Stewart Welch has long been a fan of bike riding but not of the discomfort it causes his neck from holding it hunched low over the handlebars. And so he dreamed up a stand-up bicycle. At first it was just an idea in his head, and then he found himself talking to his friend Buck Brock’s son-in-law Jose Santiago while dove hunting, who just so happened to be both an engineer and a “bike guy.”
Back in Birmingham at Stewart’s office on Montclair Road, Stewart drew his idea on the wall, and the two set out to dismantle two bikes and reassemble them with duct tape to see if a stand-up bike was even fun to ride. Stewart took it for a spin in the office parking lot. The verdict? “Your first tendency is to sit, but you get over it in about 20 seconds and then it’s fun,” he recounts. “And you feel a foot taller.”
From there the Jose drew up plans and assembled a prototype of the UpRyder bike. The design of the 10-speed first iteration, they discovered, placed the rider too close to the handle bars and the bike wasn’t stable, so they added additional length to it—kind of like playing with an erector set as a kid, Stewart explains.
How do you go about riding it, you might wonder? “You push off to start kind of like what kids do on scooters, except instead of pushing with your foot, you pedal,” Stewart explained as he let us try it out near his house in Crestline.
As for Stewart himself, he mostly rides the prototype to Birmingham Country Club to play tennis, but it’s a really good workout if you start doing hills too, he notes. Currently he’s in the in final stages of trademark in the name and has started on the patent process, which requires the exact design to be finalized. His ultimate vision is to license the design so a manufacturer would take care of the manufacturing and he would get a licensing fee out of the deal—and maybe a version without gears that would be ideal for beach riding, standing up of course.
Learn more at upryder.com.