Our Story

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved the freedom of getting around by bike. In high school, while others sleepwalked to the bus, I enjoyed hours of extra free time riding to school in any weather, even snow!

I’ve always strived to live in places where I could ride to work and shopping. One of my hobbies is optimizing with different baskets, tires, and gear. I even tried a true cargo bike for year!

In 2007, I was searching for a super-thin wallet to stop my pants from bouncing around when riding a bike, or falling down while walking. I couldn’t find what I wanted, so I sewed up the first Butterfly Wallet. Bit by bit, it grew popular via an online store and camping retailers throughout the U.S.

In January 2015, I found myself in Cambodia designing some next generation wallets. For 3 months I used a three speed bike for all my needs while waiting for each new design iteration.

My time in Cambodia inspired me to see if I could live car free when I moved to a typical midwestern city, Columbus, Ohio that spring. By July 2015 I had sold my car, closed the Butterfly Wallet website, and launched Urban Ultralight.

I chose the name Urban Ultralight for my desire to provide a full range of hard-to-find goods and services to people who want to live car-free in this modern world.

Commuting and shopping by bike for most of 2015 was so pleasant and good for my health, too! There’s something about relying on a bike that makes me deeply consider everything I do. Not having a car has led me to be more resourceful and conscious about how I live my life. It’s almost like taking a backpacking trip every day.

Recently, I learned that 1 million people in the U.S. use bikes to commute, shop, and get around town. That’s about 1/3% of the total U.S. population and growing fast. And the percentage is over 20% in many other countries around the world.

Some U.S. cities are catching up. Portland leads the U.S. with 6% of the population commuting by bike.

The percentage of bicycle commuters is becoming a key metric for predicting future economic growth in U.S. cities. This is why cities like New York and Chicago have invested so heavily in bike commuting infrastructure. Right here in Columbus, a major push is underway to transform the city into one of the world’s best places for commuter cyclists.

Given all this exciting progress in a field I love, I’ve declared a five year mission for Urban Ultralight:

Serve the bicycle commuter market and help
grow U.S. participation to 2 million persons by 2020

And help more and more people ditch their car!

Mark Winstein