XploreAir: Would you Ride a Flying Bicycle?

Kevin Cardoni

British company XploreAir is working on a product that could easily transform the personal travel and recreation industry—the Paravelo flying bicycle.

John Foden and Yannick Read started the company because they wanted to “give birth to the Paravelo and other equally-unusual projects planned for the future,” according to their Kickstarter page.

Nvate XploreAir, John Foden and Yannick Read, Paravelo flying bicycle Kickstarter

Credit: Paravelo

Despite this amazing technological breakthrough, XploreAir’s Kickstarter campaign, which began June 16, was not successfully funded. The duo asked for £50,000, or roughly $76,700.

Compared to the expected retail price of a single bicycle, £16,000 per bike, or $24,500, they’re not asking for an awful lot. They haven’t specifically outlined what they plan to do with the money if they are completely funded, only that the campaign funds would allow them to put the bike into full retail production and distribution.

“We’ve demonstrated our design performs well, but we need to transform our flying prototype into an aircraft rugged enough for expedition duty,” the duo stated on their Kickstarter page. “Only once we’re satisfied it’s tough enough and following further rigorous testing will it go on sale.”

How does the Paravelo Work?

The Paravelo flying bicycle can be operated just as easily as any other bicycle that rides on the ground, or with the assistance of a rather large fan and parachute, can offer a speed of 25 mph for maximum airtime of 3 hours anywhere from the ground to 4,000 feet above it. With their added feature of a built-in tent for flamping, which is a combination of flying and camping, the Paravelo offers a very exciting and unique outdoor experience.

“Another aspect of the project is the development of an integral pannier system. Working with lightweight, high-performance fabrics we aim to create luggage that contains an XploreAir tent, cooking equipment and pop-up fuel can; all basic requirements for your expedition,” the Kickstarter page states.

Backer Rewards

They’re not in a position to offer too much in return; backers have to give a pretty decent amount to get anything worth mentioning. But even if donors pledge £4,500 to £5,000, or $6,900 to $7,700, the real thing is not available as a reward.

“Unfortunately, here in Britain, Kickstarter rewards are capped at £5,000 so we are unable to offer the Paravelo for sale,” Read said of not being able to offer the Paravelo as a reward offer. “Even the [United States] limit of $10,000 per reward would have been impossible as after Kickstarter and Amazon commission we would have been selling at a loss.”

“Not having the product itself available to buy is always going to be a challenge, but I guess we are relying on people being enchanted by the idea throwing a dollar into the pot—it’s certainly something I’ve done a few times,” Read said in the comments section of the Kickstarter page.

Nvate XploreAir, John Foden and Yannick Read, Paravelo flying bicycle Kickstarter

Credit: Paravelo

Foden and Read are not just selling ideas; people are more enchanted by ideas molded and perfected into products suitable for the general public and ready for sale. The bottom line is that the Paravelo is not currently ready to be sold, and that may be the biggest asterisk keeping the flying bicycle from flying off the shelves.

Sure, the idea of flying is very enticing, but who’s going to pay $7,700 on a Kickstarter campaign on sheer whimsy?

Challenges of Bringing a Bicycle to Flight

Selling a few flying bicycles at discounted rates could easily get the ball rolling on financing the completion of the product’s transition from a working concept to large scale production, distribution, and sales. While admittedly selling for a loss, the investment at this point could also be seen as a necessary promotion to get the bicycles into the air.

Introducing the public to the flying bicycle at an early discounted rate would be a great way to get people talking about the product. XploreAir is a new company, introducing an alien, albeit innovative, product. While potentially creating a new category of travel, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for the young company to not see immediate profit, while instead working toward proficiency and profitability on a long-term scale.

If they truly “designed the Paravelo to recapture the pioneering era,” as they said, Foden and Read still have a long way to go in financing their current project, let alone selling it. Despite the recent failure of their Kickstarter campaign, which only amassed a funding total of £9,750, or $15,253, the most recent updates have been optimistic and thankful of those who have pledged so far.

“We have connected with people who share our dream and passion which is worth more than money,” said Foden. “That said with every good plan there has to be a back up. We will raise funds one way or another, as we have many more equally ambitious projects to realize. Down, but not out.”

Not out, for sure, but time will tell which fundraising opportunities the optimistic flying duo will undertake. While their dreams are high up in the air, for now, the Paravelo remains on the ground.

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