Though I generally take what they say with a grain of salt, I subscribe to a few email newsletters that point out design and cultural “trends”. Many of the trend spotters are focused on the home décor and fashion industries, but as you can probably imagine, bicycle content is becoming more and more prevalent all the time. Sometimes I snicker at the occasional claims that urban bikes are poised to be the next big thing. Though I may laugh, deep down I am always happy to see bicycles mentioned in that context.
I received the Iconowatch newsletter a couple days ago and it had a short feature titled Get wheel: Pedaling through a recession? The article basically just points out that the bicycle industry is doing well during this downturn/recession/whatever you want to call it. One of the statistics that they point out, based on a Bicycle Product Suppliers Association annual report released in January 2008, is that overall revenues from bicycle sales were up 4% in 2007. In that same time period, they state that:
“high-end mountain bikes were popular, but even more surprising was the healthy sales of “hybrid” bikes — regular two-wheelers for commuting, recreation and just getting around. Those bikes saw an increase of 6% in sales for ’07.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t find it surprising at all that commuter-oriented bikes are increasing in sales faster than road or mountain bikes. I expect to see that segment of the market continue to experience growth as fuel prices rise. Certain urban bikes may be a bit trendy now, but I don’t think that the rapid increase in popularity of transportation oriented bike in the U.S. market is just a fad. I hope that, along with rising fuel prices, a growing number of utilitarian bikes on the market is something that we will continue to see as more Americans slowly realize that bicycles can be used for more than just recreation.
While I am on the subject of utilitarian designs, I’ll mention a couple bikes that I saw on Treehugger this week. The Skeppshult V is a small-wheeled bike that was designed to accept modular front and rear racks and carrying attachments for urban transport. The Skeppshult website has pictures of the bike set up in several different configurations. Riding with a laptop seems a bit dangerous to me, but I am pretty sure that viewing Bicycle Design on the go is what the designers had in mind when they staged this shot. I have noticed a lot of hits from Sweden in the stats lately, but I didn’t know that you were all reading the blog while cruising down the road. Yikes. Seriously though, the V is an interesting design and seems to be a bit of a departure from the rest of the Skeppshult line.
Also posted on Treehugger this was the Giant Twist Freedom DX. It is a nice looking electric bike and the small motor in the front wheel is barely noticeable. I don’t really understand the people who left the negative comments at the Treehugger post. Like one of the commenters, I would personally rather get a workout by riding a regular bike for transportation, but I am always glad to see more electric assist designs that give other people options. Products like this do not replace standard bikes; basically, they just widen the market for pedal powered transportation. Who has a problem with that?