Over the last decade, several Alfred State engineering students have lent their skills and know-how to The Bicycle Man, LLC, a full-service bicycle and recumbent bike shop in Alfred Station.
During that time, the students have performed a variety of tasks, from design work on frames, to designing production jigs, to testing material samples and prototype frames.
Recently, this collaboration has resulted in some national recognition for The Bicycle Man, whose Linear Recumbents Roadster bicycle was just named the “2016 BentRider Online Recumbent Bike of the Year.” BentRider Online is the Internet’s premier source of recumbent news, views, and information.
“We are delighted to receive this award because it indicates that our commitment to innovation, engineering, and US manufacturing was worth it,” said Owner Peter Stull. “While most of the bicycle industry has moved to China or Taiwan, we think an innovative product can be US-made and compete on the market. In fact, we think it can be made in western New York and dominate a niche market.”
According to Stull, the bike’s design was in part the result of a collaboration with senior Alfred State mechanical engineering technology students, and its manufacturing jig design also resulted from input from the program’s students. Early prototypes of the bike were also machined and welded on the Wellsville campus.
Stull noted his business has spent more than a decade reengineering the Linear Recumbent for durability and adding features customers can use.
“Recumbent bikes are comfortable, but also bulky,” he said. “In 2016, we added a folding version of both our models. This allows a customer to easily put their bike in the trunk of a car. It also makes them the easiest full-size recumbent to pack for airline travel. As a side benefit, it has allowed us to lower our shipping cost to our customers. We are glad to be making a bike we are proud of, and glad we took the time and effort to get it to this point.”
Working with Alfred State faculty and students, Stull said, has helped The Bicycle Man grow the manufacturing side of its business. He credited several mechanical engineering technology students who have greatly helped his business over the years, including:
- David Odle, a 2012 mechanical engineering technology graduate, whose senior project involved designing and analyzing a version of The Bicycle Man’s folding bike.
- David Volk, a 2007 mechanical engineering technology graduate, whose senior project also involved designing and analyzing a version of the folding bike. Volk also worked for The Bicycle Man after graduation.
- Michael Mallett, a 2010 electromechanical engineering technology graduate, whose senior project involved automating the company’s fatigue-testing equipment. He also worked for The Bicycle Man after graduation.
- Dan Fingler, a 1998 mechanical engineering technology graduate, who worked full-time for six years at The Bicycle Man as a design engineer and production manager before moving out of state.
Dr. Craig Clark, Alfred State vice president of Economic Development and director of the Allegany County Industrial Development Agency, said this ongoing relationship is great for the college and Allegany County.
“The growth of Bicycle Man/Linear Recumbents and companies of this size is important for economic development in the county,” he said.