Velotton, the Polish company behind the Vekkit e-bike conversion kit, have accused British conversion kit makers Swytch of doctoring one of their images in an email sent out to Swytch newsletter subscribers. In a statement, Swytch have now admitted to the error which they claim was down to a bizarre mix-up in their marketing department, in which an image of the Vekkit kit was mistaken for a design concept that was then sent out to newsletter subscribers for feedback.
On Tuesday eBikeTips received an email from Velotton, accusing Swytch of offering customers "a new product using photoshopped images of existing kits made by Vekkit". Screenshots revealed that the image was presented as a concept for a new, more affordable Swytch kit called the Swytch PAK; this image was in fact the Vekkit kit with Swytch's logo placed over the top of the original logo. Vekkit said in a statement that was also posted on their Instagram account:
"Yesterday (July, 20th) Swytch Bike company sent out a newsletter to their subscribers with a pre-order form for their new product. In the form, photographs of existing kits by Vekkit by Velotton brand were used, with a photoshopped Swytch logo.
"E-bike kits by Vekkit (vekkit.com) are being sold since April 2020. They were developed and are being produced in Krakow, Poland.
"The Velotton sp. z o.o. company spent more than a year to develop all the hardware, firmware, mobile applications as well as the handlebar bag design to create the most practical and innovative way to convert any regular bicycle into an e-bike."
As you can see above and as cited in our article on the Vekkit kit launch last month, the two systems look pretty similar, with front hub motors and the battery sitting in a bag on the handlebars. This, say Swytch, is the reason the doctored image was created, as it was sent to their legal team to assess the similarities between Swytch and the competitor product.
Somehow, this internal image created months earlier managed to make it onto a file of ten mock-ups for the Swytch PAK, with these images being sent randomly to a small number of newsletter subscribers. Swytch explained in a statement:
"The Swytch kit was originally designed and launched in 2017, and since then we have delivered over 10,000 kits to over 50 countries worldwide.
In 2020, due to an unprecedented demand for Swytch kits we now have over 150,000 people in the UK, EU and USA who have registered their interest to purchase a kit.
To make the Swytch kit further accessible to all, and reach even more of the 1 Billion bicycle owners world-wide, we are currently at the very early stages of investigating the demand for a simplified and even more affordable version of the Swytch kit.
To this end, 10 different mockups of potential future Swytch kit designs were recently generated by Swytch, in order to gauge interest in the idea, and test what design concepts were popular amongst a very small subset of the Swytch mailing list. Recipients received at random one of 10 different design mockups, and were invited to register their interest in the product concept.
A number of months prior to this, an internal image was created within Swytch, showing how a newly introduced competitor product was to the two pre-existing Swytch designs, which was passed to the Swytch legal team for further investigation.
Unfortunately, this internal image was mistaken as an actual Swytch product design concept by a junior marketing associate, and ultimately used on one of the 10 closed survey invites that were sent out at random to a small subset of the Swytch signup list.
Swytch apologises for this mistake, and has removed the image from all past and future closed surveys.
Customers interested in being part of the Swytch user research into potential future versions of the Swytch kit are advised to first sign up to our pre-launch mailing list on www.swytchbike.com. Then, following that, there is an approximately 0.1% chance of being randomly selected to receive a closed survey to vote on different design or specification options.”
So, we think it's safe to say, Swytch won't be sending out any more emails using the Vekkit kit in the future!
Swytch successfully crowdfunded their first e-bike kit on Indiegogo back in 2017, and since 2019 have been selling a much smaller and lighter version. Back in May, they revealed they had 100,000 people on a waiting list for the new kit due to a boom in interest during the pandemic. Vekkit launched in 2020, and is made by Krakow-based backpack specialists Velotton. They claim all parts are made in Europe, with everything but the motor developed in their own workshop using 3D-printing.