<<Where did the GNAT come from?>>
Nick Andrews and Mike Nelthorpe, the GNAT's developer and moulder respectively, attended the same primary school in Norfolk (UK). They shared an interest in making wooden model aircraft and boats, and spent much time at each other's houses. At the age of eleven they went to different schools and lost contact with each other.
The next time Nick saw Mike was over thirty years later, on a BBC TV programme (QED) featuring Mike Burrows (designer of the Windcheetah recumbent trike). Mike Nelthorpe had helped Burrows develop the celebrated track bike on which Chris Boardman won a gold medal in the Barcelona Olympic games. The picture shows Nelthorpe on the right, with Burrows (centre) and Chris Boardman, with a replica bike made for the TV programme.
In the intervening years Nick, like Mike, had become very involved with bicycles, and for a while made panniers (with the trade name Bikeasy). He built original bikes like the folding two-wheel cable-steered machine shown below, before discovering the superiority of tricycles.
At the time he saw Mike Nelthorpe on TV, Nick was a researcher at Bradford University, doing work on formal languages which led to his PhD. He commuted twenty hilly miles most days on the suspended folding steel trike shown (right). This original design attracted a lot of interest, (not to mention copying), but with about two dozen large-diameter tubes in the chassis alone, a lot of work was needed to build it.
Serendipity then played a part: Nick received a telephone call from his old friend Mike Nelthorpe, who had been given Nick's number by Mike Burrows. Nick triked across England to meet his old friend, who was still living in the village where the pair had been at school together.
A long trike ride is a great opportunity for mulling over ideas. Somehow, the brain seems free to work better when cycling on three wheels (at least, Nick's brain does). Running through Nick's head on this journey was the idea of replacing a lot of fiddly brazing by mouldings, to produce a superior folding trike at a competitive price. The outcome was the all-carbon machine shown above: the Mk1 moulded GNAT. It looked great, rode very nicely, and a lot of people wanted to buy one.
If Nick had sold his soul to people in grey suits, more use would have been made of these moulds, which were expensive to make. But Nick wanted to implement a number of improvements to the design, which led to the Mk2 GNAT. This is the model which is currently offered. The design of all the moulded parts has been improved since the Mk1 model. See why Composites for a desciption of the mk2 chassis. There are no plans for a Mk3 GNAT.
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