Made On Earth: The Lawn Rider

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lawn rider

Ted Wojcik is no stranger to bicycles — the 63-year-old former Navy aviation machinist is a legend in the cycling community for his custom hand-built frames — but he never anticipated being in the lawn care business. That’s all changed with the Mow-Ped, a pedal-powered lawn mower that’s since catapulted Wojcik to fame beyond the bicycling world.

The project first surfaced when Matt Langley, brother of former Bicycling tech editor Jim Langley, contacted Wojcik and commissioned him to build a lawn mower that was both environmentally and cyclist friendly. “He’d been using a mower marketed to be towed behind a wheelchair,” says Wojcik, “and was pulling it along with an old mountain bike.”

To create Mow-Ped, Wojcik enlisted help from his son, Cody, 24, a recent mechanical engineering graduate from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Using 3D design software, they crafted a fully operational tractor before ever cutting a piece of metal.

Mow-Ped combines a tadpole-style recumbent bike, which has two front wheels and one in back, with go-kart-inspired steering. It accommodates riders ranging in height from 5′ to 6’4″. The manual reel mowers, situated directly beneath the seat, can be removed for the vehicle’s recreational use.

Wojcik unveiled Mow-Ped at the 2010 North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Virginia to overwhelming interest, including environmentalists impressed with its ability to significantly reduce pollution (according to the EPA, 5% of all U.S. pollution comes from gasoline-powered lawn mowers).

Now with plans for large-scale production, the Wojciks are updating the original design: shortening the tractor for sharper turns, adding the capacity for fertilizing or seed drilling, and substituting wider mowers for more accurate cutting. They’re also adding a standard fixed-gear rear hub so the Mow-Ped can work in reverse, with optional multi-speeds.

“It’s not a mower for everyone,” says Wojcik. “[But] if you’re fit and have a yard that’s somewhat flat and relatively obstacle-free, it works great.”

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