Julio Mottola rides his ‘locobike’ along a section of the unused rail line at Byron Bay.
Julio Mottola rides his ‘locobike’ along a section of the unused rail line at Byron Bay.

Julio just crazy about ‘locobike’

If railway authorities don’t want to use the line between Lismore and Murwillumbah, Julio Mottola and his mate, Mickel Albert, do.

The pair has spent more than a year developing their ‘locobike’, designed to easily run along the tracks – and stay on them.

They want to ride on the now unused rail line for ‘fun’ on a regular basis and they also believe there is a great opportunity to develop ‘locobikes’ as a tourist attraction where people could ride a ‘locobike’ themselves, or be part of a ‘locobike’ train.

The pair has covered more than 100 km in ‘secret’ trials on the rail line from Byron Bay to Mullumbimby, from Mullumbimby to Murwillumbah and from Bangalow to just south of Old Bangalow Road at Byron Bay where a landslip stopped them from going any further.

And the trials, said Julio, a jewellery designer who came to Byron Bay from Argentina eight years ago, were an outstanding success.

“You get to go to places that can’t be accessed any other way,” he said. “Places where you would normally not go.

“The landscapes we go through, the fauna you see, is amazing. It’s fantastic.”

But Julio and his mate Mickel, who visits Byron Bay regularly from Melbourne, do have a bit of a problem – what they are doing is not quite legal.

They are in discussions with rail authorities who have told them they can lodge an application to use the line by all means. However, there is little chance of getting approval.

Which is why the pair has had preliminary talks with a local lawyer to see if there is a way around the public liability concerns of the authorities.

“We can offer an agreement that we are not going to sue them if there is an accident,” said Julio.

The prototype ‘locobike’ comprises two bicycles separated by a welded aluminium frame.

Acrylic wheels attached to the front and back of the lower frame on each side run along the inside of the rails to keep the ‘locobike’ stable on the tracks.

The acrylic wheels automatically adjust when the track curves.

Peddling the ‘locobike’ is easy, according to Julio, because there is very little friction.

“Once you get going it’s like rollerblades,” he said.

Apart from getting approval from authorities, the other big problem the pair face is lantana growing across the tracks.

Julio said he would try to convince the rail authorities to clear the lantana.

He also would like to gather support from local residents who would like to see rail authorities give the ‘locobike’ the thumbs-up.

Julio can be contacted on 0414492766

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