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A Grant Petersen Interview

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Yep, Fritz scooped me on this one, but I still think it is worth passing along. I can’t say that I always agree with Grant Petersen when it comes to bikes, but I do think that he is a brilliant marketer who usually has something interesting to say. Read the interview here at Push Button For, a blog about interaction design.

I think most designers would agree with his opinion that consumer products should be simple and should have a straightforward, singular purpose. Like Mr. Petersen, I don’t like products that are not intuitive to use and require the user to read a lengthy manual. I would just like to point out that almost all bicycles are user friendly machines. Whether they were designed for pro level racing or a trip to the corner store, you just get on and pedal. What could be simpler than that?

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  1. Fritz November 28, 2006 at 12:56 pm -  Reply

    I think some of the innovations coming from the racing world that Grant gripes about have come a long way to make cycling easier and more fun. In particular, I don’t miss my old downtube friction shifters at all.

    Integrated brake/shifters, indexed shifting, and all the incompatible pieces required to make it all work add significantly to design complexity, but they sure enhance my user experience.

    I like having brakes that actually work, especially in rain. Improved manufacturing processes make great bikes affordable to many people. Clipless pedals — I can’t live without them now.

  2. James November 29, 2006 at 12:46 pm -  Reply

    Amen Fritz. I have no desire to ever use my old friction shifters or toe clips ever again. That reminds me, I need to get more of that stuff listed on ebay. I am always amazed at what some of that old, I mean vintage, stuff goes for.

  3. Gino Zahnd November 29, 2006 at 6:40 pm -  Reply

    Some innovations are great, no doubt. Some things also make no sense for the everyday rider.

    It also comes down to what “friendly” and “simple” means to different folks. Some people despise STI/Ergo shifters, and having their butts above their hands – it looks goofy unless you’re a racer. Some folks prefer the simplicity, maintainabiblity and tactile feedback of downtube shifters to the new school stuff.

    That’s the beauty of bicycles; they’re easy to make *yours*. Cameras, and most other digital products, on the other hand, aren’t designed nearly as well to adapt to the user’s desires.

    Me, I ride a comfortably designed steel bike with barend shifters and modern components. I reckon I’m somewhere in the middle. 🙂

  4. Gino Zahnd November 29, 2006 at 6:41 pm -  Reply

    Maintainability, not maintainabiblity. 🙂

  5. michael December 7, 2006 at 1:31 pm -  Reply

    I fall somewhere in between. I have a road bike with STI brake/shifters which rock but I also ride an old school steel MTB with BMX bars and Suntour XC friction thumbies which I love because they never go wrong however much I abuse them. I also love clipless when I’m feeling sporty but prefer Powergrips and steel toe capped work boots for tooling around the city. My problem is that most bike shops can’t be bothered to cater to all cyclists only those willing to lay down cash for latest dingleberry and that is a shame.

  6. Anonymous January 2, 2007 at 2:36 pm -  Reply


    Peterson is that Kent guy who rides the Great Divide Race and drinks chocolate milk.

    Hail Kent!

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