To anyone in the esk8 DIY world, Bergmeister wheels, Kahua trucks, and Senor Pepe wheels need no introduction. An introduction might be necessary, however, for the man behind these products–Timo Wertrimo. Since he likes to keep a low profile and let his products and service do the talking, we thought we’d give the community a closer look at Timo and his acclaimed company Haggyboards.
1. First off, thank you for your time. I guess the best place for us to start is to ask about how you got your start: What made you decide to build the Haggyboard brand?
Bill, thanks for giving us the opportunity to tell the forum about Haggyboard. A couple of years ago, a good friend of mine introduced me to electric skateboards…I was immediately fascinated and hooked. At that time I just moved from Hong Kong to Taiwan and was also looking for a career change. I purchased an Evolve Carbon 1st gen and was extremely happy with it as well as the Evolve Customer Service…particularly being here in Taipei with endless bike tracks in and around the city. At a later stage I wanted to build my own board with components sourced from all 4 corners of the globe. All worked out pretty well but sourcing components from within Taiwan proved somewhat difficult. The decision to build the Haggyboard brand evolved slowly over time and involved a lot of brainstorming with my buddies. The idea was to design a new board from scratch with safety and reliability being the aspects that we put our focus on.
2. Was being based in Taiwan a conscious choice so you have easier access to manufacturers based in Asia and therefor a bigger pool of potential vendors to work with?
Having the company based in Taiwan was not a conscious choice in that I was already in Taiwan when I set up shop. However, the decision to remain in Taiwan was intentional, mainly because of easy access to manufacturers, primarily based in Taiwan but also of course in mainland China. Over the past years we have seen a significant price increase in manufacturing costs in Taiwan without an increase in quality / reduction in lead-time. This is rather unfortunate and I keep reevaluating if staying in Taiwan remains a viable option for Haggyboard in the future.
3. For those not familiar with your brand, what were your first products?
The first products we started selling 9 months ago were our Haggy Drive Systems. Essentially, the same products that you see on our webpage now….over the time we refined our components and also included new items. For a long time, we have been working on a complete board including a custom made BMS, dual ESC and remote control. However, the complete Haggyboard will only be available at a later stage, given that it just takes time to get things right. Controlling and streamlining manufacturing processes is very challenging and our learning curve has been steep from day one. We want to avoid having customers wait for their products, so we only endeavor to sell what we have tested and have physically in stock ready to be sent out.
4. More and more, we are seeing higher-end vendors like Haggyboard selling complete drive trains full assembled. Was this to shorten the time it takes a DIY enthusiast to build his board or more to ensure that all the independent parts work well together and the motor mounts truly secure?
The Haggy Drive Systems based on the Kahua trucks were the first components that we worked on. The idea was to provide the community with a system that just works out of the box and allows for an easy swap between street and all-terrain versions. The ulterior motive was to have a steady stream of income to finance our further development of the complete board. Having looked at all the things that can go wrong with crowdfunded projects, we decided against this way of financing and instead opt for organic growth…it is much slower but the risk of disappointment is greatly reduced. I think all the vendors in this business will agree with me when I say that this is a very dynamic environment with continuous developments happening and new ideas being shared. We always learn a great deal from our customers and their feedback and the forum and use suggestions to make our products better. We had our fair share of hiccups but the idea is to keep on improving and never to give up.
5. With the success of your Bergmeister wheels and a significant market shift towards AT, does this mean that you won’t be making more urethane wheels like your well-received Senor Pepe model? (This is a loaded question designed to probe for the delicious possibility of 100mm Senor Pepe kegels becoming available.)
We love urethane wheels and it is fantastic to see so many new and different sizes in the market. For the time being, we do not have any plans of launching new PU wheels into the market, given that there are already so many high quality wheels out there (Boa 100mm and TB 110mm)…so our focus is to make the Haggy Drive System compatible with these high quality wheels…so you can expect to see new pulleys soon 🙂
6. This last year, you worked together with Jeff Ying of Avio on an AT gear drive system for use with your Bergmeister wheels. How did this collaboration come about?
The cooperation with Jeff (based in Singapore) was a great coincidence. Jeff already had his AVIO Urethane Gear Drive fully developed when he purchased some Bergmeisters. The Bergmeisters fit on any type of standard longboard trucks, given that they use the 608 type bearings…however wheel bite is an issue with standard trucks with normal width…..so Jeff and I got chatting and we came to the conclusion that using his AVIO drive with the extra wide Kahua trucks & the Bergmeisters could work well. It took some time to get it right, but I think the result speaks for itself. Jeff is a very dedicated person who sees things thru….a real pleasure working with Jeff. And perhaps there are new collaboration projects in the pipeline….who knows.
7. Are there any upcoming products you feel at liberty talking about or any direction you feel comfortable discussing?
We have just finished the final prototype round of our own BMS, which eventually will be part of the complete board. For quite some time we have worked on a dual ESC but there are quite some hurdles yet to overcome and a lot more testing and bug hunting is required before the “beast” is released into the wild. You solve one problem and 5 new issues appear….a lot of fun!
Sometime in the next couple of weeks we will start selling motors (6374 type 190kv and 170kv) and a few other extra components such as 49T and 55T press fit pulleys that will make the Bergmeister wheels compatible with TB218 as well as Evolve GT trucks. Apart from that, our main focus will be on increased component compatibility (pulleys etc.) finalizing our dual ESC and having our complete Haggyboard ready as soon as possible. I cannot provide a definite release date, but we are working hard on having the complete Haggyboard released within this year.
8. Do you own any other electric-powered vehicles and if so, what else do you enjoy riding?
Apart from various versions of our prototype Haggyboard, I currently do not have nor use any other electric vehicles. Taipei is a city with a pretty good network of subways / metros, busses and rental bikes…taxis are also cheap as chips….so no real need for me to get on any other mode of transportation. Finding a parking space near our workshop (which is located right in the city centre) is rather nerve-racking. But if I had more money than common sense, I would get myself one of these new electric motor bikes…to mind comes the Harley Livewire.
9. What would you like to see more of in esk8?
It is my hope that we see more development particularly in battery technology. I might be completely mistaken, but it seems to me that we have been stuck with the same battery chemistries for a long time now, chemistries that for the most part are still considered volatile and dangerous. With big car manufacturers pushing for the “e-volution”, I think there is a good chance of new and safer chemistries trickling down into the mainstream markets. It would be great to finally be allowed taking a big battery pack on a plane ride without having to worry.
Had it not been for this great world-wide community of esk8 enthusiasts, I can assure you that Haggyboard would not be where it is now. The community has been of immense help and it is amazing to see that the numbers of esk8ers is growing rapidly. I remember the time when there were only a handful esk8ers in Taiwan and Europe…now we are so much more with plenty of group rides organized. One thing that I would definitely like to see more of in esk8 are lady skaters 🙂 We need more ladies like @sofu.
10. What would you like to see less of in esk8?
Less accidents!…preferably none. I am a strong advocate of appropriate safety gear and I am still puzzled by people willing to risk their lives by not wearing minimum protection.
Interviewee Question: Do you have a question you’d like to ask back to the esk8.news community?
If there was a new single/dual ESC on the market that is not based on the open source VESC structure, which functions/features would you wish for? Benjamin along with Frank/Trampa have done an amazing job giving the community the VESC and we are extremely thankful for that.
We have been looking into a more simplified ESC design that provides everything needed to run high-powered esk8 setups. So what are the type of settings that should be adjustable (apart from the common settings such as battery type, ramping, FOC/BLDC, change of motor direction, auto-calibration, sensored & non-sensored setup)? Which features can you live without and which are extremely important to you?