By Mindy Cooper/The Portland Observer
As clean energy technologies are becoming recognized as important throughout the country, local Portland inventor Chris Hoffmann, along with his company RYNO, is currently working on a one-wheeled electric cycle creation he hopes will revolutionize short distance commuter transportation within cities known for high-levels of green house gas emissions.
“We are working on this one ideal product,” said Hoffmann. “We call it the micro cycle.”
The machine, which looks as though someone has sawed a motorcycle in half, rests between the drivers legs, which sit on the outside of the bike.
The idea for the small one wheeled electric motorcycle was born into existence five-years-ago when Hoffmann’s 13-year-old daughter told him about a cycle she witnessed in a video game and asked if he could build it. “I asked what it looked like, and she actually drew me a sketch in the car,” he said. “I never would have thought of it.”
After toying with the idea, Hoffmann said he took a machine shop class to learn how to better build the product, and after riding the cycle for a year he discovered how fun, enjoyable and practical it is.
“It’s half the bike, so it has half the carbon footprint to manufacture it,” he said. “And electric vehicles should be seen as a way to reduce stress in a city as people move closer together to be near jobs and community.”
As gas prices go up, he said, people are going to have to congregate. “Without a way to reduce the stress people are going to go nuts,” he said. The small size of the electric machine addresses this challenge.
The cycle goes a maximum of 20 mph with a 25 mile charge, while the battery takes one and a half hours to become completely full.
Hoffmann said, however, the beauty of the bike is that it doesn’t require a charging station.
“It just requires a charger similar to a laptop,” he explained. While the charge is comparably short-lived, the battery is removable and can be charged anywhere and easily in resident’s homes.
Although at first glance the cycle appears difficult to balance upon, Hoffmann said, “It only takes about five minutes to ride in a straight line and 45 minutes to get pretty good.”
Once stopped, the driver can rest their feet on the ground and provide themselves with easy stability, said Hoffmann. To him, he said the most important attribute is that you remain at eye-level. “Police officers like this a lot,” he said. “The Portland Police Bureau is going to lease two bikes for the year,” he said. “They have ridden and looked at the bike, and they are pretty enthusiastic about it.”
He also explained the cycle to be extremely non-threatening when interacting with pedestrians in a crowd. “Since it’s so small you can go into the elevator or the MAX and no one gets upset because when you roll up next to somebody your leg is still next to their leg,” he said.
Hoffmann said he hopes the bike will be ready for production by 2012.