Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Building BXG with Blair Steele

Published:Sunday | September 30, 2018 | 12:00 AMKajamba Fitz-Henley
Blair Steele
Blair Steele
Steele's model drawing of a bike.
A rough draft of Blair Steele's planned watercraft.
The foot-steered recumbent bike built by Blair Steele.
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"I've always had a passion for quads and ATVs, but I've never actually owned one, so I tried building one for myself, and this is the end product." This is essentially the story behind 24-year-old Blair Steele's development of his personal brand of motosport gadgets and inventions, Beyond Extreme Gadgets (BXG). The conceptualisation of such an ambitious and creative project began with young Steele in sixth grade, creating detailed drawings for his own variations of the traditional go-kart.

"My first, unsuccessful attempt at building a kart was in fifth form," Blair shared. However, fast-forward 11 years: "My first successful invention, a foot-steered, recumbent quad bike, was completed on April 8, 2018. My second successful build, a drift trike, was completed in July 2018." As an exceptionally creative young man, Blair was steered by his desire to create something 'different', believing that the traditional go-kart was simply too common. His inventions, so far, easily fit into the category of different: "The four-wheeler is steered by your feet. You have handle bars that extend from below the seat. One handle bar has the break and the other has the gas."

 

Impacting Jamaican motorsport

 

"The three-wheel drift trike is not really my invention. They are very popular in the States and Europe, but it's the first of its kind in Jamaica," Blair told Automotives. His construction of the likes of drift trikes as well as his own foot-steered recumbent quad bike are part of the goal to create a new extreme sports culture in Jamaica. This involves getting the privately built and tested BXG products into the hands of everyone, including the customer base individuals falling between 13 and 30 years old, who have already contacted Steele about his products. "I want to have a club where everyone either has a drift trike or a four-wheeler (recumbent quad bike), and once I have that community, I can organise racing tournaments, and stuff like that. So eventually, I want to bring the culture of drift trikes to Jamaica.

"I have always had a passion for conceptualising and creating," Steele said.

Aside from his own interest in motorsports and racing, in which Steele eventually intends to partake, the creation of the BXG brand lies in the personal love of innovation. "It's very fun and fulfilling to watch your creation manifests itself from just an idea or a drawing into a functional product that has purpose and utility, especially if it's for recreation. I try to create and innovate things that are convenient for me and where I see the need." As a big fan of the likes of globally recognised entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Dirk Ahlborn, Steele intends to make a significant impact on the multifaceted realm of motorsports. "Hopefully, one day, I can impact (at least) Jamaica half as much as these guys have impacted and are impacting the world," Steele said.

"I also like overcoming the unexpected challenges that accompany these projects," he revealed.

Undertaking such serious entrepreneurial and inventive goals doesn't come without its challenges as Steele shared, "I have a lot of interested buyers, but right now, I don't have a team to sit down and build them, so I'd have to have a team of welders and machinists to help me supply the demand." Also, despite the local machine shop from which he acquires parts in his operational hub of New Kingston, Steele still faces issues in the construction of the BXG. "Sometimes I get into issues with design, and I have to improvise mid-way throughout the build and come up with a new design or fix an old flaw. It's usually flaws in design or a lack of resources."

Despite challenges, Steele maintains that with a lot of help and guidance along the way, he has learned a great deal and made improvements over his growing career. "If I were to build tomorrow, it would be much easier, and it would take a much shorter time because I now understand what I did wrong the first time around," he said.

Without any hassle in acquiring parts, Steele is usually able to finish a project within three weeks.

 

Upcoming projects

 

"Currently, on my drawing board is a watercraft. I will attempt to cross the Kingston Harbour with said watercraft," Steele revealed to Automotives. Additionally, there are ideas in the works for a 'Soapbox/ Trolley Pushcart Derby Festival'. Soap Box car racing has been popular throughout the United States since 1934, with World Championships being held annually in the state of Ohio. The sport is known for its simple motorless vehicles - 'soapboxes' or 'gravity racers' - which rely entirely upon gravity for motion on downhill tracks. According to Steele: "This [derby festival] will allow me and inventors and builders alike to showcase our most creative soapbox/push carts. As we know, derbies used to be popular in Jamaica. I'd like to rekindle this culture and take it to the next level."

Nearing the completion of a master's in microbiology from the University of the West Indies, Steele's primary focus is growing his BXG brand with these upcoming projects, while developing multiple new and creative ideas for future inventions. The greater goal, according to him, is "to encourage the youth and adults alike to create, and in doing so, provide a platform for even greater opportunities for me and others as young Jamaican inventors".

Steele hopes that the BXG brand will be a big movement in Jamaica in two or three years; thus now is the right time to get on board.