WSJ brings SUBs to WWW | The New Business Cycle

Nancy Keates at the Wall Street Journal looks at the new breed of transportation-friendly bikes making waves in the U.S.

Keane notes that commuter bike sales are up 15 percent in the last 2 years, but still make up a small fraction of total bike sales (she says $900,000, but that must be Euro-commuters only).

Among the featured bikes: the new Specialized Globe, Diamondback’s Transporter, Breezer’s Uptown 8, Electra’s Amsterdam, alongside folding bikes and electric-assist rides.

Keane gets a little wrapped up in the taxonomy – I don’t see why it matters whether it’s a Townie (and why is that capitalized?), comfort, or cruiser bike – but does a pretty good job surveying the segment.

Byron spent some time with her at Interbike, but he (and our Bettie Project) wound up on the cutting-room floor, right next to all of Kevin Costner’s stuff from The Big Chill.


The usage is kinda odd. Townie, of course, is Electra’s most popular bike, and it appears that all of the big manufacturers have hurried to come up with a comfort semi-recumbent like it.

But then I think of old Free Spirits or Schwinns when I think of campus bikes. Who wants anything that’s all that expensive when bike theft is so high on campuses?

Good points and the Redline 925 fits the bill for inexpensive utility. On the other hand, I also think there’s a market for upscale commuters and so does Shimano with the Alfine.

I had a Specialized Globe maybe six or seven years ago. That bike had Shimano three-speed internal gear hub with coaster brake, v-brake in fornt, chainguard and full fenders. The bikes they are showing now are missing some of those elements. Doesn’t a ‘transportation’ bike need utilitarian features like lights, rack and fenders? Bell? Kickstand? Oh yea, and BTW you say ‘Alfine’ Al feenay. Seriously.

The older Globe had a near-twin from Giant, called the Sequioa, but the two of them were about the only major-label bikes aimed at bike commuters, urban cycling, and transportation cycling.

What’s cool now is that it seems like there’s a flowering of interest in the broad category of “bikes as transportation,” with major companies trying to carve out their niche within that larger umbrella.

So for some people, a transportation bike might need generator/lights and fenders, but others might be “choice” bike commuters, who use public transportation or drive when it rains.

What’s interesting is the general consensus that this is a growing segment, and one that’s still not as well defined as the entry-level mountain bike, the Ultegra racing bike, etc.

The Alfine ships with a light and light generator and there were plenty of utility bikes at Interbike and most of what I talked to manufacturers about.

I wish I’d known better and bought a Sequoia at the time - that was a bike!

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