Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Schneider.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I found a bicycle engine at a garage sale 20 years ago. Knew exactly what it was from comic books I read as a kid – always wanted one (Every boy’s dream – Motorized his bike). Bought it – took home. Spent 4 months figuring it out and getting to run. Had to reinvent many of the parts. 1st night I rode…I was that 12 year old boy again. As years went by, I collected other bicycle engines. Finally found a manufacturer – requested literature and parts. They said no parts for years. Told them I invented parts. They sent customers to me. That started the business. Decided to reintroduce the bicycle engine as Sears had sold 100,000s of them in the 70s. Went to China, visited factories – decided we would not put Bike Bug name on their junk. Built two prototypes with all the improvements we learned from different models. Had two teenagers ride these for a year – they put 5,800 and 5,600 miles on them with no repairs. I knew we had a winner. ABC news put out a news clip (http://www.khou.com/story/local/2014/10/25/11485640/) on us – got 1200 hits a day. Overwhelmed and excited – absolutely knew we had a winner.
We studied other bicycle products and looked for ways to improve them – safety features were the easiest ones. We developed the Foldaway Cargo Tricycle – 1st improvement on cargo tricycles since the 1800s. Next came other models of cargo tricycles with features that made them more useful. We then developed the world’s lightest outboard motor – 4 stroke – 16 lbs., 1.2 HP – Unthinkable. Our focus on fun and safety pays off and Bike Bug is selling all over the world.
Our bicycle sidecar is the only one made in the USA and its surpasses anything built in Europe.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There have been many challenges and road blocks we have overcome. We are now dealing with manufacturers in Mexico and China. We are learned about shipping and financing. We have established long term relationships with our suppliers. We have lost on some ventures, but over all have succeeded in getting quality products in good timing. We learned our customers are our best sales people…they recommend to friends. We develop special needs applications for people.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Bike Bug – what should we know?
Bike Bug has become a quality product name. We have taken centuries old technology and improved it to be safe and more useful. Our Foldaway Cargo Tricycle (Box: 40″ X 13″ X 36″) is easy to ship and takes little area for storage or transport in a car. We reduced an order for 200 from 3 railcars to 1 for pleasant farmers in Southern Mexico. It and our platform tricycles are used in applications worldwide. Individuals use them for fun – beaches, parks, family outings, trips to school, grocery stores etc. Businesses and military use for transport of equipment and parts.
We have developed extra strong reinforced bicycle wheels to the market. Based on the design of motorcycles wheels our wheels have a rim with a reinforced extrusion in the rim that allows spoke nuts to be housed in. The wheels have 10 gauge spokes – strongest available and makes a wheel that will not bend or collapse under high torque or heavy loads – truly bullet proof wheel.
Many elect to use the gasoline engine or electric motor we developed also. Advertising companies make special displays. Vendors use the tricycles to sell everything from tacos to ice cream. The vendors are able to take their wares to where the customers are with ease.Many vendors use our bicycle trailer to have double capacity and exposure for their wares. The trailer attaches to the seat post of the tricycle and has the same large area and 500 lb. carrying capacity of the tricycle. We designed it to mirror the tricycle carrier area and it can be fitted with a three speed system for going up hills. The outboard motor is used on canoes, kayaks, Jon boats, and small water craft – even paddles boards.
We are most proud of our ability to help solve a problem or fill a need with a cost effective system that is safe. Bike Bug is not a usual bicycle shop. We set dealers up with a cost savings plan that allows products to be displayed at minimum cost. We have 7 dealers in the USA and 5 overseas. People see our products and like them. Our website includes safety products such as horns, bells, spoke skirts, etc… The customers come up with ideas of use. We haven’t thought of. There are two movies released in 2017 with Bike Bugs being used in the films. We are in contact with Doctors without Borders to supply them with Bike Bug bicycle engines to reach people in remote areas. We experimented years before developing the right material.
The rain drive wheel for our gasoline bicycle engines allows travel in wet and rainy days. It is made of a hard surface substance that does not wear tires.
We are the only bicycle sidecar manufacturer in the USA. Our two models are recently introduced and we expect them to be well accepted by the public. The ability to transport children, pets or an adult to a facility – disconnect sidecar and motor on the next place is something none of the European makers can do. We are very proud to offer American made products and employ the people we do.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Reliability and safety are Bike Bug’s main characteristics. If you use the products every few weeks – you will be able to give it to your grandchildren. We have not had one return due to defect yet. We listen to our customers, we help them learn and decide what product will best serve their needs. Our ability to customize a product to fit the customer’s application is key to our success. Our products are fun based. I am a Registered Professional Engineer – have several Bike Bug patents and I put my stamp on all our products.
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