Innovative bicycle offers a smooth ride

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Bill Becker tells his son, Mark, about the bicycle seat he’s holding at Barista’s Coffee House.

GALLOWAY – Bikes and boomers aren’t usually a likely pairing.

But there’s little usual about the bicycle invented by the father of Mark Becker, who with his wife, owns Barista’s Coffee House in Sunrise Plaza at the corner of Jimmie Leeds Road and Chris Gaupp Drive.

“It all started basically when he retired about 12 years ago,” Becker said. “There are a lot of bike trails on Hilton Head – miles and miles of them.”

Bill Becker worked for Cottrell Trailers, manufacturer of the trailers that are used to transport automobiles to dealers.

“He was in charge of production,” Mark Becker said of his dad. “From the building they build to build in, to installing equipment for production to anything to do with production – that’s what he did. If there was no part for what they needed, he’d build one. He had to be creative.”

Thinking those days were over, Mark Becker took off one day on a bike ride through his new home of Hilton Head, N.C.

He returned home with a sore butt and more sore than he’d counted upon.

Sitting in his office chair, it occurred to him that he could utilize the same technology in the chair’s base to make bike riding more pleasurable.

Becker retired at 62, consulted for his old company for a few years before settling down,  and now he’s 80.

The senior Becker was in town recently to promote his invention, the Elev8 bicycle, at the Action Outdoor and Bike Expo.

He said his years in charge of construction, maintenance and special projects at Cottrell came in handy while developing the Elev8.

“I sat right next to the founder of the company,” he said. “We met at Bethlehem Fabricators. We built the first four stories of the World Trade Center.”

Years passed and Becker found himself doing similar work in bicycle development.

“I built the first prototypes,” he said. “I bought bicycles at WalMart and then took them apart. I used a CAD system.”

The idea was to have a seat that didn’t sit directly on a post, absorbing the road impact.

“I knew it was going to work,” Becker said of his project. “But how well it was going to perform – that was a mystery. The design of the cylinder is a technology in itself.”

But Becker is an easy going, interesting sort and he made friends at every turn with his new project.

“He started out by tearing his $300 office chair apart to figure it out,” his son said. “He realized it had a gas-charged cylinder that made the seat go up and down, and a little bit of suspension. So he applied that technology to the bike.”

He bought cheap and used bikes, modifying the frames to fit his cylinders, according to his son.

“He made many different prototypes,” Mark Becker said. “I actually built the first prototype that wasn’t from an existing bike – but with all new parts.”

The production models feature the ability to sit flat on the seat, he said. A button allows the seat to shift up or down.

“It’s the first bike without a solid frame,” Becker said. “It’s like riding a Cadillac. You can ride right off a curb. The handlebars are higher; your back is straight – in a natural sitting position.”

The transmission, he said, has a seven-speed hub.

“It’s very smooth,” he said. “You can click from first to seventh gear. You don’t have to pedal. For quick stops, you have front and rear brakes, and you can lower the seat and have your feet flat on the ground. You’re sitting at lights in comfort. You can concentrate more on traffic.”

Forgot you stopped in seventh gear? No problem. Just downshift to first. And you can walk right up the back of the bike to get on – no lifting your legs over a bar.

The bikes come in 24- and 26-inch sizes.

“It’s $998 for either size,” Becker said.

Bill Becker kept trying to interest bicycle manufacturers to put it into production – the Elev8 with the comfortable, adjustable seat also featured a transmission that worked with no chain derailer – but he kept being “shuffled off to engineering.”

One day in Hilton Head he stopped his bike to admire Jack Russell terriers being walked by resident Matt Papka.

Papka was intrigued with the Elev8 and learned how it worked and what Becker’s problems were. He asked for six months to raise venture capital and arrange for production.

Six months later Bill Becker had some new partners – with Papka the primary one.

The Elev8 is now being manufactured in China. It’s being sold locally at Tuckahoe Bike Shop locations at 2151 Route 50 in Tuckahoe, 1214 West Avenue and 55th Street and West Avenue in Ocean City, JFK and Pleasant Avenue in Sea Isle City and 2300 Wrangleboro Road in Mays Landing.

For information see elev8bikes.com, call Mark Becker at (609) 517-2740 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

An Elev8 bicycle is on display at Barista’s Coffee House in Galloway, owned by the inventor’s son.

Mark Becker lowers the bicycle seat so he can straighten his legs and be standing.


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