Reed Community

Two-Wheeled Rebel

Alumnus Profile — Danny Kim ’02

By William Abernathy ’88 | December 1, 2012

Nothing personal, but Danny Kim ’02 wants to change the way you drive. His San Francisco startup, Lit Motors, is busy developing a revolutionary electric motorbike that he calls a “smart phone on wheels.”

The C-1 is a motorbike with car-like bodywork that completely encloses the driver. There’s no need to put a foot down when you stop because it’s stabilized by gyroscopes. “You can’t tip it over,” he says.

The C-1 promises to put more people on the road while consuming fewer natural resources and a lot less road space. It’s an example of urban ecology that Danny says encapsulates what he learned at Reed. A Portland native, he studied physics and biology at Reed, but got restless and wandered for several years before earning a BA from the Rhode Island School of Design.

His biggest takeaway from Reed? “Being able to come up with an argument and present it.” Between design sessions and teaching himself the minutiae of mass manufacture, he’s doing what entrepreneurs everywhere must—smooth-talking the financial backers who’ll provide the capital to make his vision a reality. Without Reed, he says, “I wouldn’t have been able to present this company in a fashion that would be compelling.”

“It may seem a little far-fetched to have a self-balancing gyroscopically-stabilized, two-wheel electric motorcycle,” he admits, “but no one else is going to do it.”

If everything goes according to plan, the C1 will hit the pavement in 2014.

Find out more about Danny and the C1.

Tags: Alumni, Life Beyond Reed, Business, Entrepreneurship, Innovation