Nashua entrepreneur hit on design that disguises trikes as two-wheel motorcycles
NASHUA – When Steve Young visited Florida a few years back, he was struck by the number of motorcycle riders in their 70s.
Some of these riders clearly struggled to keep their touring bikes upright at red lights. Age, with its accompanying diminished physical strength and sundry joint replacements, takes its toll on one’s ability to ride a motorcycle.
Riders of a certain age sometimes switch to trikes, those three-wheeled bikes with a wide back end. Trikes provide greater stability, but at a cost: The loss of the sensation of floating as you lean into corners.
For many aging riders, riding a trike is nothing like riding a two-wheel motorcycle, Young said.
“Some stop riding altogether. If you can’t lean into corners, it just doesn’t feel right,” he said.
That Florida trip sparked an idea in Young, a bike enthusiast and engineer with an entrepreneurial bent.
Young set his mind on developing a way to convert touring motorcycles to a more stable design that would preserve the sensation of riding a two-wheeler while adding a trike’s stability when the bike comes to a stop.
The result is the Dual Glide Conversion Kit that Young developed and he and business partner, Mike Martein, hope to begin manufacturing in the fall.
“It looks like a traditional touring bike, so you don’t realize it’s a three-wheeler,” Young said.
The bike is much narrower than a standard trike, and the rear wheels are hidden by a fender that looks like a typical motorcycle saddlebag.
Young converted a Harley-Davidson in Martein’s shop, Wizard Cycles, now on Broad Street but soon to move to a new home on Northeastern Boulevard.
Disguising the bike so it doesn’t look like a trike is a plus, Young said. The converted bike just looks cool, much cooler than a standard trike, he said.
“Nobody runs out and says, ‘I can’t wait until I get my new trike!’” Young said.
But the benefit isn’t just looks. On the road, a computer module senses the bike’s speed and switches into “floating mode,” and the bike handles like a regular two-wheeler, Young said.
It works through a hydraulic system that allows fluid to flow from one back wheel to the other. Both wheels work opposite each other, so when one wheel contacts the road as the bike corners, the other automatically rises, Young said.
When the bike slows to a stop the wheels lock, and both contact the road giving the bike stability.
Young has put about 400 miles on his converted Harley, and it’s getting noticed.
“We turn heads everywhere we go,” he said.
While the original intent was to market the conversion kit to older riders, Young is discovering a wider market.
Women riders have approached him about the design. Many women who love to ride lack the strength to keep a heavy bike upright at rest.
Younger male riders also have approached him, struck by how cool the bike looks, he said.
Riders aren’t the only ones who think the idea is cool. So do city officials, impressed that Young and Martein, through their company Streetwize Technologies LLC, will hire about 30 workers when the conversion kits go into production.
“The mayor was really excited about it,” Young said.
Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or email@example.com. Follow Meighan on Twitter (@Telegraph_PatM).