Technology: It's a Bike and You Row It. RowBike. Get it?

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, June 1994

Technology: It's a Bike and You Row It. RowBike. Get it?
By Laura Billings

"You can see the countryside on a regular bike, but you can't get a total-body workout," shouts inventor Scott Olson, 35, as he loads himseolf into the RowBike, an odd looking morph somewhere between a rowing machine and a bicycle. "With this you get both." Olson grabs he handlebar on the bike's rowing-propelled power shaft and starts pumping furiously, his cap's earflaps catching wind as he chugs along on what he's sure will be the next big thing in exercise.

Before you laugh, consider that Olson got rich from his first big thing: Rollerblade inline skates, which he developed in 1980 at age 20. Since that score the blandly effusive Minnesotan has hit a few potholes. He sold the Minnetoka-based company in 1985; in 1986, he got a police escort off its premises, after his high-volume griping about a late royalty check prompted a call to the cops. Currently head of a four-person invention shop, OS Designs, Olson is pouring cash into R&D on such products as a bicycle for the visually impaired and a golf bag with rollers. As for the RowBike, some experts are dubious. "It looks fun," says Wes Cutter, vice-president for intellectual property at Nordic Track, "but rowing bikes have been around since the 1800's. So it's like, so what?"

Defiant, Olson is prepping for a midsummer promo-tour from Montreal to Florida that he's hoping will spark interest. "When I sell something, I really sell it," says Olson, who plans to row a few stretches himself. "I want you to want it."

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