David Millar craves storybook finish in Scotland cycling jersey
Sport - 2014 Commonwealth Games - Day Seven David Millar rides for Scotland in the Commonwealth Games individual time trial on Thursday and road race on Sunday. Photograph: Jeff Holmes/PA. So much lip-service is paid to the significance of the jersey ...
Spectators flock to watch cycling time trialGlasgow Evening Times
Commonwealth Games time trial course has 'not a bit of flat'Cycling Weekly
Why cycling for Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games tops the Tour de ...Scotland Now
The Independent -Herald Scotland -Sports Mole
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Watches may be becoming obsolete in a world where we’re usually glued to our electronics (who wants to deal with replacing watch batteries when you can just glance at your iPhone?), but when it comes to staying active, they’re far from “over.” The best sports watches have evolved from time tellers to multifaceted GPS units, interval timers, and even surf forecasters—who needs a personal trainer when your watch can calculate your maximum effort and then push you to your limit? Here are our favorite timepieces that will keep you ticking whether you’re running late for work or making time for a run.
Best for backpacking: Suunto Ambit2 Sapphire
With some watches, you get to see your altitude and heart rate. With this sleek black stunner, you’re also a glance away from weather conditions, current speed, and waypoint navigation via a band that takes forever to drain a battery and even less time to learn how to use. Just be warned: the $650 price may cause some sticker shock.
Best for surfing: Nixon Supertide
This is the ultimate watch for the saltiest of surfers, and it doesn’t take long to figure out why: It comes pre-programmed with daily tide information for more than 250 beaches until 2023 in addition to basic tide stats. In addition, it has a heat timer, an alarm and a high-res screen, and a stainless steel hardware combined with a soft silicone band.
Best for running: Garmin Forerunner 620
The Garmin Forerunner is about as future-now as they come: By harnessing your core stats via a heart rate monitor, the watch calculates the maximum volume of oxygen you can consume in a minute according to your body weight and then lets you set the ideal time targets for approaching races. It’s a no brainer with its own brain.
Best for wearing to work: Baby-G Pink Dial Digital Watch
The rose-gold tinted dial and dusty pink color of this otherwise sporty watch keep it looking work-appropriate—perfect for those days when your gym break runs back-to-back with your annual review. It’s also water-resistant for up to 200 meters, so feel free to jump into the sea with your surfboard in tow on particularly grueling days.
Best for serious training: Tissot Racing Touch
You get what you pay for, and when you splurge on the Tissot Racing Touch, you get maybe the only watch that has both clock hands and touch-screen capabilities. Then there’s the lap-tracking information (you can calculate the time of someone else competing in the same race as you), the compass, and the logbook that will store your run times up to 99 laps. Sold? We are.
Best for cycling: TomTom Multi-Sport
The large display, one-button control, and easy-to-read numbers on this GPS-enabled watch make it an essential tool for fast-moving bikers—pair it with an optional heart rate monitor to track your training zones while tracking distance, time, and speed while you cycle. Another perk worth mentioning? The “race yourself” feature, which tells you how you’re doing compared to your best or last ride. We love how the watch face actually pops out of the band for easy charging and data uploads, too.
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We had our last one this past Monday. I arrived WAY too early and entertained myself with helmet and safety selfies while I waited for Jill to arrive.
When Jill showed up we went to the classroom and found out that the kids were just finishing up their snacks. One of the teachers met us at the door and informed us that the class was a bit bigger then last time. "How big?" I asked. She smiled and answered that we would be teaching about 60 kids. 60 pre-kindergartners!!!!!!!
Instantly we were all...
Before we entered the room the teacher had the kids watch a short video on helmet safety. Then it was our turn. We were barely in the door when one of the little girls shouted out to Jill, "why is your bike yellow, pink and blue?"
It had already begun :-)
The first thing we covered was "things to watch out for when riding a bike." One little girl raised her hand and immediately blurted out "CARS!" We applauded. Then a boy raised his hand and shouted, "CARS!" We applauded again. Then the next 5 kids suggested bikes...like motorcycles. It was hilarious. The purpose of the summer camp is to get kids ready for kindergarten in the fall, so that they at least understand the concept of raising hands and listening to the teacher. Most of the kids understood that they had to raise their hands, but the whole waiting to be called on before talking thing went right out the window. So we basically had about 5-10 kids talking to us or to each other at all times. Which, in my opinion, isn't too bad since there were 60 in the room!
Jill showed everyone how to put a helmet on and then we tested them. They LOVED that.
Then we decided to do a drill we thought up (because we are geniuses) where the kids pretended to ride a bike by pedaling their hands. Every time we held up a stop sign they had to stop. It worked at first. But after the second time we held the stop sign up the kids thought it was more fun to keep "fake pedaling." Oops. They were all shouting and laughing...it was impossible to keep a straight face.
I decided to test them one more time about the whole helmet thing by putting my helmet over my face so that they could tell me if it was right or wrong.
Seeing me with a helmet over my face pushed them over the edge!!!
If you look at the kids faces every single one of them started laughing. At that laugh slowly turned into a joyful scream. This happened last year too and I was actually happy that Jill was there to witness it. It was kinda sorta awesome. And for one boy in the front it was JUST TOO MUCH TO HANDLE! He looked up at the ceiling, started shaking his head, and was screaming at the top of his lungs. That's the beauty of being a kid. There are so many times when I wish I could do that...but it probably wouldn't be as cute :-)
That was our signal to leave. I think we got the main message across (always wear a helmet) and once again I had a blast. It's amazing to see little kids process the information that you give them, and then hear the questions that they have. Half of the time the questions are completely unrelated to the subject that is being talked about but that's what makes it so much fun.
As always, I'm completely in awe of teachers and STILL firmly believe that you can never, ever, ever, ever pay them enough.
Now I'm off to Wausau for the Wausau 24. I'm racing 12-hour duo with T6 Brent and I can't wait. This past week was completely craptastic as I lost one of my aunts who I loved very much. She was one of my best friends growing up and my family is still reeling from it. I don't know how a week has gone by already but I am so ready for some serious dirt therapy. I basically packed on autopilot and I have a nagging suspicion that I am forgetting something huge. The good news is that I'll have a day to figure out what it is before the race.
Wausau 24...here I come!
This newest patent is all about cutting down on “bulk,” the word here referring to seat backs, cushions, tray tables, half the seats themselves…
Of all the search-engine-optimized, readily available information just a few keystrokes away, the best campsite locations are still oddly (and sometimes blissfully) analog—you have to be there to find them. And in a broadening arena of cramped tent sites and overused outhouses, there are still those campsites that offer all of the things we love about the Great Outdoors: a picture-worthy view, an uncrowded landscape, access to incredible hikes and paddles, and a few basic amenities. We’re letting the proverbial cat out of the bag with five incredible campsites you’ll want to fight, plead, and bargain for before the end of summer.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
It’s tough to find a site with a bad view in a park that’s, well, all about the view, but try to nab sites 16, 18, or 11 for extra space and a head start on the Bright Angel Point trail. Fire rings, hot showers, and laundry facilities are included and RV spots are available as well—just don’t come for a hookup. Make sure to reserve your spot at least six months in advance.
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Nestled along the banks of the White River (hence the name), campsites in this patch of land offer unmatched views of Mount Rainier and are located just miles from Sunrise Point, the absolute best place to watch the sun come up and toss its light onto the snowy mountain. Add to that convenient flush toilets and a $12 price tag, and this may just be our favorite campground in the state.
John Flood’s family will take you to one of eight campsites in their 72-acre wilderness area by motorboat, but the best way to get there is most definitely by kayak. Paddle around the tip of the wooded island and land on one of the small beaches on the western side, where you’ll find secluded picnic tables, fire rings, and a rainbow-colored outhouse. Sit among the trees and soak up the salty air as you gaze over the bay and nearby islets for a true New England experience.
San Juan National Forest, Colorado
Andrews Lake is reason enough to visit this stunning campground—it’s a glassy blue alpine lake stocked with fat rainbow and brook trout that reflects the snowy San Juan mountains rising in the distance. There’s excellent access to the Colorado Trail topped off with world-class rock climbing and a beautiful waterfall six miles down the south side of Molas Pass. Hail and rain storms do nothing to mar the beauty of this campground—just bring your weather gear.
Sand Flats Recreation Area, Utah
Park in any of the slick rock campsites in this sprawling hill-top campground and you’ll be treated to an ever-changing spectrum of color as the sun plays out its daily show on the desert surrounding you. Listen for howling coyotes at dusk and watch for more stars than you’ve ever seen pop up in the night sky. Mountain bikers will appreciate the 10-minute pedal to the Slick Rock Trailhead—just don’t forget to stock up on water back on town.
Tortugas National Park, Florida
White sand beaches, a sprawling barrier reef ecosystem, and glassy turquoise water—the view that meets you at Garden Key Campground can rival that of even the most pristine all-inclusive resort. You’ll have to take a round-trip boat journey to get there and there are only 10 sites with no water and just a few composting toilets, but the view is well worth the struggle.
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For one to determine if single speeding is indeed dead, one needs to allow for the notion that it was ever alive to begin with. This may start to sound like a pro-choice/pro-life debate, but when and where does life really start?
That's just running... with style and accessories.
Not here either:
This is about mountain biking with only one gear, what we call "single speeding," so let's skip past the images of Nelson Vails and Tour de France riders from days of yore before the invention of the derailleur... despite how much it looks like what we do today.
Tour de France or the Breck Epic Single Speed Stage Racing World Championship? Same diff.
Let's go back to the birth of mountain biking as we are told it began, on the top of Mount Tam.
These guys started with single speed beach cruisers, but it wasn't long before they were all retrofitting derailleurs onto their machines in order to go further, longer and faster. So they weren't really single speeders as much as they were guys who hadn't found gears yet.
The embryo that eventually became the fetus that later was the anti-Christ brought forth from the birth canal of Rosemary NORBA has to somehow be genetically linked to the sperm of Bob Seals and Retrotec. He and his roving band of gypsies have to be given credit for inspiring all other "fuck the establishment" single speedery.
Tim Richardson of Team Hugh Jass... East Coast single speed fuckery at its finest
The 1999 Single Speed World Championships brought back the douchery of Bob's first and only W.H.I.R.L.E.D. Championship of 1995. Although the yearly gathering known as SSWC is kind of the defacto class reunion of single speeders from all around the world, an anti-establishment, anti-NORBA, anti-"The Man" event, the first one was still won by two pro riders; Marla Streb and Travis Brown.
Two pro riders who were still all up in the NORBA and UCI racing circuit, taking names and kicking asses at the highest levels. It you don't get why that's relevant... whatever. Go make a sammich and come back.
Somewhere in there, the first production single speeds are produced. 1X1 or Ventana started the whole thing, and before you knew it, every manufacturer had to have at least one in their lineup and everyone needed one in their quiver. Single speeding hit the mainstream and money was made and people had fun and there was much rejoicing.
Which makes me think of Ian Malcolm's speech from Jurassic Park.
"You patented it, you packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox... and now you're selling it."
Did the death of single speeding occur during that time, less jumping the shark and more like the slow, smelly death of disco?
Single speeding is less of a sport and more of a religious sect within the sport of mountain biking. As with any religion, you'll have zealots, lukewarm followers, hypocrites, defenders of the faith, martyrs, true believers and preachers. Being a religion, as long as there's one faithful'esque person out there still believing, it can't die. That's how they work (unfortunately).
Like religion, people can have all sorts of reasons to be a part of the one cog congregation. Tradition, a crutch, the need to belong, blind faith, community, love, the desire to make the world a better place... a need to be closer to a divine deity.
I don't consider myself a "single speeder," but I do go to church almost every weekend. I've made countless attempts to embrace multi-geared bicycles over the past decade or so, yet somehow I just can't make it work for me. I can't and won't classify myself into a certain subsection of cycling culture that only rides one gear. I have what some people call "issues," and I've decided to stop trying to fight it. That's just my reason. So while all five of the bikes I personally own are single speeds, I do not adhere to a list of policies and procedures written down by some person a long time ago who's sole intention was to control my behavior through fear. I'm not concerned if my actions are considered single speedy enough, because I'm doing my own thing... that a bunch of other people do in their own manner. Why can't we all just get along ?
It doesn't matter why you're doing it. As long as you're doing it for your own reasons, single speeding is never going to die.
No matter which pro rider "steals" the tattoo, who bitches and argues about how #SSWC14 went down, carbon VS steel is real, weight weenie VS retro-grouch, craft beer brewery tourists VS PBR swillers, racer bois VS dirts, expectations VS "just go with it, man," interloping poachers VS dedicated hard men, Surly VS Rapha...
Who could possibly give a shit? As long as you're having fun, you're doing it right.
The finite time you have on this semi-spherical planet is your movie. You're the lead role, producer, director and screenwriter. If you think single speeds are dead, by all means, go acquire this and go win something somewhere.
Otherwise, carry on.
I warned you that would be a ramble. At least I succeeded at fulfilling that promise.
I have accomplished nothing. I will celebrate that later.
York, a city built for cycling adventures
There will be lots of partying and fun, but when that's over there remains a cycling-mad city with great routes to ride through it and the surrounding countryside. There are plans to start a three-day professional race that will take in some of the ...
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Michael Brooke is a self-proclaimed “skategeezer,” and the title has merit: He’s an industry legend who first laid eyes on a board in 1972 and has been rolling on four wheels for more than 37 years. He also publishes Concrete Wave, a magazine dedicated to longboarding with more than 100,000 readers around the world—a stat that forced him to think about the sport globally in 2012, when he got a nagging feeling that longboarding might just help bridge the peace between Arab and Israeli children in the Middle East (see video below).
“I knew that one of the best ways to achieve peace is to start with youth,” Brooke tells GrindTV. “They don’t have the baggage that adults have. I’ve been skating for almost four decades, and it’s kept me young. I just felt instinctively that if we start a peace movement powered by longboarding, it would entice youth and intrigue adults.”
Sound too simple? According to Brooke, sometimes the most obvious answer to conflict is also the most effective. Concrete Wave partnered with Surfing for Peace and the Peres Center for Peace to launch a series of skating workshops in the region and in just two years, the movement—dubbed Longboarding For Peace (LFP)—spread to more than 25 countries.
And that’s just the beginning; here are five reasons why skateboarding might just save the world.
Because it’s simple and effective
“Harnessing the power of longboarders to step up and make a difference has become like oxygen for me,” says Brooke of his global peace movement. “A small idea, started in my basement, is starting to explode worldwide. That is the power of ideas.”
Because it’s a global solution
Brooke explains that longboarding, a physical activity, transcends barriers between language and culture—it’s something anyone can understand and opens up a dialogue between people of varying backgrounds, religions, age, and gender.
Because Longboarding For Peace has partnered with the Non-Violence Project
The newest growth spurt for Brooke’s organization comes in the form of a partnership with The Non-Violence Project Foundation (NVP), a global movement to inspire, motivate, and engage young people to understand how to solve conflicts peacefully. The Non-Violence sculpture—the knotted gun outside of the United Nations Headquarters—is a worldwide icon of peace.
Because longboards get guns off the streets
In addition to working to educate youth gangs in Houston and middle school kids in Toronto about peaceful conflict resolution, Longboarding for Peace also helmed a movement to get more semi-automatic and fully automatic guns out of neighborhoods in California. “We took more than a dozen fully automatic guns off the streets of San Pedro and traded them in for longboards,” Brooke says of Longboarding For Peace’s partnership with Carver Skateboards, a program that allows anyone to come in off the street and swap a weapon for a brand new board. “We have more than 60 longboards to trade in for guns in San Diego this year.”
Because anyone can get involved
Brooke encourages anyone interested in working with Longboarding For Peace to simply shoot him an email at email@example.com. For anyone already too crunched for time, Brooke suggests participating in Longboarding For Peace’s Blood from Boarders program—October is blood donation month and their aim is to eventually get 50,000 skaters, surfers, and snowboarders to give blood. Simple? Well, you know Brooke feels about that.
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Female cyclists making headway in professional world
The 120 female athletes raced hard in front of the large crowd along cycling's most famous finish line. They were, however, restricted to 13 laps of the roughly four-mile finishing circuit, which, with the exception of an underpass, is mostly flat ...
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colorazione davvero originale e molto ben riuscita su questo esemplare di modello B: l’accostamento di sapore tra cioccolato e menta non mi ha mai fatto impazzire, ma dopo questo telaio devo ricredermi.
Since the mid-1990s, rider preference for handlebar height has been creeping higher, but the larger wheel standards and ever taller suspension forks often exclude the possibility of running a lower handlebar height whatever an individual might choose. This is especially true for shorter XC riders. Even with a steep stem turned upside-down, the generally short length of stems on today’s mountainbike geometry limits how much vertical change can be affected. Syntace’s FlatForce stem lowers the handlebar more than other stems because 1) it has a -17deg angle from the steerer tube 2) the bar clamp is vertically offset so that the bar center sits below the the median of the extension and 3) the steerer clamp is a remarkably short 27mm stack (most stems are at least 40mm stack). All these features are combined in a lightweight, sleek design that would not bring shame to the aesthetics of even the best high end frames.
The FlatForce stem weighs a respectable 138gr (77mm length), while its stout clamps and broad extension make the FlatForce resolutely stiff. Another unusual characteristic, the FlatForce stem uses M6 titanium bolts tightened by a 5mm Allen wrench, when most comparable quality stems have gone to M5 bolts, often with the fashionable Torx-25 heads. I suspect many riders and mechanics will appreciate the conveniently sized bolts on the Syntace. The FlatForce is available for around $110-140 and in lengths 44-111mm.
I installed the FlatForce on my 2014 Giant XTC Advanced 27.5, from Woodinville Bicycle. It has been a long time since I last had a real mtb, but my handlebar height is about the same even though I have gone from 26” to 27.5” (650B) wheels with almost twice the suspension fork travel (63mm to 100mm).
In next month’s volume of our downloadable magazine, you can read about my leaping into 100mile mtb race with a pocketful of pancakes and no training.
The manifested, Kickstarted Faraday in production as seen at Sea Otter
Ed note: when the press release for the latest batch of Oregon Manifest’s (a heavily-promoted design contest) bikes arrived in my inbox, I was troubled by the visual echoes of previous winners and the Vanmoof. Discussed it quite a bit with industry insiders, saw commenters mention it, exchanged email with the organizers and designers, and Patrick recalled his time judging NAHBs… Here’s his take.July 29, 2014
Our world is changing. The economy of our parents, where people worked for a company for 40 years, got a gold watch and then lived well on a pension is effectively history. The nature of the jobs we do and how we do them is evolving faster than some of us can manage. Five years ago no one was talking about social media and now every corporation on earth has a social media director. Go figure.
How we get from place to place is changing as well. Witness the rise of services like Uber. Even the car itself is changing, for good reason. Fossil fuels are going to go extinct the way the source of those fossil fuels (dinosaurs) did. At some point in the future, we are going to be without our beloved, gas-sucking cars. We are likely to have electric cars, but from our current vantage, it’s hard to know how the automotive landscape will appear in 20 years. It may be that many of us who currently own cars won’t.
To many of us, the bicycle is an obvious answer to many of our needs. It is the single most efficient mode of transportation man had devised. It uses no fossil fuels (unless you count your own imminent mortality), takes up little space when in motion or at rest and can be accessorized to carry a load, say a bag of groceries, or two.
However, most bicycles sold today are meant for pleasure riding, not service. Chances are, if the bicycle is to augment our transportation needs in the future it will need to offer levels of convenience and utility that recall a car, though we may have to forego the windshield wiper and iPod jack. They will need to accommodate loads beyond ourselves. We will not stop needing groceries and if the human race is to survive, we will need to keep making babies. So at minimum, any bike we expect to augment or replace a car will need to some capacity to carry groceries and kids. I can hear it now—“Don’t make me pull this bike over.”
Clearly, we need fresh ideas about what a bike is, what a bike can be. Enter the Oregon Manifest.
The Oregon Manifest started out with a clear mission: It was “a design/build competition to create the ultimate modern utility bike.” That’s a laudable endeavor, full stop. That’s exactly what we need.
The Manifest served multiple functions. First, it gave a bunch of very creative frame builders license to go pursue some wild ideas. It posed the question: What is your idea of the ultimate utility bike? Utility is not a constant. When I was 20, the most important thing I might move by bike was beer. I’m a parent now; I like to move my kids by bike.
The next thing the Manifest did was to create a megaphone for these builders to show that they were capable of making more than racing-oriented road and mountain bikes. It gave them a way to show they were capable of fresh ideas, and it did so in a relatively low-risk setting. The Manifest, in bringing together a bunch of builders, created a forum to talk about custom bike making and utility. It was a marketing bonanza for a bunch of people much better at the torch than the keyboard.
And so it went for a couple of years. In 2011, I was serving as one of the judges for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Sacramento. Many of the bikes from that year’s Manifest made their way into the City/Utility bike category. I was unaware at the time that the bikes had been built for the Manifest, not NAHBS, and I struggled to fathom the wealth of entries. It proved to be one of the toughest categories to judge.
There was just one problem. Those bikes were all custom, one-off creations. And while they were fantastic bikes that would easily become family heirlooms for the purchaser, they were effectively only prototypes that were wildly unaffordable for most of the population. They were perfect for NAHBS, but they weren’t going to solve any of the world’s problems.
If we are to address the needs of the many, that massive population spread from Maine to Mojave, then at some point, new bike ideas will need to collide with reality. By that I mean making frames in a mass-production environment, banging out dozens of frames per day in a factory setting so that the production costs can be more easily managed. Sorry folks, but making the donuts ain’t sexy.
At some point I’d hoped the Manifest would do more to encourage practicality over cool. Don’t get me wrong, I’d maim, if not kill, to have Inglis’ Retrotec he showed at the ’11 Manifest, but unless we find a way to produce 100,000 of those per year, we really haven’t done anything but engage in a self-congratulatory build-off.
And so when I saw a post on Facebook about this year’s entrants in the Oregon Manifest, I realized that whoever is now running the show there must be more interested in partnerships and synergies than really addressing a transportation problem.
They’re hooked in with Levi’s and Fast Company. Fine. But all those one-man bike builders that made the 2011 edition an overdose of amazing? That’s been overthrown in favor of what was a small feature of the ’11 Manifest: design teams paired with a single builder. Now it’s five teams each representing a different city—Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and, yes, Portland. Why just five teams? And why does what city they are in matter? They claimed they were “bike heavy cities.” Do tell, how is Chicago a more bike-heavy city than, say, Los Angeles or Philadelphia?
It’s easy to conclude from the fact that the designers outnumber the builders by more than five to one that this competition is long on style and short on substance.
There are ways to address this. Hosting a contest in which design teams who have never worked in the bike industry before design bikes is the wrong way to go. Why couldn’t they have approached design teams at actual bike companies? I’m sorry, but dressing like a hipster and posing for a black and white photo and listing Google as a previous client does nothing to establish your bona fides within the bike world.
Problems I saw with the entries were numerous. Some used difficult-to-replicate curved tubing. The Pensa/Horse Cycles entry employed a size-limiting seat mast. The HUGE/4130 Cycle Works bike had a 90-degree seat tube angle, which meant the bike would fit a narrow range of people—same problem as the Pensa/Horse Cycles bike. The Minimal/Method Bicycle entry had some fillet brazing, which is arguably the slowest possible means of building a bicycle frame—now there’s a way to run up production costs.
The HUGE/4130 Cycles Works bike featured a front rack mounted to the frame, rather than the fork; this is an old idea that every experienced builder has abandoned because it shares in common with Justin Bieber’s ego the fact that when loaded both are virtually unmanageable. Only one of the entries—the Denny—embraced electric-assist technology. Maybe these design teams haven’t seen the obesity stats for this place called America.
More insidious is how the HUGE/4130 Cycle Works entry looks rather like the Faraday created by Ideo/Rock Lobster that won the People’s Choice Award in ’11. It also recalls the Dutch city bike by Vanmoof, a point driven home in a recent post by the Bike Snob Aren’t design teams supposed to be overflowing with original ideas? It suggests the Manifest is maybe nothing more than an echo chamber; at minimum they should give a shout out to their influences.
There are real problems to be solved if you hope to “create the ultimate modern utility bike.” I’ve been writing about cycling for more than 20 years and have worked for manufacturers in the past, so permit me to make a list of some of the priorities, based on my experience.
The rider’s needs:
- The bike needs to be practical. It needs to be able to carry loads appropriate to your life. For some, that’s groceries, for others that may include kids.
- The bike must be efficient. It needs to have sufficient gearing to allow you to arrive at a destination without looking like you just walked out of a gym. An electric assist isn’t a bad idea.
- The bike must fit. It needs to be comfortable to pedal around and your weight must be distributed adequately so that it handles well in turns.
- The bike must be relatively light. It needs to be light enough that you can ride it up a hill with a load.
So that’s one set of priorities. But to meet those and really solve some problems, there’s another set of priorities and needs that ought to be addressed.
The production needs:
- The bike must be easy to produce.
- It needs to be quick to weld together in a factory setting. To keep costs low, the frame design should require a minimum of new tooling for production. Wild curves and bends can be difficult to reproduce consistently and increase production costs, so most of the tubing should remain straight.
- The bike must be reliable. It needs parts that will last through daily usage, but that’s not all. The parts should be widely available so that if one breaks, you don’t have to wait two weeks for a new one to arrive.
- The bike must use no more tubing than is necessary. It needs to be light (see #4 under rider needs) so that it is easy to pedal. More tubing means more weight and more welds and more to align and more time spent in production, and more cost.
- The bike must be no more expensive than is necessary. Look, a great utility bike that can carry kids and groceries, and has gearing enough to get a rider home will never be cheap, but getting millions of people on utility bikes means making sure they are as affordable as possible, and right now that means overseas production, not some dude in an industrial space in Brooklyn.
- The bike must fit as many people as possible. While it’s possible that multiple family members might use a single bike, the greater reality is that the more one-size-fits-all a bike can be, the easier production is and the easier stock control and planning are for the retailer.
The economic pressures we face from the future are significant. Rising fuel costs and the impact of pumping more exhaust into our atmosphere will make producing goods overseas increasingly unattractive. We would do well to undertake an examination of how to mass-produce utility bikes here in the United States. Unfortunately, labor is the single biggest cost in producing a bike, and welding a frame and assembling a bike are considerably more difficult skills to impart than how to put toilet paper on the shelf at Wal-Mart.
If I haven’t been blunt enough, I apologize. I will rectify that now. These design teams wouldn’t have lasted a month at Apple. They would have been personally fired by Steve Jobs. When we think of great design, no one will argue that the iPhone is a rare achievement. It’s Brazilian-model attractive. It’s more versatile than a Swiss Army. No, the whole damn army, not just the knife. It’s more affordable than a college education and has taught an entire generation how to text and chew gum at the same time. Not one of these bikes approaches that level of utility and affordability. The ultimate utility bike should fit more people, handle better, carry more, be easier to produce and cost less than any of these bikes. And it should still be beautiful. They said, “ultimate,” remember?
What we need is a coalition within the bike industry to seriously take on the goal of producing several different models of utility bike domestically. Solving this problem will require people who have worked in production. By that, I mean people who have had to build things over and over on a daily basis, logistics people who have figured out how to source needs as locally as possible and purchase only enough to last for the next 60-90 days, and product managers who have spec’d bikes to simultaneously manage performance and price so that they can include a disc brake on a bike without causing the retail price to rise by $50. Finally, they will need to be backed by a sales team that knows the market, understands the principles of bicycle retailing and can work with retailers to make sure that once built, you can actually find the damn thing for an affordable price in a bike shop in your town.
Of course, without talented PR people behind such an effort, there’s no chance that Fast Company will report on it. That’s okay; if you solve a real problem, you don’t need a PR agency for the world to take note.