Here at Bike Trailer Blog, we’re very intrigued by the creative process that goes into developing bike cargo trailers. We decided to get in touch with some of the inventors of the various bike trailers that are available.
Nick Lobnitz of Carry Freedom was kind enough to reply to our interview. Nick is the inventor of the Carry Freedom City and the Carry Freedom Y-Frame trailers. Nick’s design work is now extending into bicycles with his new Paper Bicycle which was unveiled at the 2008 Eurobike.
BTBlog: Was there an epiphany moment that got you started developing the Carry Freedom City or rather was it a gradual evolution and accumulation of ideas?
Nick: The epiphany is the easy part, its over in seconds. It then takes years of hard graft and idea evolution to put a physical reality to the first idea.
BTBlog: Can you describe the process of bringing the Carry Freedom City to market broken down into 4 or 5 stages? How long did each of these stages take?
Nick: Initial Idea Jan 2001
1st prototype Jan 2002
2nd prototype Oct 2002
Public launch Sept 2003
First delivery to customers Aug 2004
BTBlog: What were your main motivations in persevering through the difficult process of bringing a new product to market?
Nick: There are different motivations at different times, but the dominant theme has been two fold.
1) I never lost sight of the value to society of a product like this.
2) I needed to find a role in the world where I fitted in and could use my talents such as they were.
I have molded the shape of Carry Freedom and its products to fit these two goals.
BTBlog: Were you surprised by the success of Carry Freedom trailers or perhaps did you expect that it would have an even larger appeal?
Nick: I had expected success to be larger than it was, but I have come to realize that bicycle trailers are simply a relatively small and undernourished niche within cycling. People undervalue what a cargo trailer can do, and consequently will not pay much for what is on offer. This discourages innovation and leads to the small market that exists today. Kids trailers are a whole different ball game.
BTBlog: Are there any upgrades, improvements or accessories for Carry Freedom trailers in the works that you’d like to mention?
Nick: The Y-Frames will get a range of complimentary accessories from 2009 onwards. These will be as follows:
1) Two different lengths of extension arm, one for a 3m load and one for a 5.5m load. These handles will fit all existing trailers.
2) A hand cart handle so the Y-Frames can be used as trolleys when not hitched to the bicycle.
3)An axle widening kit for the Y-Frame to make the gap between the wheels 85cm.
BTBlog: Tell us about your bike trailer setup that you use for day-to-day, Y-Frame or City, favorite accessories, etc.
Nick: A small Y-Frame fitted with a prototype top that we developed for the Royal Mail. This poor thing lives outside 24-7.
BTBlog: What do you consider to be the most important factor in getting more people to use bicycles as tools for transportation?
Nick: Better transport infrastructure that makes the average cyclist feel secure in traffic. In some cases, changes to the highway code to put the weight of the law behind the cyclist would also help. Political will is what it takes, and decades of work to make the structural changes needed. This is not an easy task. A cynic might point out that if bicycles were much more expensive and much less reliable, then the political will would be there to encourage them as there would be more jobs created to keep them going and make them in the first place.
BTBlog: Your trailer’s are amazing tools for enabling bicyclist to broaden what can be done on a bicycle. What have you found to be the best way to convince bicyclists to begin using bike trailers?
Nick: To give them one to use. Until someone has used a bicycle trailer they have no idea of its liberating potential.
BTBlog: W hat is the most memorable journey you’ve taken with a Carry Freedom Trailer?
Nick: My tour through Europe with the first prototype City was memorable. It was made from all sorts of scrap, and kept falling to pieces. Ingredients include wood from a picture frame, an aluminium panel, fence wire, and extruded window frame channels, not a good ingredient list for touring reliability.