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Company designing ultimate bicycle racks

Posted: March 13, 2008 12:34 a.m.
Updated: May 14, 2008 5:03 a.m.

For Marty Eichmann, invention is an interesting process made up of a series of steps that often puts him in a box until the design comes together.

"What's interesting is that when you get to the final end, you wonder why it took so long," he said while standing in the garage of his Canyon Country home, which has been converted into the assembly room for his company, MWE Racks.

But now Eichmann is near completion of his final product: a specially-designed bike rack that attaches to the back of any type of vehicle.

Eichmann would not have gotten this far, however, if it wasn't for his need to develop such a product.

The idea
Eichmann and his wife, Dalian, explained that their family made frequent ski trips to Mammoth in the early 1990s.

As much fun as skiing can be, putting the skis and snowboards on the car became a hassle.

"Nothing existed that met our needs," he explained.

Using his experience as a key grip for the film industry, Eichmann began building a type of rack that would be easy to use.

With its lock, Dalian emphasized that skis and snowboards would remain safe even when a family went out to dinner.

Knowing that the potential for a unique type of car rack was there, Eichmann set to work on designing a bike rack for any type of vehicle.

The design
After years of design, Eichmann developed two types of bike racks: a hanging bike rack and a tray bike rack.

The hanging rack is stationed on the back of a car, allowing up to four bikes to be loaded on and locked in place on the back of a car.

The difference between Eichmann's racks and common ones is that the rack can be pulled out and extended, giving the user access to the trunk.

The second design, a tray version, is more for serious cyclists who use expensive bikes, Eichmann said.

For this style, only the bike's tires touch the tray.

"You don't have the bikes touching," Eichmann said as he demonstrated the tray design on his own car.

Eichmann said his designs will create less aerodynamic drag on the car when compared to bikes that are transported on the roof of a car.

Plus, "It's much easier to load bikes back there than up there," he said about the roof.

Just like the hanging design, the tray rack model, which can also hold up to four bikes, can be moved to the left or right side of the car, allowing the car's driver to access the trunk and avoid the exhaust when accessing the equipment.

In 1998, Eichmann patented his design and around 2002 snagged a contract with Thule, an international manufacturer of racking systems, to use the bicycle company's components on the production of his bike racks.

The plan
With a patent on his idea, the Eichmanns are now moving towards producing, marketing and selling their bike racks.

Eichmann believes that the Santa Clarita Valley will be an ideal place to promote the racks, given the number of cyclists in the area and the recent Amgen Tour of California event, which stirred an interest in bike riding.

"I'm certain that Santa Clarita will be a really good test ground," he said.

Eichmann has converted his garage and its surrounding space into an assembly and production room. He puts together each individual bike rack, which ends up taking a good amount of his time.

While continuing to assemble and create the bike racks, which are priced in the $300 to $400 range, Eichmann said he will be submitting his design to local cycling magazines to get product reviews.

But Eichmann doesn't want to stop at just a bike rack.

He is developing a ski and snowboard rack that he hopes to patent sometime soon.

To contact Marty Eichmann, president of MWE Racks, call (661) 251-7532.


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