E-Motion Rollers are a unique product on the market. Their story, and the story of their inventor (Larry Papadopoulos) are just as unique and intriguing! We're presenting a two-part Q&A series with Larry to share the story with you.
Part 2: Let's discover the story and the roots of E-Motion Rollers.
- What made you want to become a machinist? Did it have something to do with your cycling passions?
Well, making parts is cool and fun. Machinists come in different varieties, but my interest was in experimentation and invention. Making parts taught me how things work and I felt I could improve just about any mechanical device with precision machining skills. Mountain bikes were not around back then, but I was into motorcycles and loved to tinker. I spent a career in manufacturing, going from being a machinist to running the design and manufacturing company we are today. Our products are all uniquely original, but there are also a ton of manufacturing innovations that we use to make stuff efficiently. There was never any thought of outsourcing anything we could do ourselves. Yes, labor does cost more in the States, but there are so many ways that making it here saves time and money. Not many products are made this way anymore, where all aspects of the business are under one roof. And because we sell direct to the user, the money saved on conventional distribution channels goes directly into the product. The rollers are by far the best value for the money.
- Have you prototyped any bike parts? (What is the Preston Petty No-Dive?!)
Yes, made plenty of bike parts for various manufacturers. Our original corporate name (BCI) stands for Bicycle Components Inc.
The No-dive? I know what it is...do you? Offroad motorcycles are my other sport. The No-dive was a motorcycle accessory from the 70's that eliminated front suspension dive during heavy braking. It was an interesting idea that never caught on. It basically worked, but was not a game changer.
- What is the story of the cycling treadmill? Is there any relationship to the E-Motion Rollers?
Before the rollers, the treadmill was an idea I had to replicate real riding as close as possible. Nothing like that existed, so we went to work on it without any proof it would even be possible to ride. It turned out to be possible, buttook several years of incremental improvement to get it to where it was easy and fun to ride. We never found any buyers because it was large and expensive, but I do believe we were ahead our time because now almost 15 yrs later there are other cycling treadmills showing up. We have a new design for a compact cycling treadmill that we're just sitting on...if the demand ever materializes, we will begin producing them.
- How did you come up with the idea for E-Motion Rollers? Who were the rollers initially designed for?
The rollers are a direct descendant of the Supertrainer treadmill. The natural freedom of movement in real cycling is replicated on the treadmill, but the cost is a deal breaker for most people. Incorporating movement into a compact roller platform was the key to bringing a natural feel to something people could afford (and did not take up the whole room)
- What is the creation that you're most proud of?
Well, the rollers combine invention with my skills as a manufacturer and it sells well, so that's satisfying, but for pure spectacle, the treadmill wins hands down.
- Are you working on anything new that you can share?
We have been testing designs for a more conventional trainer. It has no front drum so the bike attaches at the front dropouts, but it will have the ability to float and tilt similar to riding the rollers with the floating fork stand. There is nothing like it currently on the market and it should appeal toriders who are nervous about rollers. It's got the security of being supported, but still offers a more natural motion than typical trainers.
- What is your favorite thing about cycling, and what is one thing you would change a about it? (Equipment, rules, culture, training approaches, ... ?
Cycling is a great sport, but it also has it's utilitarian side in the form of transportation. Unfortunately, in many cities cyclists are seen by motorists as a nuisance, and that's not right. Each bike on the street potentially represents one less car, so in my view, cyclists deserve a thank you from every motorist and respect for doing our part. I think it would be very interesting to have a "drive your car to work day" so everyone can fully appreciate how cyclists reduce congestion. Even aggressive bikers who roll thru stops and ride the sidewalk generally do so to avoid dangerous situations. Too many drivers don't understand that it can be life threatening to ride on the roads.