Raise your hand if you spend a good portion of your day sitting in front of a computer screen. Raise your other hand if you know that you’re not getting enough exercise now that you’re chained to your Mac day in and day out as you work harder than you’ve ever worked before to get your startup up and running.
Okay, put your hands down. You look silly.
If you know you should be working out more but just can’t find the time to do it (or, like me, just can’t will yourself to), you’re going to be pumped about Pedal Power. Created by Andy Wekin and Steve Blood, Pedal Power comes in two different models: The Big Rig and Pedal Genny. The Big Rig comes with a built-in workspace for you to rest your laptop, while Pedal Genny is a simpler model built to help power other household tasks.
I reached out to Andy about Pedal Power and he was generous enough to share some of the story behind his awesome invention. If you dig it as much as I do, head on over to their Kickstarter campaign to help them help the world get in shape and conserve fossil fuels.
How’d you come up with the idea for Pedal Power?
The idea for our pedal power machines evolved from a belief that there had to be a way that we could use our own power for much of what we do each day. We set about making a machine that could do a variety of things, from charging a laptop to pressing apple cider.
We were helping a group design an intentional community in VT that would be farm-based and use no fossil fuel, which is when we quickly realized the need for a more efficient and ergonomic way of doing manual tasks. I’ve had a lifetime love of bicycles and thought this would be a perfect application for bicycle technology.
Why do you think people will use Pedal Power when traditional exercise bikes tend to end up gathering dust?
This is an important issue to clarify: our machines are more tools than exercise bikes. There is, of course, a strong resemblance, and you will get some exercise using them, but our machines are primarily designed to accomplish a task.
In the places where we’ve installed machines, including a brewery and some farms, they’re used regularly, if not daily. For me, that is the key difference- if I’m exercising because I’ve made a resolution to get fit, then once I’ve lost interest in that goal, I’ll stop exercising.
However, if I’m doing a useful task (and getting fit as a side benefit) then I will continue to do this. I also liken this to riding my bike for exercise or as a commuter- I commute on my bike far more often than I can find time to ride my bike for recreational purposes.
Do you view Pedal Power as being a part of the green movement?
In short, yes, but we’re a very, very small part. The world’s energy needs are so great, that Pedal Power isn’t going to make a significant dent.
From an educational standpoint our machines are very effective at showing people how much energy we use and how much effort is needed to generate it. My hope is that by understanding that energy on a more visceral level, we will be more conscious of our energy use (and perhaps be more mindful of conservation efforts).
Who is your target customer?
Our early customers have been people like ourselves who were thinking, “I could do this task myself if I only had the right machine.” In the bigger picture, we’ve had a lot of interest from farmers and homesteaders, eco-friendly green types, and, interestingly enough, parents with kids who are on their devices a lot – the parents tell us they’d like to require the kids to pedal power their “screen time.”
Is this your first project? What else have you worked on?
Steve and I have worked on a handful of things over the past years ranging from a solar/electric boat and a high efficiency home to a couple of internet companies. This is our first Kickstarter.
Pedal Power is an awesome way to get some exercise while you’re working: just pedal away on the stationary bike to charge your computer and burn calories instead of fossil fuels.