Gildo Beleski, designer of Trikke carving vehicles, on how he created the Trikke.
Back in late 80s in Brazil, I tried skateboards and roller skates. The carving motion was like magic. Playing with gravity gave me a wonderful feeling like no other. But … I realized: at any moment, I could lose balance or have a hard time trying to stop. And the falls and crashes… I didn’t like that part. Having ridden bicycles my entire life, I knew I couldn’t carve while seated with a frame between my legs. Also, the seat itself was always a pain in the butt. And the repetitive cranking on the pedals, and that chain… OMG.
I thought about creating something simple for balance and stopping at will—a skateboard with handlebars and brakes like a bicycle. I wanted the freedom of using my legs and transferring my weight as one does with roller skating.
I imagined my creation having three wheels to guarantee balance, but with an articulated frame to allow leaning, or carving, while keeping all three wheels on the ground at any given time. A machine you actively ride with your body functioning as part of the frame, like a cyborg. Next I dreamed of decks like skateboard, not pedals like a bike or boots like a ski. A vehicle to safely skate downhill.
“What a discovery! The Trikke body-powered machine was born.”
The first prototype rode impressively well and was stable and easy to control, but the skateboard wheels proved very limiting without good pavement. It wasn’t long before I swapped those small wheels with larger air tires.
After many downhill rides using gravity power, I ventured on flat terrain, scooting, pushing off and adding carving and handlebar movements while coasting, like you sometimes do with a bicycle.
What a discovery! The Trikke body-powered machine was born. I was able to keep the forward momentum without ever touching the ground. I quickly experimented with geometry changes to the frame and wheels, added features to improve body propulsion and the transfer of energy and movement from the rider to the road through the frame.
At the same time, I had to learn how to ride my new creation. I worked on my technique and tried to improve my efficiency with every ride. I love sports and endurance, and this played a key role in the Trikke’s development. I took countless rides, built many prototypes, but amazingly, I had few falls or crashes.
After two years, my friends and I were climbing hills and going on 30-mile rides. The prototypes didn’t have good components. Missing were better wheels, tires, bearings, brakes—basically better components and a lighter frame. Clearly, there was still a lot of room to improve ergonomics and efficiency.
Then times changed and I had to focus on my job and making money. I was working in the automotive industry and started my own business servicing high end cars. I also raced cars for fun, and learned more about sheer performance and the importance of good handling.
My business brought me to the United States for several auto shows, and during one opportunity, a friend took me to Miami’s South Beach. I was mesmerized, seeing so many people riding in-line skates, skateboards and bicycles. Recreation on wheels! I immediately saw the potential for Trikke.
This all happened during a tipping point in my life, and after some soul searching, I decided to do what I love and what will make me the happiest: designing, developing and riding Trikkes as an entrepreneur in America.
In 1999, I applied for a patent on an improved design for a three-wheel cambering vehicle with the US Patent Office. In 2000, I founded Trikke Tech, Inc., in Southern California, shipped here 100 frames from Brazil and assembled them in my garage (with better components that purchased through bicycle parts distributors in the USA). These models were already a huge step forward in performance. I went to the streets and begin demonstrating my Trikkes, talking to people and making friends.
The rest is history.