Does the bicycle industry need new ideas?

Commuter, Concept, Utility / Cargo Bike 98 87

“The bicycle industry needs to move away from unsuitable sporty racing bikes and focus on the needs of non-enthusiasts if cycling is to become a mode of transport used by the majority.”

That is the opening sentence in a Design Week (UK) cover story this week (which I discovered via Bike Biz).  If you have read Mark Sanders’ guest post on this blog, or seen his keynote presentation at the Taipei Cycle Show in 2009, you will probably not be surprised to find out that he is mentioned in that article ( and his latest iF folding bike is featured on the magazine’s cover). In the article, Mark says:

“Design and innovation are vital to change the usefulness and image of the bicycle. If the bicycle is to become our cities’ principal form of transport – as it is in cities in Denmark and in Amsterdam – then designers must start to focus on the ‘blue ocean’ of ‘non-enthusiasts’. More bicycles are now produced than cars, yet ‘the bicycle industry still continues to fuel trends towards using unsuitable sporty and racing bicycles around town.”

Even though I personally ride a ‘sporty racing bicycle’ around town, I agree that my choice of commuter bike is not necessarily a feasible solution for the average person. I have written on that subject quite a few times in the past, so I won’t rehash it all here. I am curious to hear your thoughts on the Design Week article though. Is the industry as a whole still too focused on ‘preaching to the choir’ with the design and development of sport and recreational bikes for those of us who already ride? Are the existing transportation/ commuter oriented bikes just based on trickle down racing bike technology, or do you think they actually meet the needs of potential ‘blue ocean’ non-cyclists? I could probably use examples to argue both ways, but I am curious to hear what you all think. Let me know in the comments…I would love to see some good discussion on this subject.

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98 Comments

  1. Thom Ollinger February 8, 2011 at 9:47 am -  Reply

    I think the issue has little to do with design and much to do with safety. When you design a bike that prevents it’s rider from being killed when hit by a 4000 pound car, you’ll have a start. Then all you have to do is convince Americans to give up the easiest way to move about and replace it with something requiring physical effort.

    • Will February 8, 2011 at 10:22 am -  Reply

      From my experience as an engineer, I agree it’s easier to design a bike with a crumple zone than to sufficiently train the driving population to avoid colliding into things. Not only would better drivers open up the roads more for cycling, but the drivers themselves would benefit from lower cost due to reduced damage/premiums/deaths/law suits. However, the trend right now is towards less daily physical activity for the average person, so getting the Average Joe onto a bike is a uphill battle in more ways than one.

      • Ronald June 19, 2011 at 3:59 pm -  Reply

        I would disagree Will. I would say that bikes are for PEOPLE, and therefore, PEOPLE should be trained to be safe (whether or not it’s easier). More training/education=fewer wrecks. A crumple zone will not necessarily save a life, in fact, it will probably do very little. Training motorists and cyclists alike to ride with each other is the only way we can increase safety. Engineers do always try to make problems an “engineering thing.” Try thinking about it more holistically.

    • chris February 8, 2011 at 1:39 pm -  Reply

      >”Then all you have to do is convince Americans to give up the easiest way to move about and replace it with something requiring physical effort.”

      As soon as the true cost and effects of oil usage is no longer covered up, or the subsidies cut completely and the true cost borne by the consumer, I believe that most people would begin to make the effort to alter their lifestyles.

    • Lee Lloyd February 16, 2011 at 3:47 am -  Reply

      I will admit that I am coming to this conversation late, but the quickest way to solve the safety problem, at least as far as the perception of casual cyclists goes, is just to let them ride on the sidewalk. I know that isn’t a popular answer, because of a whole host of issues including people’s desire to “claim their right to the street” and a lot of different other issues. However, popular or not, it is the quickest way to make people feel more comfortable. Oh, and please save me the lecture about how it is more dangerous to ride on the sidewalk. For the past ten years I’ve been riding in two cities that allow sidewalk riding (Los Angeles and Tokyo), and have not only seen and been involved in fewer accidents, but have seen far more “normal people” on bikes, than when in cities where the road is the only option. Yes, there are dangers to riding on the sidewalk (though far fewer than studies would seem to indicate, when it is legally allowed, and drivers expect to see bicycles on the sidewalk), but you simply aren’t ever going to get a 40-year-old mother of two, who hasn’t ridden a bike since she was a child, to jump out in 35 MPH city traffic on her road bike, claim the lane, and pedal her butt off, just to go to the store. She might be willing to take a leisurely cruise down to the corner store on the sidewalk, with a comfy dutch bike though. At some point cycling activists need to decide, what do you want, to see more people on bikes, or to prove to drivers you have as much right to the road as they do? The simple fact is that no one but cycling enthusiasts are comfortable biking across three lanes of fast-moving traffic, and camping out in the left-hand turn lane, arm stuck out, and hoping no one will hit them. The average American would be much more likely to ride a bike, if they could just roll down the sidewalk, and use the crosswalk like a pedestrian.

  2. Will February 8, 2011 at 9:56 am -  Reply

    What is Mark talking about? When in the history of cycling has there been so many options in so many genres of cycling? You can get everything from a heavy-hauling electric-assisted cargo bike like a Trek Transit, to a dutch-bike replica (just like the ones in Amsterdam) from Electra complete with wicker baskets. Also, any shop will tell you that for every “racy” bike they sell they probably sell 15 hybrids and commuters.

    The reason why most people don’t cycle has nothing to do with the available equipment. It’s an image thing. In The States, you’re viewed as either broke or crazy to try to use a bike in a practical manner. If those that want to commute by bike complain about “looking like a bum.” Even though 95% commute less than 40 miles a day, we turn our noses down at electric cars that “can only go 100 miles on a charge.” It isn’t that bikes aren’t available for the task, its that bikes aren’t cars. We love cars more than our houses, as evidenced by all the shiny cars parked in front of crumbling homes, it’s a disorder. Compound that with an electorate too fat to fit in a midsized car and you get a culture where bikes are toys or exercise equipment but not vehicles. Changing the Culture of Commuting is a far larger challenge than designing a bike for it.

    • andy February 8, 2011 at 11:04 am -  Reply

      Yup, I agree with you Will. There are definitely plenty of options out there, and it’s people’s lack of willingness to try biking that is holding Americans back.

      And really, the designers out there trying to make new bike styles aren’t doing so well. The diamond-safety bike style is here to stay. Other than making parts lighter with the same durability, there isn’t much to improve upon. All other bike styles are in the background, and have one flaw or another that prevents them from being used more widespread. Recumbents aren’t great in traffic or hills. Folders are very heavy and often have limited gearing. Cargo bikes aren’t suitable to most people’s trips. They each have their niche, but don’t expect >50% of cyclists to be using them.

      • Alistair February 11, 2011 at 1:30 pm -  Reply

        yes we are stuck in a metal rut.

        When music was first commercially digitized, it was on CDs: a spinning disk with tracks making an album, and a label, sold in record stores. pretty much a direct copy of a vinyl record. Looking back you can see the power of historical forms and institutions that shaped the CD.

        It took mp3 and Apple to really manifest digital music. And yes it was design & distribution after all there were other mp3 players before them with the same features.

        Yes, we need new designs, and they will come and help change the image and culture. they won’t come from Specialized or Tek or Giant. Perhaps from Fiat or Honda or Harley.

        • Will February 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm -  Reply

          I disagree with your CD-to-MP3 analogy. There were no perceived serious drawbacks for consumers going to MP3s. Almost everyone it Atlanta thinks they’re going to be killed if they try to ride a bike on the road. No human-powered vehicle will change people’s impressions of bikes losing to cars in common collisions. Until we remove the impression that the “roads belong to the cars” and people no longer see almost 40,000 vehicle deaths a year (proof of their own incompetence) as exceptable collateral for mechanized personal travel, HPVs will not catch on. I say HPVs instead of bikes because a recumbant/4-wheel bike combo with car-rated crash protection will be to heavy to be propelled effectively by an average person, and the average person does take safety into consideration when traveling.

          • Alistair February 11, 2011 at 3:00 pm -  Reply

            Hi Will,

            I agree that threat to life and limb are pretty serious drawbacks.

            However the point was to try and show out how similar the initial solution was to the old world model, how vastly different the final one was, and how it was both design and distribution (itunes, internet) that took it over the hump.

            You note that … “Until we remove the impression that the “roads belong to the cars”” … HPVs will not catch on.

            So what might change that impression over the next 15 years? It’s changed in Portland. i do think a fair part is city planning and bike lobbying, but the fact that there are three (all be it tiny) transport bike manufactures here says that all the bikes people might want are NOT available.

            Cheers, Alistair

      • Wunkyai February 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm -  Reply

        How do you know?
        Have you ever used a recumbent in urban traffic? Or Hills?
        And which kind of recumbent? As the are big diferences between Short or Long or Compact-long wheelbase, Above seta steering or under seat steering, rear or front wheel drive, or aven a tirke,, (and here I stop listing varios designs…)

        Diamond Frame bikes are really good at 2 things: to glorify athletic (and suffering) capability of racers, and doing stunts off-road.
        For a city use and upright position I think that nothing best a Pedersen Bike, wth fat big apple tires, and maybe even a Rohloff Hub-gearbox..

        Going back to recumbents; i use mine regularly to comute, as I live some 12 kms out of the city , very busy roads, and very messy urban traffic (Why, ‘Sicilian’ traffic, possibly Italy’s worse..) and in traffic I am pretty fast, actually the god thing is that in our old cities with tiny streets one can be faster than the average traffic.
        And, byt the way, with a bent you get ultra sooth and fast accelerations, it’so easy to push hard, like being on a leg-press…

        Going back to the design.
        It has been a ban from UCI (1934 & still active) to any other form of HPV other tha the diamond frame bike, that has blocked the design dvelopment of bicycles, and the abuse of the motorcar.
        But there are fantastic designs out there.
        One of the most promising concepts is something like the drymer http://www.drymer.nl/fotos
        but people will have to really show that they are ready for a paradigm shift, and leave their cars.
        Otherwise or this vehicles will cost a fortune for many years to come, either the industry will have to be forced by goverments to invest huge sums to develop these vehicles….

        • Andy February 11, 2011 at 2:08 pm -  Reply

          I own a recumbent and can attest to the fact that they have many flaws that a diamond frame does not. Recumbent is heavier, can’t climb as fast, can’t mash on the pedals, have much longer chain distances which leads to less efficient drivetrains, can’t be carried easily, can’t fit on typical car bike racks, often use non-standard size wheels, are not as visible on the road, cost significantly more… I’ll stop there. The diamond frame is just much more versatile than any other bike, and there’s a reason why challenging that style has been an ever loosing battle.

          While nifty things like Drymer look nice and in theory offer some benefits, these types of bike costs well into the $5,000 range typically, and are not versatile at all. You can’t put one on transit or fit it on a car. You can’t even park it on a bike rack. They aren’t going to attract new riders with features like that. It’s part velomobile but missing the features that make a velomobile worthwhile.

          • Wunkyai February 12, 2011 at 7:00 am -  Reply

            Again, it depends on what you consider versatility. (and what type of recumbent you own)
            What do you mean that you can’t ‘mash’ on the pedals? Like you don’t stnad up? In terms of pure power, you can express much more power on a bent, expecially for short periods, this is NOT an opinion, but simple science.
            Hills?
            I know at least 10 people who say they climb faster on their bents than on traditonal diamond-frame.
            there the subject is weight, have a light bent, with the right posture, and you climb just as well (in case of speeds lower than 20Kmh, otherwise you climb BETTER)
            The transmission disadvantage , long chain of rear wheel drive, or complexity of a front wheel-drive, is largely compensated by aereodinamics.
            And you forget that a bent is way safer, it brakes better, it will (almost) never flip launching you head-front, bends are fantastic adn you can ‘pedal-out’.
            Weight, depends what type of bikes you compare.
            Mine is a sturdy double shocked bent, very robust, but if you want you can get stuff like an M5 carbon high-racer at 8,5 Kgs full equipped, win races but still (possibly changing tyres) use it comfortably to do some shopping (story of a 2009 Dutch recordman)
            Diamond frames are surely simpler and, most of all, benefit of almost 100 years of frame refinements and trials. For short urban trips are unbeatable, as long as one can cope with saddle, wrists and neck strain.
            But for these duties I foresee a future for the newcome step-bikes.

            Visibility on the road? I rather use a long flag, like I do, than become visible with a ‘tallbike’ (to go to the other extreme…)
            Carry easily? My Azub 5 fits perfectly in the back of my Prius (backseats down), in fact is 175 Cm long, like a standard touring bike.

            Anyway, A bike is a machine that has to compromise something somewhere.

            the Drymer is NOT an alternative to an ultra-lean fixed bike, but a viable and ergonomic Human Power alternative to a CAR, especially if you have to commute everyday for longer distances, say from 20/30 dailly kms and more.
            the cost? as I said, the moment we’ll have these machines (bents too) sold in hundered of thousands of units instead than, maybe, a couple of hundereds, price wil drop greatly.
            Challenging the Traditional bike is mainly a matter of people seeing them in races, strange as it can sound, but it’s a fact.
            There’s no ergonomic or efficiency, it’s just industry politics.

            -take carving skis, they had been around for many years, and were not ‘understood’ by general public. But as soon as an ‘average’ racer like Mario Matt started winning…. In little more than one year ALL the skis, in races and out, become ‘carving’ skis.

            there is a lot to be ‘discovered’ and designed yet, starting from the pedal-chain transimssion, as the ’round’ movemen of the pedal is less efficient than the push-step natural movement of the Human drivetrain. We’ll se innovation there too…
            We still ha to invent an efficent mechanism able to transform the human power produced by this naturalmovement.
            Step-bikes ar a little move in this direction.

            Anyway, however you like, but leav the car, and go-out Human power.
            It is crucial no to be blocked by the traffic.
            use long flags, bright colors, be visible, use loud horns, rear vew-mirrors, lights on durging daylight, but we havo to be out in the streets, car drivers owe us respect, and we ha to ask for what we deserve.
            Also, the use of a couple of actioncams on the helmet makes for a wonderful “electronic-witness-
            If such an habit would be widespread, car drivers would think twice before beeing arrogant with cyclists.

            The idea is to move from heavy and inefficient cars to vehicle so light, and really versatile, like some of the new velomobiles, that can be easily drive by Human Power alone or, if hilly, benefit of some small electric assistance
            PURAVIDA

            .

  3. 26 x 1 3/8 February 8, 2011 at 10:55 am -  Reply

    I think there are design issues that could be improved, especially when it comes to components. Indexed front shifters are difficult to set up, and go out of adjustment easily. Customers don’t understand chainline and overlapping gears, and the argument could be made that they shouldn’t have to. But with minimal research, you’re probably getting an indexed front shifter – whether buying a mountain bike, road, or hybrid. So many people really don’t know how to shift. Sram’s Dual Drive addresses this, and so does their left grip shifter that works on a quasi-friction principle.

    This is just one example. It bums me out when people are confused by new bicycles, can’t shift the ones they have properly, and need constant maintenance to ‘dial in’ a component which is finicky by design.

    My solution: old three speeds for everyone.

    • Will February 8, 2011 at 11:13 am -  Reply

      I’d say the recent crop of internally gear hubs would solve that issue. They can be shifted from a stand-still, offer a range of gears equal to a conventional derailleur-based drivetrain, and since the chain line doesn’t change the dirty chain can fit neatly behind a chain guard. SRAM and Shimano both offer rear hub that seem ideal for a low maintenance bike that is simple to operate.

      However, a bike is still a machine and not an appliance. Cars are machines to that are far more complicated than bikes, but people forget that and most cars are operated in a great state of internal neglect.

  4. Mike February 8, 2011 at 11:46 am -  Reply

    Two words: Trek Lime.

    • Shozaburo February 14, 2011 at 9:28 am -  Reply

      Designed for people who can balance, steer, pedal and brake but not shift.

      Shimano spent a chunk to find out there’s no one in this demographic.

  5. michael downes February 8, 2011 at 11:50 am -  Reply

    My two cents worth? Integrate lighting into the bicycle frame.
    Imagine going to buy a car and as you are about to drive of the lot the salesman says, ‘Got any lights?’. ‘Lights?’ you ask. ‘Yep, you are legally required to have lights to drive after dark’. ‘Do you have any lights you can sell me?’ you ask the salesman hopefully. ‘Sure do but you will have to figure how to attach them to your car and when you park on the street you will have to remove them in case someone else removes them for you. Plus the batteries will run out and they are only designed to last a season so you will be back here next fall to buy a new set’.

    I guess that’s why I am always seeing cyclists riding after dark with no lights but wearing a helmet…………go figure.

    • andy February 8, 2011 at 12:11 pm -  Reply

      I see the appeal in this but I wouldn’t want that for my bikes. My lights cost half of what I paid for the bike, because for everyday commuting year round, a $10 blinkie just doesn’t cut it. If you tried to sell a $100 lighting system on a cheap bike, it would just seem more expensive, and customers would go elsewhere to buy a bike without the lights. Also, if bikes come standard with really bad lights, the riders will be less likely to go out and purchase good ones, since they already have a light.

      Though I do think shops should inform bike purchasers about these things. If you are buying a buy to use for commuting, you really should be planning to get fenders and lights as well.

      • Will February 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm -  Reply

        Andy hits on a bigger problem: people think a commuter bike should cost the same as what they find in Wal-Mart. A machine with precision components (hubs, bearings, etc) made to handle dirty environments and last years and years is going to cost more than $100, but that’s exactly what most people expect bikes to cost when they walk into a real bike shop for the first time. Good bikes with fenders and hub-generator lights seem to go for nearly $1000, and that’s what most Americans would rather spend on a TV or a laptop, not a vehicle.

        • Alistair February 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm -  Reply

          “Good bikes with fenders and hub-generator lights seem to go for nearly $1000″.

          Bingo. And $1,000 is probably just the option for navigation or wide wheels on you new car. Not a lot.

      • Peter February 9, 2011 at 11:16 am -  Reply

        Most of the time when I see a vanMoof after dark they have aftermarket lights installed on them because the solar power units are so terrible. Not a solution, see Andy’s reaction at 12:11pm

  6. Tom February 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm -  Reply

    Interesting question James. I think the answer is yes and no. Would a shift in design possibly draw more of the masses? Perhaps. I too (as I imagine many of your readers) am a “sporty” bike kinda guy. To me Di2 seems like a good example of a potentially missed market. I don’t have it on my bike (mainly due to cost), but gear management isn’t an issue for me. I don’t perceive a “need” for it. However, I suspect a lot of casual riders would feel totally lost on a (8,9)10 speed with a standard mechanical groupo. They might not need the range offered by Di2, but I could see the concept of something closer to an “automatic” transmission catching on in the commuter world. Likewise, with the public bikes offered in Paris, fenders, lights, on board storage, etc. all as part of the standard package make the bikes more user friendly. Personally, I think one of our biggest hurdles is infrastructure. Go to Europe, and the whole model for city planning is different. Bikes work well in so many European cities because the city plan has always been pedestrian-centric. Not so here, actually quite the opposite, and only as of late has there been a big push towards a more new-urban foot friendly landscape. Even though it would mean a 20+ mile round trip for me daily, I would jump at the chance to bike to work multiple times during the week. The issue is not the will, but the way, literally. Simply put, I live within almost 10 miles of my workplace but can’t get from x to y without crossing an interstate or riding on a major 4 lane devoid of bike lanes, or even a shoulder. I think that is the real battle we are facing. Make it easier to get from point A to point B, and then the bike will be a more attractive mode of transportation.

  7. Josef Bray-Ali February 8, 2011 at 1:05 pm -  Reply

    To pretend like “the industry” doesn’t get it is simply wrong.

    There is one part of the U.S. bike industry that doesn’t get it – retailers, and there are very good reasons why they don’t.

    First, the bike business in the U.S. is designed around active people (people who get 20 minutes of intense physical activity a week). This is a thin slice of the U.S. population, but they reliably spend money on bikes and accessories. So the typucal bike retailer is focusing on where the money is being spent now, and not on re-inventing the transportation bicycle market.

    Second, I sell transportation bikes (imported from Europe mainly), and the margins on most of the stuff I carry sucks balls. So, for most retailers, the margin simply aren’t there.

    Thus, there is less money and more work involved in serving the transportation side of the bike market. This will only change as the market grows, and the money shows up as retailers like me, Clever Cycles, Joe Bike, Adeline Adeline, Paradise Garage, Copenhagen Cyclery, etc. show the way and develop an American style of transportation bike shop.

  8. Impossibly Stupid February 8, 2011 at 2:41 pm -  Reply

    Well, I have already commented on other threads about how I’m tired of seeing concepts that are more likely to run $5k than $500. But, really, the greater problem is society as a whole being given incentives to push people to cars. If you want to see bikes used for transportation, you have to have a system in place that makes that easier than the alternatives.

    Better bikes are just part of the equation. You’re just not going to sell someone on even a $500 bike to get around the neighborhood when they already had to spend $20k on car to get them to work because there isn’t a train/bus route nearby. They’ll just drive the shorter distances, because the incremental cost of doing so is so low.

    The bicycle industry simply needs to see the whole of the problem from the perspective of the masses. As long as they keep chasing the lone avid cyclist, they’ll continue to distance themselves from widespread acceptance. We’ve already got plenty of things that zip along at 20mph for 50 miles on a weekend recreational ride or race; now give us something compact and trouble-free for going 1 mile every day at 10mph.

  9. James T February 8, 2011 at 3:40 pm -  Reply

    Great comments so far.

    I agree with those of you who have made the point that our infrastructure/car culture is a MUCH bigger impediment to riding for the masses than the design of an individual bike. For that reason, I am an active bicycle advocate in my local community and that is the focus of my (much smaller) local blog.

    Beyond working to change attitudes and make our communities bike friendly though, I do think that the design of bicycles geared toward non-enthusiasts can still be a factor. As Will said in an earlier comment, “Cars are machines to that are far more complicated than bikes, but people forget that and most cars are operated in a great state of internal neglect.” That is exactly right, and features like internally geared hubs, electric motor assist, integrated electronics and lighting, etc. can make the bicycle easier to use for the many potential non-enthusiast users out there. Simple one speed upright bikes serve that purpose in countries like the Netherlands, where practical minded people ride, not because they are hardcore cyclists, but because it is an easy, healthy, and economical way to get around. In the US though, the terrain is not usually flat and the distances traveled are greater, so an ‘omafiets’ style bike is probably not the solution for as large a percentage of the population. And of course as a few of you have pointed out, our society’s love of (or obsession with) the automobile makes the design challenge much, much tougher.

    There is an interest out there though. I hear it all the time when I ride to work. People who don’t ride a bike want to know where I park it, or where I carry my clothes, or what I do when it rains, or countless other things. Those questions tell me that at least a portion of the population has at least ‘some’ interest in bike commuting. If it were made easier for them, they just might be willing to give it a try.

    • andy February 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm -  Reply

      On the last paragraph, I think you are partly right, but I’ve seen a different side to it also. There’s people that know that biking is probably the better thing to do (cheaper, environmentally friendly, exercise on the way to work, etc.) but want to feel justified in their car purchase. I’ve had people ask those questions, and then try to make driving sound more convenient for them. Do you have to change? Do you sweat on the hills? Do you have to own special clothes? Do you have to repair it a lot? They just want to think that all the other parts of cycling are difficult.

      • Impossibly Stupid February 8, 2011 at 4:52 pm -  Reply

        Sadly, this is true even in places where owning a car doesn’t make much sense, like NYC. And it’s not just bikes that get shunned, but even the “lazy” modes of alternative transportation like electric scooters or skateboards (no sweating or special clothes necessary!) don’t get adopted. The attitude really seems to be “If the vehicle can’t take me across the country, I’ll walk”.

    • Alistair February 11, 2011 at 3:10 pm -  Reply

      I would go further than non-enthusiast. We need bikes for people who don’t care about (let alone love) bikes. Yes they use bikes to get places but it’s just a way to get around.
      Bikes that don’t need to be tweaked more than once would be great.

      Our local shop actually does a sizable business washing bikes. Yep, there plenty people don’t wash their own cars either.

  10. Doug February 8, 2011 at 5:14 pm -  Reply

    I live and cycle to work in Bristol UK. For the majority of the journey to work I use a SUSTRANS cycleway that used to be a railway line from Bristol to Bath.
    At 7:30am it takes me 15 mins. to do that part of the journey, in that time I’ve counted 68 cyclists going into Bristol. If I leave later its more like 80 riders. This is normal. We have many cycle lanes on roads, some we share with buses/taxis/motorcycles, it can get a little scarey. The point I’m making is that whilst “design and innovation” are great, people need to feel safe whilst cycling and to be safe there has to be the infrastucture for cyclists. Like cycle paths and lanes on roads. The car/van/truck driver also has to accept the cyclist as a road user. In the UK more people are cycling around towns/cities because its better than driving a car. So don’t trouble yourselves with bicycle design, design a better town.

    • Will February 8, 2011 at 8:07 pm -  Reply

      Amen, Doug.

  11. Elena February 8, 2011 at 5:49 pm -  Reply

    Regarding innovation: I rode a recumbent tricycle for the first time ever on Saturday, and it was brilliant! I can easily see how it would appeal to people with balance concerns or other strength/health issues. However, more awareness of even the existence of something like a recumebent trike isn’t going to help if people don’t feel like there’s any safe place to ride… (The trike’s owner says drivers treat him way better on the trike than on a safety bicycle just because they don’t know what it is or how to deal with it, but we live in London, where it is possible to bike most places if you’re committed and assertive.)

  12. Human_Amplifier February 9, 2011 at 8:10 am -  Reply

    Great Comments – I love this Site !

    If you are reading this – almost by definition – YOU ARE a ‘bicycle enthusiast’ !
    So the points almost certainly do not apply to you (and me) and our values. However the Journalist (Anna Norman) represents a much larger group of ‘non-enthusiasts’ who are possibly curious and are just taking a glimpse into ‘our’ world. So as an industry (and even as interested designers and enthusiasts) we should listen to alternative views such as hers.

    A large part of Anna’s motivation when writing that article (which was edited down considerably to get in more pix), was that she works for TimeOut and had just done a City Guide of Copenhagen – and then returned to London and visited the London Cycle Show. As we know Copenhagen is at the vanguard of cities that use bicycles as transport, for ALL (not just enthusiasts or those who cant afford a car) .. but everyone, all incomes, professions, ages, genders – ALL !!

    She was struck, in total contrast, by how ‘sporty’ and macho and how LIMITED the London Cycle showings (bicycles and equipment) appeared to be ! Basically enthusiasts selling enthusiast products to other enthusiasts ! .. Almost ignoring her the other 90+% of the population, which she is a part of. And from an industry POV, ignoring the potential of this Blue ocean. Now there are all sorts of measures which effect the takeup of cycling, bike lanes, safety, weather, advocacy etc. – but this blog – and i’m sure the majority of its readers, are concerned with the design of the bike its self – so that is what I want to focus on as Ann’s article. It can be argued that this is of lower impact than the other issues affecting the take up of cycling for transport – BUT it is what we do !

    Now, I feel a slight fraud because i am as big an enthusiast as anyone (ask my wife about by bike collection, and the space it takes :-) I guess its the ‘design approach’ of trying to get into the heads of the 90% of the population who are potential cyclists – through the only direction I have any experience of .. ie product design. As a group we are fairly good at the engineering side – some would say almost obsessing over efficiency, gram weight savings, and who is 0.9 seconds faster than who, and what – Nerds ?? But its the other side of design, the image, the cool factor, not to us, but to the other 90% of the population that I suggest needs a closer look. I don’t mean in isolation, as we so often see in some of the awesome CAD renderings, but in-conjunction with the best of bicycle engineering – but focused on the other 90% of the population, like Anna, rather than enthusiasts like us.

    For gimpses of what the world could be like and certainly inspire’s me, see places like Copenhagen, Milan and Amsterdam and appealing products like Gocycle, [www.Gocycle.com], several cannondale concept bikes, If-mode and several bikes I’ve seen at Pacific-Cycles, but not yet ‘out there’, Sinclair X1, and Torkel Dohmers’ “ThisWay” .. although many traditional enthusiasts might snipe here – this blog is THE place to get such Glimpses and products such as these may well appeal to Blue Ocean and car dwellers.

    Sorry – but crude (but clever and efficient) engineering plus a ‘paint job’, and this years branding campaign will soon, no longer be enough – just check out what is happening in other product areas .. Apple, Sony, Dyson, and what we, as enthusiasts and in the cycle industry could learn from these [ eg http://issuu.com/mark77a/docs/imagine_-_bicycles_as_consumer_products_article/1 ]

    Mark

    • Impossibly Stupid February 9, 2011 at 10:19 am -  Reply

      Good design is about the entire experience, not just expecting there to be one kind of bike that will draw in the non-enthusiast. As it stands, the entire bicycling experience in many cities is so horrible that, even if you gave everyone a $15k uber-bike for free, they would leave it to gather dust in their garage. Transit planning in general is a joke. As much as I like seeing the cool/wacky concept gear on this site, the heart of “bicycle design” is so much larger than that.

  13. Luke February 9, 2011 at 9:36 am -  Reply

    There are enough bike designs available to find what you want (anyone who looks at bicycledesign blog knows that). I just spent months looking for a commuter, I could’nt decide due to the amount of choice. In the UK we need better cycle ways and more cycle friendly roads so people can feel safe. I reckon ideas and designs to help create a better cycle commuter environment would be more useful than trying to reinvent the wheel.

  14. steve February 9, 2011 at 10:53 am -  Reply

    I strongly agree with those who say it is an infrastructure issue. Of course there is a chicken and egg problem

    • Will February 9, 2011 at 11:39 am -  Reply

      I think bikes receive to so much attention because their designs are easily changed, whereas a city is very expensive and time consuming to change. Think of it as “the easiest wheel to grease gets the most grease.”

      • andy February 9, 2011 at 11:47 am -  Reply

        The differences really aren’t that big though. Most bikes are upright, with multiple gears, with a shifter on the handlebar. You can make loopy deigns, put racks on it, make it lighter, etc. but they are really very similar. Not that I want to use a 35lb steel behemoth for racing or a carbon fiber bike for hauling groceries, but really these are not major differences. To say that fewer people get around by bike because of a lack of design is just being picky. I can go on craigslist right now and find 10 bikes suitable for getting around for under $300.

        People simply don’t bike because our country was planned around the car. The average person lives many miles from where they work, where they buy food, and where they go for recreation. All these places have huge parking lots, so why go by any other means than by car? We’ve set it up specifically for that purpose, and anyone trying to do something different is going to be the lone ranger.

        • James T February 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm -  Reply

          “To say that fewer people get around by bike because of a lack of design is just being picky. I can go on craigslist right now and find 10 bikes suitable for getting around for under $300.”

          True…you could also go on Craigslist and find a perfectly functional $2000 car, but that doesn’t mean the average American wants to be seen in it. ‘Image’ is all that most people think about when they buy a car. How will they look in it? What does their choice say about them? Sure there are functional differences between a minivan, or a pickup truck, or a sports car, but in all cases automakers are selling the public on a lifestyle (or at least a perceived one). Obviously functionality is important, but like it or not, most people choose bikes, cars, and most other things they buy based on an emotional response.

          Unfortunately, cycling still has an image problem in the US. The general public’s perception of recreational cycling is definitely more favorable than it was 20 years when I started racing. These days, quite a few people think of sport cycling the same way they think of golf…as an expensive hobby for the upper middle class. Transportational cycling though doesn’t make sense to many of those same people. Unless you are poor, or have your license revoked, why not just drive seems to be the common mentality. That image problem is very tough to overcome, but luckily there is a generation entering the workforce that is starting to view bicycling as a “cool” way to get around. Some of those younger people, those who might buy a fixie because it is trendy or hip, may not choose to stick with cycling if they find the bike does not meet their particular needs. The job of the designer is to make a product that fits all of the needs of a variety of different people, but also has that cool factor that makes people like they just have to have it. That’s not always easy, but it should be the goal.

          …and yes, I agree that infrastructure is a much bigger issue. That is a problem that we ALL need to address starting at the local level. I know from experience that dealing with elected officials and government agencies on issues that you are passionate about can be frustrating, but it is ALWAYS worth the headaches when you start to see results.

          • andy February 9, 2011 at 12:47 pm -  Reply

            James, sorry to say this, but if you think people only buy cars on image, than you should probably read up on poverty. Millions of Americans struggle to afford their used cars and could care less about image. They just want to drive to work, no matter what vehicle they have.

            Aside from dense cities, people that own bikes and not cars is really on the fringe. I know many cyclists, and not one of them doesn’t have a car or a significant other without one. So I really do think that cycling is an additional way to get around, which is why it seems so sporty. Living car free is much easier in many other countries, so not owning a car, taking transit and cycling is easy and many more people do it. As such a large nation with so many areas of too low density for transit to be effective, we mostly still own cars. I don’t see how that could ever be changed, and certainly bicycle design is such a minor factor in getting more people riding.

            One of the big bike companies was trying to make a line of bikes for the newby cyclists. I think they were calling them coasters. Front dynamo hub generator hub powered the electronic rear internal shifting so that these were totally “automatic” bicycles. Just hop on and ride and don’t worry about the trickier things about cycling. I heard they flopped not too long after.

            • James T February 9, 2011 at 1:42 pm - 

              I need to read up on poverty? Seriously? My point was clearly not to discount the real struggles that many people face. I was simply making a general statement about the way we, as a culture, make important purchasing decisions. A person who is starving and cannot afford food obviously does not care about image, but you and I both know that even in many low-income areas in this country, some people drive cars that they simply can’t afford. It is not unheard of to see a $30K car in front of a $30K house, so I don’t think you can say that ‘image’ is a purchasing factor only for the affluent.

              I do believe that getting more people on bikes benefits everyone, including those who ride because they don’t have other options. Even if bicycle design is a “minor factor in getting more people riding,” it is still worth exploring and discussing. Incremental improvements are still improvements, and that is how things get better.

              In your last paragraph, are you referring to the Shimano Coasting group? Find my thought about the group, and its demise here.

          • Impossibly Stupid February 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm -  Reply

            What you neglect to observe, James, is that the coolest bike is always treated as less cool than the trashiest car. That is hammered home by society from an early age. Hipsters on fixies are not changing that. Doctors taking a weekend spin on a $5k carbon fiber ride are not changing that. Not a single “redesigned” bike is going to fix that. What will fix it is a rational approach to transit planning on the whole. Make it smart to travel by bike and “cool” will settle itself out.

            • James T February 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm - 

              I disagree. Whether you like it or not, hipsters on fixes ARE changing that attitude to some degree. Whatever your thoughts are about those bikes, a growing percentage of the population does think they are cool, which is why you see them in fashion magazines and hip urban boutiques? The industry has jumped on that bandwagon, but there is more that can be done from a design standpoint to reach a portion of the 90% of the population currently not riding.

              Of course I agree with you that “a rational approach to transit planning on the whole” is what we really need. It’s not an either or though.

          • Impossibly Stupid February 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm -  Reply

            Disagree all you like, but simply being a fashion accessory does not result in meaningful changes. And a few surface tweaks to a bike design is not going to make a dent, either. Yeah, we all like the eye candy of concepts, but then we have to take a step back and see how well it meets up with the big picture.

            In reality, you have to at least meet the masses half way, and that is precisely what bicycle designers are failing to do. Where is the bike design that actually improves the car driving experience? You know, something transitional that gets people started towards the idea that they might not need a car at all in 5-10 years? The thing that can take them from the parking garage to the office today, and maybe to and from the train stop in the future? I’ve seen some nice A-frame bikes that seem like they might be on the right track, but a lot more needs to be done for them to make sense to most car drivers.

            • James T February 9, 2011 at 5:31 pm - 

              You said earlier that I neglected to observe “that the coolest bike is always treated as less cool than the trashiest car.” My point about fixies being hip and fashionable, and therefore considered ‘cool’, was simply a reference to that. I think I made it clear in my earlier comment that fixies are not an ideal solution for many riders, so I agree that meaningful change needs to come from something way beyond what is currently trendy.

              Design is about much more than creating flashy concept renderings. It is really about coming up with solutions that meet peoples’ needs…the big picture that you mentioned. Based on the points you made in your second paragraph, I would say we probably agree on that.

          • Mike February 10, 2011 at 10:06 am -  Reply

            James, I don’t disagree that image is important to consumption, but I think this teeters close to being an alternate formulation of the Myth of Inadequate Swoopyness, which claims that the only reason people aren’t doing something is that the made objects required to do it aren’t swoopy enough. When designers put their sights on swoopyness nothing good ever results, and I will again submit the Trek Lime and the ill-fated 161 project as definitive proof of this fact.

          • Lee Lloyd February 16, 2011 at 4:57 am -  Reply

            I have to chime in, because I feel I have a bit of an unusual perspective on this specific aspect of the conversation. Really short version of background, my wife and I haven’t owned a car for a decade, and have been getting around Los Angeles the whole time on just public transport and bike, that is until 6 moths ago, when my wife was essentially forced to buy a car, because her VP basically told her she was expected to have one.

            Anyway, the past decade has definitely taught me a few things. First of all, design ABSOLUTELY matters. I can ride around town all day on my rather mundane-looking Surly I built up as a commuter, and will not get a second look from people. I’m just another guy on a bike, and no one cares. On the other hand, I literally can’t leave the house with my Bike Friday folder, without getting stopped multiple times throughout the day to answer questions about it, usually from non-cyclists, who immediately understand the multi-mode transportation possibilities of a quick-fold bike.

            That brings me to a second point. Price is KILLING any possibility of average people moving more to cycling. I am not exaggerating when I say over the past few years, especially since the last time gas prices spiked, I have talked to hundreds of people about my folding bike. More often than not to employees at fast food places or convenience stores, when I walk in rolling the folded bike next to me. Every single time, it is the exact same story. They got very excited, because they had an ‘ah-ha’ moment, where they suddenly saw that there might be another way to get around, that wouldn’t constantly suck money out of their pocket for gas and maintenance. They wanted to know all sorts of details. Who makes it? How many gears does it have? Can I get one at a local store or online? How much does it weigh? Does it hurt going over bumps? How hard is it to carry up stairs? Does it fit in the trunk of most cars? Will they let you take it inside the bus? Are parts hard to find? Is it hard to ride? Do you have to pedal more? But then there is always the question that stops the conversation dead in its tracks, how much did it cost? I really dread that point in the conversation, because every time, I see someone’s excitement and curiosity turn to disappointment and sometimes even anger. When they hear it is a $2,500 bike, they act like they wish they had never even seen it. The most common response is “I could get a motorcycle for less than that!” It is just a complete non-starter. People are just not prepared to pay the prices they would have to, for any bike designed to meet the needs they really want.

            All of that said, all the interest in the world, and even people buying bikes they are really excited about, won’t get people to replace their cars with bikes in our culture, because it is just too hard. I don’t mean the work of riding it, I mean the way people treat you if you don’t at least own a car. My wife and I make pretty decent money, but you would not believe the number of people I know who have offered to loan me money, refused to let me buy them lunch, or invited us over to their house to cook us dinner, and tried to send us home with leftovers, all because they thought we must be having financial problems, just because we biked everywhere. Let me tell you, it is a surreal situation to have a six-figure income, be planning a trip halfway around the world, and have the guy across the table think you need his help to afford lunch. We’ve had friends back out of dinner reservations when we told them we would meet them instead of them picking us up. We’ve had people ask us to take cabs (that they offered to pay for), to their parties, because they were “worried about us riding at night.” We even had one friend who offered to loan us one of his cars until we could “get on our feet.” Every time I landed a contract, or my wife got a bonus, the first question everyone we knew would ask us, is “are you planning on getting a car now?” And then of course there was the whole work conversation leading up to us giving in and buying a car.

            When we finally bought a car six months ago, you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief of everyone we knew. Very few people are going to willingly subject themselves to that sort of uncomfortable, and even embarrassing, situation. Sure, our friends in London, Tokyo, San Francisco or even NYC thought it was great that we didn’t own a car, and were shocked to find out anyone in Los Angeles didn’t own one. Any of our friends or family in Los Angeles, Austin or Houston, on the other hand, thought it had to be a sign of serious financial problems, because no one would willingly go without a car if they could afford one. I assure you, that is a bigger hurdle to overcome than any design or infrastructure problem.

        • Impossibly Stupid February 9, 2011 at 8:18 pm -  Reply

          I’ve no doubt we agree more than we disagree. :-) Still, when I said “cool” I didn’t mean in a trendy fashion sense, but rather in a “society approves of your choice and will reward you for it” sense. When you’re old enough to drive, everything around you is screaming that bikes are not that second kind of “cool”. Exactly what form the bike takes doesn’t matter much so long as the general idea is that “any car > any bike”.

          • Human_Amplifier February 10, 2011 at 7:55 am -  Reply

            This is where we (the bicycle industry) need to work at – overcoming a century of car marketing / subliminal brainwashing. A start would be a subtle change in thinking … The potential for ‘consumer products for personal transport, health and fitness’ aka ‘Bicycles’ is absolutely massive, we are only just scratching the surface

  15. E February 9, 2011 at 2:17 pm -  Reply

    Consider a two wheel drive standard upright bike that includes a hand crank for the front
    wheel mounted at the handlebar location. In other words the bike would have a front wheel
    powered by a hand crank and a standard leg crank in the normal upright bike location for
    the rear wheel.

    • nicolas February 10, 2011 at 5:16 am -  Reply

      This idea is almost as old as the bicycle itself – I remember seeing one at an inventors exhibition a few years back. There’s a reason it’s never taken off, not ever in the history of bicycles, not even amongst enthusiasts (unlike, say, recumbents): it’s terrible. Inefficient, overly complicated, fragile. You don’t get around town looking for exercise. Nothing beats pedal power.

  16. Johnny K February 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm -  Reply

    The issue I feel is that there are such varying needs that commuters have that manufactures have a hard time trying to come up with bikes to meet them and keep their costs reasonable. As of now I don’t think any manufacturer has a handle on what a “commuter bicycle” should be.

  17. Simon February 9, 2011 at 8:51 pm -  Reply

    There’s no great need for innovation with bikes – the answer is right there in the bikes of the Netherlands and Denmark. They’re functional and they work and people buy them in large numbers and use them extensively to get from A to B.

    Where innovation is needed is in strategies to create political support for the creation of an extensive network of separated cycleways throughout the main streets of American towns and cities. It’s that bike infrastructure that is required to create mainstream transportational bike usage. Build it and they will come, and the bike shops will start selling those euro-style bikes in large numbers.

    • Human_Amplifier February 10, 2011 at 8:07 am -  Reply

      I couldn’t disagree more about innovation not being needed – a Luddite approach. It reminds me why Henry Ford did not use market research when he innovated personal transport “if you ask people what they want they just say ‘faster horses'” :-)

      I agree cycleways are a significant and a very important issue – and bicycle design is a tiny part of the whole cycling movement and experience – but hey, this blog is called ‘Bicycle design’ not ‘bicycle infrastructure design’.

    • James T February 10, 2011 at 8:35 am -  Reply

      I have ridden in the Netherlands (on a typical omafiets), and I agree that the practical one-speed upright bikes common there are a great solution…for a flat, densely populated country. Those bikes are not as practical though on hilly terrain where longer distances are traveled.

      I acknowledge that infrastructure is the bigger problem…and I constantly work to improve conditions for cycling where I live (see my other blog). In addition to that though, we need bikes that allow a non-enthusiast to travel comfortably over hills and for distances of 5 miles or more. I think that is where innovation (electric assist for example) can play a part.

      • Simon February 10, 2011 at 5:16 pm -  Reply

        Put an 8-speed hub gear on the omafiets – actually it’s already been done on plenty of bikes – and there you have it, it now works on hills. For old or unfit people you can slap an electric motor on it, and that is a place where there’s some innovation happening.

        I’m not against innovation, but the Henry Ford analogy is wrong. He was at operating a stage prior to mass automobility, and so innovation was key. We are now well past the stage of mass bicycle use, and it’s not a lack of bicycle innovation that is holding us back. It really is just the infrastructure.

  18. Will February 10, 2011 at 9:17 am -  Reply

    “The bike riders broke the law and this poor driver is paying the price. If I was on the jury working this case I could not find him guilty. No way in hell,” one person wrote .

    http://www.ajc.com/news/car-versus-bike-crash-670291.html

    Until we change the culture and the purposeful neglect that drivers are allowed to get away with on the road, we won’t see people taking to the roads in droves. The street is viewed as a dangerous place, and rightly so. People where I live often say people driving Minis are reckless because “How much protection could those tiny crumple zones provide?” People get hit (sideswiped, rear ended, and T-boned) in the bike lanes around here for crying out loud.

    No bike, no matter how innovative, will not change the fact that most people will view commuting as hazardous due to the people with which they share the roads.

    • James T February 10, 2011 at 10:22 am -  Reply

      I am aware of that story, and I agree that the system is often stacked against cyclists who are injured or killed on the roadways. Dr, Burke’s death was a tragedy, but luckily the driver who killed him was charged with reckless homicide this week. I am glad to know that Peter Wilborn is the attorney representing the Burke family, and I will be following the case closely.

      Coincidently, I just wrote a post on my other blog in response to a letter to the editor in our local Greenville, SC paper. It is sad that some people have what seems like a real hatred for cyclists, but it is up to us to correct the misinformation that they put out there. We will never change the attitudes of those who truly hate us, but we can sometimes reach those who are ‘on the fence’. I think it’s an uphill battle that is worth fighting.

      That said, I still believe the design issue is worth discussing as well. Since design is the focus of this blog, that is what I choose to discuss here.

      • Will February 10, 2011 at 10:51 am -  Reply

        Sorry for going off topic. I’m just trying to emphasize that the design should also address the environment around the cyclist, to be as innovative to the drivers looking at it as the rider upon it.

        • James T February 10, 2011 at 11:08 am -  Reply

          Don’t be sorry. I do appreciate the comment and I completely understand your concern. As much as I want to separate the two discussions, I guess in the big picture the general cultural bias against cyclists is relevant to any discussion of bike design for the masses.

        • Alistair February 14, 2011 at 1:33 am -  Reply

          And to the side of that topic is clothing. One of the environmental factor that affect commuting uptake is the impression that you need to wear spandex to cycle.

          So we could all increase commuter uptake by 9just one day a week) putting chainguard on our bikes, raising the handlebars and cycling under 15 mph while wearing jeans and a button up shirt.

          Then folks would say – is that Will/James/Sharon/Mark/Anne? I didn’t know coll [people cycles like that too. I could do that.

          Cheers, Alistair

          • Will February 14, 2011 at 12:31 pm -  Reply

            Huh? That sounds to me like saying “I didn’t know you didn’t have to be rich to play golf,” or “Canadian to good at hockey.” The physical appearance of Sport Cycling versus Commuter Cycling isn’t what’s keeping most people from using their bikes in practical manner, it’s that where they live was design exclusively for car use.

  19. Cheap Bicycles Krs February 10, 2011 at 4:04 pm -  Reply

    Well I agree that there has to be an incentive for people to migrate from cars to bikes. The green way to go will do this for some, but for others it will be the green $$$$. Many Universities have bike programs implemented. Cycling paths, and certain incentives for those that bike around campus. Our state University is providing free bikes to use on campus that are left at specially marked bike racks so students can simply walk out of class and hop on the bike. They have a simple GPS tracking chip on them to help manage the bikes and their locations.

  20. Andy February 10, 2011 at 4:26 pm -  Reply

    Migrating is nearly impossible. Convincing a 40 year old that they should be cycling to work instead of driving is nearly always going to be a losing battle not worth pursuing, no matter how amazing of a bicycle it is. From talking with other cyclists over the years, it seems like nearly all the regular commuters I know were on bikes as a kid. It’s the ones that rode 5 miles to school even though there’s a bus they could easily take.

    We can spend all our time designing bicycles, but the will is either there or not. I see e-bikes as a good step for the aging crowd that wants to be able to commute 10-20 miles but doesn’t have the stamina to do it every day as a good solution. I don’t see anyone selling a car because a bike is so well designed that they feel compelled to make the big switch. Designing better bikes helps those of us that want to ride, but I doubt it brings in any significant number of new cyclists.

  21. Rob Cotter February 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm -  Reply

    It is both bike design and infrastructure. If you live in NYC with 300 additional miles of bike paths in the last 4 yrs, its only gotten better. But since this is about bike design…

    Henry Ford is relevant. When he designed the Model A (1927-31), it was meant to NEVER become obsolete. Sound familiar? Many who are content with present bike design are riding a Model A . Which can be great, but not for everyone. (Fixies are the Model T) Ironically, it is conventional racing bikes that have set the pace for style. Yet “Racing Bikes” are less than half the speed of the fastest recumbents.

    Bikes can always be made better, and always will. But the big improvements are slow to happen. When it comes to autos we embrace change but no as much with bikes. Where is the weather protection, the storage, the lights, passenger carrying, theft prevention and yeah, maybe crash protection?

    The question is, at this point is it still a bike? I hope so.

  22. Shozaburo February 14, 2011 at 9:39 am -  Reply

    People on bikes like Copenhagen and Amsterdam? Do what they do!

    Geographically limit the city to make each square meter fabulously expensvie. Design it with no thought of automobiles (in their case, pre-auto) with impossibly tight streets and no parking provisions. Make petrol and diesel breathtakingly expensive. Enact punitive automobile-ownership tax laws.

    That’s the real “miracle” of high ridership in a first world country.

  23. jonas February 14, 2011 at 6:15 pm -  Reply

    check out the me-mover http://www.me-mover.com our take on the future of utility biking/ excercise/ play

    In my view the ultimate bike delivers speedy functional transportation, excellent portability for use with public transport (to cover transport to far away meetings or a long commute) great handling and riding experience.

    I couldn’t find what I searched for, though admittedly generally, living in Copenhagen, a bike does suffice. Still I found myself confined to car transportation for far away meetings, or when I need to speedily get somewhere wher I need to be presentable and not drained in sweat or dressed up in performance clothing.

    So I realised an old idea I have been carrying since the late 90’s when living in Stockholm- the Me-Mover. Its a tricycle, or a green segway if you want. Its operated in standing positon, pedal driven from 0 ~50km/h. It has a cambering design to lean in curves. The three wheel design let you safe and controlled in any speed, from walking to bike speeds . GREAT fun to ride, and it folds in sub 2 seconds to a trolley that fits within handluggage measurements for public transport- so it can be brought for free on buses trains etc. Whether its a bike or not (legally it is) it’s up to you. but it solves the needs of modern commuters, urban leisure drivers or the urban fitness demon.

  24. Sandroshark February 15, 2011 at 8:55 am -  Reply

    Sport bike made usable for the average punter >>> Faction’s adult sized BMX

  25. Human_Amplifier February 15, 2011 at 9:16 am -  Reply

    This is a great discussion !

    I do like the ‘out of the box’ thinking .. or .. ” its a bike, Jim, But not as we know it ”
    Such products as me-mover.com above [NICE] and dreamslide.com – are all ‘personal transport solutions’ within which the traditional ‘bicycle’ is but one option. Re-defining a product (as in ‘a portable light source’ in place of ‘a torch’) is a great starting point for new product ideas, as it can open the mind to alternatives.

  26. mommus February 17, 2011 at 9:30 am -  Reply

    For some reason, Mark Sanders always extols the virtues of the upright cycling position, claiming that this is the one truely effective cycling position for urban commiting. I’m sure most people on here can poke holes in that theory (aerodynamics, balance, cycling up hills etc) but I was wondering why he maintains this approach.

    Then I watched an early video of the production and design of the Strida…

    He’s an inspirational character but I can’t help feeling that he tried so hard to convince himself of the validity of the Strida’s cycling position that he’s forgotten what most commuters want. ‘Sit-up-and-beg’ may be alright for relatively quiet and flat cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam, but my daily commute is closer to a race in many respects; Hills, potholes, crazy drivers, even crazier fellow cyclists, sudden burst of acceleration, sudden stops. This urban utopia that designers envisage when creating commuter transport doesn’t translate to any reality I’m aware of.

    For that kind of environment, I want something a bit zoomy… or rugged. My Rockhopper on road tyres is just the ticket…. until I finish my folding bike!

    • Will February 17, 2011 at 10:16 am -  Reply

      I think that combining the change in thought about how cycling can be used on a practical basis with the change of recumbent cycling will be a bridge too far.

      The fastest bikes in the world are fully-faired recumbents, but they are not suited to commuting. The cyclist’s head is often half the distance from the ground as someone on an upright bike, reducing the ability to be seen and the ability to see by a significant amount when you include cars and other obstacles. Also, the ability to handle rough inner city pavement is severely compromised when you can’t transfer weight around the wheels and unweight the bike. Hitting a metal plate (often used to cover large potholes in Atlanta) on edge can burst a car’s tire, but being able to unweight (or hop for advance riders) can be the difference between sailing on to work or fixing a flat or bent rim on the side of the road. I think this last shortcoming is ultimately the recumbent’s Achilles Heel.

      In situations where the terrain is steep enough that an upright offers significant climbing performance over a recumbent, most people (non cyclists) won’t consider taking a bike to work anyway.

      • mommus February 17, 2011 at 10:23 am -  Reply

        I don’t understand. Was that a reply to my post?

        I wasn’t talking about recumbents. Commuting on those is suicide.

        • Will February 17, 2011 at 11:54 am -  Reply

          It wasn’t a direct reply to your post. I was taking the moment to take a stand against recumbents for future commuting conversations.

          • mommus February 18, 2011 at 5:33 am -  Reply

            fair play

        • Wunkyai February 17, 2011 at 11:55 am -  Reply

          I’m most sure that Like loots of people around, you don’t KNOW what you’re talking about.
          What milage in city traffic or extra-urban with a recubent do you have?
          If you have less than a few hundereds, (and tried a few different >Recimbents designs, as they can vary veeery much) you better check that brain is ON before making such statements.
          Sorry for beeing so harsh, btu you ‘pulled’ that out of my typing!….

          • Wunkyai February 17, 2011 at 11:56 am -  Reply

            …this was @mommus… to be clear…

          • Andy February 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm -  Reply

            Recumbents simply are well suited for commuting. They are heavier, can’t climb as fast, you can’t mash on the pedals to use gravity to your advantage on hills, have much longer chain distances which leads to less efficient drivetrains, can’t be carried easily, can’t fit on typical car bike racks, often use non-standard size wheels, are not as visible on the road, cost significantly more, can’t be used in conjunction with transit systems, can’t shift weight to avoid hitting potholes as hard. You’re going to have a very hard time convincing a newby rider to lay back on a bike and be hidden amongst traffic. Maybe they work great for you, and they work good for me for the uses I reserve for them, but they just aren’t suited well for commuting through dense urban areas.

          • Will February 17, 2011 at 1:09 pm -  Reply

            Dear Wunkyai,
            Not to make this personal, but since you did ask for personal experience on commuting and recumbents:
            – I have ridden about 7,000 miles a year since 2003 in Atlanta
            – I have held a racing license every year since then in both mountain and road
            – In almost all downtown and midtown traffic I can keep pace with cars
            – I also commuted 5 days a week to work, 15 miles round trip, until 2008
            – My experience with recumbents is limited to the Rans Stratus and Xstream and a few custom machines built for record attempts
            – The inability to see over the hood of most cars and almost all
            SUVs made me feel like I had my vision reduced to dangerous
            levels when riding in the flow of traffic.
            – Without the option to unweight or jump the bike, I’d be forced to
            get over all obstacles (wide and deep potholes, metal plates, etc)
            by either riding into them and hoping for the best, or coming to a
            stop and dismounting the bike and pushing it over or around.

            I’ve yet to find a recumbent that puts my eyes near the same height as my two upright commuter bikes. Perhaps you can include a link to a manufacturer that places the typical rider’s eye level above 48 inches, but I’ve been unable to find one.

            Wunkyai, you can continue to make personal attacks on those whose opinions and experiences differ from you, or you could offer some evidence of your own to improve your argument. Telling someone that has spent most of their free time over the last 8 years riding a bike in a large city that “you don’t KNOW what you’re talking about” only undermines the credibility of your future comments.

      • Wunkyai February 17, 2011 at 11:49 am -  Reply

        @Will,
        again, it’s a matter of what and how to compromise on a bike’s design…
        I chose not to compromise comfort (health), efficiency and safety.
        I own an Azub 5, that is an allround easy-to-go SWB recumbent, BB same height than seat, double shock, veeery high flag, Marathon tires 1,5″, fenders, SRAM DualDrive, seat bag+leteral bags for shopping (20 Lts volume by side=40Lts..)
        I look straight in the eyes of car drivers…. I’m not THAT low as you say

        Yes, but that also brings an inherent imbalance as the cyclists ‘center of wheight’ is well above of the “frame-wheels” center.
        Flipping upfront is almost impossible with a bent….
        After mor than 3 years with a ‘bent, now if I climb up a traditional the feeling is: ‘daaaanger!”… too high !…
        Being ‘HIGH ABOVE THE ROAD” gives you more visibility, (one of the ‘rationalisations’ peopole use when they buy a SUV) this does not mean that you’re going to use a tallbike to go ’round the city.
        The top of my flag is at truck-driver level, well above the head of any traditional cyclist, who could well use a flag too see here:
        http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=32333&id=1733906683&l=735c76e45a

        It’s true, rider’s position is fixed on a bent, but with F&R shocks you swallow almost anyithing, proved on my hometown old flagged pavement in many streets.
        Mine is not a ‘sporty’ bike, stil is definitevely faster than any MTB, city or touring bike.
        A sporty recumbent, that you can also use for home touring (on good asphalt) will always be faster (given the same power output) than ANY diamond-frame racing bike, the aerodinamic advantage is too great, this is not an opinion, just facts & science.

        With a bent you can’t hop on the sidewalks, but as this is illegal here, I don’t do it, and I dont’care; I’m 52, bit overweight (that’s why I don’t bother having 17+ kgs bike in full daily-commute setup.) Of course I am slow when going uphill, but that is ME, NOT the bike.
        I have been climbing 20% ramps, with no problem except my poor training (still smoke.. i know, veryvery bad..) as my bike, like HPvelotchink ones, as a rear-train design that does not ‘abosrb’ power even with suspension unlocked (I never lock it), but it’s crucial to have the right (large in a bent’s case) gearing, becuas as you can’t stand up on hte pedals (thus ‘resting’ a few muscular groups) you have to be able to spin well and maintain your typical cadence, even at very low speeds.
        Recumbent is a world where there’s still a fraction of the knowledge stratified in decades of diamond-frame racing (the real tests..) yet a good athelete with a bent as light as a racing-bike CAN battle for winning uphill http://www.recumbentjournal.com/news/sport/item/162-recumbent-cyclist-wins-uphill-battle-is-disqualified.html

        I do believe that as soon as bents will grow in number, and cost less, they’re going to appeal to many people, mainly over 40, that find diamond frame uncomfortable, especially if you have to ride more than one hour or so..
        And bents are FUN! Real FUN !
        But the paradigm shift will have to happen in people tha will have to understand that a good, very good, comfortable, versatile and efficient Human Powered Vehicle, will never be cheap; but one will recoup with health, no-car-expenses and, if goverments understand it, be able to deduct the bike cost from taxes…

        Al in all, (maybe I already wrote this) a human powered vehicle is like clothes or shoes, there should be a type for each use, and a ‘size’ for each person; is THE kind of ‘machine’ that should be really tailor made for the rider-engine needs (with this I mean not only measures, but ‘kind’ of bike’s design too…)

        Hope I didn’t sound too polemical, but I’m so enthusiast of my bike – consider that I have never been a ‘biker” (little pedaling, from time to time, in a park, or vacations that’s all, like twice a year)and I had NEVEREVEREVER thought of using a bike insted of a car, until I rode a recumbent. In one, maybe two years I built up more mileage than in the 49 years before!..
        As it happened to me, I reckon it could happen to many others out there.

        Going back to the core of the thread, what I really expect are really efficient assistive motors; something ‘linked’ to the BB more that in-the-wheel, so as to have always the best efficiency (motor speed ‘linked’ to the cadence more tha bike-speed-wheel-speed) AND with regenerative braking; possibily with fule cells more than batteries.
        We’ll have to’forget’ the ‘bicycle’ concept and draw more from the velomobile concept.

        There’s a Toyota’s design study for an Hybrid (Human Powered/Elecrtic) vehicle that actually is my MacBook screen the RLV wich you probably already know
        http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=21724&vf=1

        We’ll possibly have to ‘sell’ the new concept as a car sooo light that you can even efficiently pedal it, and use the ‘help’ of a less-than-1hp motor to overcome hills (or keep a pace of 20-30 Mph)without sweatig.
        You won’t ‘buy it’, just rent it; if it’s made well, the rental cost could well be a sub-fraction of the actual cost of owning and operatin a motorcar..
        PURAVIDA

        • Wunkyai February 17, 2011 at 12:47 pm -  Reply

          @Andy,
          straifht and simple.
          I do not agree.
          I don’t know wha you mean for “dense urban areas”, but here in Catania, Sicily you’d be scared, and believe, traffic it’s really “dense” (I’ve lived also in ROME, Milan, London and know USA quite well, N.Y., Seattle Los Angeles, Austin, S.Francisco, Nwe Orelans)
          I Am (was) a newby rider (or Urban &extra-urban rider), and I’d never swithced to pedals if ti wasn’t for recumbents..
          Actually, the more natural and realxed head-neck position gives you better visibility, and no neck-ache. You just HAVE to use rear view mirror/s, that would be good on tradional bikes also…
          And in traffic (maybe because I’m still the ONLY recumbent in my town) I grab much much more attention than any other cyclist around ! Proven!
          But, hey, the world is as it is ’cause we’re all differt, aren’t we ?

          We’ll possibly keep our points of view, and opinions, I reply just to underline that many of yor alleged ‘drawbacks” of recumbents are, in fact, non-existing, just that
          I just get a bit mad only when I hear people that don’t have direct experience and emit ‘verdicts’.. that is not good, for the sake of cycling as a whole

          • Andy February 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm -  Reply

            I’ll let recumbent sales speak for themselves.

        • Will February 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm -  Reply

          Hey Wunkyai,

          I don’t mean to pick on you, but that article you site about being faster uphill on a recumbent, sites the guy placing 63rd. Scroll down to the part that says “Update” and you’ll see that the author apologizes for not vetting the information used in the story.

          This isn’t about whether or not recumbents are fun, as we all know they are. And this isn’t about faired recumbents being fast, as they hold all the speed and distance records. This is about a design that will work for a majority of people new to cycling and new to riding in traffic, not just paths. Of the dozens of recumbents I’ve seen in Atlanta, 100% were on a rails-to-trails bike path. Not a bike lane, but a path completely separate from the road and limited only to pedestrians and other cyclists. I’ve never seen a recumbent anywhere else, and after talking with a few recumbent riders (some of which didn’t even have beards) they all pointed out the reasons I mentioned earlier why they don’t use their machines on the road.

          In Atlanta, people run into big bright yellow school buses almost daily. Same with cop cars and other roadside vehicles. Unless your flag had an ambulance strapped to it, none of the drivers around here would notice your road presence. We have to ride like we’re invisible, because to the drivers in America, we practically are. I’ve scrambled onto the shoulder and hopped curves to get away from cars and trucks before. It’s a bailout option I can’t ride without.

          • Wunkyai February 17, 2011 at 9:29 pm -  Reply

            Will, you’re right, I missed that, but stil the guy went faster than many uprights (i believe)…
            I deeply respect opinions when is a CHOICE because you’ve had the experience of what one’s talking about, will it be various bents types, various uprights styles, and folders, and even ‘standing bikes’ as could be called thing like the Dremslide or the StreetStepper (that incidentally I would LOVE to try, seem to look like the best thing for short hops-‘n-stops and be ok on the streets AND walkways).
            I could say that some 30% (maybe less) of the bent riders I’ve been talking to (our Italian forum, 340 users, not that many…) do prefer and use uprights for certain uses, first being off-road single tracks, freeride and such, 2nd being strictly urban, 3rd being only a few that use racing upright when they go up our mountain roads.
            All the other 70% always ride recumbent (or to be more precise, you should SHOOT them to have them ride an upright); if they can, (can afford it) they use different bents types on different tasks (like one would do with uprights anyhow). Off road too,snd not only with trikes.
            I forgot to tell you; I use a rearview mirror, one of those you stick to the glasses, and a 115db AirZound (great at crossing, if I’can’t be seen at least I can be heard..) (have you seen the link of my bike in shopping outfit’s photo,?)
            And where I pedal there are no cyle path or lanes, AT ALL…
            I know that with a bent I am less ‘agile’ than with, say, a MTB, but I am more agile than with a small motorscooter.
            Also, we have ‘lots’ of traffic lights, small roads crossings, etc.etc., this means that, being INSIDE the traffic, it’s a lot of stops-and-gos.
            With a standard upright, at all the stops I’woud have to get down of the saddle to touch ground as I’m 5’6″ short; with my bent I just have to put a foot down, sitting ultra-comfy on my “loungechair” while waiting for the light to go green.
            And at starts, usually with very little effort, I usually ‘burn’ all the other traffic.
            This is also beacuse my BB is ‘nearer’ to the road than other SWB’s, making for a ‘shorter’ time needed for the ground foot to reach the pedal.
            This make the CLWB bents even better at this, the best being a trike.

            I think I told you that I’m a bike newby ‘in general’, so I couldn’t asses “how fast” I can accelerate,’ till I few ‘critical mass’ fellows, guys hugely more experienced than me, many of them amateur racers, and way fitter, lighter and stronger (and younger) than I am, told me they were impressed by my accelerations, specially from stand stills and in light up-slopes.
            (Leave alone descents; there even me with my ‘relaxed’ bike, are faster than most experienced amateur upright raceres, and here there are a few.)
            Also, I got veeery god at going slow, really slow, almost standstill, that is difficult with a bent beacuse you can’t use you body much to balance,it’s almost all a ‘steering’ issue.
            Thight zigzags, like thos you’d do between car lines stopped at traffic lights (or jams) , those are not my ground –
            Compensate being ‘narrow’ (use above seat steering)..

            This is my experience, not that much, some 12/15 thousands Km pedaled on busy roads and streets; take it as a testimony, my opinion is an aftermath…
            But if you do have used a bent, and decided that an upright is best for you in the city, I’ ve nothing to say, of course it’s a CHOICE, not hype…

            @Lee Loyd
            Your point of view is that of a still-in-a-car-centric-world one.
            For the short period, and for those kind of useres, thare already are beautiful floder designs like Brompton, Tikit, Birdy, and who knows how many very good others that I don’t know.
            You could even consider something like th Dreamslide (and a small backpack)
            The real NEW design is something that maybe does not exist yet.
            My vision is not a ‘new bike’, even if lots of things can beimproved, especially in relatively new areas like recumbents.
            The Idea here is to leave tha car, period.
            Everything else is a subsequence.
            If we agree that we have to ‘rethink’ mobility in general (or better, urban areas in general.. but that is another subject..) one has to think to a very versatile ‘object’, for ‘personal transportation’.
            The most efficient ‘compromise’ for everyday use, powered by human power, is still the velomobile.
            With a mere 100 W on flats you go wella bove 30 Kmh (with a std citybike you’d goat 20 kmh with tha wattage) see : The Velomobile as a Vehicle for More Sustainable Transportation. by Frederik Van De Walle.
            http://users.telenet.be/fietser/fotos/VM4SD-FVDWsm.pdf
            I believe we should start from there; and many are already ‘going’ there.
            It’s seeing a future we’d like to be in.

            For “real” today’s life, choose your combination of transport, and pick the bike that’s best for you. But use hte car as little as you can, I know that if you are in the USA hta’s not easy.
            get a good folder then.
            Puravida

            Ah, by the way

          • Wunkyai February 17, 2011 at 10:03 pm -  Reply

            If you can, try to ride a good double suspension swb recumbent.
            If you are taller than 6′ you can ride a double “26….
            You just can’t imagine the comfort and safety…
            I know Atlanta is far from Europe but, if you can, go and see the Spezi tradeshow in Germersheim, Germany, I believe is great fun, and possibly the best concentration of ‘special’ bike, and bent bikes and trikes…
            I read your bent experience is only with LWB types.
            I miss that, I never tried a LWB, only CLWB Optima’s one and Hpvelotchnik’s one…
            Puravida

          • Lee Lloyd February 17, 2011 at 11:49 pm -  Reply

            @Wunkya

            It isn’t my point of view that is still car-centric, it is the world! Even in cities like Tokyo, which have every possible reason not to have a car, the roads are still jammed with cars. You aren’t going to uninvent the car. More to the point, this entire article was not centered around asking “what can be done to make the fringest of the fringe zealots of bike advocacy, feel like they are making progress in their crusade to eliminate the automobile from the face of the planet?” The question was what can the bike industry do to court a broader audience. The short version of that answer, would seem to be ignore whatever you have to say, because it is completely the wrong direction! Normal people just want to get from point A to point B. They have no crusade against the car. They like their car. They aren’t trying to “take the lane” or put “one less car” on the road. They aren’t looking for an entirely new lifestyle centered around a mutual hatred of cars. They just want to get to and from their destination in the easiest, most enjoyable, most cost effective way possible.

            If the bike industry stops listening to people like you, then maybe they can start convincing those people that at least some of the time, a bicycle is the easiest, most enjoyable, most cost effective way to get where they are going. If they can, then people will take bikes more often. If, on the other hand, they keep catering to the Critical Mass, fixed gear hipster, bearded recumbent hippy crowd, then they will just keep selling to the same insular group of angry crusaders, who will never make a difference, because they insist on seeing enemies of the very people they should be trying to get to try a bike.

            Oh, and by the way, sure Tikits and Brompton’s are great, but the average person isn’t going to drop a couple grand on a bike. They just aren’t.

  27. Human_Amplifier February 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm -  Reply

    @mommus ” the virtues of the upright cycling position, claiming that this is the one truely effective cycling position for urban commuting” …. not quite ! … but upright is good for regular peeps who are not enthusiasts (like us). Peeps who want to wear regular clothes, want to see and be seen in cities and are not worried about going as fast as possible.

    A bicycle is ALSO a wonderfully relaxed way of getting from A to B, which for the same energy as walking goes 3x the distance and 3x the speed, yet taking in the surroundings and people like when walking. [For a fuller rational: http://issuu.com/mark77a/docs/upright_is_right-the_view_ahead/1 ]

    This is the big ‘blue ocean’ which the industry is shy of – preferring to to take easy money off enthusiasts like you (and me).

    Strida does target, and is appreciated by, otherwise non-cyclists, as well as some regular cyclists. Yet iF Bikes by Pacific-cycles aim to cover the whole spectrum of users from Pacific’s traditional market of enthusiasts right across to non-cyclists, where image is important, as well as utility.

    This is a fascinating discussion. It is timely as I am just trying to write an article for the Taipei show, to bring together several strategies to encourage the bicycle industry to reach out to non-cyclists. To try and avoid negative reactions such as Anna’s (the original author of the article above). Thanks so much for so much ‘food for thought’.

    Mark

    • Lee Lloyd February 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm -  Reply

      From the discussions my wife and I have had with many people who have never even considered cycling as a form of transportation, the biggest single factor in reaching out to non-cyclists, is products designed around multi-mode transportation. As soon as you step away from the ideology of the “one more car off the road” crowd, it is immediately evident that the first question people ask, is “will it fit in my trunk?” I think the biggest hurdle in trying to appeal to avid cyclists, and the general population at the same time, is that they have completely different goals. The goal of the avid cyclist, is to replace cars with bicycles, both at the personal, and infrastructure level. The goal of the general population (at least in America), is to supplement their car, and maybe on occasion leave the car at home.

      It really isn’t a hard sell, to get someone to ride their bike a couple miles to the train station, take the train, then ride a couple miles from the train station to the office. Most people immediately see the utility of that, and how it could make their life easier, and save them money. That same person is probably never going to bike 20 miles to work though. Also, the only way they would even consider even the above option, is if, on a rainy day, or if it gets unexpectedly cold, they can have someone come pick them up, and just throw the bike in the back of the car.

      Bikes that are easy to carry up and down stairs, that fit bus bike racks, that fit easily in the trunk of a car, have some sort of minimum cargo capacity to hold a purse or bag, and that can do all of this without getting the rider dirty. Those should be the design goals of anything trying to reach all those people who don’t normally think of a bike as anything but a sporting accessory. Oh, and it isn’t going to fly if it starts at $3,000, and goes up from there as you add options.

      • mommus February 18, 2011 at 6:02 am -  Reply

        The latter part of your post describes exactly the folding bike i’ve been designing for 2 years now…. and by ‘designing’ I mean an almost daily grind of coming up with good ideas that subsequently show themselves to be poor ideas! I’m slowly whittling it down to something useable though.

        It’s harder than it sounds to design something that is genuinely vesatile, that doesn’t look too unorthodox or cost a billion dollars, that will still appeal to regular bike users and non-cyclist alike. Trying to appeal to everyone with one product is not necessarily the best or easiset way to go. I can see that by looking at the variety of comments on here. I’m mindful of the mess one can make following a one-size-fits-all philosopy (think Homer Simpson’s car design)

  28. Will February 18, 2011 at 9:01 am -  Reply

    Of all the blog conversations, I think I’ve learned the most from this one. We’ve covered not just the feasibility of certain designs, but have also thought bigger as to the environment we plan to operate in.

    “The goal of the avid cyclist, is to replace cars with bicycles, both at the personal, and infrastructure level. The goal of the general population (at least in America), is to supplement their car, and maybe on occasion leave the car at home.”

    So, are we going to take bets on what the winning design will look like? Will it be a conventional bike that has a design the lends itself to folding, like Cannondale’s ON Concept (http://www.cannondale.com/usa/usaeng/onbike), or will it be a hybrid that folds and looks more like a Brompton?

    • Lee Lloyd February 18, 2011 at 11:59 am -  Reply

      I think concepts like the On are great, I think my Tikit is great, I think the iF Mode is a great concept, my Wife keeps thinking of getting a Brompton, and I think that is a great bike too. The problem with all of these things is that while an enthusiast might pay $2,000 or more for a bike, the average person thinks “I could get an old beater Ford Focus for that much!” A few years ago, my wife bought a Mobiky, and I think that had the potential to be great, but didn’t quite make it there. The price was better ($700), but ultimately it was poorly made (several mechanical problems), poorly designed (wheels too small, too many custom parts, couldn’t reasonably accommodate anyone over 6′ or over 200 lbs), and was completely unsupported by the company that made it (at least here in the US). I understand they have fixed some of these problems on later models, but they have also completely pulled out of the US market.

      I don’t think there is one magic design that will suddenly crack the market. It think there is more than enough room for all sorts of designs. We are, after all, talking about a potential market far larger than the market high-end companies rely on today. Still, for just sheer urban utility, I would probably bet on something with a smaller wheel than 26″. There are a lot of advantages to a 26″ wheel, but it seems to be really hard to get a manageable fold with a 26″.

  29. Joy February 20, 2011 at 7:28 pm -  Reply

    look, gas prices at 10.00 per gallon would definitly make a velomobile more attractive to even the biggest fan of a noisy, too fast hunk of vanity. If velomobile dealers would finance like the automotive industry does, I think that to would be another nail in the coffin of the automobile(or at least put it on a stretcher).

  30. jonas eliasson May 5, 2011 at 3:11 am -  Reply

    @ wunkai
    Just saw this discussion
    If you like the streetstepper and the dream slider have a look at our me-mover. http://www.me-mover.com // youtube.com/thememover
    easiest described as a crossover of trikke // streetstepper// Strida

    the drivetrain feel and response is greatly improved in relation to the streetstepper, while the threewheeled carving design gives secure and utterly engaging driving experience, and then it folds in 3 seconds IF you want to bring it in your car, the Metro, train etc.. see that was asales talk..but have a look for you self :)

    best

    j

  31. Wunkyai May 5, 2011 at 11:31 am -  Reply

    @Jonas Elliasson
    Thanks, I didn’t know it; it looks brilliant, I wonder if it has been presented at the last SPEZI exibition, wich unfortunately I missed…

    For everybody else, try to have a look at was on show at the SPEZI this year, in places like Recumbent Journal or VELOVISION.
    I saw some photos and there are tons of Human Powerd brand new machines out there.
    Great products and ideas.

    Still prices will remain high; at least until something (or someoune) will arrive to change things and support clients first, and subsequently all those small industries.
    A new custom bent bike, or trike, ir a velomobile, can cost like a decent 2nd hand car, but who should evaluate the impact (good or bad) that a new, comfortable (use it more) efficient (use it even more) versatile (use it almost always) HPV would have on the quality of life of its users and nehibouring citizen compared to ‘another’ car?
    I don’t want to sound ‘socialist’, but certain ‘investemnts’ can only be supported by a public administration, for any “inc.” the risk would be too high…

    Aloha to evrybody

  32. Emily February 16, 2012 at 5:42 am -  Reply

    I don’t think bike companies focus on racers at all, not in the UK anyway. Look inside any high street bike store, there’ll be more hybrid/ folding bikes than racers. For sure, shops sell more specific commuters’ bikes than racers or even mountain bikes. There are companies who specialised in that market, like Brompton, Pashley and Dahon and most of the big racer brands like Specialize, Trek, Giant, Cannondale (how pretty is the Bad Boy) etc all make a variety of commuters’ bike of exceptional design for comfort / money / safety.

    A truly ingenius folding bike design? check out Giant halfway’s monofork and Pacific if: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJr7JRAe70c

    Here in Central London keeping a car is prohibitively expensive, “congestion fee” is £10 a day, parking is £4 an hour on street (or £9000 a year to rent a parking space) fuel / taxes / insurance is almost double of the US equivalent. Never mind the tax on a new car!

    On the other hand, cycling is cool here. Pashley with a basket is kitch, fixies are rad, Brompton’s folding mechanism is amazing. The mayor cycles, celebrities cycle, roads are pretty flat, to get anywhere within central london is all but a few miles this direction or that. More cycle paths are built/painted on road, there are cheap half hourly on street bike rentals, there are bike to work scheme that subsidies bikes. There are also organisations like LCC that lobbies the government to make more provision for cyclists. Hundreds and thousands of commuters take their fold up bikes on to a train and ride to work from the station.

    There are actually plenty of great designs out there, it’s just that they need some media boost.

  33. Big D February 16, 2012 at 9:19 am -  Reply

    MEANT AS HUMOR.

    UPDATED “HOW TO RUN A BICYCLE COMPANY”
    FOR USE IN DUBBING NEW CITIZEN KANE /CHAIN SCENE.
    SEE: http://youtu.be/tzhb3U2cONs

    FADE IN

    THATCHER
    (coldly)
    Is that really your idea of how to
    run a BICYCLE COMPANY?

    CHAIN
    I don’t know how to run a BICYCLE COMPANY,
    Mr. Thatcher. I just try everything I can think of.

    THATCHER
    (reading headline of paper he is still holding)
    “CHINESE BICYCLES LINKED TO DEADLY DOG VIRUS OUTBREAKS.”
    You know you haven’t the slightest proof that DOGS WORLDWIDE ARE DYING Because of CHEAP CHINESE BIKES.

    CHAIN
    Can you prove THE CHINESE BIKES ARE NOT KILLING DOGS?

    Bernstein has come into the picture.He has a cable in his hand. He stops when he sees Thatcher.

    CHAIN
    Mr. Bernstein, Mr. Thatcher –

    BERNSTEIN
    How are you, Mr. Thatcher?

    THATCHER
    How do you do? –

    BERNSTEIN
    We just had a wire from CHINA, Mr. CHAIN –
    (stops, embarrassed)

    CHAIN
    That’s all right. We have no secrets from our CUSTOMERS. Mr. Thatcher is one of our most devoted CYCLISTS, Mr. Bernstein. He knows what’s wrong with the BICYCLES WE HAVE MADE since I’ve taken charge. What’s the cable?

    BERNSTEIN
    (reading)
    CHEAP CHINESE BICYCLES TAKING OVER THE WORLD 75% of ALL BIKES NOW MADE IN CHAIN! CHINESE BICYCLE FACTORY PROFITS based on a CHEAP Polluting COAL FIRED POWER GRID, SLAVE LABOR, USE OF HAZARDOUS MATERIALS.
    CHINESE BICYCLE FACTORY WASTE NOW LINKNG EXTINCTION OF ALL FISH IN CHINA. NO LINK TO GLOBAL DEADLY DOG VIRUS HAS YET BEEN FOUND!
    Regards Wheeler.

    THATCHER
    You see! There hasn’t been a true word –

    CHAIN
    I think we’ll have to send our friend Wheeler a cable, Mr. Bernstein. Of course, we’ll have
    to make it shorter than his, because he’s working on an expense account and we’re not.
    Let me see –
    (snaps his fingers)
    Mike!

    MIKE
    (a fairly tough customer prepares to take dictation,
    his mouth still full of food)
    Go ahead, Mr. CHAIN.

    CHAIN
    Dear Wheeler –
    (pauses a moment)
    YOU PROVIDE DEAD FISH – I’ll provide DEAD DOGS!

    Laughter from the boys and girls at the table.

    BERNSTEIN
    That’s fine, Mr. CHAIN.

    CHAIN
    I rather like it myself. Send it right away.

    MIKE
    Right away.

    BERNSTEIN
    Right away.

    Mike and Bernstein leave. CHAIN looks up, grinning at Thatcher, who is bursting with indignation but controls himself. After a moment of indecision, he decides to make one last try.

    THATCHER
    I came to see you, Charles, about your – about the ROSEBUD CYCLE WORKS’ campaign against the CHINESE BICYCLE Transfer Company.

    CHAIN
    Won’t you step into my office, Mr. Thatcher?

    They cross the City Room together.

    THATCHER
    I think I should remind you, Charles, of a fact you seem to have forgotten. You are yourself one of the largest individual stockholders.

    INT. CHAIN’S OFFICE – DAY –

    CHAIN holds the door open for Thatcher. They come in together.

    CHAIN
    Mr. Thatcher, isn’t everything I’ve been saying about the CHINESE BICYCLE TRANSFER COMPANY absolutely true?

    THATCHER
    (angrily)
    They’re all part of your general attack – your senseless attack – on everything and everybody who’s
    got ANYTHING TO DO WITH BUYING CHINESE BIKES
    They’re

    CHAIN
    The trouble is, Mr. Thatcher, you don’t realize you’re talking to two people.

    CHAIN moves around behind his desk. Thatcher doesn’t understand,looks at him.

    CHAIN
    As Charles Foster CHAIN, who has eighty-two thousand, six hundred and thirty-one shares of CHINESE BICYCLE TRANSFER – you see, I do have a rough idea of my holdings – I sympathize with you. Charles Foster CHAIN is a dangerous scoundrel, his AMERICAN MADE BICYCLE COMPANY should be run out of town and a committee should be formed to boycott him. You may, if you can form such a committee, put me down for a contribution of one thousand dollars.

    THATCHER
    (angrily)
    Charles, my time is too valuable for me –

    CHAIN
    On the other hand –
    (his manner becomes serious)
    I am PRESIDENT OF ROSEBUD CYCLE WORKS. As such, it is my duty – I’ll let you in on a little secret, it is also my pleasure – to see to it that decent, hard-working people of this U. S. OF A. are not robbed blind by a group of money – mad pirates
    POLLUTING THE PLANET WITH CHEAP CHINESE BICYCLES, because, God help them, THEY ARE TOO STUPID TO KNOW BUYING CHEAP CHINESE SHIT IS CAUSING ALL OUR PROBLEMS! I’ll let you in on another little secret, Mr. Thatcher. I think I’m the man to do it. You
    see, I have money and property –

    Thatcher doesn’t understand him.

    CHAIN
    If I don’t defend the interests of AMERICAN CYCLIST, somebody else will – maybe somebody without any
    Money or any property and that would be too bad.

    Thatcher glares at him, unable to answer.
    CHAIN starts to dance.

    CHAIN
    Do you know how to tap, Thatcher? You better learn.

    (humming quietly, he continues to dance)

    Thatcher puts on his hat.

    THATCHER
    I happened to see your consolidated statement yesterday, Charles. Could I not suggest to you that it is unwise for you to continue THE BUY AMERICAN MADE BIKES enterprise? (Sneeringly) ROSEBUD CYCLE WORKS is costing you one BILLION dollars a year!

    CHAIN
    WHY YES! I did lose a BILLION dollars last year.

    Thatcher thinks maybe the point has registered.

    CHAIN
    I am going to lose a BILLION next year, too! You know, Mr. Thatcher –
    (starts tapping quietly)
    IF I lose A BILLION a year – we’ll have to close ROSEBUD CYCLE WORKS in sixty years.

    DISSOLVE:

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