We shout out a big thank you to Dess Yankova with The Tennessean for writing what may be the best story ever written about Rhoades Car. Our boy Jackson is especially happy with it because he made the picture she took which was on the front page of the Sumner County section of the Sunday paper.* Here’s the story:
White House, Tennessee resident Dean Cagley cannot wait to pedal his Rhoades car.
Cagley has lost more than 200 pounds, walks longer distances, returned to work, made new friends and feels better overall thanks to his car — technically a quadricycle. Based in Hendersonville, Rhoades Car is a local well-kept secret that’s getting out.
“So many people don’t know we’re here,” Rhoades Car Vice President Phyllis Shelton said. “They’re so surprised when they find us.”
Chris Spann and Phyllis Shelton on SolarPed with weatherproof cover (photo: Dess Yankova)
Riders can choose pedal, plug or sunbathe to power the environmentally-friendly vehicles that in 2014 received international exposure when Prince Harry rode a Rhoades Car 2-person model during the grand opening of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
London recently received another order — The GoBoy X4, the latest four-seat model allowing all four passengers to pedal.
Bikeworks UK Brings GoBoy X4 to London
In addition to most states in the U.S., Rhoades Car also sells to Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, Mexico, Thailand and Russia where the cars are rented as pleasure vehicles in Gorky Park, a famous amusement park in Moscow. The company is also in distribution conversations with Lebanon, Qatar and Antigua.
From the Hendersonville warehouse, master builder Chris Spann manufactures 20 residential and industrial models available in multiple speeds and with various features. Depending on the model, the cars can seat one to five riders. Features include head and tail lights, turn signals, adjustable mirrors, hand cushions, seatbelts, UV-protection windshield and zip-up walls.
“Each takes one or two days to make,” said Spann, whose hands have built the cars for 15 years. “They use a seven-speed axle-driven bike system and people can order one horse-power electrical motor and two 12-volt deep-cycle batteries.”
At under 20 mph, riders can travel 21 miles with an overnight regular outlet charge without pedaling. They could go much further with pedaling and sun power, which charges an optional solar panel in four hours.
Company co-owner and Shelton’s husband, Bill Pomakoy, had to double check with a professional when he test-drove a car for 17 miles on a sunny day.
“The batteries were still fully charged,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Car gives freedom
Not requiring driver’s license, insurance or tags, the cars are particularly fitting for people with physical limitations or conditions preventing them from driving other vehicles.
One of the company’s newest customers Illinois resident Stephanie Timmer, the only vision impaired member of the U.S. Olympics throwing team, expects her Rhoades car any day. The vehicle, says Timmer, who last had a car 30 years ago, will save time from walking and allow her to ride with her two daughters.
“This will be our car, and we’ll go everywhere with it,” said Timmer, 48. “It will give us a new level of freedom and access to a lot more activities. I cannot wait.”
The Rhoades car has already done that for another Illinois resident Bill Reid. Reid, 52, felt depressed and isolated after losing his job because of his condition 13 years ago until the vehicle gave him back his life. Riding his car for 12 years now, Reid spends more time with family, participates in parades and meets new people every time he pedals out.
Wilma, Bill & Mary Ann Reid from Oak Forest, IL
When he got a flat tire in 2014, the only problem his vehicle’s ever had, his family changed it at the Hendersonville warehouse, where Reid got a personal tour.
“They treated him like royalty,” his mother, Wilma Reid, 72, said. “We couldn’t have asked to be treated any nicer. Bill very much wants to be a part of the real world and the car does that for him.”
Ranging from $1,350 to $11,000, depending on features, the car weighs between 75 and 120 pounds. But they can carry up to 750 pounds.
Cagley, however, plans to take even more weight off his car as soon as the weathers allows.
“The Rhoades car allowed me to go out and exercise,” Cagley, 51, said. “I couldn’t ride any other bicycle because of my weight and back problems. It made all the difference in my attitude and how I feel.”
Did you know?
Hendersonville’s David Rhoades invented the Rhoades car quadricycle in 1991. When he died in 2009, the business was going to shut down until his neighbors Bill Pomakoy and Phyllis Shelton, who run a long-term care insurance company, promised to find a buyer for the Rhoades Car business.
“I looked at their records, and I found a buyer: It was me,” Pomakoy said. “The uniqueness of the product and how committed the founder was intrigued me, and I felt the desire to continue his dream.”
Stay tuned for the newest Rhoades model: a police/delivery vehicle with backup camera, solar panel, large storage compartment, loud horn and phone/laptop chargers. The company is also crafting a prototype car to pitch to the Robertson family from the popular A&E series “Duck Dynasty.”
Keep your New Year’s Resolution…get fit with someone you love in your very own Rhoades Car. Check out our New Year’s special that ends January 31st!
AND – look for a really big announcement about Rhoades Car this week!
*This article appeared online 1-16-15 and in print 1-18-15. Reach Dessislava Yankova at 575-7170 and on Twitter @desspor.
Tennessean reporter Dess Yankova
Dess Yankova with Jackson (right) and Jed Clampett