About HPM

Our History and Vision

In a nutshell, Human Powered Machines has one basic belief: diversity of product with a vision of strength through networking. Just as a monoculture system impairs the health of agriculture, one basic bike frame form limits the potential of human-powered transportation.

The inspiration for HPM comes from Western Europe in the early 1980s. While in Switzerland, Jan VanderTuin helped to found a cooperative farm project that was the precursor to what became known as CSA in the States. At the time, the “death of the forests” due to pollution caused by leaded fossil fuels was of great concern to many Europeans, and the farming group Topinambur wanted to do something about it.

They sent Jan across Europe to search for the best pedal powered solution for transporting their produce from the farm into the city of Zurich. A former bike racer, Jan was aware of the potential of human power and from this research designed and built heavy duty cargo trailers for use by the farm coop. This was the beginning of his life-long passion for cargo vehicles.

During his time researching cargo vehicles in Europe, Jan VanderTuin saw centers, often times former industrial buildings, that were converted for multiple usages. One place that really inspired him was a cooperative in Frankfurt Germany that had a café, a woodworking business and other enterprises, all sharing space under one roof. The enterprise that really got his attention there was a bike fabrication shop that included teaching youth and adults fabrication skills. They made all sorts of pedal powered vehicles and Jan was taught brazing by a 17 year old student.

He was hooked, not only by the products but by the process as well. He became convinced that products incorporating sustainable, deep processes in their making are the preferable kind to fabricate and to own. He also became convinced that diversity of product and activities by a project /business was healthier than a monoculture production facility -especially when there is a networking of these enterprises.

Human Powered Machines (HPM) was established in 1991. By building load-carrying cargo bikes and trailers we aim to relieve urban congestion, provide an alternative to fossil fueled vehicles, make light weight vehicles, spread fabrication skills, and build a Human Powered Network. We have built many types of vehicles and machines; including recumbents, trailers, tall bikes, grinders, art bikes, dog carriers, handcycles, quadracycles, electric assisted vehicles, human powered RVs, folding bikes and many vehicles used for business. The production of these vehicles integrates youth and adult apprentices whenever possible. As a partner with the Center for Appropriate Transport, HPM is the apprenticeship program for aspiring framebuilders and entrepreneurs.

Can I try out any of the models?

Feel free to come by Eugene Bicycle Works, where many of these vehicles are on display and are available for test rides or rentals. You can also visit the fabrication facility at the same site.


email hpm@catoregon.org 541-343-5568 or 800-343-5568