Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Yeah Baby! Transportational Elegance Reigns at Interbike 2011

Cicli Montante
As I was setting off for Las Vegas, those who'd been to Interbike before warned me that 90% of what I'd see there would be completely irrelevant: that the road, mountain bike and BMX industries would rule the floor, with city bikes and classic bicycles making up a tiny fraction of the offerings. So what surprised me the most about my first Interbike, was that this was far from the case. The upright, step-through city bike was downright ubiquitous: From exclusive European makers such as Cicli Montante (above) to mainstream giants such as Trek (see my post about their "Dutch bike" here), it seemed that anyone who is anyone had one on offer.

Cicli Montante
I start with the Italian Cicli Montante, because it's companies like theirs that really set the pace. Montante city bicycles are unapologetically opulent, bombastically over the top - and I think it's good for the industry to have a manufacturer who is willing to exhibit such showmanship and attention to detail.

Cicli Montante
Old school touches such as newspaper racks, satchel-style panniers and leather-shod rod brake levers are victoriously exhibited with little concern for weight reduction.

Cicli Montante
Every component is pantographed with the company name; everything is covered in leather and dripping with colour. It's too much for me, but I am glad companies like Montante exist and I hope they find a North American distributor.

Bobbin Bicycles Booth
But if you are looking for a more accessible burst of colour, you will be pleased to hear that Bobbin Bicycles are coming to the North American market. Distributed by Fourth Floor in Canada, they should soon be available at bike shops.

Bobbin Bicycles Booth
Bobbin are offering a full line of classic city bicycles and accessories in a multitude of colours and for what look like fantastic prices (sub-$1,000 on all the models, as far as I could tell).

Bobbin Birdie
Here is their Birdie model in sky blue and yellow.

Bobbin 'Vintage'
And here is a more sombre model in black, with full chaincase and dressguards.

Bobbin Leather Satchel Pannier
Bobbin also introduced a number of pannier prototypes, including this leather satchel. I think the satchel is stunning, but I am wary of the snap-closure attachment system.

Bobbin Cloth Satchel Pannier
Here is a handsome canvas and leather one as well. I've spoken with the Bobbin representatives and may get to test ride one of their bicycles - fingers crossed.

Bella Ciao Corvo Citta Ladies'
It is also official now that standard production Bella Ciao bicycles (i.e. not just the Superba) will be available for sale in North America - distributed by BoxCycles/ the Nordic Bike Project.

Bella Ciao Corvo Citta Men's
Here is the men's model suspended from the ceiling. I can also tentatively announce that there may be a new line of Superba bicycles (ladies' and men's!) in 2012 and I hope to have details on that shortly.

BoxCycles, Pilen
Pilen had their classic Lyx models on display,

Raw Finish Pilen
as well as a beautiful raw finish prototype with a SRAM automatic 2-speed hub. I have mentioned before that I think Pilen frames are unusually well finished for their price category, and the unpainted model really shows this off. I am picturing a swan-frame version with cream tires and feeling a little light-headed.

Pashley Cycles
Pashley did not disappoint with their multiple booth display that was like a cozy clubhouse. I found myself falling in love with them all over again, returning repeatedly to take more photos and speak with the reps.

Pashley Display
What appeals to me about Pashley is not only the beauty of their products, but their genuine commitment to making their bicycles on a small scale, in England, by the same people who've worked for them for years - despite external pressure to produce more volume. Though I ended up selling my Princess a year ago (see my review here), I wish that Pashley would do some research on how to tweak its geometry or tubing so as to make it a bit faster and more responsive - perhaps a loop frame version of the Guv'nor (come on, wouldn't a Reynolds 531 loop frame be awesome)? I truly want to support them as a business and to ride one of their bikes, as the Co-Habitant still happily does (see his review here).

Pashley Display
In addition to having their range of loop-frame models on display, Pashley introduced the Parabike. My understanding is that this model is similar (or identical to?) the Tube Rider, but with a vintage military colour scheme of dusty slate blues and sage greens. I had not known the history of this frame style before, and it was explained to me that the bicycles used to be disassembleable, and British paratroopers would jump out of airplanes with the bikes strapped to them - then assemble them on the ground and ride away. Clearly Pashley needs to make at least a promotional prototype of a version that actually disassembles and film someone jumping out of a parachute and using it in this manner!

Velo Orange, Basket
On board with the elegant transportation trend, Velo Orange had more than half of their display models set up with upright handlebars, which I thought was interesting. Does this reflect the preference of their customers?

Velo Orange Polyvalent Green
The new green Polyvalent looked stunning and very inviting with its chaincase, Porteur handlebars and sizable front rack.

Velo Orange Polyvalent Green
Happy to see the Sturmey-Archer 3-speed trigger shifter - not only on this bicycle, but on many others at Interbike.

Velo Orange Polyvalent Green
Finally, the new colour they chose is a very pleasant shade of green, with a touch of soft gray mixed into it. Lovely all around. I am hoping VO will re-release their mixte in 2012 with a similar set-up and a softer colour scheme than their previous model.

Velo Orange Randonneur
One thing VO did I thought was interesting, was put small handlebar bags on upright bikes. I sometimes get emails asking whether I think this would look good and my instinct is usually "no," but this set-up is quite nice. I think the harmonious paring is largely due to the shape of the handlebars here, so that's one factor to consider. Another view of this set-up here.

Gazelle (Note the Fork Crowns)
The trend for colour was prominent among all city bicycles on display, and this pair of Gazelles illustrates nicely the two categories the colours seemed to fall into: vibrant "candy" shade, such as yellows and pinks, and subdued "vintage" shades, such as slate blues, creams, and sage greens.

Specialized Globe
Though I've focused on what I found to be the more interesting and trend-setting offerings, I cannot stress enough how popular the city bike was. There were so many, and from such a large number of manufacturers, that featuring them all would have been akin to posting a laundry list.

Benotto City Bike
They came in all shapes and sizes, with the common design themes being a step-through frame and upright handlebars. Here is one from Benotto - an entire range actually.

Terry City Bike
The new city bike from Terry - the women-specific roadbike manufacturer.

Shanghai Forever
And here is what looks like an Electra-imitation from Shanghai Forever.

Virtue Cycles
A Pedersen-esque contraption from Virtue Bikes.

Linus Mixte, Partly Lugged
A couple of readers asked me to stop by the Linus booth and determine to what extent their mixte is lugged, so here are my findings. The front end is completely lugged (including the split lug for the mixte stays!), but is paired with a unicrown fork. And the seatcluster is welded.

Zoomi Monterey E-Bike
Somewhat to my surprise, e-bikes were a huge trend at Interbike - I mean huge. I did not photograph many only because they do not interest me, but there must have been over a dozen manufacturers selling some version of an electric assist bicycle. This one is a Zoomi Monterey.

Achiever Pedelec Tricycle
And here is an Achiever PedElec tricycle with enormous wicker baskets that make it resemble a laundy-getter. I spoke with a couple of the e-bike representatives, and each mentioned their belief that e-bikes need to look more classic and not so "techy" in order for the demographic they are trying to reach (read: women) to find them appealing. I agree.

Sage Green Brompton
Though this post is ridiculously long as it is, I can hardly neglect to mention folders. As with e-bikes, there was a huge folder epidemic - including electric folders. However, I am sorry to say that most of them were not easy on the eyes or simple to operate at all, and I will leave it to other blogs to post photos of them. Of course, the ever-practical and attractive Brompton was there, the rep tirelessly folding and unfolding it for awed spectators.

Moulton Cycles, Limited Edition Stainless
And Moulton wowed everyone with the limited edition stainless steel F-frame bicycle. As I understand it, this was actually made as a gift for a long-time Moulton employee upon his retirement, which is pretty amazing.

Bobbin Shopper
There were also miniature non-folding bicycles, such as the Bobbin Shopper - reminiscent of the Raleigh Twenty, outfitted with a rack and basket, and reasonably priced. The more folders and miniature bikes I try, the more convinced I am that they are a great solution for those who make relatively short trips and share bikes in the family, as well as for still-growing children and teenagers. Problem is, that not every manufacturer makes these bicycles equipped (or even compatible with) racks, which essentially kills their versatility. I am glad to see more models that do take this factor into consideration.

Taking a Rest in a Christiania Cargo Trike
One aspect of the transportational bicycle trend that I noted was lacking at Interbike, were "box style" cargo cycles. There was the Christiania and I think the Gazelle Cabby, but I am pretty sure that was it. The Yuba, the Surly Big Dummy, and other long-tails were on display, but not the large, Dutch and Scandinavian bakfietsen and long-johns. It may be simply a matter of the design being difficult to replicate and "Americanise" by manufacturers, or perhaps it's just too much of a specialty item for Interbike at this stage.

So where does all of this leave us? The variety of designs and price points in the "city bicycle" genre, as well as the sheer number of models, are an encouraging sign, to say the least.  But do you think this is a sign that we - and by "we" I mean those who have been stressing the need for user-friendly city bicycles that can be ridden while wearing regular clothing - have arrived? Is the industry showing its commitment to catering to transportation cycling, or merely testing the waters? Your thoughts appreciated.

56 comments:

  1. Beautiful, all of them! I never heard of the Montante company. Their bicycles are truly stunning.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for fine report Velouria! Interesting, but not too surprising, that VO had a such a large presence. I guess Rivendell wasn't in attendance? I don't see anything about it on their site. Maybe Grant just gives it a miss, and I'm not aware. Great pictures, it's like being there. Steve in MD.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Truly excellent reporting. I appreciate the overview, as well as the fabulous photos. It seems that there really is a re-birth of cycling taking place. Perhaps a new "bike boom" but with a much more urban and practical feel to it.

    Don't discount the electric assist cycles, as there are especially older women who still want to ride, but fear that hill which might be just a bit too big. Having the electric assist is about confidence for them.

    I really do echo your call for a 531 loop frame. It's just what my wife has been waiting for. (and perhaps with that electric assist as an option!)

    Keep adding photos. I love seeing them all.

    Owen in VA

    ReplyDelete
  4. Benotto & Terry? Clearly their previous markets have dried up so they're searching for a new frontier. Equally true are anyone tooling up to fill the transpo sector, though all the manufacturers represented here are pure niche players within a growing sector.
    Twenty inchers are interesting because of their ability to adapt to various rider sizes and their ability to mount large carrying platforms above each wheel while keeping the center of gravity fairly low.
    I really don't see box bikes doing anything in the U.S. Too heavy, too cumbersome, too expensive, too overkill for day-to-day things.
    Chris @ VO has been into the French 50s city bike thing for awhile, producing his own bars for old road bike conversion.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sr Helga - There are a couple more Montante bikes here and they had a golden bike on the Forbes most expensive bike list : )

    ReplyDelete
  6. Is it okay if I ask Sr. Helga a bike related question here, V? If not, just don't post it. Thanks!

    Sr. Helga, there is a new Dominican mission in our town, and I was thinking of offering the sisters my German mixte (It's a Victoria My Lady; perfect, right?). But then I began to wonder, can one ride in full habit, or is that completely impractical?

    ReplyDelete
  7. VO and the upright bars, I think it's entirely possible that they do sell a lot of them. They have a nice selection in a variety of widths and angles, more than I see most places (says that guy who's bought three upright bars from them, two Montmartre and one Left Bank).

    ReplyDelete
  8. Can't wait to hear about the new Superba line! (I'm hoping for a 7 speed with no coaster brake.) Thanks for doing such a great job covering the show and for all these wonderful pictures!

    ReplyDelete
  9. What lovely pictures! And thank you for taking so many of them.

    I know an older gentleman who has a slight mental disability. Since he's not allowed to drive, he rides a Giant electric bike which pulls a cargo trailer. Previous to this, he'd had an older mountain bike, and his new ride allows him greater mobility for less effort.

    For people like him, electric bikes are a godsend. While I don't ride one myself, I'm happy to see more of them on the market.

    As for city bikes, they won't truly have arrived until people cease stopping me on the local MUP to discuss startling details like my cupholder, studded tires, chaincover, Philosophy panniers, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anon - You can order a standard Bella Ciao city bike with a 7-speed hub, that should not be a problem. But "my" bikes will always be Sturmey Archer 3-speeds. The next version of the line will not have coaster brakes.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I think the industry is wisely considering the untapped market here for city bikes. I think it's great that they are getting these products out there. I wonder how long it will take to get into the mainstream bike shops. Besides the Trek, I wouldn't be able to find any of these locally yet.

    However, as much as I like the idea of upright riding and riding in my daily clothes I often come to regret it as I struggle to pedal up a killer hill, out of the saddle in my skirt and heels. I'm about ready to give in and just get the leggings and clipless pedals and change at my destination.

    ReplyDelete
  12. But "your" bikes are so much better than the "standard" Bella Ciaos! That beautiful green color, fenders painted to match, cork grips, dynamo lighting, that fantastic "barely there" rear rack... I can't get ANY of that on a standard Bella Ciao! (*sigh*) I guess I could just get one of yours and switch out the hub myself...

    ReplyDelete
  13. The NY Times just ran an article about a trail that allows one to easily tour the Swiss Alps on an e-bike, which is the only way I'd ever see them! Unfortunately, they only rent to those 16 and over, so a school trip for me is out. But I'd gladly get an assist up the Alps!

    http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/08/28/travel/the-swiss-alps-on-an-electric-bicycle.html?scp=1&sq=ebike%20swiss%20alps&st=cse

    ReplyDelete
  14. To your question, I think we're definitely at a deflection point in transporation/urban practical bicycle evolution in the U.S.

    As recently as 2003, I tried to buy a couple of dutch bikes in Miami and there was absolutely nothing available in the entire country. We had to import two Gazelles from the UK--Gazelle in Holland refused to sell to us because "Americans are too willing to sue bicycle manufacturers," (as Gazelle told us).

    And now there are literally dozens of urban/transportation bicycle options--including all the best high end equipment from Europe.

    ReplyDelete
  15. "But do you think this is a sign that we - and by "we" I mean those who have been stressing the need for user-friendly city bicycles that can be ridden while wearing regular clothing - have arrived?"

    Definitely. They've heard us.

    "Is the industry showing its commitment to catering to transportation cycling, or merely testing the waters?"

    There is no commitment to be expected from people out to make a dime. There's testing, hoping to surf the hypothetical giant wave coming their way.
    If it is confirmed that cycling is on the rise, they'll go full blast.

    Yet, what they need now is to start investing in serious lobbying, just like any other industry out there. The ROI would be much more interesting and for once, we would really benefit as well.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Tiny Homestead - There is such a difference between the upright bikes though. Abici and Bella Ciao, for instance, are much easier uphill than the heavier Dutch bikes and roadsters. VO's mixte was super-fast, I hear, which is another reason I hope they tweak it and bring it back. No need for clipless and leggings to get to work, hopefully!

    Anon - The next Superba won't be the same colour though. Also you can get custom colours, lights, etc., via special order from Bella Ciao. All I did really was put into 1 package a mix I liked and thought a few others might like. The rack though... Everything does depend on the rack and we are looking for the best way to make more of them.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Interesting to see Bobbin bikes in US. They are made by Bronx cycles and are indeed very nice bikes. I got one for my wife recently in buttermilk colour (I'm in UK). Other than somewhat delicate paint and way too high gearing for Dundee hills (easily fixed with 22t rear sprocket)my wife loves it.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I really appreciate your coverage of interbike, especially the photos as they speak volumes. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Velouria, you must have gone to bike heaven! What stunning photos and quite a wonderful selection of city bikes. I do think that transportation cycling has finally arrived. I see it here in Burlington, VT.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am drooling...

    ReplyDelete
  20. Wow! As I commented on your Trek post, my how the world has changed! This is like a candy store to a gal like me. I literally can't believe this is happening. To sit here a mere 5 years further in time and see what is happening in the world of Dutch-style bicycles simply makes me fall out of my chair. There is hope for our country, just a little...

    And you make me want my Pahsley all over again. It is true what you say about them. I just wish I was more in love with mine right now, they certainly are doing all of the right things in SO many ways.

    ReplyDelete
  21. These are stunning. There's something to be said for a simply beautiful bike, weight reduction be damned. I'm definitely keeping an eye out for the Bobbin bikes.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Cicli Montante maintains an expansive and impressive website. Take a look.
    Is the under the toptube accessory an umbrella holder?

    ReplyDelete
  23. @ Tiny Homestead- perhaps you should consider changing out the rear cog to something a bit smaller? I did that on one of my big bruiser roadsters and it made a world of difference. I don't know how far you bike to work, but the double whammy of having to walk through the office in spandex and occasionally forgetting significant items to change into has completely soured me on changing my clothes at the office.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Lovely!
    Good to see so many european manufacturers. Did Public have a booth too? Interesting to see so many bikes at lower price points too.

    I see a real trend in the new crop of student bikes riding around here towards something that from a distance could be a nice city bike. A lot of them don't have the kinds of components that I'd really like to see, but with fenders, racks and upright seating they're a big step up from the "mountain BSO with gratuitous shocks" that I kept seeing before as an entry level student bike.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I am convinced that the mainstream bike industry (specialzed, giant, trek, etc) is watching and perhaps poking their big toe into the transport/utility pond (trek cocoa, globe brand) however I am not convinced they are ready to jump all the way in - yet.

    Most of the bikes I saw at Interbike that fell into the "trans-ute" category were established transport brands or niche players with very specific products.

    I think the mainstream bike industry is still so focused on serving the lightweight/technowhizbang gang that they cannot see the forest through the trees.

    Which is ok with me.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I think transportation bikes are here to stay, and they provide a great solution for people living in dense urban areas. What I'd like to see are solutions that are adapted to more typical North American conditions: Long distances and often hilly terrain.

    The bike industry is used to copying each other, and for transportation bikes, they look to Europe. But European cycling culture is different from its North American counterpart. In Europe, it seems that cyclists fall into two categories:

    Transportation cyclists who ride relatively short distances and don't care much about speed. (For longer distances, they use public transportation, witness all the bikes locked up at train stations.) They ride heavy, sturdy bikes with limited performance.

    Avid cyclists who ride only for fun, and wouldn't consider picking up groceries on the way home from a training ride. They ride racing or mountain bikes.

    More than anywhere else, many North American cyclists straddle these groups, with avid cyclists riding 15 or more miles on their daily commutes. For them, there are no ready-made solutions, so they ride racing or cross bikes and carry their stuff in messenger bags and backpacks. Hardly ideal, and it seems like a dedicated "fast commuter" bike would find a ready market.

    For now, you have to get a custom bike made, as I did for my "Urban Bike"

    ReplyDelete
  27. Re: your comments on folders: I think they get kind of a bad reputation, and for all the reasons you mention - but if you get the chance, you should check out Montague folding bikes. They're really easy to fold, look just like regular bikes, and ride really well too. I got one last year, and have become a true convert.

    ReplyDelete
  28. @GroundRoundJim - Don't see why you are so down on box bikes. "Cumbersome, heavy, expensive, overkill" describes automobiles quite well, yet they are immensely popular. I ride a 65+ pound Big Dummy, and the weight is just not that big a deal; yes, hill climbing is slow, but slimming the bike down to 35 lbs would make me only about 10% faster up a hill -- 11mph, not 10mph, woo-hoo. The steeper the hill or the heavier the load, the smaller the increment.

    Friend of a friend owns a box bike in Arlington, he added a 600 or 800W (!) assist attached to the 20" front wheel, reports no problems climbing hills with a load of kids, and great for errands into busy Cambridge.

    There is a special irony in the residents of the Obese States of America being so obsessed with the weight of their bicycles. The only time it matters outside of a race is when you need to pick the bike up and carry it, either up stairs, or if it is a folder.

    ReplyDelete
  29. It is so great to see city bikes getting their place in the sun. They are making a strong appearance here (Ottawa, Canada) -- Foster's Sports on Bank Street is putting the Linus bikes in their front window, and Tall Tree Cycles has the Dutch style cargo bikes.

    I'd like to see the Jtek bar-end shift levers appearing on more bikes. I have one paired with a 7-speed hub, and that shifter (probably more than any other feature of the bike) makes riding in the city a joy. I know so many people who have 24 gears or more, and never change gears because they see them as too complicated!

    I wonder if Bobbin accessories will make the jump to North America? (No it's not the bowler helmet I'm coveting! More like the Bolzano satchel.)

    ReplyDelete
  30. fantastic write up.

    Also as an e-bike fan I am happy to see more and more nicer looking ones out and avail. That trike with wicker basket is LOVELY. I'd like to ride that when I'm 70 personally....

    ReplyDelete
  31. I think a distinguishing feature of a transportation bicycle is that it have one or more of the following:

    * fenders
    * rack
    * basket
    * bell

    On my last visit to the 'famous' local Seattle bike store by the lake, I saw 500 bicycles. Only 3 of them had fenders. The other 597 did not.

    So I'd conclude that 'the industry' is still not very interested in bicycles for commuting.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Anyone else think the Virtue bike's name should be the "Impaler"?? Check out that stem/handlebar set up....OUCH!

    By the way V, thanks for a great site and for covering this event.

    eric

    ReplyDelete
  33. Bike Bike - I concur with what you wrote today and also your previous post.

    For the big boys, Trek, Specialized, Giant it's all about tying up as much of the retailers $$$ as they can especially early in the season. So, if that necessitates offering their version of a cargo/transport bike or a city bike "hey we have that".

    The flip side is then they open their own concept shops often near to their customers shop and compete against them !

    My take on Interbike this year was that it's almost becoming an eclectic show itself as the big brands hold their dealer specific events to exclude the smaller, niche brands.

    I saw plenty of my customers there looking at those niche brands and products - many of which I sell.

    Which is okay with me too !

    ReplyDelete
  34. Anon 8:25 - I thought it was a thermos, but umbrella holder makes more sense : )

    ReplyDelete
  35. It's not enough that the big boys get into a superpowers cold war, they have to cannibalize the niche guys with their own events, knowing full well retailers and other little guys have a limited budget for travel. They are truly starting to piss me off and I own a few Specialized.

    drchase - I hear what you're saying, but my point isn't box bike vs. car, it's box vs. other utility bikes.
    FWIW I ride a long tail and, as you know, it rides like a bike. I'm able to single track it, jump stuff, fit through narrow spots because it's a bike. A bakfietsen w/e-assist is an entirely different animal and would cost at least 10x what I put into my X.
    Horses for courses; I'm saying there aren't many willing jockeys for them.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Oh my gosh I'm salivating over here looking at these pics. I hope someone in Canada starts bringing in Bella Ciaos so I can see them in person. I'd consider selling my Pashley to get one.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I think I'll stop reading "Lovely Bicycle!" (I'm joking.) It is frustrating that none of these superb bicycles you are showing us (and the ones your are reviewing) is available in Montréal where I live.

    ReplyDelete
  38. To Giles and other Canadian readers - The biggest N American distributor of European city bicycles is Fourth Floor/ On the Fourth (the name is used both ways), and they are located in Toronto. It should be very, very easy for you to get a local (to you) bike shop to order a bike from them. I'd encourage you to get in touch and ask them about the easiest way to make his happen.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Wooo Wee! I'm dizzy from looking at all the non-racer boy iron!!

    So many beautiful bicycles where oh where to start!! :^()

    ReplyDelete
  40. Ground Round Jim - I won't sell products that are sold through distribution. I only want to work with companies that want to sell direct to the shops.

    The other part of that equation is the shop who only wants to buy from distributors. True, there are some advantages to that arrangement from a freight standpoint and perhaps payment terms. However, that shop will see the products the distributor does not carry.

    I love the owner who says he'll buy from me if I call on him and or he does not buy from distributors.

    ReplyDelete
  41. @ Valouria

    Thanks for the link to Fourth Floor. (I want a Pashley Gov'nor ; they tell me I have to order the bicycle and it might take 2 to 3 months for delivery.)

    ReplyDelete
  42. anon 2:50 - If the shop buys from you and you're not a distributor, what does it mean that it buys from you if you call on him - are you are mfg. rep for a large co.?

    ReplyDelete
  43. I can't help but wonder if you, Dottie, and Alan are having a strong influence out there when it comes to transportation bicycles, or if it's just coincidence. I've noticed, even in Bicycling magazine more articles and advertisements for transportation bicycles. The verbiage used rings similar to what you all write about. Coincidence, I don't know, maybe? If no, keep doing what you're all doing.

    I love reading about these bicycles and will keep coming back to study them all more closely and check out the links you provided. I'm interested in getting a touring/commuter bike in the future.

    Also, I loved your long red hair, but the knew bob looks very becoming on you. Change is good as they say.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Peppy (the amazing pica cat)September 21, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    I was told it would grow back. Otherwise I would have never put my paw of approval on it. After all, I need things to chew.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Oh it'll grow back very quickly. This is actually the second time I've cut it this month, b/c grew too fast the first time.

    ReplyDelete
  46. @Ground Round Jim - I'm not sure what it takes or how far along we are, but part of utility bikes hitting the big time will/should be that the comparisons made will change.

    I was about to say that I was sure that the comparisons are being made on price, but then I thought to myself that I was not really sure who the next round of cargo-adopters would be. If it's people already biking, who decide they want to put their engine to more thorough use, rides-like-a-bike will be a big deal. But random people who want to go straight to utility, I think they will care more about price, and some about convenience. It is my impression that the box bikes win on convenience of loading and unloading.

    I also don't think that box bikes are intrinsically expensive -- compare the Big Dummy (was $2000 complete, frame made in Taiwan) with the CETMA Largo ($1850 for frame only, hand-made in Oregon), with the Sun Atlas Cargo ($690, whole bike, made in China).

    ReplyDelete
  47. I like seeing all the trans/city bikes from mfg, but only 1 of my local shops is stocking with any depth. A ladies model here or there... that's it for the rest of them.

    I think the industry should view this sector (and pedelec too) as the 'gateway drug.' Get a non rider to put their leg over a bike that has style and is not scary, pretty soon they will start riding more and more and..... Heck maybe the first one should be free ;)

    An older couple that I know (I think he is mid 70's she is late 60's) ride together a lot now. He has been a cyclist for decades but she never went with because she felt like she was slowing him down; he got her an electric assist and now they are even. :)

    Pedelec has a huge hurdle to overcome here in the states and that is dealer support. So many early versions were absolute junk and a customer service nightmare that shops are just gun-shy. A mfg will need consistent parts, interchangeable battery packs (from model to model and year to year) and good quality control if they are going to make it with local shops.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I have to limit my visits to Lovely Bicycle because every visit induces serious covetousness. Makes me almost wish I'd waited a little longer for my around-town, with-a-skirt bike. So many fun-looking choices.

    ReplyDelete
  49. jh,
    That "famous" local bike store by the lake is just as volume oriented as Performance or other chains. There are shops in Seattle who specialize more in transportation and cargo biking.

    For that matter REI has a few more transportation bikes than the other store. But it doesn't hurt that they have several transport and utility models in their house brand line.

    Another factor to consider is while many bikes like several Surly models make fine commuter/transport/cargo bikes the norm in the US is to sell "complete" bikes without "accessories" like pedals, fenders, racks, baskets, bells, lights, etc. This doesn't mean you can't add those or that the bike wasn't designed for them but is more of a reflection that competition cycling has driven the market for so long in North America.

    ReplyDelete
  50. @Christopher Stefan - or perhaps the US bike+accessories split reflects the weird price/profit structure in the bicycle business. If the whole package is sold at low margin, with no high-margin bits-and-pieces left over, what does that do to the LBS?

    ReplyDelete
  51. So envious! I would have loved to have put my mitts and eyes on these personally. Thanks for sharing.

    While the baskets were on ebikes, I'm really intrigued by the lovely large wicker baskets available. Now if I can get wicker baskets to fit my Trek Pure I'll be a happy camper . . .

    ReplyDelete
  52. What a lovely pic, except for the guy staring intently into your left ear. A very Gallic image.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lovely_bicycle/6161317372/

    ReplyDelete
  53. That's a very different look at interbike than I imagined. I've considered going in the past and may have to in 2012. Thanks for the update!

    ReplyDelete
  54. I want to get one of those bikes but i am afraid since i live down a big hill in montreal and have to pedal all the way up to get to work. That is why i am looking at an electric one but can t do the move... I so love the non assist bikes. In all the bikes you saw(city) what would be the one recommended for such big hills?

    By the way, great review, nice picture and great comments!

    Renée Montreal

    ReplyDelete
  55. As a woodworker I just had to make a correction about "shellac". Shellac is actually a poor waterproofer since it isn't flexible. The waterproofing on the twine you referred to is from wax. Shellac is a wonderful product with thousands of uses but waterproofing isn't one of them.
    I adore your photos and this blog is fantastic.
    Thank you

    Matthew

    ReplyDelete