Do you really want to “save” the bike biz?

It seems that every year the industry rolls out the next product that will “save” the bike business.  A product so great, so revolutionary that rabid throngs of customers will rush into stores all over the country.

Of course, it never really lives up to the hype.

The products always seem to appeal to niche audiences, and said products always are on the higher end of the price range.  The funny thing is that there’s a gaping hole in the offerings from the big bike companies.  Something that truly could make a very big difference in the health, and happiness of a large number of people.   As far as I know no one is addressing it.

Here in the midwest we have a population that skews……..larger.  I’ve lost count of the number of customers I’ve talked to that genuinely want to ride a bike.  They just don’t know where to turn.

The first inclination seems to be visiting one of the big box stores and just buying a bike.  This rarely ends well.  Lack of sizes, and poor components make for a bad experience that usually ends in the person giving up.

Buying a bike in a bike shop should be a better alternative.  The trouble is that the wheels spec’d on recreational bike in the $400-$600 price range are not sufficient to hold someone tipping the scales over 250 lbs.  This is the problem.  Could the customer invest in a bicycle that is considerably more expensive with better, more durable wheels?  Absolutely.  Trouble is most new riders aren’t willing to shell out $1500 on what may be their first bike since childhood.

You may be saying “So what?  Just sell them a bike.  Having a bike with sub standard wheels is better than no bike at all”.  Unfortunately it’s not that easy.

Let’s say that you’re the one in this situation.  You’ve decided to exercise, and you’d like to ride a bike.  You go to a bike shop because that’s where you get “good” bikes.  You may have had a couple of not so great experiences at bike shops already.  You explain that you would like a bike, but don’t think there is anything available that will “hold” you.

Now let’s say I assure you that said bike will be fine.  I may even provide a gentle warning you that there may be issues with the wheels, but they can be serviced.  You buy the bike, and within the first few months spokes start breaking.  What are the chances that you end up discouraged, and stop riding all together?  What are the chances that you are left feeling a bit betrayed by me for selling you something that should have “worked”?

I am in no way suggesting that larger folk not seek out the joys of riding a bicycle.  The point is big bicycle companies don’t think that this is a category worth spending time on.  For that they should be ashamed.

If they really want to “save” the bike business they will stop allocating all of their resources to high dollar, ever more complicated racing bikes and start spending a little more time on the other 95% of their customer base.

 

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Podcasting (finally)

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There was a time in my life when all I wanted was to be on the radio.  I made that happen at a pretty young age.  By my sophomore year of college I had an actual job at an actual radio station.  It was small town AM radio, but I was doing it (and getting paid which made me a bit of unicorn among my peers).

I ultimately decided to not pursue radio as a career, but sometime in the mid 90’s I discovered podcasting.  It was the very early stages of the medium, but I saw potential.  I sat on the sidelines for years thinking that podcasting was something I would like to do.  Well, I’ve made the commitment and I’m going to give it a go.

The program will be discussions with people that I find interesting.  There will, for obvious reasons, be a strong bicycle component but it will not be the sole focus.

Even though this is a brand new endeavor I hope it sparks constructive conversation, and suggestions.  Links will be posted in the space as the episodes are finished.

Fingers crossed.

Bro, do you even #coffeeoutside?

 

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One of the great things about the local bike touring experience is doing seemingly mundane things in different outside locations.

A movement (perhaps not the right word to use given I’m talking about coffee) has been taking place over the last few years.  People making coffee outside.  What’s the big deal you say?  Why all the hubbub?  Well, it’s simple.  No, really it’s simple.  Riding your bike, and making a nice cuppa is an easy, relaxing thing to do.  This process usually involves friends……who also ride bikes, and like coffee.  See where I’m going here?

The process of putting together a coffee kit is easy.  If you camp, you probably already have most, if not all of the things you need.  A kettle, stove, water, some coffee (I tend to take mine pre-ground.  Some folks take beans and portable grinders to prepare the coffee on the spot) and a coffee brewing method.  Two of my favorites are the collapsible pour over from Snow Peak, and the Aeropress.

I think of coffee outside like a small adventure.  You’re using some of the gear you’ve acquired (including those nice bags on your bike).  You’re enjoying the outdoors.  Maybe you’re in a spot that you’ve ridden by, but never stopped to enjoy.  This is all part of the local bike touring experience.

Do you already enjoy #coffeeoutside?  If not, does this tempt you in any way.  I hope it does.

 

Adventure

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So many people underestimate what their bike can do.  A properly fitted bicycle can take you down roads and trails, hither and yon with no problems whatsoever.  It is we that have the problem.

We’ve been conditioned to think that a certain type of riding requires a certain type of bike.  While that may be true of the professional racer, or someone willing to catapult themselves down rock strewn trails; for most of us it just is not the case.

The photo above shows me on a “mountain bike” trail.  An easy trail, but a trail none the less.  I’m riding my touring bicycle.  Fitted with racks, bags and a basket.  Tires a bit wider than 2 inches with no tread to speak of.  It was great fun.

This is the pinnacle of “Local Touring“.  We rode the local greenways to a state park that has off road trails.  After riding the roads through the park we took a detour onto one of the trails.  After completing our off road adventure, we got back on the road and retraced our path back home.  On another day we took hammocks and lounged for a while, enjoying the outdoors before we rode back.  I hope I made it sound as fun as it really was.

I think we all suffer from a bit of A.D.D. (Adventure Deficit Disorder-I stole this from Tim Ferriss, all credit to him).

Does this, in any way, inspire you to use your bike in a different way?

Do any of you engage in this sort of activity already?

I would be interested in hearing your stories.

Adventure on!