I got word on a new Kinetic Trainer called 911. Here's what Kurt tells me :
"Nature Valley Grand Prix fans and athletes alike got a sneak peek on the streets of Minneapolis of the newest release from the Kinetic R+D center: the 911 trainer. So named for its ability to store a rider’s energy as easily in a third world village as a summer power outage, the 911 stores energy in an accompanying rechargeable power pack. In tests, two hours of constant riding generated 1000 watts of power, or enough energy to power the average home for half a day. The 911 is expected to ship this fall with applications from camping and recreation to international aid relief."
Power storage device built into a trainer. Innovative business idea? Maybe. Ride your bike while saving that energy you put in for another need?
We've probably seen many of these devices in one form on another but I haven't heard of any commercial devices.
Anyway, here's an article about Kurt Manufacturing Company from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
Kurt Manufacturing division becoming hub for bicycle trainers
by John Vomhof Jr. Staff Writer
Kurt Manufacturing Co. Inc. didn't plan to enter the cycling industry, but now its Kinetic cycling division is one of its fastest-growing units.
Kurt, a $125 million contract manufacturer based in Fridley, was making bicycle trainers -- devices that attach to standard road bikes to hold them in place, allowing cyclists to ride them indoors similar to a stationary bike -- for Cycle-Ops, when the bike maker went bankrupt in 1999. Left with $150,000 in inventory and tooling, Kurt decided to branch into the cycling business on its own.
Kinetic has since established itself as a leading brand for bicycle trainers. Sales for the division have grown from $1 million in 2004 to $3 million in 2007, and the company expects to hit $10 million to $15 million within five years.
"Even though the cycling industry as a whole is flat, we are continuing to grow and gain market share, cannibalizing on the competition," said Paul Carlsen, division manager for Kinetic.
Kinetic trainers are sold in 1,500 to 2,000 bike shops nationwide. The company's top-of-the-line trainer, the Rock and Roll Pro RU, sells for $669, compared to $200 for some competing products.
Avid cyclists are willing to pay a premium for a better riding experience, said Carl Gulbronson, industry consultant for Kinetic. "If somebody buys a $69 bike at Target, they aren't going to buy our trainer."
Kinetic makes fluid trainers designed to replicate an outdoor ride. The back wheel of the bike rests on a roller filled with fluid.
Kinetic's leak-proof design separates it from the competition, said Pat Sorensen, president of Bloomington-based Penn Cycle & Fitness, which runs six bike shops throughout the Twin Cities. Kinetic trainers are by far the best-selling trainers at Penn Cycle & Fitness, he said.
"All of our people sell them with great confidence, knowing that they're not going to have problems with them," Sorensen said. "We sold another brand that also makes a fluid trainer, and we had a number of those that have had leakage problems."
Kinetic trainers come with an unconditional, lifetime warranty.
In addition to trainers, Kinetic offers various related accessories. The Kinetics Power Computer, for example, calculates a rider's power output in watts. The company has about a dozen other products under development, including the 911 Trainer, a device that will capture the power a rider generates, storing it in a power pack that the rider can then plug electronics into.
Another key focus for Kinetic moving forward will be international sales. Currently, less than 5 percent of the company's sales come from outside North America.
"Just by hitting Europe, we can double our business," Gulbronson said.