SkyRide Bicycle Powered Monorail

Skyride Monorail Bike

SkyRide may be the single coolest business to enter the Shark Tank this season, or any season for that matter. Inventor Scott Olsen is no stranger to entrepreneurship, he invented Rollerblades! In fact, Roller Blade wheels are integrated into the SkyRide’s design. Olsen claims SkyRide is “developing the next breakthrough for the future of sustainable urban transportation, recreation and fitness.”

SkyRide is a people powered monorail system. The “vehicles” are suspended from a steel monorail track and are powered by either a recumbent bicycle or a rowing machine. Olsen envisions his invention as an inexpensive way to allow people to move around urban areas at a far reduced cost versus traditional methods. There are also recreation and therapeutic applications as well.

He has a track set up at his home in Waconia, Minnesota and says anybody can drop by and try it out (call first). Olsen has plans to install SkyRide tracks at ski resorts and on a medical campus. He even claims to have someone in Dubai interested in a several mile stretch of track.

I think this would be an innovative transportation solution in many environments. The cost and energy savings alone make it an excellent solution; the fitness advantages just add to the overall benefits.  The problem is accessibility. Not everyone can use SkyRide: people with disabilities, the elderly, or people with young children. This eliminates its use in public transportation applications, only private groups would be able to install the monorail tracks for use as transportation. Unless the human powered monorails were installed in urban areas as an alternative to traditional public transportation (that would result in  some energy savings), it doesn’t have appeal as a mass solution.

The other issue SkyRide may face is competition. Back in 2010, Google gave some VC money to a company called Shweeb, which has an enclosed, bicycle powered monorail system that has already been deployed in New Zealand. Shweeb is also actively seeking investors for both “adventure tourism” and public transit solutions. The question of proprietary technology could hamper investment for SkyRide.

That being said, there is probably room for two players in the bicycle powered monorail market, particularly on the adventure tourism side of things. I don’t think this is something the sharks bite on, though. The scale of deploying such a  system and the costs involved coupled with the fact that it isn’t a mass market product most likely keeps The sharks “out” on this one. I also don’t think an entrepreneur the caliber of  Scott Olsen would give up enough of an interest in this company to make the sharks bite.

That doesn’t mean SkyRide isn’t wicked cool though!

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About Rob Merlino

Real Estate Agent, Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob Merlino.com and more.
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Comments

  1. Ken Edwards says:

    I wish you would come to the Research Triangle Area in North Carolina. They are talking about a “light rail” system that is a raised track in Orange & Durham counties, with Wake county looking as well. IF your product was implemented, the operating cost can be minimal, you could allow “stations” at parking lots, local intracity bus stations and many businesses, and the participants could get exercise and avoid major traffic issues.

    • Skyride and the other company making a similar product do have visions for public transport. I too think it would be a green, lass expensive and healthier option for public transport. Unfortunately, US laws require equal access to all for public transportation and people who are, for whatever reason, unable to operate it would need a traditional option available to them. This is the conundrum. Another alternative would need to be made available. I still think it’s the coolest product on Shark Tank ever. It could really lighten the fuel load on public transportation and it looks like a helluva lot of fun!

      • It makes no sense as public transportation. You think people are going to wait behind a bunch of other people on a single rail all the way to their work? You’d be riding single file everywhere, which is completely bonkers compared to regular bicycles.

        • Yirmin Snipe says:

          Exactly, the whole system would be only as fast as the slowest rider and you have no way to change course… Assume you had only 5 people using these on a track from near your home to work… whoever is the first one to work will now be the one that determines when the others can go home. His bike is on the track and if he works late then everyone else is waiting… This is also why it would never work as an amusement ride too… the slowest man is setting the speed for the fastest… then of course there is the problem of what happens when someone crashes into the one in front? Or fall out of it… a dumb idea all the way around.

  2. So there is only one skyrider per track? It does not look like anyone can pass slower riders. The track would always be as slow as the slowest rider. Not good.

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