As gas prices continue to rise, more and more people are complaining about the high cost of driving. I am definitely not one of those people. Higher gas prices are just the incentive that many people need to consider using alternative forms of transportation including, you guessed it, the bicycle. For marketing people in the bicycle industry, this a great opportunity to really push transportation oriented designs. I personally have two bikes that I use to get around, an older road bike “commuter” and, for shorter trips, a fixed gear “shopper”. Though these bikes are great for me, I realize that they are not ideal for everybody. On a recent trip to Europe, I took several pictures of average bikes like the ones seen above. These bikes with their upright riding positions, enclosed drivetrains, fenders, and front and rear racks are great shopping bikes for people of all ages. Here in America, where 90 percent of all trips are made by car (and most of those are short ones), designers have a great opportunity to change the public’s perception of the city bike. It is a hard sell in a country where bikes have traditionally been marketed only as recreational products, but now is the time to do it. The original mid 90’s design for the Specialized Globe with its nicely curved frame and internal Nexus 7 speed hub was a great example of a hip city bike. Though Specialized has a new version of the Globe in their line, it now looks a lot like any other city bike. It may still be a good bike, but it is not as sexy as the road and mountain bikes that they currently offer. A few of the European bike companies do a good job of making utility bikes seem “cool”. Bikes from Batavus, Hercules, and Schauff to name a few seem to be geared toward basic, but stylish transportation. With Interbike opening this week, I hope that some of the big American companies will be expanding their offerings of “cool bikes for getting around town”. Gas prices are expected to stay high for the foreseeable future, so I think the market for well-designed, functional bikes is going to keep growing.
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