FLX Bike’s Rob Rast and Pete Leaviss Are Offering E-ssistance as You Pedal Through Life
Written By: Ben Hitch
Photography Provided By: FLX Bikes
It certainly wasn’t love at first sight for FLX Co-Founder Rob Rast, as he once believed “other e-bikes looked like a science fair contraption with wires and boxes everywhere.” He was a cyclist that wanted to go faster, climb higher and ride longer—he knew that the e-bike was the answer, but the right bike had yet to be built. Before the designs were delivered to the factory, Rast embarked on a 500-mile ride around his then-home island of Hainan. The journey was long and lonely with many obstacles met along the way, including painfully sleepless nights, typhoon season (which started with two days left on the ride) and muscles that refused to pedal any further. He completed the journey but vowed never to spin a similar ride again.
After returning to California for a brief stint in the aviation industry, Rast returned to Beijing and, in 2014, got an Airbnb reservation for his spare room, not knowing that destiny would be knocking. Destiny’s real name was Pete Leaviss; the two quickly became great friends, and after talking over a beer (or two or three), a bike company was born. Rast and Leaviss were enthralled by the thousands of electric scooters zipping around China but wanted more distance, comfort and versatility. The two sought to build a bike that was affordable and one that people would look forward to riding—including themselves.
Things sped up quickly for Rast, and after 1½ years and six prototypes, the team released three models to crowdfunding site Indiegogo, which proved monumental to FLX’s birth. In a mere 60 days, FLX raised over $2 million from thousands of orders, leading Rast to pack his bags and move to the Shanghai factory where he and Leaviss spent “many, many nights sleeping on factory floors, pulling all-nighters, organizing order data and inspecting every single detail of every customer’s bike before they went out to make sure everything was the way we envisioned.” The team was dedicated and willing to give it all to ensure delivery and the forthcoming success of FLX.
Now back in San Diego, Rast and FLX offer an arsenal of five bikes for mountain adventure and cruising around city streets. On top of FLX, Rast and the team have recently introduced Miles, a sister company of electric skateboards. Rast and Leaviss proved to themselves (and the world) that they could craft an e-bike to revolutionize the industry while pushing the style and steeze factor not commonly found in other bikes. They oversaw the entire production: from a concealed mid-motor to hydraulic disc brakes, and from thru-axles to all the TI-83 Plus calculations to power the bike and get the most out of the battery.
You can generally find Rast at the FLX Showroom on Morena Boulevard with electric wizardry scribbled all over his whiteboard, always trying to better the bike’s performance. If he’s not at the office, he’s out riding around on the Roadster or test riding the soon-to-be-released Babymaker. So when it comes time to pedal, don’t overexert yourself; instead, think of Rast’s Hainan saga and his commitment to put FLX Bikes in the hands of bike enthusiasts around the world.
4170 Morena Blvd, Ste D
San Diego, CA 92117