18 January 2008

Commuter-bike market explodes; implosion to follow?

Posted by todd under: Riding .

I’m looking over a bunch of 2008 commuting-type-bikes for a what’s-available overview I’ll publish before too long on this site (watch for it!), and I’m finding it surprising how many models are available in this market now, compared to when I was first looking in the late ’90s-early ’00s.

Back then, this market segment barely existed at all in the USA. Now, a lot of companies are putting out a product line targeted at average-Joe (non-racing, non-extreme-mountain-biking) riders like myself.

There’s a pretty good range of choices out there that come with basic commuting needs: fenders, a rear rack and a kickstand. If you want an internal hub, you have several nice-looking options. If you opt for a standard derailer drivetrain, you’re in business.

The options narrow a lot if you want a lighting system to come with the bike right out of the box. And since I’m doing most of my research online, it’s impossible for me to know how these bikes actually ride.

Still, it’s encouraging to see that the bike companies are stepping up with practical-looking cycles.

My question is, are shops actually stocking them?

This type of bike traditionally has been a tough sell in the U.S.; it’s a tougher sell if you’re asking the customer to order a commuter sight-unseen.

More importantly: Even if the shops are stocking these bikes — are people actually buying them?

Perhaps even less measurable: If people are buying them, are they actually riding them? (Here are a bunch of interesting statistics along this line, hat-tip to Kent Peterson for passing along the link.)

More to consider, here in Kentucky: According to the 2000 Census, I’m a rare bird: just 0.58 percent of the population here in Lexington commutes to work by bike.

One Comment so far...

doc Says:

19 January 2008 at 5:48 pm.

About a year ago there was an extensive video circulating the ‘net with a presentation by the CEO of Trek. His whole point was that emerging trends were opening up the greatest possible market segment ever realized – the recreational rider/commuter. I think Kent may have had a link to it.

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About the picture atop the page

Yes, that's me, Todd Van Campen. No, I'm not wearing a helmet. Yes, I usually wear one, so please don't scold! Seriously, I endorse wearing a helmet! Pinky swear! In fact, I almost ALWAYS wear one (while riding a bike anyway). (On the other hand, if YOU don't want to wear a helmet, I have no problem with it.) I don't remember what happened on this particular day. Fortunately for all of us it makes for a less-nerdly picture. My exceptionally talented professional photographer friend Charles Bertram took this photo.



Art for art’s sake

I asked my 6-year-old son, Caleb, an avid bicyclist and artist, to draw a bike for me. I think he did a great job!




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