The boundaries of technological innovation are being pushed to new heights everyday right here in North Brooklyn.
One of the pioneers of that futuristic creativity is Alon Karpman – the inventor of the Skatecycle.
The sleek, new age, design is exactly like it sounds – a skateboard and a cycle all in one. It works just like a skateboard – it is not battery operated and is instead propelled by the direction and momentum of the rider. The element of the bicycle however adds extra agility and flexibility to the ride.
A thin plank in middle connects two wheel-like structures in which the rider places his feet, and using a snake-like slithering motion with the body and the feet, the rider can then control the direction and speed of the Skatecycle.
“It is very difficult trying to make things that don’t exist,” said Karpman, who created the first Skatecycle in 2010. “It took years of hard work and experimentation to perfect the design.”
Karpman established the company, Brooklyn Workshop, which is located on Morgan Avenue, the same year he created the Skatecycle, to begin selling his product to skating enthusiasts and tech nerds alike, but sales picked up instantly – he has been selling 10,000 Skatecycles a year priced at $150 each, since he first opened shop.
Now he is branching off to create a new company, Anvl, that will exclusively sell the Skatecycle, while Brooklyn Workshop focuses on selling specially made skateboard shoes, another product Karpman designed, and the sales of which have grown tremendously since he established his company. Karpman will oversee both operations.
Karpman’s success was close to a decade in the making. He was a successful lawyer before he realized he had had enough of the courtroom procedures and decided to give up his lawyer-suits and high paying salary to chase after his dreams. It took him eight more years for that dream to actually come true.
Karpman said he got the idea for the Skatecycle from watching cartoons while he was growing up – Robotech and Transformers were particular favorites – and the idea to create a futuristic means of transport were implanted in his head from those early days. His parents moved to Brooklyn from Israel when he was an infant, and after a few years the family moved to Los Angeles. But he says he only ever felt truly at home in Brooklyn and moved back to the city for college, and has stayed on since.
He credits his wife’s uncle – who worked building tanks in Russia in the middle of the twentieth century – with helping him perfect the Skatecycle. He said he would bring aluminum and detailed designs of his model and together they spent years crafting the perfect design.
Then it was a questioning of finding a manufacturer who would agree to produce it – and while that took considerable time as well – Karpman’s persistence paid off and he is now one off the few mass producers of hubless vehicles across the globe.
“I feel really good that I followed through with my dreams,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was doing when I got into this. So many people told me I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I guess being naïve in certain ways really helps you pass some difficult hurdles.”
Already, Karpman is becoming a leader of North Brooklyn’s innovator economy. Despite limited funds for marketing and promotion, the Skatecycle is already sold in Brazil, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and several European countries, in addition to those sold throughout the United States.
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