Spinning Out of Control

Is the cost to enter the “bike culture”  Spinning Out of Control wildly? Will it doom the growth of bike riding for transportation in America? How has the elite as the key demographic for the bike industry influenced gadgety products; electric shifting, belt drives, carbon frames, dual suspensions and accesorizables? It seems the sky is the limit for ultra high priced bicycles. When a saturation point occurs where will the bicycle industry go from there? I believe we hit a saturation point at least two years ago for commercial high-end bikes. That does not mean that hand-made bikes are in decline since there are no real figures coming from independent fabricators and it is not my intent to report on small crafts business and sole proprietors that are practicing an art. What concerns me is the bike industry takes a lame stance on bike transportation. In that any bike can be used for transportation is no argument. That any bike has some transportation utility isn’t the point. Here is an industry that will not promote transportation in American towns and cities but, will sponsor Racing teams,  charity rides and beer drinking events.

                                     Daughter in a basket with Father…December 2011  New Orleans Louisiana

The bike industry has taken its marketing platform from Harley – Davidson and the smug white male bike riding public is eating it up. That is until buyers run out of steam like they did at H-D about 5 years ago. Prices just got higher and higher until a saturation point and discretionary income fell off among the H-D demographic of smug white men in their 40-s and 50’s. Now you can’t give away a used H-D. Flash News, the commercial Bike industry is heading in the same direction as H-D.

                                     Rollo hanging on Park Here…Winter 2011 Lake Harriet, Minneapolis Minnesota

In the past week the Masi with REV2 has been my go to bike for the commute to St Paul. The dawn ride was warm enough that I could wear a white T shirt most days or a single layer Rugby shirt as I did this morning. I had a couple of meet ups with other riders going into and out of St Paul. One afternoon a guy in his sixties was doing a track stand at the light on a multi speed Trek that was set up with fenders, panniers and straight bars. On two occasions at a light riders were plugged into ear buds. Funny how they could not hear my speaking voice, seriously though, tuning out on your bike in traffic is about as reckless as walking headlong into stampeding Rhinos. One day I rode with a guy on my way home that was an expert “frisbee” golfer.  He said he took up bike riding to cross train at the elite level of Frisbee. I checked out his bike on-line. It’s called a Parlee. Its custom. 

Here is what I saw one day coming and going on my bike ride this week. A young woman riding a 10 speed. No brand name that I could see and it probably was old. She had drop handlebars without tape and this is why I could remember her and the day was windy, real windy. In the morning she must have been fighting the wind on Marshall Ave. I saw her somewhere west of Snelling. Later that afternoon on my way home I saw her again on the Greenway near Bryant Ave. I reckon she was bike riding for no less than 8 miles each way and probably a whole lot more. Why I mention this person and this bike is any old bike will do for transportation if you have the desire to bike ride. What I think is appealing is the bare minimum got this young woman around town. When the bike industry starts to market to this demographic and campaigns for bike transportation as doing the maximum with the minimum of gear then and only then will there be a growing “bike culture” that is all-inclusive. I can attest there is a time in a bike riders life when they know they will upgrade and buy another bike or invest in good gear. The next few years will determine if the bike industry has learned to go Public with affordable easy to use bikes or if they will lock out that Public by taking the familiar path that says “luxury goods”

                                    Lock Wrought Iron Sea.. June 2011 Tropea, Italy


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