Ok, so Paulina Gretzky has the cover, but the High Roller trike tops Page 10 of Maxim magazine’s “Best Stuff of the Year!”
Well, today has turned into a fun day! First I get an invite in my email from the Bike New York for the upcoming Five Boro Bike Ride, and turns out I’m featured in the video. Proving that I have a face for radio, there is a 1/4 second clip of me on my High Roller at 1:18, but I have got the entire closing voice over answering the question, “Why I Ride”!
If you’ve never experienced this amazing ride through all of New York City, you should come with us. We’re signing up now and will of course be riding High Rollers through the Big Apple.
Next I get another email from my friend Pat noticing that I got a mention in the USA Today article about the new crowdfunding for IPO’s (see the first paragraph). The author, Matt Krantz, had interviewed me last year about my Kickstarter.com experience. You can see that article here in a previous post.
Feels like the start of a really great day! I hope you’re having a great one too!
So what do 3 news anchors look like on national TV when they’re riding High Roller Adult Size big wheels?
On Saturday, the High Roller trikes were raced by the Today Show anchors around Rockefeller Plaza with Matt Armbruster. Erica Hill, Thomas Roberts, and Craig Melvin donned their Nutcase Helmets and ripped around the plaza!
I had gotten off the overnight train at Penn Station at 2:30 AM, slept for 2 hours in the hotel, then walked across to the Rockefeller Plaza at 5:30 AM. The High Rollers were already there built up by Mike and the Today Show crew. All I had to do was a preflight inspection and get into my racing suit. Once I did that, it was 2 hours of waiting culminating in 2 minutes of frenzied racing.
The hosts couldn’t have been friendlier or easier to work with. Each of them came up and tested the High Rollers before the segment, and each asked quietly, “So what do I need to do to win?” When it finally came down to it, everybody was just in it for the kicks.
Once the cameras stopped rolling, they all looked at each other and took off again! They had to run across the plaza to the next place the cameras were set up not to be late.
Then came the inglorious end to a fun day and we packed the High Rollers back up for FedEx. Suddenly I realized I’d had a full day of work and it was only 10:30 AM. I thought I’d go back to the hotel and sleep for a few, but then the phone calls, emails, and orders starting pouring in. I spent the next 4 hours in the hotel room trying to catch up. I managed to wolf down a tuna sandwich on the street right before the car picked me up to take me back to the airport.
I can’t say I saw much of New York City on this trip, but I got to see it from the INSIDE of the fence at the Today Show! Incredible!
That’s right, the High Roller is going to be on NBC’s Today Show this Saturday morning! More details are coming, but here’s the video from NBC 4 New York:
Still miss that Big Wheel trike that your mom sold in the yard sale — decades ago?
Nostalgic grown-ups now have a head-turning adult option: the High Roller.
Unlike the Big Wheel for kids, which sells for $59.99, the adult-targeted High Roller — which comes with an extra-cushy seat made with 4 inches of plush foam — fetches a cool $599.99. And, yes, it comes complete with a bell and handle-bar tassels.
But it’s not Jakks Pacific, the current owner of the Big Wheel brand, that’s making the adult-size version. At least, not yet. Jakks tells USA TODAY that it, too, plans to roll out an adult-targeting Big Wheel. But that one, for about $400, won’t be available until 2014, says Ron Cohen, president of the Kids Only division of Jakks Pacific.
Until then, tiny High Roller USA is the company behind the adult three-wheelers. The giant trikes are so low to the ground that they’re arguably too dangerous for most folks to even consider riding anywhere but on the sidewalk. “Cars in the street might not see you,” says CEO and designer Matt Armbruster.
Even then, the 45-year-old entrepreneur says he’s already sold his first 300 — and plans to sell at least another 1,000 this year. His sales pitch: pure nostalgia for the trike that changed the suburban landscape after it rolled out in 1969. “We may call it High Roller, but every kid born after 1969 calls it a Big Wheel,” says Armbruster.
Beyond nostalgia, another growing trend could propel its sales: adult play. “There’s an interest in introducing more ‘play’ into our already stressed lives,” says trends guru Janine Lopiano, partner at Sputnik. “As adults, we don’t allow ourselves to experience the creative energy that play releases in us.”
High Roller recently earned the dubious distinction of being named to The Worst Things for Sale blog. “Childhood joy was more about exploring a world of endless possibilities and less about your material possessions (like Big Wheels),” the blog said.
“That might be true,” says Armbruster, who laughs off the blog’s comments and prefers to revel in the free publicity.
As a kid, Armbruster recalls blasting his way through three Big Wheels before moving on to bikes. “I just wore them all out,” he says.
But his passion never wore out. As a student at University of Colorado in 1991, he founded an annual Big Wheel rally — a night-long fundraising rally across local bars and restaurants. Twenty years later, the annual event attracts hundreds of participants.
Folks at the rallies kept asking Armbruster where they could get adult-size Big Wheels. He couldn’t find any either, so the aerospace engineer quit his job to design them himself. He raised $89,000 through Kickstarter and found a manufacturer in Taiwan to make them.
“High Roller has taken over my life,” he says.
His target: men 35 to 45. Some grandparents have ordered High Rollers for their adult children, he says, so they can ride along with their Big Wheel-pedaling kids.
“Everyone wants to tell me their Big Wheel story,” he says. “I’m happy to listen.”
This year we rode the High Roller trike on RAGBRAI (the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). 400+ miles, 3 wheels, 1 gear. The Des Moines Register wrote a great article when they came across me in Shelby, Iowa.
Nick at BOARDLife in the Highlands in Denver assembles the High Roller on their Deck It Out workbench. He hadn’t even turned the last wrench on it when there were already customers ogling it asking, “What is THAT?” If you haven’t been to the BOARDLife store yet, you need to drop in. Amazing store with long boards, SUPs, cruiser bikes, and now High Rollers Drift Trikes! http://BOARDLifeUSA.com, right behind Little Man Ice Cream.
Wax at Oskar Blues Brewery rocks the High Roller at the the Oskar Blues Anti-Corporate Headquarters! Watch for these High Rollers thundering at events all summer long in Longmont, Colorado!
More details to follow, but I thought that would be the most important thing you’d want to know.
This will be you on Christmas:
Talk to you soon!
This will be brief, without the bunch of photos I’m usually fond of:
The High Rollers have begun shipping!
Here’s how it happened:
Our Seat supplier had an issue with uncured adhesive glue leaking out onto the seat. I found this out the day after I placed the order for 300 seats. Their remedy was to clean each of the seats and get it up to spec, then ship out in October. Evidently this didn’t go so well, and they had to order a new manufacturing run of seats. We finally got a partial shipment of 49/300 on Monday with the remainder coming “soon”.
Despite being “ready to go at any moment” yet 3 months behind schedule, our Rear Wheel molder in Ohio was totally surprised when I placed the order and required delivery before Thanksgiving. This was after he had misquoted the order, failed to read the part drawing, made the molds wrong, and used the wrong material. Fixing all that, he finally rushed out 30 pairs of wheels and then informed me last week that he’d taken a position at another company and was shutting his business down. [Note to politicians: this is why we send work to Taiwan instead of Ohio.]
“That’s bad. No, wait, that’s good!” Immediately we were able to replace the molder with a quality factory here in Denver. We’ve rushed the molds to Littleton Plastics who will receive them on Monday and be making sample parts by Wednesday, and production parts by Friday. I’ll be there on site to watch the whole process and work with them to ensure it’s done right. It will be four times the cost, but it will be done right and fast.
The warehouse has ordered extra boxes and is staged to ship as soon as parts hit the floor. My “do or die” is to have all the High Rollers to our customers by Christmas. I remember that Christmas morning in 1974 vividly, and I think everyone should have that same experience!
I’m writing to you from the road as my sis (yup that’s here in the Strawberry Shortcake dress in the pic above) and I have road tripped to Memphis for the 2nd annual Beale Street Big Wheel Relay races featuring the High Rollers this Saturday. Along the way two of the High Rollers have been hand delivered to customers in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Ryan, a Kickstarter backer, has been waiting about 5 years since he first contacted us about making an adult size big wheel!
To Ryan and all our backers, your day has finally come.
p.s. If you didn’t see it, the Wall Street Journal just featured the High Roller trikes in a great front page article. They also have a really fun video they put together while they were out here in Denver.