Click to enlarge image

If you’ve ever driven through Buellton in the afternoon, you probably know what a Trikke is. For those who haven’t, it can be easily described as those three-wheeled bike-like things that stand up and on which you skate back and forth.

However, the Trikke is a tad more complicated than that, and 10 times as cool. If you already thought the Trikke was hip before you heard how it works, prepare to be even more impressed. Trikke began as a concept by Gildo Beleski, a Brazilian native, who designed the device for the specific purpose of bombing hills – the machine was stable, had three wheels, brakes and all you needed to do was lean in to turns to curve the machine, making it perfect for downhill slopes, like skiing pavement. Only when Beleski hit the bottom of the hill, he kept leaning to turn and curve, and he realized the machine kept propelling.

This accidental discovery made the Trikke, and by tweaking different models over a long period of time, he made the three wheeled cambering machine into what it is today. John Simpson, a scooter, skateboard and bike dealer at the time, saw Beleski on a sidewalk in Santa Monica, cruising around on the Trikke and was immediately impressed.

“I had never seen anything like it,” says Simpson, remembering his first meeting with Beleski. Simpson gave Beleski his contact info, and soon he became Beleski’s business advisor until finally coming aboard the Trikke team (which at the time was Beleski and a hundred Trikke frames) and helping turning the company into what it is today.

Trikkes aren’t the only vehicle to utilize the cambering effect – there are also kinds of three-wheeled motorcycles and cars that lean to utilize propulsion. So how does the Trikke work to utilize this propulsion so you can ski the sidewalk? When you turn the Trikke, you use your body weight – and as you do, your mass aligns with the forces at work, and the centrifugal balance the mass of your body and the Trikke so that it becomes one sweeping mass. As opposed to driving in a car and being the subject of “Jell-O” where you move awkwardly out of synch with the car, the Trikke is designed so that your brain figures out how to perfectly align its mass with the Trikke to perfectly transfer your weight most affectively.

“This was an accidental find,” says Beleski, explaining the mechanisms of what makes the Trikke tick. “I meant for it to go downhill, not propel. But once I figured out the genius of how it worked, I asked myself – how can I make it better, like for distance, or climbing?”

The Trikke model, based on the trailing arms of cars, has now been retrofitted to do just that. Using your own body weight to propel the Trikke, you can go long distances and climb hills using a variety of ever-evolving varying movement methods.

“One of the things we teach at our Trikke Academy seminars, which is a traveling show where we teach beginners how to Trikke, is the different methods for moving,” says John Simpson, “You can use your arms to propel the Trikke in a series of punching movements, or use a downward rowing technique, or an upward pull up, or any combination of these, and then you can use your legs to move it a different way with more of a twists, or even a kick movement, I mean there’s just so many different methods.” And the Trikke guys will show off some intermediate and advanced techniques at their seminars as well, including how to climb hills efficiently and how to Trikke-sprint.

For those of you who are wondering, with all this talk of moving and kicking and punching, the answer is yes: Trikke is a serious workout. Less strain on your knees and joints than running because of the way the wheels adapt to the surface, Trikke kicks some calorie butt in a more comfortable environment, and when you’re working out, you’re going really fast, which makes it even more fun.

Because of the different techniques involved with propelling the Trikke, you can choose to work different parts of your body; but any way you slice it, your core is getting the biggest beating. And if you’re looking for a fun way to exercise and work up your chest muscles, why not pick a mode of transportation that works those chest muscles all the time?

For those of you less inclined to the workout motif and who just want the mode of transportation, there is hope in the Trikke world: the latest and greatest tribred, the electric Trikke. A green alternative to transportation, this one is lighter and less expensive than other ways to travel, with varying battery and speed settings for different models, with top speeds of twenty miles per hour.

This Trikke is popular with people living the city life, travel in retirement homes – and don’t be surprised to see police on Trikkes soon, because it’s becoming a favorite among them and security firms alike for its efficiency as a versatile stealth vehicle in an urban setting.

Trikke has gone on to sell countless units in more than 40 different countries including countries all over Europe, the Middle East, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Brazil and Mexico, to name a few. Always working to improve the current Trikke, offering different sizes for kids and adults, and pushing the new popular electric Tribed, the Trikke company is not slowing down but gaining momentum, only this time it’s bombing uphill slopes, rather than downhill ones.


Here’s what else the Valley Journal learned about Trikke:


Why did you start this business? Gildo Beleski started it in 2000; I joined formally in 2002.

What is your business background?

I helped develop Razor USA’s core markets to popularize its Scooter and develop distribution channels for the overwhelmingly successful product; I also owned and operated Razor USA’s sole e-tail Web site. Prior to that, I ran my own toy distribution business, OTB Distributing. OTB was involved in the development and marketing of a number of licensed consumer niche products, and was the nation’s leading importer/exporter and marketer of POGS, developing the successful “Wackers!” brand.


What is the best piece of business advice you have been given, and who gave it to you?

Get a mass market strategy, it will make this whole thing a lot easier. Larry Kahn.


What is the biggest challenge your business faces today?

Running the business day to day while raising capital at the same time (we are in the process of raising growth capital). What is the simplest thing you’ve never learned to do? Sew a button.


What sets your business apart from your competition?

Our three-point cambering technology - the basis for all of our vehicles. The stability and portability of our product. The dynamic carving ride that our vehicles give the rider. The incredible FUN that you have while riding our products. The fantastic fitness benefits that you get while riding our product.


What books are on your bedside table?

John Muir’s biography. I Am That. Calvin and Hobbes.


Why did you choose to set up your business in the Valley?

My mother lives here, so it was nice to be able to move closer to her and move to such a beautiful area, leaving the city traffic and angst behind.


How could local elected officials make it easier for you to be successful?

Help to promote the use of our light electric vehicles by city employees. For instance, Buellton has proven that it is far more efficient for John Sanchez to ride our electric Trikke on his water meter reading route than it is to drive a city truck. It is easier on John’s body, cheaper from a fuel and vehicle maintenance perspective, and environmentally responsible. Santa Barbara County could lead the way in adopting more clean, efficient transportation alternatives – an example for the rest of the country and world.


Where do you see your business in five years?

Being acquired by a behemoth.


Finally, what is on your to-do list?

Raise $5 million.


Business name: Trikke Tech, Inc.

Owner(s): John Simpson; Gildo Beleski

Business address: 85 Industrial Way, Ste F; Buellton, CA 93427

Business telephone: (805) 963-0800

Business hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday

E-mail address: jsimpson@trikke.com

Website:www.trikke.com