Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bikes - we can do better.

I love my bike. I mean, obviously - look at my url! But there's something that bugs me about bikes that are generally available at the stores right now - they're mostly not designed as transportation, but as toys or sporting gear. I think we're doing bikes and people a disservice by making all the features that make a bike easy to ride everywhere into add-on options.

If I could design a bike fleet, the first thing I would include would be integrated, hub-driven lights in every bike. It's silly that in 2015 bike lights have to be purchased separately! All the bikes would have fenders to keep the mud off your clothes, and either a chain cover or full chain case to prevent cuffs and skirts from getting caught.

For individual bikes, I'd have to offer a few styles of cargo bike - a longtail, a bakfiets, a cargo trike, in both regular and pedal-assist versions, and Dutch-style uprights with baskets and rear racks built in. One of the options I'd have to offer is heavy-duty tires and tubes in each bike - possibly even the solid closed-cell foam "tubes" that are used in factory settings. Why? One of the peskiest things about riding a bike as your standard transportation is getting a flat when you have a full load, kids along, and/or no time to spare. I would like to see a day where bike flats are as unusual in a cyclists day as a flat on a car. There has to be a way for someone to make a lightweight, yet tough and resilient air-filled tire. C'mon, manufacturers, get on it! 

Also, I'd like to see more bikes with higher weight limits. I don't mean just cargo bikes, though I'd like to see one that can handle an 800 lb gorilla! I mean bikes for people who are trying to get started in their weight loss, might want to bike to the bus transfer center, and aren't confident that a bike will handle their weight. The average bike from Walmart is rated for 250 lbs - I know a lot of guys that that will JUST make that cut-off. Then there are people heavier than that - the weight limit becomes yet another barrier between them and the fun, freedom, and exercise potential of the bike!

Yes, I know ALL of these bikes currently exist. I'm saying there need to be WAY more of them, and they should be available everywhere, not just internet special orders.

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