Most men are likely to become internet darlings just once in their life, but Mikael Kjellman of Sweden has had the good fortune of rising in the ranks of viral fame twice now, thanks to a post on the front page of Reddit Thursday, surfacing the video of the pitch for PodRide, his design for a covered four-wheel bike.
While viral fame tends to quickly turn to obscurity or criticism (see: Bone, Kenneth), Kjellman is just as beloved as when the video first debuted in April. Thursday’s Reddit thread included comments like, “I will fight anyone who hurts this man’s feelings,” and, “I just feel like it’s my life’s calling to protect this man in whatever he does.” His comforting voice was a common topic of discussion with comments like, “I’d like to have this man read me a story book.”
The appeal of his now internet-famous voice, came through on a call from Taiwan (where he often flies now to visit his co-founder and CEO David Roswell, and scope out factories). Kjellman tells Inverse that he was “shocked” by the glowing comments on the Reddit thread.
Roswell says that Kjellman, a design engineer by occupation, is just as humble and kind as he appears in the video, and that he blushed when reading some of the reactions.
The business partners noticed a jump in mailing list subscriptions today, but only realized about an hour before Inverse contacted them, that the link had been posted to Reddit.
But Kjellman is more interested in what the internet has done to push his bike to launch than personal fame. Initially designed as a blueprint for home engineers, the PodBike garnered $76,702 in funding from its IndieGoGo campaign.
PodRide is a velomobile, which has the same seating position as a car, but the frame of a bike. It has four wheels and comes with an electric bike motor. Most importantly, it has a full waterproof exterior to keep you warm and dry in the snowy Norwegian winter.
“The most exciting is that so many people are interested in the product,” says Kjellman .
Because of demand, Kjellman linked up with Roswell in order to bring the bike to production. While the pair is still optimizing the design and making the bike frame lighter in weight, they hope to bring the product to market within the next 12 months. They were unable to say what the cost for the bike would be.
Users from around the world have already influenced the design of the bike. The model will now come with an option carriage so that users can tote their children around. Roswell says 30 percent of the bike’s backers are women.
While PodRide already exudes effortless cool, it’s also about helping out the environment, one four-wheeled bike at a time.
“We’re committed to sustainability and lowering greenhouse gasses,” says Kjellman.
“PodRide” has even heard from a potential, unnamed U.S. Senator (they wouldn’t say) who was outraged when he learned the bike’s four-wheel design was only allowed in the U.S. without a motor. (Motorized four-wheel bikes are legal in Europe). Biking is becoming an increasingly critical part of Europe’s transportation infrastructure, but the U.S. still lags behind in many ways.
Hopefully, with the backing of the internet, more U.S. politicians take notice of the regulation flaw.
“We’ve had a phenomenal amount of support from around the world,” says Roswell. “The internet has a lot of haters, but we’ve received nothing but positive feedback.”