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Bicycle Built For You?

Race to an industry ripe for invention.

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This story appears in the March 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, there were more than 4,200 bike-related patents issued between 1996 and 2000-do the math, and you're talking more than 800 patents per year and more than two bike patents per day. According to Bicycling magazine senior editor Garrett Lai, bikes have always been a product category with plenty of patent action. "Bikes are accessible, people can see all the parts and how they work, and they can create a new bike innovation in their garage," he says.

It's true-inventors come up with new bike inventions all the time. During our interview, Lai reeled off a quick list that included Paul Turner, creator of RockShox, the first commercially viable front suspension system, and Rolf Dietrich, inventor of Rolf Wheels, which are now featured on Trek bikes. Both inventors started on their own, like so many others before them, before eventually selling off their businesses to big companies.

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