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Old 04-26-07, 11:21 AM   #1
cal_gundert05
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How can we improve bicycles?

I know that there are lots of different types of bikes out there, but what part of the bicycle do you think needs improvement? Can we make bikes more user-friendly for the laymen, or require less maintenance, in the interest of promoting bike use.
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Old 04-26-07, 11:23 AM   #2
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I don't know, but my fixed gear conversions haven't given me any trouble and they're so much fun to ride.

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Old 04-26-07, 11:53 AM   #3
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I guess there's still a stigma around internal gearing, but I'm looking into one for my beater/commuter bike.
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Old 04-26-07, 12:07 PM   #4
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label the controls for front and rear mechanicals. Wide tires. Non cyclists always seem to freak out about the width of the tires on my roadies. I think the pedal forward Trek coaster bike is aimed at what the OP has in mind.

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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 04-26-07, 12:09 PM   #5
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First, they should have four wheels. And some form of enclosed "cockpit". Oh, and we should ditch that whole "pedaling" nonsense and use some sort of motor...

As a serious answer to your question, I think a bike is pretty much as straightforward a device as it can be. Sure, minor things like self-adjusting brakes or a never-break chain would be nice. But when it comes down to it, they're mechanical devices by nature, which means that there will always be some form of maintenance or upkeep involved...
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Old 04-26-07, 12:40 PM   #6
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Pedal Forward is also called Crank Forward or Flat Foot or semi-recumbent.

That enables full leg extension while still being able to put your feet down (at a red light, for instance).

jsharr gave us a photo of the Trek version, here is a photo of semi-recumbent my Daughter Mellisa designed. By SEMI-recumbent, I don't mean the fairing is necessarily a quarter scale spoiler from a Kenworth truck. It means the *effective* seat tube angle is around 54 to 58 degrees, compared to 70 degrees for an upright DF, or diamond frame.

Another improvement this "Dream Bike" has is bumpers.
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Old 04-26-07, 01:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cal_gundert05
I know that there are lots of different types of bikes out there, but what part of the bicycle do you think needs improvement? Can we make bikes more user-friendly for the laymen, or require less maintenance, in the interest of promoting bike use.
If you look at the maintenance required for a 1970's bike, and the maintenance required for a current bike, they have made massive inroads already. The one real maintenance headache left, is cables, if you could eliminate cables, you would eliminate a lot of adjusting and readjusting.
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Old 04-26-07, 01:35 PM   #8
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Some good points, here.

I think that some people are put off by the care most bikes require--you can't just leave them outside for fear of rain and rust. Also, I think people are scared of popping a tire and having to fix it. While these things seem trivial to many dedicated bicyclists, I think Joe non-cyclist would love to have a bike that requires less worry.
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Old 04-26-07, 01:40 PM   #9
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Just thought of something:

I don't know if one exists already, but maybe there should be some organization that tests and certifies bikes before they are sold. Cars must pass certain requirements, so maybe if bikes do the same thing there will be better quality bikes on the road, and fewer/none of the Wal-Mart bikes that guve people a bad experience with bikes.
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Old 04-26-07, 01:43 PM   #10
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If weather is a worry, sell the bike with a zip on weather storage cover of some sort, either as original equipment or as an accessory. Designed maybe with zippered pocket on cover that the user can stuff the cover into and straps to attched stored cover to frame.
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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 04-26-07, 01:44 PM   #11
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I'd like to see an affordable XT level sealed hub with internal gearing and drum brakes. I don't know what range of gear ratios the internal hubs can provide, but, if possible, I'd love to be able to avoid a front derailleur too. I love my single-speed, but it just isn't fun to ride on ALL the trails I do. It'd be great to have all the benefits of a single-speed plus some of the benefits of my Quasi-Moto.
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Old 04-26-07, 01:57 PM   #12
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The gaps into which the chain can fall (the gaps between the front gears, between the biggest back gear and the spokes and below the smallest back gear) should not be big enough for the chain to fall into.
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Old 04-26-07, 04:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cal_gundert05
Just thought of something:

I don't know if one exists already, but maybe there should be some organization that tests and certifies bikes before they are sold. Cars must pass certain requirements, so maybe if bikes do the same thing there will be better quality bikes on the road, and fewer/none of the Wal-Mart bikes that guve people a bad experience with bikes.
Wal Mart's stock would drop 10 points.

OP Shimano has taken up your quest with the coasting bike thing. Better spending your time searching for the meaning of life.
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Old 04-26-07, 05:20 PM   #14
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Race quality road bikes with full fenders.
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Old 04-26-07, 07:13 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadfix
I don't know, but my fixed gear conversions haven't given me any trouble and they're so much fun to ride.
This is not the answer.
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Old 04-26-07, 07:19 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cal_gundert05
in the interest of promoting bike use.
I think that if your objective is to promote bike use, then you have to look to why more people choose not to use bikes today.

I don't know where you live. What I see (living in a suburb of St Louis) is a metro area that was designed around the use of personal automobiles. Everything is spread out. Connector roads are high speed, unpleasant, and sometimes even illegal to bicycle on. To use a bike for day-to-day transportation requires a commitment to find reasonably safe routes that lead from where you are to wherever you want to go. Then you have to figure out what to do to park and safeguard your bike when you get there. There simply isn't a very high percentage of people who want to do that.

If your objective is to promote bike use, you need to create a whole community such that more people want to use bikes. You can make incremental improvements in the bike itself, but that won't impact the underlying problem.
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Old 04-26-07, 07:55 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cal_gundert05
Just thought of something:

I don't know if one exists already, but maybe there should be some organization that tests and certifies bikes before they are sold. Cars must pass certain requirements, so maybe if bikes do the same thing there will be better quality bikes on the road, and fewer/none of the Wal-Mart bikes that guve people a bad experience with bikes.

I think that only having $300+ bikes on the market would just scare even more people away from bikes. I live in a college town and I see 10 Wal-Mart bikes everyday for every 1 LBS bike I see. I think alot more of those kids would be driving or getting rides everywere if they know that they had to spend over $300 on a college student budget.
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Old 04-26-07, 08:32 PM   #18
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I think there probably already is a bike design/model out there for just about anyone. With everything from single-speed cruisers to full suspension Mtbs, Bmxs, touring bikes, road bikes,and recumbants, I gotta think that if someone can't find a bike that fits their needs, they just aren't looking hard enough (I personally have 5).

I'd say Retro Grouch has a good point in bringing up the infrastructure impediments to cycling. I've been riding for years for recreation, but recently started trying to do more commuting with a bike and have to say it's a lot easier riding recreationally where you can ride where the riding is good, rather than commuting where you have a fixed starting point and destination and have to find a safe way to connect the two and then find a safe place for your bike. When I was a kid (in the 60's and 70's) there were bike racks everywhere, now I'm generally forced to finding a light pole or a tree to lock my bike. We have a lot more recreational bike paths now, but they don't go where a commuter needs to go. And while I'm well accustomed to riding on busy roads, there are some that are seriously dangerous.
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Old 04-26-07, 08:49 PM   #19
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A carbon fiber LWB recumbent would really get it. Something in the low 20's range.
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Old 04-26-07, 10:07 PM   #20
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I suppose my real motive for starting this thread is my desire for an efficient mode of transportation that is easier to get into.

Cars, bikes, jet packs, etc all require a fair amount of knowledge before you start using them as a serious form of transportation. You wouldn't just buy a car without doing research on it and on various other cars. Perhaps all this know-how deters non-cyclists from getting on a bike.

Maybe I'm being unrealistic, and all modes of transportation require some learning. But I just thought I'd see if anyone had ideas about how to ease the pain of a beginner cyclist.
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Old 04-27-07, 03:03 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jurgen
I guess there's still a stigma around internal gearing, but I'm looking into one for my beater/commuter bike.
+1

I still can't figure out why the bad stigma exists. Shimano has really fine tuned their Nexus 8 sp hub. It is way more affordable than a Rolhoff. And if truth be told, it's probably just as good for day to day transportation. I'm not saying the Nexus is as good as a Speed Hub, just that it's a functional alternative.

An internally geared front hub/BB connected to the internally geared rear via a driveshaft would be a maintanence free bike for the most part. I don't think commuters are as concerned with weight as roadies are. So the "that's too heavy" argument doesn't work.

Tim
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Old 04-27-07, 03:19 AM   #22
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Laymen ?? we ARE talking about bikes, right? It's not difficult to learn to shift. STI levers are complicated but I see no reason to avoid them for that reason. You are being unrealistic. Bikes have been developing for over 120 years and still resemble eachother.Comparing cars ,bkes and jetpacks is ********.
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Old 04-27-07, 07:09 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
I think that if your objective is to promote bike use, then you have to look to why more people choose not to use bikes today.

I don't know where you live. What I see (living in a suburb of St Louis) is a metro area that was designed around the use of personal automobiles. Everything is spread out. Connector roads are high speed, unpleasant, and sometimes even illegal to bicycle on. To use a bike for day-to-day transportation requires a commitment to find reasonably safe routes that lead from where you are to wherever you want to go. Then you have to figure out what to do to park and safeguard your bike when you get there. There simply isn't a very high percentage of people who want to do that.

If your objective is to promote bike use, you need to create a whole community such that more people want to use bikes. You can make incremental improvements in the bike itself, but that won't impact the underlying problem.
These are all good points but, even if the improvements were all implemented, bike use would increase only marginally due to safety and comfort concerns by the general population.

In the early-1980's, right after the first two "gas crises", Yamaha did a survey to determine if the driving population would convert to motorcycles/scooters if gas got a lot more expensive, or worse, was hard to get. The answer was overwhelmingly negative. Something like 85% of the respondents said no citing safety and weather concerns.

Keep in mind, motorcycles require almost no more physical effort than a driving a car, offer better weather protection (full fenders, windshields and fairings, heated grips, etc.) than any bicycle and can easily keep up with car traffic.

If that was the response to motorcycle use, do you think bicycles would do any better?
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Old 04-27-07, 07:23 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cal_gundert05
Some good points, here.

I think that some people are put off by the care most bikes require--you can't just leave them outside for fear of rain and rust. Also, I think people are scared of popping a tire and having to fix it. While these things seem trivial to many dedicated bicyclists, I think Joe non-cyclist would love to have a bike that requires less worry.

It's sad to say, but the main problem "Joe non-cyclist" has with bicycles is that you have to pedal them. If he/she could get past that, "Joe" would deal with the other "problems" you mention just like the rest of us do-
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Old 04-27-07, 07:48 AM   #25
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I think bikes were "perfected" by the 1980's and most innovation since then is either novelty or conspicuous consumerism. The reason people don't bike in America is not because the industry has yet to come out with a clever new widget, but because our culture is built around the automobile. I'm not a car-hater, but I sometimes look in envy at countries that developed before the advent of the automobile. The roads are made for horse and buggy, so they are thinner. This encourages people to make wiser transportation choices, like compact cars, scooters, and of course, bicycles.

I'm looking at this new Shimano "Coasting" project, or whatever it's called, and it's nifty, and the bikes built around it are nifty, and I hope that it will have the impact that they are hoping for. Speaking personally, I am noticing more and more bicycles being ridden every day, of all different types, in the town I live in, so that gives me a positive feeling about the future of cycling.
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