CANADIAN WHIZ KID ROCKS DOWN TO ELECTRIC AVENUE WITH NEW MOTORCYCLE
Ben Gulak’s on a roll—literally. The 19-year old Toronto whiz has invented a silent, electrically powered motorcycle with two side-by-side wheels giving the impression of a single tire. He calls his invention the Uno.
“It’s similar to the Segway in that it has a couple of gyros and neat electrical sensors,” Gulak told Autogigolo.com. “Its top speed is 15 mph but right now it’s in the prototype stage. It’s all a matter of time and scale. It’ll go faster.”
The Uno is already going faster, however. Gulak’s invention recently appeared on the cover of Popular Science magazine, and he received a $2.5 million development grant after appearing on “Dragon’s Den”, a Canadian TV show where entrepreneurs pitch ideas to obtain finance from business experts, last June.
“Now I can start hiring some full-time people,” Gulak says. “The plan is to get it into a product-ready stage in the next year.”
Gulak caught the engineering bug in the 9th grade. “I entered a mini maglift train—these are trains which in real life go 300 miles per hour—into a contest,” he says. “My project had magnets in it but was never going to actually work. It was a neat concept, though, and I got picked to go to the International Science fair in Canada. That’s where I really got hooked on engineering because all the judges there have minimum requirements of PhDs in their fields, so you’re talking to astronauts, Nobel laureates and the big players of the science world. It was the ‘a-ha!’ moment where all the crap you learn in school, the memorizing, made sense.”
Gulak credits his late grandfather for his obsession with engineering.
“He was a design engineer, which is a job that doesn’t really exist anymore,” he says. “He was always working on all sorts of cool projects, and he had a machine shop in his basement. He passed away 5 years ago, and when he died, I inherited the shop. Now I’ve started using some university textbooks to figure out the proper way of doing some things.”
Gulak’s specific interest in non-polluting transportation came after an eye-opening 2006 visit to China. “My father was there on business and my mom and I came along for vacation,” he says. “Quite literally, after our plane came through the clouds to land there, I didn’t see the sun for three weeks because of the smog. The government is now trying to clean it up for the Olympics, but at the time, it was really bad there and everyone was riding these gas-powered vehicles.” Soon, after, the Uno was born.
“We’re going to have to do something very quickly, on a mass level,” says Gulak. “This is my part.” Josh Max/AutoGigolo.com