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Old 04-22-07, 09:15 PM   #1
Severian
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Looking for the Inside Scoop: Shimano Coasting

I'm poking around the internets this evening and what should I find on Bicycling.com but an article about a new product from Shimano targeting the "I rode a bike when I was a kid but I don't have a bicycle now and I don't intend on getting one" demographic. The system, called Coasting, is described in conjunction with a whole bicycle:

Quote:
This new type of bike most resembles a singlespeed cruiser: The upright, sweeping handlebar holds no gear shifters or brake levers. The seat is wide, and positioned low and far back so riders can plant their feet firmly on the ground while seated.

The most interesting technology of the bicycle is hidden. A dyno-hub powered by the front wheel provides juice to a small computer chip that automatically shifts between the bike's three gears.
http://www.bicycling.com/article/1,6...55-1-P,00.html

This whole system-and-bike is being offered (eventually) by Giant, Trek, and Raleigh according to Bicycling.com. And, as far as I can tell, is an implementation of the Auto-3 (repeated link) shift computer (read automatic transmission) and internal hub made by Shimano.

What I'm wondering is: has anyone here actually gotten a chance to see and or work on these bikes? If so, what were your impressions and what should a mechanic do when confronted with one of these? Is it any more or less difficult than working on a bicycle where chain tension is applied at the drop-outs or is it like working on an alien artifact?



Sheldon is quoted on the bottom of the article:

Quote:
One skeptic is Sheldon Brown, technical manager at Harris Cyclery, in West Newton, Massachusetts, a self-described Shimano fan who nevertheless calls Coasting "a wrong-headed exercise in form over function." His objection: "Making the bike look simple is not the same as making it be simple. The hubcaps over the wheels cover up the stuff you need to get at to fix a flat tire." He also points out that in hilly terrain, like that of suburban Boston, coaster brakes can be a challenge in stop-and-go traffic.
Mr. Brown, if you've got more to add; please by all means give us the goods!



I kinda wish we had a "New in the Bicycle World" section in Bikeforums where we could get insider info on stuff like this. I'm sure I could have posted this in "Recreational & Family" or "General Discussion" but I'm more looking for a wrench's perspective on this subject.

happy hunting folks.
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Old 04-22-07, 09:37 PM   #2
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I rode one of these things just the other week. The media hype makes it out to be new, it's really not. Seems like they dropped the ball on the coaster brake, for the target market, the coaster brake is quite abrupt and a regular pull brake would have had an easier adoption. The units shift fairly nice and you can set the shift points with a small screwdriver. - That's all I know.
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Old 04-22-07, 09:39 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by jbucky1
I rode one of these things just the other week. The media hype makes it out to be new, it's really not. Seems like they dropped the ball on the coaster brake, for the target market, the coaster brake is quite abrupt and a regular pull brake would have had an easier adoption. The units shift fairly nice and you can set the shift points with a small screwdriver. - That's all I know.
I know that the Auto-3 has been around for a while, so that's not a surprise. From what the article mentioned (and I've not had a chance to verify this) the Auto-3 was NOT well recieved in the US.

And which model did you get a chance to ride?

EDIT: other questions if you have the info..... mount points for racks/fenders? Wheel/tire size?
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Old 04-22-07, 10:05 PM   #4
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I rode one of these bikes today, but be advised that I am one of those 50 year olds looking to get back to biking and not near an expert as many of you here. This is a fun bike, it shifts easily. There are 2 "trim" levels, a lite version ($479) and a regular Lime version (more expensive at $579). The web site at Trek is so confusing. What you get for the upper trim is better threading of the cables through the frame, a "trunk" underneath the seat, a bell on the handlebar, and some other things that I can't recall (lite version is black in mens and upper version is grey). There is a setting on this you can adjust as to when it shifts, didn't play with that. There is a coaster brake, worked fine for my simple ride. Everyone will probably think this is a "clone" of the autoshift bike on television commercials, but the bike operates with a computer chip of some sort that is powered by a generator in the hub of the front wheel. It looked real sharp, there is a color panel you can snap onto the hubs on the wheels and the chain guard if you want to change from the original. Most will look at this bike if they haven't ridden one for years and are happy with the 3 gears. Although I liked it, there could be an improvement with more gears. The bike does downshift automatically, it seemed to sense when I went up a hill. Fairly sophisticated in my mind, but again I am a novice and this was a 5 minute ride.
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Old 04-22-07, 10:21 PM   #5
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Override would have been great.

I understand the idea of taking all of the work out of shifting, but putting the option there wouldn't have been a bad idea.

While you're at it, plop a spedometer on there, computers are cheap nowadays, and would be cheaper still if you integrated the circuitry into the Auto-D Computer.

That said, while it is a noble goal, I don't know how well it will work. I've ridden a lot of different styles of bike, and indeed by far my most enjoyable one is my internally geared bike, I LIKE having something that requires some input. I'm probably in a minority

Mechanically speaking, though, 3 speeds really isn't enough for some hilly areas. I would rather have seen at least 5 speeds on such a bike. This isn't a car, you're going to REALLY feel the fact there are only 3 speeds. I'm also in agreement about how a coaster brake is not the best call... but customer opinions win out... I have seen lots of customers who don't get a bike because they want coaster brakes.
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Old 04-23-07, 07:51 AM   #6
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I've read the early reviews but never ridden, or even seen, one. However, I don't think the objections to the coaster brake not being suitable for riding in traffic (which is certainly true) or that three gears aren't enough in hilly areas (also true) are germane to the intended customer. These bikes will be ridden casually around quiet neighborhood streets or on Rail-Trails and bike paths where a coaster brake and three gears are adequate. No one is going to commute, race, ride centuries or tour on one of these things.

What we can hope is that it will get more adults back into riding and some of them will find it attractive enough to upgrade to a "real" bike.
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Old 04-23-07, 08:17 AM   #7
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They're getting plenty of publicity. I opened the business section of the newspaper this morning and there was a half-page AP article on them. The article focused on the business angle, explaining how bicycle sales have been flat for years and they're hoping they can generate sales where there were none before. In other words, selling bicycles to current non-cyclists. A 58-year-old man was interviewed, and he said he loved the idea of the bike being "automatic," he said gears are complicated and he doesn't want complicated. He bought two of the bikes, one for him and one for his wife-
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Old 04-23-07, 08:19 AM   #8
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Mind boggling that such a large portion of the population feels that gears on a bicycle are too complicated. And if they are, why not just get rid of the two or three chainrings for one chainring and have 9 speeds on the cassette. Use grip shifts with numbers. Gear 1 is the easiest and Gear 9 is the hardest. How complicated is that?

A 40t chainring with a 13/30 cassette would give you a range of 6.3-14.5 mph at 60 rpm and 9.4 - 21.7 mph at 90 rpm. That pretty much covers all the speeds anyone would need for a recreational ride.
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Old 04-23-07, 08:37 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowandsteady
Mind boggling that such a large portion of the population feels that gears on a bicycle are too complicated. And if they are, why not just get rid of the two or three chainrings for one chainring and have 9 speeds on the cassette. Use grip shifts with numbers. Gear 1 is the easiest and Gear 9 is the hardest. How complicated is that?

A 40t chainring with a 13/30 cassette would give you a range of 6.3-14.5 mph at 60 rpm and 9.4 - 21.7 mph at 90 rpm. That pretty much covers all the speeds anyone would need for a recreational ride.
There's more to it than gears, automatic or otherwise. The guy in the article I mentioned above was also unwilling to wear spandex and said bike shops intimidate him. Of course you don't have to wear spandex, but as a non-cyclist I'm sure the adult cyclists the guy sees on the road most often are road riders on expensive bikes wearing spandex, and he doesn't identify with that at all. I suspect he liked this "Coasting" bike because it's as far removed from that as he can get-
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Old 04-23-07, 09:00 AM   #10
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ITs just a nexus-3 with an auto shifting computer.

Nothing is new except for the "packaging"
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Old 04-23-07, 09:20 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by well biked
There's more to it than gears, automatic or otherwise. The guy in the article I mentioned above was also unwilling to wear spandex and said bike shops intimidate him. Of course you don't have to wear spandex, but as a non-cyclist I'm sure the adult cyclists the guy sees on the road most often are road riders on expensive bikes wearing spandex, and he doesn't identify with that at all. I suspect he liked this "Coasting" bike because it's as far removed from that as he can get-

If bike shops intimidate him, I dont see how this bike is going to change that. And most people don't wear spandex on a bike for a quick spin. Spandex has nothing to do with gears anyway.
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Old 04-23-07, 09:24 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by slowandsteady
If bike shops intimidate him, I dont see how this bike is going to change that. And most people don't wear spandex on a bike for a quick spin. Spandex has nothing to do with gears anyway.
Not arguing the point, just relaying what the article said, admittedly with a little speculation on my part. Personally, the thing that turns me off the most about the bike is the use of a computer chip as part of the drivetrain-
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Old 04-23-07, 10:43 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by slowandsteady
If bike shops intimidate him, I dont see how this bike is going to change that. And most people don't wear spandex on a bike for a quick spin. Spandex has nothing to do with gears anyway.
Hopefully the bike shops that carry the Coasting bikes will make themselves more casual-customer friendly or at least advertise in the popular press to that effect.

The potential customer for these bikes doesn't know or care that "most people don't wear spandex ....for a quick trip". He only knows what he sees and he equates road riders with spandex and complex bikes. Fact and perception can be very different things.
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Old 04-23-07, 11:11 AM   #14
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Anything that gets more butts on bikes is a good thing, I suppose. But I just can't see how making a bike more mechanically complicated makes the riding simpler. If you want simple, get a single speed. Heck, get a fixed gear and do away with that complicated freewheel.

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Old 04-23-07, 11:18 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by caloso
Anything that gets more butts on bikes is a good thing, I suppose. But I just can't see how making a bike more mechanically complicated makes the riding simpler. If you want simple, get a single speed. Heck, get a fixed gear and do away with that complicated freewheel.
It may be more complex internally but the potential user doesn't know that. It seems simple to them.

An automobile's automatic transmission is a hideously complex device compared to a manual transmission but the user finds it easier and more simple to use. Same concept.
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Old 04-23-07, 11:19 AM   #16
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I think what this shows is that people don't like a road race bike or a complicated fully suspemded mountain bike for just riding around casually.

I have a casual, go to the grocery, video store, bicycle. Its a 1970's era 3 spd, which is basically what the lime is, only better because it has hand brakes and fairly thin tires which is all you need for paved roads and even some gravel/grass riding.

Why Shimano have to "invent" something new when there's already a bike out there that fits a casual rider's needs?
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Old 04-23-07, 11:41 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HillRider
It may be more complex internally but the potential user doesn't know that. It seems simple to them.

An automobile's automatic transmission is a hideously complex device compared to a manual transmission but the user finds it easier and more simple to use. Same concept.
I guess I forget that most people don't work on their own bikes.
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Old 04-23-07, 05:41 PM   #18
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I guess I forget that most people don't work on their own bikes.
And also, well designed 3 speeds almost never need maitenence... The Nexus is proven enough in that regard.
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Old 04-23-07, 05:44 PM   #19
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I think it's spiffy. I'll probably have one sooner or later to use as a townie.
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Old 04-23-07, 07:23 PM   #20
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Our shop got two of them in a week ago, we built on up right away and it was sort-of exciting.. we all tried it out. It works well, no trouble, but I bet maintenance could be an issue. And it really is a comfortable bike.

This weekend I sold the two we had (the Giant version: Suede Coaster) to 40/50s something women (seperately), and they were really easy to sell.. they both mentioned feeling like riding a bike as a child again, one of them had us install a basket on the front.

Our owner was nervous about having a new product like the Coaster in, wondering if it would sell at all, so he was impressed when I sold both
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Old 04-23-07, 07:52 PM   #21
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To make this concept work, it's going to have to be effectively publicized in the popular press, magazines and wide-audience TV/radio shows. It's trying to attract a brand new group of (non-)riders and they pay no attention to bike magazines or catalogs and they don't watch bike races.
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