Barry Smith and Alan Smith (they’re not related) of Portsmouth-based KMX Karts Ltd. were ran off their feet at The Bike Show. They had pre-production models of their BMX-style recumbents available to take for spins on the indoor Try Out arena.
Over a thousand teens and pre-teens took advantage of the opportunity. Some have placed firm orders for the production ‘K’-class KMX, suitable for 8 to 14 year olds.
But Barry Smith said KMX Karts Ltd. would prefer to sell through IBDs:
"This will ensure that the karts are assembled correctly and give the customer someone to deal with face-to-face.
"We aim to pick up at least 100 dealers around the UK. Our trade price is £230 + VAT. Our RRP for the ‘K’ Class KMX is £350. A KMX is eye-catching and unusual so draws attention easily and once seen in the flesh its engineering qualities become obvious."
Both Smith and, er, Smith hold qualifications in aerospace technology and have worked in the aircraft industry.
Barry Smith is also a self-confessed "bike nut" and has produced many alternative machines, including a trandam (three person tandem for team triathlons) and is responsible for maintaining a 23-seater trike used for charity collections in Portsmouth.
He’s a fan of recumbents but believes they have "suffered from misconceptions and mis-information over the years."
He wants to encourage take-up of recumbents by getting kids turned on to them, hence the marriage of BMX with recumbents via go-carts.
"What we are really aiming to do is introduce a great fun practical product and make it accessible to a wider range of people. The fact that it is a recumbent, and therefore inherits a lot of their advantages, is just an added bonus," said Smith.
He has been designing and engineering mini-trikes for his own children for six years but the commercial potential of KMXing became clear last year when two prototype KMXes were mobbed at a Bike Week demonstration in Portsmouth.
Alan Smith teamed up with Barry Smith and Yvonne Smith (who’s married to Barry) and they formed KMX Karts Ltd. BikeBiz.co.uk carried a story on their search for BMX parts suitable for fitting to production mini-recumbents.
"BikeBiz did an article about us called ‘When is a recumbent a Kart?’ This article was read by an enthusiast in America and passed to his friend in Taiwan who owns a manufacturing company," said Smith.
"They contacted me by email asking if we had considered developing and producing our product abroad. From that point our business plan has grown and opportunities have increased as we are now able to make them much more affordable and produce in quantities where we are able to supply the bike trade efficiently,"
The first container of 300 karts is due to arrive in the UK in early June. Smith is hoping KMXing will mushroom and a new category born:
"Although we have patents-pending on the KMX I think it is inevitable that if we prove to be successful other manufacturers will try to produce similar products and the market will expand.
"The fun our test riders have on the karts is great to see and the tricks they can now do and the way they handle the karts is amazing. As numbers in the country increase, and with an adult version on the way, it is going to be very interesting to see how things develop."