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Mar 21

Metamorphosis

A prickly brown caterpillar becomes a spectacular black and red butterfly. A stalk-shaped polyp clinging to the ocean floor becomes a bell-shaped free-floating jellyfish. In my personal favorite instance of biological metamorphosis, a wiggly water-bound tadpole becomes a hoppy amphibious frog.

In my personal favorite instance of creative engineering metamorphosis, an ordinary mass-produced household item became a precisely designed custom-assembled BikeBok. Indeed, the BikeBok in its tadpole stage had no apparent connection with bicycles. Many years ago, it hatched out of the fertile resources of Peter’s creative mind when our family undertook our first cross-country trip.

IMG_0830 - Copy (2) How could we carry camping supplies while allowing comfortable room in our VW Eurovan for six people, four of whom were bouncy kids aged ten and under? Peter’s solution involved two thirty-two gallon plastic wheeled garbage cans and a system of PVC pipes and nylon straps to secure them to the rear of the vehicle.

 

The result was durable, roomy, and weatherproof, stable under any road or wind conditions, easily mountable and removable, easy to wheel between parking space and tent site,

 

The need for an analogous carrier system for bicycles became apparent when our middle son Jonathan, then seventeen, undertook a bike trip from Connecticut to Colorado. He and Peter, who accompanied him for the first 500 miles, were dissatisfied with commercially available carriers. They improvised their own from double mop buckets with homemade vinyl covers, metal pipes, and zip ties.

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This experience sparked Peter’s desire to create a carrier system for bicycles different from anything already on the market: rigid, durable, lightweight, waterproof, easily mountable and removable without a rack or frame, spacious enough for utility or adventure cyclists, functional as roller luggage when off the bike. But turning a well-drafted idea into a well-crafted reality requires extended time and attention, more than his demanding professional career allowed. And so, for years, the idea remained merely an idea.

 

The pace of the BikeBok metamorphosis accelerated considerably, though, when Peter’s daily work  underwent a temporary metamorphosis of its own. His longstanding career was sidelined for some months during 2010-2011. As a result of the abundant time newly available to him for creative thought, research, design, and experimentation, the BikeBok began transforming into its ultimate shape.

 

Peter carefully sculpted layers of foam board into a model…100_0400

 

…from which he molded a fiberglass prototype.

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He refined the designs and materials for connectors, wheels, and handles…

 

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…and located a rotomolding company within our state to produce the models which he assembled and distributed for beta testing.

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He took the feedback from the beta testers and made further enhancements to the configuration of the BikeBok and its components…

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…and the BikeBok attained the final stage of its metamorphosis into a  robust, elegant, and functional bicycle accessory ready for the public.

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