Mainstream Society

This morning I was reading on another bike website Ecovelo,go google it if you like, and the writer of the site used the word “mainstream”  about 3 times in a short post, describing a Trek bike shop as being mainstream and Trek bikes with belt drive and internal gears as being the new standard commuter. How it was the writers’ hope, that more people, to what I would assume to be mainstream consumers, would ride bikes, where mainstream shops offered mainstream bike brands. This is a theory I fundamentally disagree with. For one thing from an economic point of view when the big three bike brands, Trek, Giant and Specialized, come into a community with concept stores it is unfair to existing brand dealers. This cannibalize a line of bikes thus, the existing dealer has to seek another brand to sell. The theory of the large bike brand as mainstream does very little for innovation. Mainstream brands are copy cats at best, when the real innovators are the brands that come with a connection to trends that started in bike culture street scenes. 

Street graffiti in Florence Italy June 2011…true art is the passage of time in the present

The American bike industry has copied the success in recent years of single speeds and also the idea of bike transportation and so the industry pokes around with marketing “new standards” when really a plain three speed or old beater 10 speed is more than adequate for transportation.

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Living and bike commuting 5 days a week in Minneapolis/St Paul, I can verify that the Trek style bikes in the slideshow are hardly seen about town. The racing handlebar is the majority choice handlebar of the daily commuter in Minneapolis. If we are to understand anything about bike riding in our cities it is that travel distances and time are longer than European commutes, but most bike rides are less than an hour long and less than 12 miles. Instead of the bike industry hyping “elitist” type bikes with heavy internal gearing and belt drives  it might do well to design an urban commuter with qualities that increase performance such as the REV2 handlebar. The Slideshow bikes all have static hand positions and seat positions that serve little purpose for the majority of bike commuters. If the mainstream is the majority it would suppose then that a multi hand position handlebar would then be mainstream. If it is seen on the street now watch for it in your “mainstream” shop sometime in the distant future. It takes awhile before the bike industry “gets it”.

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