“Is it electric? Is it really wood?” and “How fast does it go?” are the top three questions people ask Paul Krause about the cycle he rides through Sandy Springs.
The answers: “Yes,” “yes” and “about 35 miles per hour.”
One recent morning, Krause’s custom electric bike drew looks and comments from almost every passerby in the parking lot.
One man walked past a row of cars with his eyes fixed on the wooden machine. He called out to Krause, asking if the bike belongs to him. “It’s pretty unique,” the man calls back after Krause confirmed ownership.
“I believe there are only two in the world,” Krause said, without taking credit as the creator, although his name is etched in white on a red metal plate affixed to the cycle’s wooden frame, below the seat.
The man took a photo with his cellphone and wandered off.
About three years ago, Krause left the corporate world, where he designed advertising art products such as cardboard cutouts of Santa drinking a bottle of Coca-Cola.
After an injury to his skull left the Sandy Springs inventor with post-concussion syndrome for months, he said he realized working hard to retire early isn’t as good a plan as doing something full time that doesn’t feel like work.
“We’re only here for so long and that injury helped me realize that,” he said. “So do what you love and try to forget all the pressures society puts on you.”
He said he built his cycles largely to see if he could, with the goals of creating something structurally sound that “could be proven.”
At one time, he wanted to be an engineer, he said, but he earned a journalism degree and pursued advertising instead. “The more I’m away from business, the more I don’t want to deal with it,” he said.
He had taken up furniture making and cabinetry as hobbies even before he was injured. When parents asked him to make a cubby or dollhouse for their child, he would ask them to have the kid draw what he or she wanted.
“I can imagine something and then build it,” he said. He said he wants kids to know about that possibility—especially with the Internet now.
Krause said he wants young people to realize what’s possible, what can be made and brought into the real world. “Without going to a factory or a specialist, you can make things you want,” he said.
During an episode of “How It Works,” in which a man made wooden bicycle frames, Krause said he felt inspired. He created his design simply from an image in his mind, he said.
“I wanted to design something that there were no external influences on,” he said. “I didn’t want anybody or anything in the back of my mind when I created this. It’s about freedom.”
Krause said he developed a skill — computer-aided drafting — so he could create what was in his mind and then he bought machines that would help him cut materials.
One recent afternoon, Krause was seated at a table a few feet from his parked cycle. Passerby David Weaver stopped to admire the wooden creation. “It’s like a sports car. It’s like driving up in a Lamborghini or something. It’s gorgeous,” Weaver said. “It’s a work of art.”
But he seemed confused by its origin. “I just Googled ‘Krause,’ but all I found was a maker of motorcycle parts,” Weaver said.
Krause mumbled that he isn’t a big promoter and only has a website with a photo of the bike.
Weaver wavered in deciding what he would pay for what Krause described as a vehicle powered more like a scooter than a motorcycle. Its top speed is about 35 mph—with Krause riding. When Weaver said he might go as high as $5,000, Krause responded that amount wouldn’t even pay for the parts.
Any custom cycle would have to be designed with the weight of the driver and the local street regulations in mind, Krause said. The way the two cycles Krause completed are made, he is not required by law to insure or register them.
“It’s for tooling around town, vacation or beach property,” Krause said.
Krause said he doesn’t like calling his creation “art” because he doesn’t want to sound arrogant.
“It’s a work of art, but it’s a design statement as well,” Weaver said, “that somebody had the creative juices to be able to come up with something that’s such a thing of beauty and functional as well.”