Built for road-tripping cyclists, bicycle commuters and anyone that might be worried about having to hitchhike home with a broken chain, the TrunkMonkey represents an easier, more portable style of bicycle rack. Its designers call it the first portable, inflatable, universal bike carrier in the world. When not in use, it rolls up like a camping mattress, making it a ready travel companion.
The idea for the TrunkMonkey was born when company founder Tyler Nelson's regularly scheduled bicycle commute home from campus was interrupted by untimely storming. The raging wind and rain hammered Nelson before a sliver of light shined down from the heavens - or so it seemed. A friend pulled over to give Nelson a ride, and despite wanting desperately to jump inside the warm, dry shelter-on-wheels, he had to turn it down. There was no way of squeezing his bike into the small coupe. Misery bred innovation, and Nelson got to work on a better way that very evening.
Nelson's idea is an inflatable bicycle rack that leaps onto the back of virtually any vehicle like an over-friendly primate. The inflatable cushion transforms the simple set of nylon straps, which you might otherwise use to crudely lash your bike to the roof or trunk, into a fully functional bike carrier designed to protect both car and bike. A Cordura/Kevlar outer shell protects the polyvinyl inflatable core, helping the TrunkMonkey hold up to the abuse of road and man.
While not a solution for every cyclist out there, it's easy to see how the TrunkMonkey is much more versatile than traditional roof, trunk and hitch carrying racks. It has more to do with the deflation than the inflation. The TrunkMonkey packs down into a carry case that also holds the 12 V pump. The entire package is about the size of a 2-liter soda bottle and can mount right under the saddle of your bike. It weighs just over 6 lb (2.7 kg), and if you want to cut weight, you can leave the pump at home and inflate it manually.
The TrunkMonkey's lightweight, ultraportable design means that you can have an available bike rack every time you hit the road on your bike. So if you get caught in weather like Nelson did, or decide to pedal over to the bar to meet some friends and want to have a designated driver take you home, or get stuck late at work and don't want to bike home, or any number of other scenarios, you can easily take the generous offer of a car ride and bring your bike along.
Nelson and his team have designed the rack to fit all types of vehicles with trunks or hatchback tailgates. The TrunkMonkey is also made to work with various different bike frame styles, though given the types of oddball two-wheeled creations we see here at Gizmag, we're sure there are styles out there that might not fit, or at least require a little extra creativity. All you have to do is hook the pump up to the vehicle's 12 V outlet, spend about two minutes inflating the core, secure the rack straps to the vehicle and strap your bike in. When you arrive at your destination, the two-way pump makes deflation quick and simple.
The TrunkMonkey doesn't just have to be an emergency tool. It could prove useful for those who want a simple, affordable bicycle carrier for regular bike hauling. It could also be helpful for travel, packing into a suitcase or duffel bag and serving as a versatile carrier at your destination. Really, if you're a cyclist, you're probably thinking of many other ways such a light, portable bike rack could come in handy for your own cycling trips.
TrunkMonkey's team launched a Kickstarter campaign on Monday and is offering the full kit (carrier, pump and stuff sack) for pledge levels starting at US$100, a third off the estimated retail price of $150. If everything goes as anticipated, it will begin deliveries in August.