Here's a new article from Wired picking up on bicycle trends:
CARS 2.0 : COOL WHEELS
'City Bike' Hot New Category at Bicycle Industry Show
By Eli Milchman 09.27.07 | 12:00 Am
LAS VEGAS -- Some people believe that, right now, a quiet revolution
is taking place. In cities like London, San Francisco, Boston and New
York, the ranks of bicycle riders are swelling with the rise of a new
breed: the urban biker.
Traffic snarls, soaring gas prices and worries about global warming
have prompted a big boost in cycling, affecting even places like Los
Angeles -- America's freeway capital -- that have traditionally given
bicycles the cold shoulder.
"What's really happened in the past year is a cultural shift," says
Monica Howe, 31-year-old outreach coordinator for the Los Angeles
County Bicycle Coalition.
At Interbike 2007, the bicycle industry's giant annual trade show,
the shift toward the urban rider is loudly evident. Fancy road and
mountain bikes are clearly no longer king of the roost -- or road.
It's the scads of fixed-gear, town, single-speed and other urban
bicycles that are drawing the crowds.
The rise of the urban biker is reflected in Specialized's 2008
catalog, which lists 34 different models of city bike to choose from.
The company is even rolling out six different versions of its
ultrapopular single-speed, fixed-gear Langster. Each model is named
after a city that's on the urban biker radar: the four cities named
above, plus Chicago and Seattle. The New York Langster has narrow
handlebars for speeding through ranks of slow-moving cars, while the
Seattle model is equipped with fenders.
"People really gravitated toward bikes with that urban feel," says
Travis Widder, an associate production manager at Specialized. "We
wanted to give nods toward cities where that bike sold well, where
people really embraced that category."
Interbike 2007 is a lot less sporty than years past. Clothing
manufacturers have more messenger bags on show. Jerseys and shorts
are more urban, less multi-colored lycra.
Swobo, the trendy clothing maker, recently launched its first line of
three city bikes, and is just one of several companies showing new
If anyone gave birth to the urban biker movement, it's probably Sky
Yaeger, Swobo's managing director.
Yaeger was responsible for designing a slew of bikes during her time
as production manager at famed Italian manufacturer Bianchi. Some of
her designs, like the fixed-gear Pista, have been elevated to cult
status. Thanks to the bike's simplicity, it became the favored
transport of urbanites like skaters and surfers.
"What happened is we crossed over the bike culture into skate, surf,"
she says. "The kids that are doing it now wouldn't have bought a bike
five years ago. That's a huge delight to me -- because they're on
In L.A., the bike revolution is helped by shops like the grassroots
Bicycle Kitchen. "It makes it easy for anyone to put together a bike
cheap," says Howe. "And it made it hip, which can't hurt."
Volunteers at the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective, a nonprofit that
provides tools and training for riders to maintain their bikes, have
experienced a huge bump in visitors.
"It's gotten out of hand," says Michael Wise, the collective's
treasurer. "We don't have enough volunteers to help the people coming
San Francisco's trendy Mission District is a hotbed of bicycle
activity. A bicycle lane running the length of Valencia Street is a
major artery, as hipsters in hoodies and precisely rolled,
tight-fitting jeans flow along the street.
At Valencia Cyclery, which is often proclaimed the city's best bike
store, sales associate Babs Brockaway says she's seen the number of
customers leaving with shiny new fixed-gear ("fixie") and
single-speed bikes skyrocket. The store stocks five or six choices,
up from a single model two years ago. The simplicity appeals to
neophyte riders overwhelmed by too much technology.
"It's simple: You just pedal," she says. "This is shocking, but there
are people who buy bikes with gears, who don't shift gears."
Just across from Valencia Cyclery is Ritual Coffee Roasters, a
popular coffeehouse often stuffed full of young hipsters glued to
their MacBooks. It's also a favorite haunt of the urban biker.
Outside, Matt McDonald, a 24-year-old photographer from Boston, talks
about his fixie.
"My friends in Boston were getting into these bikes, and it was just
sort of appealing to me. It's like there's nothing to worry about,
and they're just a blast to ride."