1854 Cycling Company: Success Story

A photo of two 1854 ebikes.

Breaking the cycles of poverty and recidivism

Employing the formerly incarcerated to produce electronic bikes

Founded by noted anti-poverty advocate and author Brandale D. Randolph, the 1854 Cycling Company is a premium bicycle, e-bike, and apparel company established to provide meaningful work and a livable wage to the formerly incarcerated, particularly women. By training and employing the formerly incarcerated to build, service, and soon program their electronic bicycles, 1854 Cycling hopes to help them break the cycles of both poverty and recidivism.

The name originates from local Massachusetts history, when on July 4, 1854, the Anti-Slavery Society met in a small grove in Framingham to protest the hypocrisy of celebrating America’s independence while participating in the practice of American slavery. 

Their new flagship police bike, the Bowditch, uses its technology to unite law enforcement with the communities they are serving. A tablet installed on the bicycle allows access to data on homeless shelters, communications with health providers, and student data for college campus patrols.

1854 Cycling’s impact: connecting police & community

In Randolph’s Tedx Talk, “Stop Throwing Breakfast Sandwiches at the Poor,” he speaks at length on the importance of understanding the circumstances of poverty and targeting a specific demographic in order to address it in a productive manner. Using a computer algorithm Randolph was able to pinpoint the demographics of those in poverty in any geographic area, allowing him to better identify underserved populations. One of these populations is single women with criminal backgrounds, 80% of which are mothers. 

To address this underserved population, he turned to developing the talent pipeline for advanced manufacturing, which has seen an extreme labor shortage in recent years. And thus 1854 Cycling was founded, with the core mission of employing the formerly incarcerated. Additionally, proceeds from the purchase of every product are donated to organizations that provide support to the formerly incarcerated. The 1854 Cycling Company believes that by creating a company that provides a sustainable, safe, and nurturing place of employment that pays a local living wage to every employee, they can change our world.

The 1854 Bowditch

Their flagship product is the Bowditch, an e-bike with advanced technology to help law enforcement better serve the public. The 1854 Cycling Company is seeking to change the perception of police bikes, and turn them into a tool rather than a weapon. The Bowditch is intentionally designed to not appear militaristic or invasive, and is positioned to bring law enforcement closer to the communities that they serve. A special console on the bike allows for better coordination and encrypted communication with homeless shelters, health care organizations, and other social service providers. To explore integration with existing softwares, 1854 Cycling is planning a pilot program with select police forces this summer. The bike also has potential applications for restaurant delivery, emergency medical services, search and rescue, college campus security, and more.

“What we’re building now is an ecosystem. The more we figure out what parts we need and how to develop our product here, the less we are tied to the global supply chain and subjected to its disruptions.”

— Brandale D. Randolph, Founder and CEO

FORGE’s impact: Localize your supply chain and protect from global disruptions

In 2019, FORGE connected 1854 Cycling with Exor, a distributor of touch screen interface, displays, and HMI automation, to develop and produce the touch screen console at the base of the e-bike. They entered into a contract for work on the console, and the relationship also helped with HMI design, integration, and dispatching and connecting to the police databases. The work with Exor was for an earlier iteration of the bike which will be transformed into the Bowditch. 1854 Cycling has recently re-engaged with FORGE by attending Product Development Sessions to find new connections to support their scaling operations. 

As a business-to-government (BTG) supplier, and in response to President Biden’s Executive Order establishing domestic preferences related to federal procurement, the 1854 Cycling Company is seeking to work with local suppliers and manufacturers. Thanks to FORGE’s regional network, which is well suited to helping startups meet these federal requirements, roughly 85% of 1854 Cycling’s manufacturing and sourcing is domestic. Since engaging with 1854 Cycling in 2019, FORGE has helped them advance from having identified basic manufacturing implications, all the way to production at scale.

1854 Cycling’s current models include the Garrison and Craft Racer, which are sturdy, sleek bicycles with vintage finishes. They are introducing their first electric mountain bike, the Thoreau, this year. To date, 1854 has sold bicycles and apparel across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Germany, and Sweden. This year they intend to scale up and move their operations to a larger facility in Framingham, Massachusetts. The 1854 Cycling Company has become more than just a premium bicycle and apparel brand, they have become a symbol of the movement to end generational poverty among formerly incarcerated people.