Thinking It Through: Why Unique Bikes Should Come with Accessories
I've been riding the Paper Bicycle for just over a week, and in some ways my experience with it reminds me of when I first got the Bella Ciao last year. My initial reaction was that of ecstasy over the ride quality. Not that the two bikes feel the same - far from it. But each rides great in its own distinct way, and works better for me than most other city bicycles I've tried thus far.
When I am this happy with how a bicycle rides, of course my first thought is "Oh my God, this thing is amazing, I want to ride it all the time!" And therein lies the problem... because I can't. Like the Bella Ciao of yesteryear, the Paper Bicycle did not come with lights or a rack. Okay, so I can begrudgingly clip on battery lights when it gets dark. But the problem of how to carry my things on the bike is more serious. I am just not willing to ride around with a backpack for weeks for the sake of my blog's test ride reports, after investing in racks and panniers on my own bikes specifically to avoid that.
Whereas for a "normal" bike I could simply buy a rack, that is not an option when a bicycle is so unusual as to make standard racks functionally or aesthetically unworkable. There is only one rack on the market with which the Paper Bicycle is compatible (the Burley rack, with the use of an adaptor). But even that option is a bad idea in my view, because it kills the unique look of the bike. Similarly, the Bella Ciao was, in theory, compatible with the Pletscher rack, but using it undermined both the elegant form of the frame and the pains the manufacturer had taken to make the bicycle as light as possible. For the Bella Ciao, the only solution I ultimately found was to have a custom rack made. I think the same must be done for the Paper Bicycle in order to make it appealing as not just a design concept, but a complete package. I know that the manufacturer is working on a rack design, and I am really hoping they make it sufficiently "paperbikey," integrated with the rest of the bicycle in the same elegant manner as the chaincase.
It's only natural that the more enjoyable a bicycle is to ride, the more crucial these details become. The customer's joy after experiencing a fantastic test ride can quickly turn to disappointment upon learning that the bicycle cannot be made practical for commuting without destroying its looks. Similarly, as a reviewer I cannot properly evaluate a transport bike if I am ultimately unable to use it for everyday transportation as I would my own bikes. I strongly believe that this is something manufacturers need to consider and address when they create a unique product.