October 14, 2016 / no comments


THOMAS COLEMAN DU PONT, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania invented a bicycle-carrier for the purpose of carrying a bike on a train or streetcar.  This patent was filed on September 29, 1897 and likely the genesis for today’s bike rack carriers seen on many public transportation system across the world.

Thomas Du Pont was of the same well known family. A brief bio on his storied past can be found here.

While this invention may not have fulfilled the commercial success that he wished for, it’s fun to imagine how he may have come up with the idea. Bicycles in the late 1800’s weighed between 30-35 pounds and unless actually riding them, cumbersome to transport.  He owned a public rail system and likely saw passengers struggling to schlep a bike onto one of his rail cars and thought there must be a better way.  Cheers to you Thomas.

September 2016 Patent of the Week- Amphibious Bike

September 16, 2016 / no comments

pctkr2009001508-appb-d000001-2 pctkr2009001508-appb-d000005A patent was filed in June 1974 for the protection of the idea creating an amphibious bike. Benjamin Carter Locher of St. La Porte Texas created a bike which can be converted to use in water with an added propulsion and floating system . This was accomplished by attaching pontoons on both the front and rear of a bike.


A principal feature and object of the invention is to provide a readily retractable and deployable flotation gear that is adapted to be carried by the cycle in retracted position when the cycle is operated on the land and in the deployed position when operated in water.


Full patent information can be found here.


September 16, 2016 / no comments


2016 will go down as the summer of heat. Record breaking temperatures inspires a lemonade stand moguls dreams to come true. Arriving home one recent hot Friday, I noticed a lemonade stand as I turned the corner onto my street. A smile on my face grew when I realized it was one of my kids promoting her thirst quenching products. Ice water with slice of lemon- 25¢, Lemonade – 50¢, and duct-tape wallets- $3.00.


Pulling into our driveway was not happening since the lemonade stand was well positioned near the street in full visibility of passerby’s. To her credit she realized people needed to see her and the simple homemade sign showing products and prices appropriately displayed. “How are sales?” I asked. “Ok- we made $42.50 so far” said my daughter. I was so happy for her and her fellow partner. She undoubtedly had over 80 customers visit her pop-up kiosk in about 4 hours.


I was grumpy because no new sales occurred that day in our business and wondered how the heck did she outsell our company. Being a newer brand I realize zero sales can occur until word of mouth and awareness are established. That does not mean I like the fact that a lemonade stand outsold us even if it is my daughter. So I decided to look at our website just to be sure no technical issues exists and blown away with what I saw. The good news was the site was there and visible. The bad news is it took 19 seconds to load the site on my mobile phone – Yes I measure the time. In today’s instant response, need-it-now world, 19 seconds is the kiss of death.


My research shows 95% of web traffic abandons the site for a webpage taking over six seconds to load. To put it in the context of my daughters lemonade stand, it is the equivalent if she setup shop in our backyard garage with the door closed, midwinter, open from midnight to 4 am. Lesson learned- find the right web-host service- (email me if you want help based upon my experience.)


Fast-forward to a recent trip visiting a bike shop in the northeast US. I recognized an opposite visibility issue yet ending in a similar net result. This particular shop was unmistakably visible with bikes out front and a small sign above the door. They also have a great website accurately reflecting location, hours of operation, services provided, and the history of the shop.


After entering the store I was taken aback by what I saw. While waiting for the proprietor to meet with me, I perused the store eyeing for the pedal section scrutinizing who they presently support. Hundreds of products, signs, visual stimuli of all kinds “Pedals are in the back corner near the shoe section” he pronounced. The issue was the visibility was lopsided by the excess. New items mixed with old clearly visible by products which were dust-free and those which were not. As a first-time visitor I was a clearly lost, yet could understand what they were attempting to do by satisfying as many customers needs as possible.


Visibility is an important attribute to a great product/service. The purpose of this is not just to bring awareness to our company, but bring visibility to the many great ideas unseen. Our office once resided in a business incubator radiating with passionate people filled with creativity and perseverance. Incredible ideas evolving through the startup eco system in hopes to be seen through the merits of their respective virtues. It was so fun to see the many unique ideas and the struggle to bring distinguishability. We’ll strive to do a better job sharing our developments and improvements making sure we are clear and not lost on the shelf or invisible. We raise our lemonade glass to all entrepreneurs making the world a better place and clearly seen.

July 2016 Patent of the week

July 8, 2016 / no comments

Sail Bike

In 1899 RUDOLPH SORENSEN of Nebraska patented an idea to utilize the wind to naturally power a bike.  To accomplish this, the user attached a small mast and sail onto the rear of the bike.  The mast and sail is positioned to capture wind when riding in the correct direction.  The rider unleashes the sail bound around the mast taking full advantage of nature’s free resource.


220-221-Whatever It Takes

July 7, 2016 / no comments

Lessons in Product Development

In 1983 there was a classic John Hughes movie called “Mr. Mom” staring Michael Keaton. The movie is about a recently laid off dad who decides to stay at home and raise the kids while his wife accepts a new corporate job.  I remember one scene vividly where he is talking about tackling a major home remodeling job he clearly has no idea what he’s doing while attempting to sound like he does. His wife’s new boss asks what type of wiring he plans to use in the new addition. “ Are you going to make it all 220 wiring?”  Keaton responds, “220, 221.  What ever it takes.”  The joke is 220 refers to a standard voltage used in homes.  221 is not an option. Here is the scene. (Mr. Mom 220, 221 scene)mr-mom-chainsaw

During the creation of a product, the process begins in a similar path to that of Michael Keaton. You think of various speculative concepts that make no sense under the current environment. Sometimes you can be dead wrong because you have no idea what you are doing. Occasionally with persistency and discovery, understanding begins to develop and the possibilities of how to bring the concept come to fruition. The notion is clear in your mind, yet the challenge remains how to bring it to realization. You may earn a few chuckles at your own expense that eventually become your earned stripes of accomplishment. Five years into the process, I have recognized product experience is gold with no substitute for it.

One area I have been optimistic yet consistently off the mark is the length of time to complete the mission at hand. Working with the engineers and suppliers to determine a date, we set a plan and deliverables and move forward. Like the game of whack-a-mole, things pop up and delay, delay, delay. Sending updates to customers with the belief the product will be ready by a certain date only to fall short is frustrating to say the least.  I lament over having to do so however realize the importance of even bad news needing to be shared.  The best advice I received was own it and move on with a plan to fix it.

Building a new company and creating a new brand in a massive bike industry can be a formidable task. Knowing there exists a multitude of manufacturing companies and millions of varying cyclists is exciting to be part of.  Nikola entered the bike industry knowing we put smart people in the charge giving them time and resources to do it right.  Yes it takes longer then most companies realize, but that comes with the territory.  Search in Google “Apple production delays” and 658,000 hits are uncovered. I am sure they loathed each one but became a better company for it. Wonder if any of their delays was because they tried 221 wiring?

Buying a “Real” Bike

June 21, 2016 / no comments



Countless family members and friends have approached me for advice on buying a real bike. Real bike meaning they’re committed to buy a reliable quality bike and ditch the bike owned since high school. It’s apparent there exists a large population who have not purchased a bike in years caught between overwhelmed with information and intimidated by what they see. Expensive does not always translate to better so I find the best guidance to give is helping narrow down the many options. By answering a few questions before you step into a shop, you’ll be better prepared to buy.


The first step is to understand, what are the reasons you are looking to buy a bike?  This answer helps filter a huge amount of options by determining if this is a new hobby, entering a race, or just looking to get in shape.  The next question to ask is what is the price point you’re targeting?  This is where the intimidation element comes in with many stating no desire to spend thousands of dollars therefore unsure where to shop.  Good news is many great options are available for under $1000.  Great customer service from a store is a huge plus and with a helpful sales person properly narrowing down the right bike for you.


Guidelines to use for buying are:


  1. Budget 20% of the total purchase toward accessories like a helmet, water bottle and cage, computer, clothes, lights, bags, and pedals.  If your out the door budget is $1000, look at bikes around the $800 range to account for the add-ons.  Don’t be surprised if you look at a bike over $800 that typically does not come with pedals.  We can help you with buying pedals. (:
  2. Buy from a local shop you can access easily.  Most shops offer a check up or tune up after you have ridden for a few weeks which you’ll want to take advantage of.  Some offer more than one visit so for this reason it’s nice to be in close proximity to the shop.
  3. Many shops have a specialty like triathlon bikes, mountain bikes, or recumbent bikes so know what type of riding you plan to do first which helps filter the store to shop in.  Be honest with yourself on what you really will do with the bike.  No sense buying a $4000 carbon frame bike if it serves as a clothes hanger more than a bike, and on the flip side no reason to buy a squishy beach bike if you truly plan to enter a few races or longer distance charity rides.
  4. Ask someone who rides where to go.  I guarantee you have an experienced rider in your circle of friends who shops bike stores. 14 million people ride a bike twice a week in the US.  This averages to every 25 people you know- one of them is that rider you’ll want to speak with.
  5. Visit more than one store.  There are countless options to satisfy just about any consumer so you’ll likely be happy with the choice made after you see what’s is in the market.  Most folks gravitate toward the shop that has the best options for their type riding as well as helpful with questions.  Be sure to ask any questions you may have have as most shops are friendly and willing to work with you to make sure you leave as a happy customer.


Mid June 2016 Patent of the Week

June 20, 2016 / no comments

Mid June 2016 Patent of the week:


In March 2011, David Mandelbaum filed a US patent for a device to protect cyclists from automobile and road traffic. The extension alerts drivers thereby creating a three feet space between cyclists and vehicles. The device is made from flexible materials allowing it to bend in the event contact is made. The flexibility allows the rider to maintain balance preventing damage to cars or vehicles.US20120060746A1-20120315-D00000

Switching to Clipless Pedals

June 6, 2016 / no comments

Nikola Innovation

In a previous blog we mentioned that over 2 million patents exist on bike pedals giving you the magnitude of variation and styles in existence. Generally there are three categories of bike pedals: platform or flat, toe cage or straps, and clipless. Platform pedals are the style we most likely all began riding and most common. From an ease of use and safety this is as simple as you can get.


Toe cages and strap fundamentally serve a similar purpose. This pedals style secures your shoe a bit more firmly onto the pedal providing certain ability to push and pull through a pedal cycle. The benefits of this type pedal include the ability to wear virtually any shoe eliminating need for special bike shoes, easy entry and exit from the cage or strap so the learning curve is minimal. These style pedals have very little additional maintenance if any.


Clipless pedals are a great indication you are a bit more of a serious rider. Most cited reasons for using this style pedal are aligned with improved performance whether speed, distance, or some quantifiable benefit. If you are debating the pluses and minuses of using this style pedal then be mindful of the learning curve and correct use of a clipless pedal system.


Speaking with my riding friends, I found easily a majority of cyclists experienced a small spill at the beginning of their clipless pedal phase, me included. My incident occurred as I was approaching a red light while rolling less than five mile per hour. As I approached the light I un-clipped my right shoe which is my typical foot I put down first at a stop. What I failed to notice was a slope in the road leaning my center of gravity to the left. Not realizing this until too late I panicked and tried to pull my shoe out vertically which doesn’t work therefore unable to unclip my shoe. Down I went meeting Mr. Asphalt. No sustained injuries occurred other than shredded pride as I looked like a total goof. For those cars near by inexperienced in clipless pedals wondering why would a rider keep his foot on the pedal?! Thankfully the cars were a safe distance from me. I had a heck of a time getting vertical again as my shoe was still engaged in the pedal and I was tangled with the bike.


This is a typical scenario you need to be prepared for when starting out with a clipless pedal. The need to disengage immediately should be practiced in a driveway or a safe area. Become comfortable with removing both feet out of your pedals quickly and minimize the chance of an accident. Don’t be surprised when a riding situation requires a quick response and a panic sets in trying to pull your foot up instead of the required heel pivot.

June Cycling Fact of the Month

June 6, 2016 / no comments


On June 27, 1894, 24-year-old women named Annie Londonderry began a journey traversing the world on a sturdy 42-pound Columbia woman’s bike sporting a long skirt, corset and fashionable dress throughout this era.  Two Bostonian chauvinists who claimed no woman was capable to bicycle around the world challenged Annie to the feat.

Annie was somewhat of a social media guru in her time stirring up attention and much needed funding to accomplish this trip.  She used a range of stories mostly fables stating she was medical student from Harvard, niece of a US Senator, a lawyer, a student or whatever she felt would bring her the needed attention and income to finish her trip.

After a few lost pounds likely due to the exhaustion of riding a heavy bike while encumbered by her attire, she realized to complete this adventure she needed to be properly equipped.  Annie then ditched the beefy 42 pound bike for a 21 pound men’s Sterling, dumped the knickers and switched to wearing a man’s riding suit to complete the journey.

On September 24, 1895, Annie arrived home to Boston to complete her journey and claim her prize.  Arguments were made against the achievement accusing her of using alternative transportations too frequently like a train instead of a bike.  Regardless this event was heralded as a major achievement any one person could have accomplished.  Annie went on sharing her stories through her journalism career mesmerizing her readers through writing and public engagements.