes can come to you directly: we skip Halfords and other large chains, reducing the cost for riders. This is part of our commitment to helping the e-bike community as a whole.
WΛU is currently on track to grow organically by x2 to x3 each year. As we speak, plans are being finalised to kick this whole thing into overdrive. The aim is basically to scale as much as possible, together with shortly opening a new HQ office. What this means, really, is that we’re just getting started.
But as we look forward, it’s important also to look back, to remember where we’ve come from. These have been the craziest, scariest, and most challenging years of our lives - but they’ve also been the most rewarding, and we wouldn’t change them for the world.
Sure, we took a plunge, dropped out of university, worked 100+ hour weeks, slept on concrete factory floors, ate nothing but plain noodles, and declined salaries as founders - but we’ve also had the opportunity to do some truly incredible things. For instance, there was this one time in Silicon Valley when we jumped, altogether, out of a plane at 18,000 feet as a team-building exercise (bearing in mind, we’re all terrified of heights!). We were also invited to YCombinator, and have partaken in a bunch of other random shenanigans, all of which have added to this absolute rollercoaster of a ride.
But the best experience of all has been providing you with an innovative, smart, and safe long-range e-bike. You showed us the way, and you continue to guide us with your passion and support. Without you, there is no us, no WΛU.
It’s our mission to continue delivering what you need and what you deserve so that you, the real heroes of this story, can truly go the distance.