August 18, 2010
From: Bicycle Retailer & Industry News via Electra Receives U.S. Patent.
VISTA, CA (BRAIN)—Electra Bicycle Company has been awarded U.S. Patent No. 7740262 for the Easy Riding Bicycle.
Dubbed Flat Foot Technology by the company, the innovative forward-pedaling design was first featured in Electra Townie and 20-inch Kids’ bicycles. Electra co-founder Benno Baenziger said shortly before introducing the design in 2003, he had his first meeting with a patent attorney in Los Angeles. The patent was approved June 22, nearly six years after the application was filed Oct. 12, 2004.
“Patents are never easy; there are always prior things and stuff to review. I had no idea how long it would take, but I knew I had to go and claim it because it was unique, innovative and different,” Baenziger said.
Baenziger said he began exploring the design around 2000 when companies began repurposing mountain bike frames with higher reaching handlebars and suspension seat posts and calling them comfort bikes. “We were not impressed and knew this wasn’t satisfying all the needs of casual everyday riders. We took out a blank piece of paper, ignored the sacred bicycle frame rules and designed a new type of bike with improved comfort and control,” said Baenziger.
His unique design starts by moving the bottom bracket forward of the seat tube creating a forward pedaling ride position. The design allows riders to sit comfortably upright in the saddle with proper leg extension for pedaling. This upright position helps reduce tension in the back, neck, shoulders, arms and wrists, and opens up a wider view of the road. Riders are able to more easily reach their feet on the ground at any time for control and stability.
Additionally, the geometry allows for easy adjustments to the seatpost to fit a wide range of riders with one frame size. Baenziger said this flexibility is important to retailers in managing inventory. “It has really been a huge value to the dealer who if they have the right bike in the right color, they also have it in the right size,” he said.
While Electra has built different bikes around the design, integrating it into its Cruiser and Amsterdam collections for instance, Baenziger said the original design has not changed. “We took our time developing it correctly,” he said. “We had done so many rounds of different frames and studies before we realized it, so it was really spot on.”
Baenziger was unsure whether Electra would look to license the design to other companies. “At this point we’re just happy to have the patent. We’re living in our world and celebrating what for us is a really big thing,” he said.