Every so often, someone comes up with a brilliant idea … Meet Brian Redding motorcycle enthusiast, business owner, entrepreneur, and inventor.
What’s your background, Brian?
My wife and I moved to Port Macquarie four years ago to be closer to, and look after, sick and elderly parents. Our first point of contact was the local Ulysses Club, a very social group who share a common interest in motorcycles. The local Ulysses members very warmly welcomed us to the area and into their social lives.
I first developed an interest in motorcycles as a young country lad growing up in a farming / dairy environment and have always owned a motor bike using them for both work and leisure. My father was also a keen motorcyclist and was still riding into his 80s.
What clubs have you been involved with over the years?
I have been an active member in many motorcycle clubs. My wife and I are mainly members of the Ulysses Club and the Australian Goldwing Association these days. However, in my past life I was also active with several Canberra motorcycle and scooter groups and assisted riding instructors when conducting open road learner training sessions.
What is the innovation you’ve come up with that will improve motorbike travel for riders?
I have developed a single wheel trailer that is towed behind a motorcycle or scooter. This trailer will map the rear wheel of the motorcycle, relieving the rider of worrying about which wheel will hit potholes etc. as with two wheel trailers, thus making it a little safer and the ride more enjoyable for the rider. The trailer suspension has been tuned to map motorcycle suspension, thus performing the same as the motorcycle itself.
This high quality trailer provides the ideal solution, increasing your motorcycle’s carrying capacity, without compromising the bike performance and rider/passenger comfort. Because the trailer enables the more weighty stuff to be carried so close to the ground, your bike’s centre of gravity is virtually unaltered, which assists with maintaining good handling as opposed to placing this weight high up in the panniers or on top of the tank or rack.
The single wheel trailer concept is not new, but the availability of a suitable single wheel trailers within Australia was, in my opinion, limited, and those that were available did not conform to all state and Australian ADR regulations.
In 2005, after six months of design and planning, my first trailer (Echo 1, fully ADR compliant) hit the road in NSW, then quickly followed in ACT and WA.
Due to a family crisis, production stalled for several years, but development ideas continued in the background.
After arriving in Port Macquarie, I decided to continue with the development of a more up market single wheel trailer, based on experiences from Echo 1, sourcing all consumables locally and utilising as many manufacturing processes within the local area as possible.
As of June 2011, the fully engineered and ADR compliant ‘Echo 2’ was registered and is currently under test.
What led you to think of this concept?
We reached that stage in life when the children were off our hands and we began venturing out on weekends away on the motor bikes and wished for a little more storage than basic motorcycle panniers − but didn’t need the capacity of a two wheel trailer to lug along.
When my wife decided she no longer wanted to ride her own bike, there became an urgent requirement to accommodate twice as much … then again … let’s say, three times the amount of ‘essential’ luggage on a single bike!
I wasn’t keen on a traditional two wheel trailer and felt it posed parking and riding restrictions. For example, when pulling into motel type accommodation, why bother unpacking and lugging your baggage to the room – just unhitch the singe wheel trailer from your bike and wheel it into your room − a mobile suitcase.
Take us through the development processes behind your invention …
The first big issue here in Port Macquarie was to find a suitably interested engineering design person willing to take on this small but complicated design project. I was lucky to find a person who had just moved to the area (Anton Visser Design) and was keen to take on this project. Anton knew very little about motorcycles, but spent many hours with me gaining an understanding of what was required.
The next issue was sourcing lights etc. that were ADR compliant. As this trailer is quite small, sourcing compliant lighting small enough to fit was very difficult.
Once that issue was resolved, final design of the tub and chassis continued through to completion. Again, one had to be mindful of motorcycle characteristics and be very careful with the aerodynamics, engineering of the swing arm and coupling. All through the process, the ‘practical’ side needed to be addressed at all times, and ideas/comments were continuously sought from local motorcycle riders.
The final trailer design was passed through Composites Engineers, who calculated lamination thicknesses for strength of the tub, stress and fatigue analysis engineers to ensure all metal components through to the custom designed coupling would stand up to any road condition known. And Suspension Engineers, to ensure wheel travel and spring loadings were correct prior to presenting to an Automotive Engineer, for final signoff ready for blue slip inspection and subsequent registration.
As with any development project, there were countless changes to minor niggly issues that could have been let go, but a quality product was the goal − so it had to be right from the first trailer.
The benefits and advantages of this trailer are:
As a single wheel unit, this trailer lends itself to a wide range of two wheel machines, from scooters up to cruisers and sports bikes. The trailer leans and tracks with the bike/scooter, giving the rider a more enjoyable and hassle free ride when cornering and manoeuvring. There is a significantly reduced requirement for riding in the greasy patch on the road, and the unit is also able to be taken ‘off road’, as the single wheel trailer tracks directly behind the bike.
This trailer has been designed to meet the requirements of the light traveller who enjoys the social weekend / overnight outings, in addition to long haul distances or even just doing the shopping.
With the ability to be wheeled through standard doorways, corridors, motel rooms, and/or stored in spare rooms, patios, garden sheds for added security, this makes the Echo 2 trailer a convenient option. Securing/leaving your trailer out in the elements is a thing of the past.
Tell us about your involvement with the Business Start Up program. How has this helped to get you to where you are today?
Being new to Port Macquarie, I registered with the Small Business Start Up program to gain knowledge of the local area, the local services available and improve my knowledge of the small business processes and techniques. Since attending many sessions and seminars, I have found their support and ‘where to go’ advice to be invaluable. I can fully recommend this service for all potential small business owners.
Where do you hope to see your business in a few years’ time?
I hope to see this business grow within the Australian market and am also working on the possibility of exporting to the USA and Europe as time goes by.
Where can people contact you if they’re interested in purchasing one of your trailers?
My current website is being updated, but my contact details can be found at:
www.echotrailers.com.au or 0412 841 527.
Interview by Jo Atkins.