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Old 04-19-07, 02:57 PM   #1
Tom Bombadil
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Auto Shift Bikes & Appeal to 50+ segment

My local paper ran an interesting article on the new autoshifting bikes now hitting stores:

http://www.madison.com/tct/business/...129930&ntpid=2

Note some of the numbers, like the number of people who are 7 & up who ride at least 6 times a year has fallen from 56.3 million in 1995 to just 43.1 million in 2005.

There is some hope that these new, easier to use bikes, will attract more people to riding bikes again. Although it will be a slow process. Note that Trek expects to sell just 26,000 of these bikes in the next year, out of their total world-wide sales of 1.4M bikes/yr. I find it interesting that Trek is going so far as to retrain their sales staff a bit in order to make them more effective at pitching this kind of bike.

I like the lead paragraph's focus on how a 50+'er found the bike to his liking, so he bought one for him and another for his wife. I think l will have my wife take a look at them. Thus far I have been unable to persuade her to ride at all. I'd like her to go out with me at least once a month.
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Old 04-19-07, 03:06 PM   #2
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There was a sentence in that article which I've seen elsewhere in ads touting that sort of bike. "Gears are complicated". Does ANYONE think gears are complicated??? It is assumed that everyone can master cell phones, computers, internet, all sorts of technology, yet somehow gears are complicated. Not that theres anything wrong with autoshifting bikes, i guess, but to imply that the average joe out there cant handle a brifter.....sheesh!

OTOH, maybe I'm some sort of Einstein and didnt realize it!

sorry if thats OT
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Old 04-19-07, 03:13 PM   #3
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automatic shift

WOW. Sounds interesting. My first rentry into biking was an automatic-shift (loser) Landrider. Hopefully the Lime will not turn into a lemon. And if I ever live someplace that is not mountainous...who knows? I will be waiting for user comments.
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Old 04-19-07, 03:25 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Stevie47
There was a sentence in that article which I've seen elsewhere in ads touting that sort of bike. "Gears are complicated". Does ANYONE think gears are complicated??? It is assumed that everyone can master cell phones, computers, internet, all sorts of technology, yet somehow gears are complicated. Not that theres anything wrong with autoshifting bikes, i guess, but to imply that the average joe out there cant handle a brifter.....sheesh!

OTOH, maybe I'm some sort of Einstein and didnt realize it!

sorry if thats OT
I wonder if people really have a problem with shifting the gears or if the problem is "when" to shift? I've seen many new riders struggle with shifting especially on hills.
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Old 04-19-07, 03:46 PM   #5
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Dunno. If you have never driven a manual shift car, the whole concept of gears might be really alien. I would guess that a growing majority of the population has never shifted anything. On the other hand, the over-50 segment probably has the most comfort with gear shifting of any part of the population. For example, I'm still pissed at Jaguar for putting a synchromesh first gear on the E-Jag in 1964. Isn't the satisfaction of a double-clutch downshift an important part of driving?

My big worry is that this automatic transmission will either have a short lifespan or be failure-prone. Either would turn people off cycling. In contrast, the automotive automatic transmission benefited from being more reliable than the manual unit.

If these things are as convenient to ride and durable as the old British 3-speeds, I'd consider them a huge leap forward for the cycle industry.

Paul
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Old 04-19-07, 04:19 PM   #6
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I know multiple people who do find bike gears to be complicated. A thumb-shifting 24-spd hybrid, a popular recreational bike, has 4 shift buttons. They have to remember how to shift up/down on both cogs. And 24 speeds is way beyond what they can keep track of. Then when the derailleurs go out of alignment and it won't shift or throws the chain, it becomes even more of a hassle.

Shifting a 3-spd is obviously much easier. There is only one shift lever or twist grip. And you don't throw chains. But I've still seen my wife ride exclusively in 2nd due to the simplicity of not having to remember if 1 or 3 is the easy/hard one.
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Old 04-19-07, 04:32 PM   #7
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Have ridden the no-shift/automatic Landrider. Lotsa hype, lousy riding/handling/heavy machine and too much $$$!
Trek/Shimano/Giant are cashing in on the low standover bikes that were introduced a few years ago and they see a place to make some bucks.
Not having ridden one of the Lime bikes cannot/wilnot pass judgement 'til I get to ride one.
Just another niche market.
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Old 04-19-07, 04:45 PM   #8
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I'm more likely to believe that the drop in ridership has been because pedaling a bike is work in the most literal sense rather than the complexities of shifting.

But the bike looks like a good concept. Maybe I'll pick up one barely used in a garage sale in 5 or 6 years for use as a beater.
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Old 04-19-07, 04:46 PM   #9
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I have pulled my hair out trying to get my wife to shift her bike. I think this may be the best thing for this kind of person.

I wonder about the shifting, the paper said it shifts to another gear when reaching 7mph.
I don't remember when it shifts again, but I wonder at what cadence that will be and how big a jump to the next gear?
Guess we will just have to go for a test ride.
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Old 04-19-07, 06:10 PM   #10
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It is another niche, not unlike mountain or cruisers. Cruisers are hot sellers. I find it difficult to fathom why some individuals find shifting so difficult. The Shimano Automatic is designed to make cruisers more rideable. Single speeds are nice if it's flat and I don't reckon that a person who finds shifting a pain is likely to enjoy out-of -the saddle peddling easier. I rode a Raleigh with the auto-trans.The front hub gen.commands the gearbox to shift.The gears are based on the nexus?? hub design. It rode well.I can imagine certain "types" using a bike like this more than a single-speed cruiser,perhaps 200 miles a year instead of 20 miles a year,to each his own. The one I "tested" have a special rack in the front,designed and displayed,specifically for a six-pack, what does that tell ya ?
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Old 04-19-07, 06:21 PM   #11
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The one I "tested" have a special rack in the front,designed and displayed,specifically for a six-pack, what does that tell ya ?
And who said there haven't been any significant advances in bicycle design?
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Old 04-19-07, 06:36 PM   #12
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I considered the Landrider once but the price they asked for just didn't attract me. Almost bought the Trek 7300 last year but ended up with a Dahon D7 folder a week ago. It's fun and healthy to get back on a bike again. I just wish someday, we could turn to bicycles for commuting and errands to reduce our dependence on oil and help the environment.

The sweat we produces during a ride is not a contaminant and hazardous to our environment.
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Old 04-19-07, 06:56 PM   #13
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I
The sweat we produces during a ride is not a contaminant and hazardous to our environment.
I've smelled some that was hazardous to our office environment!
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Old 04-19-07, 07:03 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by old and new
I rode a Raleigh with the auto-trans.The front hub gen.commands the gearbox to shift.The gears are based on the nexus?? hub design. It rode well.I can imagine certain "types" using a bike like this more than a single-speed cruiser,perhaps 200 miles a year instead of 20 miles a year,to each his own. The one I "tested" have a special rack in the front,designed and displayed,specifically for a six-pack, what does that tell ya ?
This one is referenced in the article. Apparently Raleigh met with good success in their test markets. They are now building more of them for wider distribution.

It is named the Raleigh Coasting

http://www.raleighusa.com/items.asp?itemid=384

Hi-Ten steel frame, 700x40 tires, big cushy seat w/springs, coasting brake, North Star handlebars.
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Old 04-19-07, 07:14 PM   #15
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The Trek Lime also uses Hi-Ten steel frame, very similar handlebars, throw in an adjustable stem, but uses 26"x1.9" tires. It has an under-the-saddle storage compartment.

http://www2.trekbikes.com/bikes/bike...d=1224000&f=29

There's also a "Lime Lite" which has a fixed stem and no storage compartment.

The Treks are a mild crank-forward design, the seat tube angle is just 68 degrees, as compared to a more typical 73-74 degrees.

Trek continues to offer the Trek Pure, which has standard gearing, and is a more aggressive crank forward design, although still a cruiser-type bike.
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Old 04-19-07, 07:42 PM   #16
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Well, I'm 62, and they have absolutely zero appeal to me--the one I've ridden was a horrible sled, heavy and awkward and not at all suited to a minimally strong rider (I'm only average among the guys I ride with, but i'm sure I'm stronger than the average person my age, which is the intended market, so maybe it wouldn't bother them, but it's STILL a sled).
I've been riding for nearly 40 years as an adult, and that probably colors my impressions of these things, but I just don't see how much simpler shifting can be than it already is. You move the lever, it clicks into gear...people get psyched about it, but 15 minutes of riding with somebody who knew how to do it would remove the mystery.
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Old 04-19-07, 07:52 PM   #17
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These bikes are aimed at the person who doesn't ride, or hardly ever rides, market. Or someone looking for a neighborhood cruiser. People who regularly ride now, are not the targeted market.

There are already people who are buying single speed cruiser bikes because they don't have to shift. But those can be a bit of a bear for people riding them on gentle in-town hills.

I expect to see Electra do something with the autoshift, it looks like a natural option for their Townies.
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Old 04-19-07, 07:59 PM   #18
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I briefly owned one of those Autobikes that were advertised on TV. I picked it up at a garage sale for $5 from someone who found it too complicated to ride an automatic shifting bike.
I thought it was kind of nice, just when I would have shifted, the bike shifted automatically. Unfortunately, the autobike was a heavy framed, poorly made bike that I could not take seriously. Now, if Trek made a lighter, well made version that was more of a road bike, hmmm.
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Old 04-19-07, 08:01 PM   #19
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[I've smelled some that was hazardous to our office environment!]

Any enclosed and compartmentalized space will capture obnoxious smell specially if you have certain group of people who's culture and religious belief is not of the western world. So watch out for those few, it could spoil every ones day in the office. LOL
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Old 04-19-07, 08:24 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil
Note some of the numbers, like the number of people who are 7 & up who ride at least 6 times a year has fallen from 56.3 million in 1995 to just 43.1 million in 2005.

Mild rant here: I live in an area where the local school district has physical education classes scheduled so that students get their entire requirments met by taking phys ed for one semester. The rest of their time in high school there is no physical education taking place unless you are on a sports team (only a minorty of students are). When I was in high school (I know this is getting into what I used to call geezer talk when I heard my parents talking the same way) we had physical education three times a week. The logic was sound; REGULAR exercise was good for you. To complicate things, the high school is located in an area where there are very few students who live near it, and there is not a single bicycle rack to be found on the schools grounds anywhere. Over 98% of the kids ride a bus or drive to school. I've actually heard one school administrator say they discourage students from riding bikes to school, because of "safety reasons." It seems to me making riding easier isn't the real solution. Teaching kids the importance of regular life long exercise is the thing I think that is needed. OK, end of rant.
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Old 04-19-07, 09:56 PM   #21
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OK, I agree that derailleur-equipped bikes with multiple chainrings are a bit complicated and don't work so well unless they are kept clean, lubed and adjusted. Which really isn't so difficult. However, these new bikes go way too far the other direction. How about something with gears enclosed in the hub and simple shifting. It could be called "Nexus"!.......Or, how about singlespeed bikes.....bet no one has thought of riding singlespeed bikes. Would that be too complicated?
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Old 04-19-07, 10:12 PM   #22
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I applaud anyone who gets back in the saddle, riding whatever spins their bottle.
But this article just chaps my ass. 58 is too old to figure out how to shift a bike? Good God... just change my diaper and dab my spittle......
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Old 04-19-07, 10:17 PM   #23
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$4 a gallon gasoline will get people back on a bike faster than any Shimano marketing scheme.

I do however think this will work for a rental shop on or near bike paths and generally flat areas, if the shifting system is reliable.
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Old 04-20-07, 10:43 AM   #24
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These are for riders who don't even want to bother with thinking about what they are doing. The beach cruiser crowd. Anyone who is half way serious will take the time to learn how & when to shift. Soon, it is second nature and hardly requires much thought. Besides, grip shifters and triggers took most of the difficulty out of it. bk
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Old 04-20-07, 01:12 PM   #25
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Dunno. If you have never driven a manual shift car, the whole concept of gears might be really alien. I would guess that a growing majority of the population has never shifted anything. On the other hand, the over-50 segment probably has the most comfort with gear shifting of any part of the population. For example, I'm still pissed at Jaguar for putting a synchromesh first gear on the E-Jag in 1964. Isn't the satisfaction of a double-clutch downshift an important part of driving?

My big worry is that this automatic transmission will either have a short lifespan or be failure-prone. Either would turn people off cycling. In contrast, the automotive automatic transmission benefited from being more reliable than the manual unit.

If these things are as convenient to ride and durable as the old British 3-speeds, I'd consider them a huge leap forward for the cycle industry.

Paul
Using my ex-wife as an example, what you say is probably true. Sad state of affairs as I have never owned a car or truck with an automatic transmission. I think I don't like it when they say it isn't necessary to think...
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