Tucson’s newest custom bike builder is hoping to take his patented bicycle coupling system to the mass market.
Brian Meyers and his wife Marysue Smith moved to Tucson in November and brought their bicycle brand Ravello Bikes with them.
He received word last month that they had received a patent on his bicycle coupling system, which allows cyclists to split their bike into two pieces making it easy to put in a small box for traveling.
Myers said his goal isn’t to make a few bikes every month, but to license his coupling system to big bicycle manufacturers.
“I’ve got friends who have spent over 35 years in the garage building one bike at a time making a few hundred dollars,” he said. “That is not what I am trying to do. I am trying to make a bigger impact. My idea is to license my idea to one of the larger bike companies and have it produced on a large scale and have it distributed in hundreds, maybe thousands of bike shops.”
Meyers said he realized that the people who were spending several thousands of dollars on their bikes were also the type of people who would be interested in traveling with their bikes.
He said the other coupling systems on the market were only designed to work with steel and round tubes. Myers said his system actually works with aluminum and carbon fiber and can work with with any shape of tubing, which allows him to make any bike a traveling take-apart bike.
He said he has begun talking with a few manufacturers about using his coupling system but is still in the early stages.
“There are two divisions of people we talk to,” Meyers said. “Some seem to understand what I am talking about and some just don’t really seem to get it.”
Any existing bike can be retrofitted with his coupling system. Depending on the type of material, the retrofit costs between $350 and $500.
Myers got his start in bike building in southern California where he and his wife owned a series of bike shops.He said they liked to ride tandems, but couldn’t find one that would fit them.
“My wife and I are basically short,” Meyers said. “We realized that no one really makes super short tandems.”
Meyers, who was a trained welder, decided to buy bicycle tubes and built his own tandem in 1999. Eventually he started making frames to sell in their shops.
He said a lot of people were asking him to add a coupling system to the bikes he was building so they could take their bikes apart to travel with them. After a price hike in the coupling system he was using, Meyers said he wondered if he could create his own coupling system.
In 2006 he finalized the design of the coupling system that he received the patent on last month.
After a fall from a ladder broke both of Meyers’ heels making it difficult for him to stand and an increasing population in San Diego made it a more dangerous place to ride, he and his wife decided to sell the shop and move to Albuquerque. But after two winters there spent indoors because it was too cold, they pulled up stakes and came to Tucson and have been loving it.
Myers used to race a hundred times or more each year in California, but one day wondered why he was doing it. He said the next week he built up a touring bike and started spending his time touring instead of racing. That passion for touring led him to complete the bike he is most proud of building.
He is thinking of calling is “The Traveler” after Robert E. Lee’s horse.
“I am a civil war buff,” Meyers said.
The bike uses his take-apart system, 26inch wheels and a flat handlebar. It comes with a trailer system and a travel bag to haul your equipment.
Meyers said the bike will fit in a 26x26x10 box, which is what the airlines will let you fly without being charged and oversize fee. The trailer comes apart and fits in the bag which can also be checked on airlines.
He said the inspiration for The Traveler came when he and his wife were on a bike tour.
“We took a pair of travel bikes to the Caribbean,” he said. “Both of us all of a sudden stared at each other and said, ‘I think we are idiots because we are out on this island and dirt paths and we are on full on road bikes with drop handlebars and 700 by 23c tires. Riding around and getting bounced because of 110 psi tires. I didn’t feel like I needed to have drop handlebars for sprints up dirt roads.”
He completed The Traveler a few weeks ago and said he thinks he has “come up with a complete travel system for someone who really wants to travel around the world on a bicycle.”
A custom Ravello take-apart bike frame starts at $1,200. Learn more about Ravello bikes at http://www.ravellobikes.com/