Shawn: My name is Shawn Raymond S-H-A-W-N R-A-Y-M-O-N-D. I created this bike, it’s a new type of a tandem bike, a small tandem bike. The front section is shorter. This is the first time this has been done. It looks like it’s maybe the first new utility patent on a bike in a hundred years.
Tim: It reminds me a lot of BMX bikes.
Shawn: Yeah. It’s the BMX forks, and these are BMX rims. These are 16” wheels and the tires are actually very high-end BMX tires. They go to 110 PSI. These little 16” wheels, you usually see them with kiddy bikes, but it turns out just the physics of anything—smaller things are stronger than larger things. If you had a giant hula hoop, it would be easy to crush down, whereas if that hula hoop was made out of the same material, say, this big around, it would take quite a bit to squish it. So these wheels are actually stronger than mountain bike wheels because they are smaller. And the rim material is exactly the same. These tires are made with the same casing as the professional BMX bikes.
Tim: Now why a small person bike?
Shawn: Okay. So the goal is to really allow you to have a short rider sit up front and see the same scenery that the back rider is seeing. If you had a tandem where the short rider sits in the back, and the bigger rider sits in the front, the rider in the back is looking at the back of the rider in front. So you’re looking off to the side, and you’re both not seeing the same scenery. So with this here, the short rider— the woman or the kids—they’ll be seeing in front of them, the guy is seeing in front, and you’re all talking about the same thing—you are seeing the same scenery. The short wheel base here, is what makes it handle good, and it enables the rider in the back to be able to hold on to the steering. The way this angle is —it comes up through here, and that’s why the steering wraps around the rider in the front.
Tim: Now is that an off-the-shelf component, that giant handlebar?
Shawn: Yeah. This is regular Beach Cruiser bars. And it’s easy enough to have them adjusted an inch longer or whatever.
Tim: What was the inspiration for having a two-person bike of this size?
Shawn: Well, really it’s kind of an observation of how you see people riding with another person. You see kids on the tagalong bike and they are bored, because they are way in the back, things falling over. I’ve seen people on regular long tandems, they don’t seem to be too happy. You know, if I look back at my own childhood, my dad used to ride me on the front of a bike here. And we used to wrap a towel around there to make it easier, but the towel would roll off. My dad said, “You know, why don’t they make a bike that will ride a kid upfront, instead of a baby but ride a kid upfront?” I was into bikes, and I was repairing them when I was seven, and I said, “I’ll make one, Dad.” And here I am.
Tim: Is this the first product you’ve manufactured?
Shawn: It is the first consumer product I’ve manufactured. I make high frequency printed circuit boards for the telecommunications industry and a lot of that stuff was used for pirate TV, for pirating HBO cable, HBO satellite transmission—so that was long ago.
Tim: You must be very proud?
Shawn: Yeah, I am proud of doing the pirate stuff, it was other people that sold the stuff pirate—I just made little parts for that industry. So this is you know, I am pretty proud of this bike. I am pretty proud of how the reaction is with people. You see the smiles getting bigger on the people when they come back—it’s a good feeling to know that people really love it.
Tim: Now it is a very nice machine but as I understand it from you earlier, it is not yet available for people to buy?
Tim: When it is, how much would it cost, when will that be?
Shawn: Okay, so my goal is to stick with the consumer price range between $500 and $1000; 29% of the bike industry is between $500 and $990. Over $1000, it drops down to 3%. My competitors that sell long long unusual tandem bikes are at the $2000 to $2500 range. But I think that if I lower the price and bring it back down to the price range that people pay for a premium bike-shop bike, so I am going to offer it at $850. And the profit margin is a lot lower for me but I think I am going to make it back up in volume.
So it is a little bit of a gamble on my part, but I think that this is something that almost every family will ultimately want. I think it is something that we’re going to see, it is going to be common. And why not? It is a great way to spend time with people you love. You want me to go up for a ride? Oh, let me show you. You don’t have to ride with another person. You can steal it from mom and dad and when they are not looking The seat is all the way up. It would be a lot better if I put it down. But of course, it is set up with the distance here, it is here from here to here is the same length as a Beach Cruiser bike. So if you are riding it this way, it is just like any other Beach Cruiser.
Tim: It looks like a lot of fun.
Shawn: Yeah, it is.