For a while, Josh Hudson of Shelby, N.C., was the main attraction on Lake Wylie.
Fascinated diners at T-Bones On The Lake restaurant peered over the outdoor railing. Amateur fishermen on the nearby shore gathered around. Even a camera drone showed up overhead to catch a peek.
For about 12 minutes, Hudson glided across the water Saturday morning, back and forth, for onlookers, on a $4,500 bicycle.
“That was pretty cool,” he said, shortly after stepping back on dry land. “Everyone’s recording me with all the boats that are around here.”
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That’s the appeal of the Schiller Water Bike, which is just starting an East Coast demonstration road trip, thanks to John Polasky of Greenwood.
Polasky, Schiller’s East Coast sales manager, is bringing the part-pontoon boat, part-exercise bicycle prototype to markets such as Charlotte, Atlanta and Hilton Head Island, to help attract potential large-scale buyers such as resorts, high-end hotels and entertainment parks.
The bike is the brainchild of Judah Schiller, the first man ever to bike across the San Francisco Bay and down the Hudson River. It’s already seen success on the West Coast, and has been sold around the world, from the Cayman Islands to Switzerland to Qatar, according to the company.
Hamdan Maktoum, the crown prince of Dubai, was pictured riding one of the models last spring.
And just like Maktoum, Hudson pedalled the water bike up and down across the surface of the water. The stainless-steel design includes a roter that spins seven and a half times for each revolution of the pedals. It’s enough to create a small wake, but not harm any small creatures swimming in the water.
“I went anywhere I wanted to go,” said Hudson, who said novices could easily adapt to the bike. “It’s pretty responsive with the turning. The leg workouts are huge, so you definitely set your own pace.”
If you happen to have $4,500 left in your monthly budget, you can buy the top-of-the-line version, but Schiller is also in the works of creating a more affordable version, according to Polasky. Schiller is gaining plenty of popularity with high-end resorts like the Four Seasons or Club Med, which can afford to rent out the bikes for customers.
The bikes, which can reach about 8 or 9 miles per hour, come in small, medium or large sizes ranging in frame size from 48.5 centimeters to 58 centimeters. The frame is supported by two large buoys that help keep the bike steady in the water.
Construction and breakdown is also fairly simple: The aluminum frame can fit on most bike racks and can be put together in about 10 minutes.
Hudson, a friend and former employee under Polasky, said the nearly mile-long ride across Lake Wylie was a demanding workout. He said he could see how bass fisherman might use the bike to get out to parts of a lake, drop a line and hover just like a typical boat.
“I’ve been on jet skis and boats, but sometimes me and my wife just want to get out on the lake and be able to talk to each other,” said Polasky. “It’s awesome how quiet it is.”