Born Green: Xtracycle Shifts Thinking about Cycling

A bike that can carry four bags of groceries, your toddler and you? Xtracycle has created a great, new green transportation alternative.

A bike that can carry four bags of groceries, your toddler and you? That would be a dream come true for many parents of young children. And that’s exactly what the entrepreneurial firm Xtracycle has created.    

Ross Evans traces his love of the bicycle back to when his parents took him to school in a bike trailer. Decades later, he’s made that passion his business, as the founder and of Xtracycle, making long-frame bikes and conversion kits for utilitarian cycling. Xtracycles are designed to be comfortable and versatile for everyday use, extending the range of uses for bicycles and offering a viable alternative to other forms of transportation.   

According to Evans, “Bike design has been primarily driven by racing. The dual diamond frame is perfected for that. But if you want to do errands and need to carry supplies or other people, you need a different kind of bike. Cars have back seats and trunks. Why not bikes?”

Forty percent of all car trips in the United States are less than two miles. Evans sought to create a bike that could reduce our dependence on cars for short trips and errands that required significant gear capacity.

He created his first long bike in 1995. Stanford engineering and business classes, as well as a grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance and the Lemelson Foundation, helped him fine-tune the design and eventually launch his own company. Xtracycle makes complete bicycles and conversion kits that extend the rear of an ordinary bicycle to accommodate passengers and other gear. At the end of 2008, Xtracycle employed more than eight people and surpassed one million dollars in revenue, tripling sales from 2007.

Evans got the idea for the Xtracycle while doing service work for the nonprofit Bikes Not Bombs, which promotes bicycle technology as an alternative to war and environmental destruction. He saw firsthand how bikes were used in Senegal and other countries not just for recreation but for work and meeting basic needs. He also envisioned improvements to the basic bicycle design. Evans said he didn’t create this product with a goal of being green, per se: “Our idea is don’t sell a product that’s less bad. Make it better. Make a shift.”

His advice for people who want to start their own sustainable business? “Get in touch with yourself. Get inspired. Then, gather a team to make it happen,” says Evans. “Connect what you love to change the world.”

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