July 31, 2002
San Diego Business Journal
A Lemon Grove inventor is taking his bicycle assist motor out on the road - and helping to raise money for charity.
Gary Kirkpatrick is the founder of 3rd Wheel, a company making a motorized bicycle trailer also known as the 31 Wheel. The device, which sells for $700, attaches to most bicycles in five minutes and features a gasoline motor assist for pedalers.
This street-legal device, classified by the Department of Motor Vehicles as a motorized bicycle, combines foot power and horsepower to enable riders to go up to 30 mph. The motor gets about 100 miles per gallon of gas, Kirkpatrick said.
So far, the 3rd Wheel is available only through Kirkpatrick. But with a patent pending, he hopes to sell the rights to another company which would market the 3rd Wheel nationwide, he said.
Kirkpatrick foresees several markets for the 3rd Wheel. These range from youngsters who aren't old enough to drive, all the way to senior citizens and adults recuperating from heart attacks, who need to exercise without getting overstressed.
To help field test the 31 Wheel, Kirkpatrick and four friends are riding 1,500 miles for charity.
The team left Tijuana last Tuesday, heading for Vancouver, British Columbia - a border-to-border effort along the Pacific Coast. They hope to complete the 1,500-mile route in 10 days, Kirkpatrick said.
At each stop, the team will show off the 3rd Wheel device, he said.
The trip will also help raise money and build awareness for multiple sclerosis research, including bone marrow transplants. At each stop, Kirkpatrick will talk about autoimmune research and bone marrow transplants, he said.
Kirkpatrick chose this charity because a niece of his was stricken with multiple sclerosis and may eventually need a bone marrow transplant herself. Bone marrow transplants have the potential of curing the disease, but the operation is very expensive - about $100,000 per patient.
Kirkpatrick will make several more MexicoCanada benefit rides, and then at least four coast-to-coast rides to showcase the bikes and raise more money for charity.
Corporate sponsors of the trip include San Diego-based Night Rider Technical Lighting Systems, McNeil Racing, Torrancebased Beverage Containment Systems, the California Off-Road Vehicle Association and others. So far, Kirkpatrick's sponsors have provided $1,500 in donations toward trip expenses.
For information on the product, visit the 3rd Wheel Web site at http://www.3rdwheels.com
For information on the charity bike ride and how to contribute to the fund, go to http://www.3rdwheels.com/benefit_ride.htm
© 2002 San Diego Business Journal