Queenstown could become global base
The backers of a homegrown kiwi innovation set to tackle the world are eyeing Queenstown as a potential international marketing base.
FX Bikes founder and chief executive officer Mike Hodgkinson has been in Queenstown, Wanaka and Central Otago testing pre-production prototypes of the 125cc FX5 Mountain Moto - a hybrid motocross and mountainbike that weighs 60kg, can fit on a car mounted bike rack and take riders off-road or keep them busy performing tricks on tracks.
Street legal versions will follow the first off-road models.
Having arrived in the region, Mr Hodgkinson's suspicions that Queenstown would make the perfect Southern Hemisphere base were confirmed.
''The first stop was getting some testing done on the Off-Road Adventures sites, then some private land at Arthurs Point, and then on to Cromwell.
''Basically what you've got in the Queenstown, Wanaka and Central Otago triangle is a huge amount of people that live for two wheels, whether that's off- road motorcycling, mountain- biking, or BMX. Add to that the huge amount of public and private bike tracks being built, and you've got a biker's paradise.''
With Michael Hillman, a former vice president of Harley-Davidson USA, and Francesco Santillo, a former chief designer of Honda Japan already on his team, FX Bikes is looking to drum up international investors for full production runs of the Mountain Moto and already has hundreds of sales reservations and dealer inquiries.
Most of the interest is coming the west coast of the United States and other adrenaline sports strongholds such as Utah, as well as Europe, South Africa, South America and Australia and New Zealand.
Northern Hemisphere operations will be run from Milwaukee Wisconsin - the home of Harley Davidson, with a marketing base and core rider community envisioned for California.
Queenstown was the ''obvious choice'' for a southern counterpart.
''Production is being set up in Italy, engineering is in the UK, but testing, rider experience centres, sales and marketing will focus on these two-wheeler hot spots.''
The standard Mountain Moto has an automatic clutch, making it ''100 times easier'' to operate than a traditional motocross motorbike, with front and rear brake hand controls mounted on the handlebars - the same system as a mountain bike.
Conventional manual clutch versions will also be available.
''The Mountain Moto is all about usable power. It keeps grip on the track or surface, but doesn't rip it up,'' Mr Hodgkinson said.