Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Pacific Grove, CA
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OK, here's my idea.
First, the bike should be light. Not necessarily carbon-fiber light, but certainly lighter than your standard Huffy. Nobody wants to ride a slow, heavy bike.
Second, the bike should be simple. Yes, shifting isn't that hard, but all it takes is to get the shifting mechanism a little out of whack, and suddenly people don't even want to bother.
I base these two observations on my experience with my fixie. No shifting, no coasting, one brake. Simple and fun. But I also know that this isn't for everyone, because some people don't like pouring all their energy into their stroke when they come to a hill facing a headwind, and some people don't like having their legs flying when they go down a hill.
I propose a redesign of the English 3-speed. From what I hear, those 3-speed hubs are pretty reliable, and you can shift when you are stopped. Build it out of a light steel. No fancy parts that you can only get from the original manufacturer, just standard, off the shelf stuff.
And if you want people to buy it, sell it at Target and stores like that. But have some sort of system in place to make sure they are propperly assembled. Maybe like a certification system or something, where only certified people put them together. Face it, most people are a little intimidated when they go into a bike shop.
I don't know if this is perfect, but I think it would be a better way to get good bikes into the hands of the masses than the current system, and I think a bike like what I have described would be a pretty good fit for most people.