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Stand-Up Bike? Occam Cycle Seeks $105,000 in Kickstarter

By Alisa Hauser | September 2, 2014 6:14pm | Updated on September 2, 2014 6:26pm
 The Occam cycle offers no seat but is a convenient and easy way to get around a city, its developers say.
Occam Cycle Kickstarter Project
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CHICAGO — An Edison Park-based company has taken to Kickstarter to develop its "stand-up cycle" — which has no seat and is designed to be easy to tote around when it's not being ridden.

Sean Hannon, a mechanical engineer who is one of three inventors of the "commuter-friendly" Occam cycle, said the bike is a complete re-engineering of the typical fold-up bike, which is based on a traditional bike model.

Sean Hannon says he's an avid Chicago cyclist, and that the Occam cycle would be a great addition for any rider:

"It's not like we just took a bike and knocked the seat off and called it a day. We redesigned it," said Hannon, of Logan Square.

The Occam offers pedals lower to the ground than a traditional bike and requires a cadence more like light jogging, he said.

The cycle, designed for use on short distances under 3 miles, requires users to stand while pedaling and steering the adjustable handlebars. The bike offers "a full body experience, with the arms seeing greater engagement than on a traditional bike," according to the Kickstarter campaign by Hannon's company, Great Scott Technology of Edison Park.

The company is hoping to raise $105,000 from the crowdfunding campaign within the next 32 days. As of Tuesday, the campaign had attracted 96 backers from around the world with nearly $25,000 raised.

The bike will sell for $350.

Hannon spent three years developing the bike with fellow mechanical engineers Jim Gibson, also of Logan Square, and Chris Wlezien, of Evanston.

So far, the cycle has gotten plenty of double takes from passersby and positive feedback from a recent free ride and demonstration day, Hannon said.

"People driving cars have even talked to me through their open window to ask me what I am riding. It's gotten a very positive response in person, and we're trying to get the same traction online," said Hannon, a 26-year-old Logan Square resident.

The Occam draws its name from the 14th century Occam razor theory, which states if you have multiple solutions to a problem the simplest one is usually the correct one.

In this case, the problem is "the last mile," going short distances while commuting using multiple modes of transportation. Occam's creators said the design of their bike is not as bulky or as complicated to fold and unfold as traditional foldable bikes.

Hannon said the Occam went through several iterations before inventors settled on a simple frame design that only takes five seconds to fold up after riding. It folds up to the size of an acoustic guitar, Hannon said, and weighs 20 pounds.

Though the Occam cycle is being marketed for shorter commutes, Hannon said he has taken the Occam on a 10-mile ride without difficulty.

Occam — who designs process equipment for oil refineries at his day job — is a huge cyclist himself. He owns two "clunker bikes" and has a Divvy membership.

But while he hesitates "to make claims on whether posture is better while standing than sitting" on a traditional bike, he said the Occam "is not uncomfortable."

So far, testing events, which have included people trying out the cycle while wearing backpacks, have seen "no big crashes." The bikes are designed for riders who weigh less than 240 pounds.

Provided the $105,000 funding goal is reached, the Occam cycles will be manufactured in China and shipped to Chicago for assembly and distribution by July 2015.

If Great Scott Technology is unable to raise $105,000, Hannon said the Occam cycle project "will be temporarily derailed."

The goal would then be to either modify the cycle to target a higher-end consumer, or they could approach existing manufacturers of foldable bikes about partnering up to offer the Occam.

"But it would be a shame to see [the campaign] fizzle out," Hannon added.

Those interested in trying out the Occam cycle can attend a free demonstration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday on Solidarity Drive near the parking lot at Adler Planetarium, according to the Great Scott Technology page.

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