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Old 05-13-02, 05:08 PM   #1
Allister
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Design a bike.

The recent thread on autoshift bikes, looking at the Taiwan bike design awards site and the survey on Encyclopedia got me thinking (always a worry). There seems to be some effort going into designing the perfect bike for general purpose cycling that will get people out of their cars and riding.

Here's the question for the forum: What features should a general purpose bike have?

The trend seems to be heading towards automating as much of the process a possible, but I'm not sure that's the best path. My own feeling is that the design should be, in no particular order, simple, comfortable, light, relatively maintenance free and attractive to look at.

I like the idea of bikes with shaft drive and hub gears. They may not be quite as efficient as a chain and derailluer, but they're clean, quiet, maintenance free and have an uncomplicated appearance. Hydraulic drive shows promise as well. This has the added advantage of getting rid of the hub gear and is potentially even more efficient at transferring power than a chain. Trouble is, the one I've seen is a little bulky. See it here.

A good GP bike should have a fairly upright position. Suspension is unecessary I reckon. It's a weight and maintenance burden, and unecessary for city streets. A spring saddle and fattish tyres should provide all the suspension needed to smooth out the ride.

Add fenders, racks, dynohub lights and an integrated lock and you've got a neat little around town bike. It may not be the lightest steed on the street, but it's practical.

Any other ideas?
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Old 05-13-02, 11:18 PM   #2
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If you're designing for the general "auto-brained" public, you might consider a semi-recumbent tricycle with an Electric assist power pack. They'd have their comfort and wouldn't have to expend too much energy.
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Old 05-14-02, 10:25 AM   #3
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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.

andy
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Old 05-14-02, 10:44 AM   #4
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How about the Bianchi Auto Milano, with fenders, lights, and a rear rack.

http://www.bianchiusa.com/site/bikes...utomilano.html

Jim, who is thinking of buying a used three speed with fenders for riding to the metro station.
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Old 05-14-02, 11:20 AM   #5
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How about the Bianchi Auto Milano, with fenders, lights, and a rear rack.

http://www.bianchiusa.com/site/bikes...utomilano.html

Jim, who is thinking of buying a used three speed with fenders for riding to the metro station.
Yeah, kind of like that, only that still looks a little high-tech. Make it out of steel to bring the price down, and use a non-electronic shifting mechanism. And maybe sell it with the rack and fenders installed (at least on some versions) so that people don't have to worry about doing it themselves.

andy
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Old 05-14-02, 06:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by aturley
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.

andy
Good stuff.

Steel is real. I'm not sure it's that much cheaper than aluminium these days, but the big advantage is that is readily repairable. In fact, if you're reasonably handy with an oxy torch (or know someone who is) you can repair it yourself if it cracks. Aluminium is a lot more difficult to repair.

I'm not sure that selling in department stores is the best idea, although I guess it is true that bike shops can be intimidating to the new rider. Perhaps a better way would be to have a new kind of bike shop that isn't intimidating. One that isn't filled with high end racing machines and staffed by snobbish fit young men, but rather by professionals that understand the needs of this kind of rider, and stocked more appropriately for the general purpose cyclist.
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