Engineer spotlight: Chris Hoffmann of RYNO Motors

GrabCAD talked to Portland, Oregon native Chris Hoffmann- Mechanical Engineer turned CEO of RYNO Motors. RYNO developed a one-wheeled electric-powered motorcycle. Well, kind of... Even the RYNO developers struggle to pinpoint just what makes the RYNO so special!

chris hoffmann

Capable of operating at speeds up to 10 miles per hour and traveling as far as 10 miles with full charge. The RYNO was created as the result of a Chris’ 13-year-old daughter who asked if it was possible to build a one-wheeled motorcycle she saw in a video game.

What is your background? What did you do before RYNO? 

I've spent 20 years in high-tech machinery and product design. I've solved thousands of problems and moved hundreds of projects through the process of designing, building and successfully delivering. I was directly responsible for analyzing customer requirements and refining them into executable plans that included budgetary estimates averaging $1 million, staffing requirements and tooling costs. I acquired technical and experiential depth developing innovative technologies and then analyzing the investments' risk and return.

I also wrote and won a $1.9 million research grant in 1995 from the Advanced Technology Program to develop a novel energy efficiency process for the automotive industry. I acted as principle investigator, completing the project with great success and presenting the final report to the US Commerce Department.

Since 2008 I have been focused on developing RYNO.

What's been motivating you the past 7 years? 

There has always been feedback from the market to keep this project alive. Every few years I ask myself if this is the right thing to be doing with my life- and the answer keeps being "yes". We've faced so many challenges and somehow we manage to get around each one and stay in the game. Plus, the product appeals to my extrovert, overachiever personality.

What was the biggest challenge for you during development? 

When the media and customer requests started pouring in, it was hard to decide which to focus on.

Is the vehicle finished now? Do you have additional ideas for development?

We have a production product that will ship at the end of first quarter 2014. We have a few other ideas in the wings.

How many engineers were involved in engineering and testing?

We have a team of three engineers working on rider experience testing, thermal testing, safety testing and overall reliability testing.

How did you find all the expertise? Did you handle all areas or also use external help?

I found Tony Ozrelic early on to handle all the software and PCB Hardware design. The two of us built everything for the first five years. Once we got funded in late 2012 we hired four other people.

What software did you use for engineering? 

We did it all with an old seat of AutoCAD for mechanical and Eagle CAD for the PCB design.

This is obviously a lifetime achievement for you. What are your future plans? Have you been receiving attractive job offers? 

I am focused on RYNO right now, so not tempting fate in any other direction. We need to deliver value for our investors first.

You are also a long time member of the community. What do you think about GrabCAD?

I support GrabCAD as a way for engineers to get seen and find other people.

Thank you Chris and good luck!

Image and video courtesy of RYNO Motors.

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