All posts by Noah Tatko

Can I Purchase One of Your Adapted Bikes? (part 2)

I must first clarify that the bikes which I have designed and created are not presently offered for sale.  Instead, they are made available under a lease contract with the iCan Shine Inc. charity. At the moment, this lease is exclusive.  I’m sure that you might be wondering why the bikes are not sold, but rather leased.  There are many reasons.

In short (see my long answer below):

1.) Insurance

2.) Manufacturing cost

3.) Interchangeable parts

4.) Proprietary Designs

5.) Current limitations

 

However, the long answer below will give you a better idea of why the bikes are not for sale.
(1)  Liability insurance and product liability insurance are extremely expensive, if not even impossible for me to afford or to even get an underwriter willing to write me a quote.  Under the lease with iCan Shine they do have an insurance policy.  Moreover, that policy names me as an additional insured.

(2)  Because the bikes are hand-crafted and hand assembled, the cost, even if sold, would be far higher than what most “buyers” would be willing to pay.  As a ballpark figure, for internal purposes I value a fleet of 26 custom bikes in six-figures.

(3)  If bikes were to ever be sold, then I as seller would be required to make replacement parts available.  That would be an impossibility, as the bikes being hand-crafted are not assembly line built and thus each needed part would have to be hand-crafted as well.

(4)  My adapted bike designs are proprietary.  Said another way, I do not have nor do I believe in patent protection.  My choice instead is to keep the designs, sources of materials, venders, and the assembly process as trade secrets.  If my bikes were to ever be sold and thus pass out of my control, then a potential competitor could “reverse engineer” the product by taking one bike apart and arriving at detailed blueprints.  The Chinese, for example, are notorious for reverse engineering.  Also, Chinese courts will not enforce nor honor patents of other nations. Because of this, giving my plans away is simply bad business. The plans are not for sale, for the same reason as the bikes. Once I start to sell or give away my plans, a competitor would be given the inside information into what I have spent the last 35 years creating.

(5)  If and when a day comes that the sale of bikes is considered, the demand would be greater than my ability to produce bikes.  At present, the time for me working in my shop to produce one fleet (26 bikes plus support equipment) is approximately about six months. That translates 4 bikes a month.  Also, any increase in volume of production would require vast sums of investment as far as tooling, inventory, product liability protection, creation of a sales network, and related infrastructure.  Even the State of California has laws stipulating what features a bike to be sold must have.  One example, although trivial in one sense, is the matter of reflectors.  I don’t put reflectors on my bikes because the bikes are used in clinics under supervision and not on the street.  Reflectors if mounted would represent more jagged edges, and thus increase my liability.  I am not willing to alter my design to comply with the myriad of consumer product standards and regulations.  In short, the present anti-corporation sentiment in America has soured me on the idea of trying to sell a product.  Liberalism might be great in the view of some (and California leads the pack in terms of invoking more and more restrictions on commercial products), but for me I would opt to run a country differently.

I could elaborate more but hopefully I have made my point.  My bikes are not for sale because I choose not to sell them.  That is my prerogative, and there is no law saying that I have to sell something that I have made.  If you want information pertaining to possible lease arrangements, please advise.

Bushes and Pavement Cracks

As we journey through life, we are constantly at risk. Temptations are tugging at us. The evil one is constantly lurking in the shadows. I was told the story of a woman living in Hungary prior to WW II. She had never ridden a bike as a child, but did learn as an adult, at age 40. My friend, the son of the woman, commented that the bike — when ridden by his mother — had a magnetic attraction to certain bushes and obstacles along the wooded bicycle paths in Hungary. It was inevitable that as she would ride her bike on some trail and come along near a bush, she would invariably end up crashing into the bush.

The explanation is clear. She was focusing her eyes and mind on the bush, and not on the road ahead of her and beyond the bush. By focusing on the bush, her motor reflexes, driven by fear, subconsciously caused her arms to apply a steering torque or action away from the bush. The problem is that the act of turning away, even subconsciously, caused her steering action to shift the bike’s ground contact point away (from the bush), and with the result that the bike was now leaning towards the bush. Bikes tend to go in the direction of lean, because this is the only way to restore balance. Moreover, the tendency of a front fork to turn into the direction of lean is an attribute of the intended shape of the front fork. When a bush or other hazard in life menaces you, the best approach is to look beyond, and to set up actions to keep you on that course. When riding a bike, a fearful steering action initially away is seldom the appropriate action. Yet another serious hazard in riding a bicycle arises when the front wheel might fall into a crack in the road surface. This is especially a risk factor for road cyclists as the tires of modern road bicycles are so narrow, and the speed often attained is such that the rider fails to spot the presence of the crack. When the tire, especially the front tire, falls into a crack, the cyclist is at severe risk of injury. The injury happens because the front fork is now unable to turn, which causes the rider to be unable to apply steering corrections. A violent and sudden crash often results. A deep Biblical question that has faced theologians for a seeming eternity is the matter of the capacity of man to have free will vs. predestination as ordained by God? I, for one, am of the view that these two positions or views are not contradictory but rather compatible.

Scripture in Ephesians 1:4-11 tells us “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”

The essence is that when we ride a bike we have the capacity (freedom) to apply torques onto the handlebars either logically or willy-nilly. When a child is placed on a bike for the very first time, experience tells us that the steering actions are apt to be wrong – to the point that the child crashes. Experience also tells us that the mature rider who has the misfortune of getting the front wheel stuck in a crack can’t steer and also crashes. In contrast, when a child does master bike riding the steering actions are the child’s free will, but they are also compatible with what it takes to stay upright – and to even navigate wherever the child wishes to go.

A favorite hymn has the words which sum up these thoughts, “We are given the freedom to do what is not pleasing to God; until the Holy Spirit changes our will to be God’s will.”