New Hampshire-based bike builder Ted Wojcik’s human-powered lawnmower wowed frame builders, environmentalists and lawn care specialists alike at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show.
Due to the overwhelming response, his yet-to-be-named machine could hit the production lines as early as this summer.
It’s a recumbent-style bicycle that pulls a mower along the grass to trim it. The machine was designed and constructed at Wojcik’s shop, Ted Wojcik Custom Bicycles, and was tested on the lawn outside. Passers-by stopped to take a close look and asked where they could purchase one.
“I knew it was generating enthusiasm because of the people who came in off the street to see it,” Wojcik said. “When we took it to the North American Handmade Bicycle Show we knew those people would like it, but I wasn't prepared for the interest that has developed since then.”
Wojcik and his son Cody, a mechanical engineer, were motivated by its prospects to help preserve the environment from the traditional gas-powered lawnmowers that are responsible for nearly five percent of all pollution in the US.
“I learned a lot from this,” Wojcik said. “A lot of pollution comes from gas mowers. It’s not just from what comes out of the exhaust pipes but the gas that leaks on the ground and people change lawnmower oil and don’t collect it. It’s a major thing and this can really make a difference. That would please me the most. The entity that we put together is very much concerned with how we can make a difference in what happens to our environment.”
Jim Langley, former tech editor of Bicycling Magazine, and his brother Matt commissioned Wojcik to design a pedal-powered lawn mower last summer. Cody Wojcik is an engineering graduate from Worcester Polytechnic who helped his father create the final product using the design program SolidWorks. According to Wojcik, construction took between 60 and 80 hours and there were roadblocks along the way.
“We thought about the blade placement a lot, to either drag it behind the rig or put it in front of the rig,” he said. “Having it directly underneath worked really well. We are thinking of other things we can put under there like a rake or a sweeper for leaves. You can also take off the mower and ride the bike for fun.”
Wojcik is looking into how to patent his new machine before it goes into production in late summer. He has received mixed legal advice about how patentable a recumbent lawnmower is. He will be able to patent or copyright the framework that is specifically designed to pull a mower. However, he pointed to several changes that are being made to the design before it goes to production.
“It will be shorter so that it can turn tighter,” Wojcik said. “We will make it a fixed gear hub in the back in order to back it up. If people want to use it for recreation then they can buy a second wheel with a multi speed hub to ride it for fun. The unit that will go into production will have these changes.”
Since its debut at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, he has received offers from several people who want to mass-produce overseas. However, Wojcik is committed to producing his human-powered lawnmower in the US.
“I would just as soon make it here,” Wojcik said. “If it gets big enough and we can’t get enough of them in the marketplace because of the cost of domestic manufacturing then maybe we will be forced in that direction. I’m going to resist it like crazy.”