A traction-boosting rear drive assembly that turns a mountain bike into an all terrain vehicle.
Kyle Reeves, Canada
Adrenalin junkies now have a new toy to play with. Skiers and snowboarders are making room on the slopes for mountain bikers with bikes specially adapted for the snow.
Ktrak is a patented wheel system that turns a mountain bike into a pedal-powered snow machine and all terrain vehicle. Created by Kyle Reeves, the biking innovation is a kit that can attach to the rear of any mountain bike. It creates traction on previously ‘unridable’ surfaces such as snow or sand, turning your bike into a snow or sand plough.
The light bulb moment occurred in 2005 during a long ferry ride from Vancouver to Vancouver Island, where Reeves lives with his wife and children. As the owner of an excavation company, he was familiar with rear-drive tracks and wondered what would happen if he put one on a bike. He played around with a few ideas in his garage, and when he had come up with what he thought was a reasonable working version headed off to California to a company that develops prototypes. Together they came up with the final product and he received a US patent on the rear-drive assembly in 2007.
The finished version is a piece of apparatus that attaches to a standard mountain bike – it fits a 26-inch wheel, with 20” and 24” kits coming soon.
The creative cycle idea consists of a composite wheel and polyurethane track, and installation is easy whether or not a bike has a quick release on the axle.
Just take off the wheels and affix the caterpillar-like assembly to the rear, and if you're in the mood, a ski runner can replace the front wheel.
Reeves took out a second mortgage on his home, and with his business partner and childhood friend Jason Scoffings, has invested no less than $700,000 to get the invention into stores.
The pair created a company called Ktrak Cycle Corporation to market the kit, and to get the word out and secure funding they showcased their innovation at numerous trade fairs including the Las Vegas Ski Show in 2006. When the orders started to come in the next step was to raise expansion capital. They found it a frustrating experience not least because they were scrambling to fulfill orders, and overseas requests could not be attended to as they were without a distribution pipeline.
Entering the Dragons’ Lair
Eventually investors came onboard and in an attempt to raise their profile and even more capital Reeves and Scoffings appeared on the CBC reality show 'Dragons’ Den' and were offered $500,000 in return for a 50% stake in their company. They politely and firmly turned it down. “I’m not one of those guys who’s going to be pressured to cave and just give away my company,” said Reeves to one newspaper reporter. Although they refused to deal with the Dragons the pair won the program’s Armchair Dragon Contest thanks to fans’ votes, and with it came a $75,000 check from Concrete Equities.
The Ktrak kit is available through the company’s website and from select retailers in north America. The Ktrak Cycle Corporation also has an authorized dealer program to help it get into multiple markets around the world.
No Business Like Snow Business
Not only has Reeves invented a nifty way to navigate the slopes and commute around town in snowy weather, but he also hopes to start a new winter sports craze, and make Ktrak a household name by the 2010 Vancouver Olympics with thousands of people careening down the piste at blistering speeds.
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