After more than three years in the business, Vancouver-based start-up Ryno Motors has nearly finished its third and final design for a one-wheel self-balancing motor bike that’s worthy of RoboCop. It’s a sleek and sporty machine that, most importantly, stays upright and drives with ease.
This electricity powered motorcycle has a range of about 30 miles and can hit a top speed of 25mph. Powered by LiFePo4 batteries, the motorcycle is expected to cost about $3500. The motorcycle features high capacity dual DC motors and controller boards, advanced solid-state motion sensors to maintain constant control of balance loop. All the electronic components inside have been sealed to prevent damage due to shocks.
But now the Vancouver start-up faces a new, more daunting challenge: funding! “We’re stuck right now,” said founder Chris Hoffmann, a mechanical engineer with 15 years of experience in the automobile industry. “Investors love the idea but they don’t know who the market is.”
Hoffmann has so far invested about $25,000 of his own money engineering and building the prototype motorcycles with a mishmash of abundant, cheap parts scrounged from the robotics industry. That focus on systems integration, instead of designing his own specialized components, was the key to keeping his initial production costs low.
A variety of software has been included to continuously monitor a set of feedback systems to warn the rider or take control of the bike if it exceeds its maximum performance limits. An auto balance system will prevent the rider from exceeding the max-rated speed and tilt angle by automatically interacting with the rider through a cascading set of warnings before temporarily taking control of the bike.
The battery monitoring system will trigger yellow and red warning lights when the battery level registers 25 percent and 5 percent to full charge. Moreover, an auto kill switch has been included that stops wheel rotation if the rider is dislodged from the bike or the bike tilts outside of its normal operating parameters.
Looking for funding can be a wild, emotional ride that saps an entrepreneur’s creative energy and attention, Hoffmann said. If he focuses too much on attracting investors, Hoffmann is worried that the passion for his invention, the lifeblood of his business, is likely to suffer. “Forget the angel investors,” Hoffmann tells his team, “let’s just build some bikes.”