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Bicycle + Lawnmower = Mowercycle

| Friday December 17th, 2010 | 7 Comments

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How do you combine American’s need for the big, the fast, and the green? (Yes, we’re talking about lawn care). Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have one answer in the works: The Mowercycle by  Real Power.

One of the entrants in the third annual Engineering, Mechanics and Aeronautics design competition, Mowercycle combines the size and maneuverability of a motorized sit down mower with the lack of emissions of an old fashioned manual push mower.

This emissions free, 100% human powered Mowercycle looks to be a mix of recumbent (reclining position) bicycles with a wider four wheel stance and a mower blade. In this video they demonstrate that the blades are linked directly to the rotation of the front wheels, except they go 6 times as fast. The user sits in the Mowercycle, pedaling it forward, and steering it via handles on either side of them.

It’s a brilliant idea, as people will have the speed of a gas powered garden tractor while not emitting or having to inhale the disproportionately high amount of emissions lawnmowers emit as compared to other motorized devices.

While as shown there is no clear way the Mowercycle will capture the grass it mows, that’s to be forgiven as this is an early stage prototype. The overall execution and idea is sound and could prove a big seller, as it appeals to people’s desire to be greener, without sacrificing their quality of life.

Yes, having something other than a big water intensive lawn would be the clearly more sustainable option, we can’t expect everybody to go that route any time soon. The Mowercycle is a great bridge between the way things are and the way they could be.

Readers: What other bridges to more sustainable behavior are you seeing out there? What’s your feedback for the Mowercycle designers, in terms of the actual device itself and how to get it out there on the market?

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.

image via Rick Wood


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  • http://www.GreenerGreenGrass.com GreenerGreenGrass

    I love it! I’ve been a fan of bicycle mowers since I discovered the Zool Yard Tool. I can’t wait for these to be commercialized! Reel mowers are much better for the lawn (and the environment), and a bicycle mower will finally allow people with larger lawns to use a manual reel mower without taking all day.

  • Andrew

    Wish these guys luck. It’s a big jump between an idea and actual production. Make sure you get an experienced supplier manager from the bike industry and a shipping expert on your team. As for the bike, I’d suggest front wheel drive (use a rickshaw/snowblower differential) with a single rear steering wheel for simplicity and maneuverability. Also, the mowing deck has to be outside the wheelbase or else there will be big unmown borders around everything. Anyways, they’ve probably thought of these things and I wish them luck with future prototypes and production. I like the low design for going under trees, etc. I’m a bicycle product manager and have done a fair bit of alternative bike design if you’d like to chat- citycycles@gmail.com

  • chris

    Overall great idea. But use a longer blade, have it span the width of the cart from tire to tire. Wider cutting will reduce work time and if the blade is in front of the tires then the tires won’t press down the grass first. Just hook the chain up on the outside of the tire. Was a steering wheel cinsidered?

  • john

    Andrew, you’re so right, plus I bet it needs 4X4 drive to make it up inclines, plus you’re propelling your own weight. Maybe they could make a three ganger reel type, hahahaha!!!

  • http://www.greensmithconsulting.com Paul Smith

    Awesome feedback everybody, I hope they see this!

  • Mary

    This is a great idea!  As an average consumer, though, my first thought was that I’d be covered in grass by the end.  Have you ever noticed that tractor mowers don’t position the driver just behind the blades?  Ever noticed how green the tennis shoes become after someone mows the lawn with an old push mower?  The rider needs to be positioned higher or to the side or some such for the average guy not to think he’ll be filthier than usual after using it.  One thing to consider: a regular (non-recumbent) bicycle type design with the blades underneath.  Then the clippings could be collected at the back, the rider wouldn’t be covered in grass, and there’d be nothing obstructing the view of the lawn, making it easier to see rocks, twigs, etc, before running over them.

  • http://GreenGlobalTravel.com/ Green Global Travel

    I actually really want one of these! Wow what a great product. You can get in a work out and cut your lawn at the same time.