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  1. #1
    Senior Member Sci-Fi's Avatar
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    Automatic Bikes Tackle Falling Sales

    Interesting article, esp about the point that "not only don't want high performance, they don't even care about it" and "has a wide seat and fluid style that looks like bikes people rode as a kid (classic/cruiser upright riding position as seen in the picture below)."



    From AP:

    Automatic Bikes Tackle Falling Sales

    By EMILY FREDRIX
    Apr 17, 2007

    WATERLOO, Wis. (AP) - Bill Lange thought his bike riding days were over. Gears were complicated. Stores were intimidating. Plus he wasn't exactly itching to put those tight spandex shorts on his 58-year-old body.

    Then Lange, of suburban Milwaukee, saw an ad for a new type of bike out this spring. The Lime, by the world's top bicycle-maker Trek, automatically shifts gears, has a wide seat and fluid style that looks like bikes Lange rode as a kid.

    He was sold on the concept and bought the three-speed Lime for himself and one for his wife, no small investment at about $500 each.

    "Anything that has gears - it's complicated. And at 58, you don't want complicated, you want automatic," Lange said.

    Bicycle-makers like Trek - the Waterloo, Wis.-based brand that Lance Armstrong rode in his Tour de France victories - and other industry players hope these automatic bikes will encourage non-riders to take up the sport. With an estimated 160 million people considered potential riders, strong sales could reverse the flat growth and dwindling rider numbers that have plagued the industry for years.

    The bicycling industry saw sales of all products - from bikes to those spandex shorts - at nearly $6.2 billion in 2005. But it's estimated to have dropped to $5.8 billion last year, said Jay Townley, an industry analyst with Gluskin Townley Group, based in Lyndon Station, Wis.

    Sales have been flat for the past 12 years, and companies are looking to woo new riders, he said. The new automatic-shifting products could increase the number of the country's cyclists, he said, by cutting out the intimidation factor.

    The number of riders - age 7 and up who ride at least six times a year - dropped from its most recent peak of 56.3 million in 1995 to 43.1 million 10 years later.

    The industry has performed relatively well, especially on sales of road bikes made popular by Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France winner, said Andy Clarke, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists.

    But something is needed to woo casual riders, even if they're just hopping on their bike to grab a cup of coffee or going around the block with their kids, said Clarke, whose group has 300,000 members in affiliated clubs.

    "Long-term, to keep replenishing the customer base, it's the non-enthusiast that has to be spoken to and brought into the fold," Clarke said.

    Automatic shifting uses a computerized gear from bike component maker Shimano called Coasting, which is also used in new bikes by Trek, Raleigh America and Giant Bicycle Inc.

    Shimano spent several years figuring out why ridership has decreased, and realized people wanted to ride for fun, they were just intimidated, said Shannon Byrant, Coasting coordinator for the Irvine, Calif.-based company. The company was shocked to realize its efforts at making newer, more high-performance bikes weren't winning over new riders.

    "We come to find out these people not only don't want high performance, they don't even care about it," she said.

    So Shimano designed the Coasting system to place enjoyment over performance and each of the three brands incorporated it into a design.

    On the Lime, it works like this: A hub in the front wheel acts as a speedometer and communicates electronically through wires within the bike frame to a computer near the pedals. The computer then communicates with a three-speed internal shifter. The speedometer sends a signal to switch gears - which makes a quick, quiet buzz - after riders hit 7 mph and again at 11 mph. The pedals power the system so no batteries are needed.

    To stop, riders use the same coaster brake - engaged by pedaling backwards - that so many people remember from their youth.

    The result is no learning curve and little upkeep. Most riders won't rely on the bikes for fitness but will instead use them for casual rides around town or paved trails, Byrant said.

    Shimano expects to have as many as six other brands on board by next year.

    Trek expects to sell about 26,000 Limes this year, out of about 1.4 million bikes worldwide. The bike, which comes in two versions, plus men's and women's in each, ranges in price from $499 to $579. The seat on the high-end model opens up to hold a cell phone or keys.

    Raleigh's Coasting model uses wheels slightly larger than the Lime. It features a frame that holds a six-pack and even has a bottle opener. The Kent, Wash.-based company already has waiting lists at many dealerships after selling out its first shipment of about 1,000 Coasting bikes, said Reed Pike, director of marketing for Raleigh America.

    Trek expects Lime to have broad appeal and expand its customer base - from baby boomers whose doctors tell them to get off the couch, to parents who want to ride with their kids, said Derek Deubel, Trek brand manager.

    "I think it will help, hopefully, with marketing and make Trek and cycling more of a household name," he said.

    Trek is also working with its network of 2,000 dealers to make sure novices are not intimidated when they walk into a store. Dealers are learning how to communicate with non-riders - such as calling what is traditionally known as the "saddle" a "seat" - and are instructed to have special displays just for the automatic shifters.

    New riders sometimes feel they're being looked down upon if they ask for help from experienced riders, said Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists. Longtime cyclists need to realize new riders have to be welcomed if the sport is going to grow.

    "They need to remember the time before they were enthusiasts, when they were just getting into cycling and what kind of learning curve they went through and who it was that helped them get the love of cycling they now have," he said.
    Last edited by Sci-Fi; 04-18-07 at 04:57 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Did Trek and Shimano pay for that ad?
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  3. #3
    Old Enough to Know Better WalterMitty's Avatar
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    I'll have to agree with much of the marketing analysis quoted in the article. Elitism among regular participants afflicts everything.

    From archery to windsailing and all points in-between, any newbie that stumbles up and wants to play is usually in for some discouraging treatment if they aren't lucky enough to run into a dedicated evangelist that's trying to grow the sport.

    Even with a warm welcome, have you seen how much it costs to be competetive in say, Bowling??? And Heaven help you if you show up with one of those dern K-Mart balls.
    Youth we got, what we need is a fountain of Smart!

    "Does it ever occur to you that I am sometimes thinking?"

  4. #4
    Senior Member Sci-Fi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan
    Did Trek and Shimano pay for that ad?
    Dunno...you would have to ask the Associated Press (AP) if they took cash or not to write the article that way...I'm just a messenger and already made my comments about those types of bikes on another thread:
    New Coasting Bikes From Shimano

  5. #5
    Member BikeLady's Avatar
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    I sold my first Lime yesterday...the customer was an older lady who has had a knee replacement and has back issues. She was told to start riding by her doctor, but hasn't been on a bike since she was a kid. She was totally intimidated by gears, even after the Gearing 101 instruction that I give everyone with gearophobia. She LOVED the Lime.

    I confess, that when I first heard about them, I thought it was a stupid idea, but if it gets people riding, there's always the chance that they may get bitten by the bug. After all, we used to think comfort bikes were stupid, and now I've watched people move from a comfort bike to a suspension hybrid to a fitness bike, and we all know the next step up from that is a full-out road bike.

    Besides it gives people an autoshifting option other than the Landrider, which is just a nightmare shaped like a bike!

  6. #6
    . bbattle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WalterMitty
    I'll have to agree with much of the marketing analysis quoted in the article. Elitism among regular participants afflicts everything.

    From archery to windsailing and all points in-between, any newbie that stumbles up and wants to play is usually in for some discouraging treatment if they aren't lucky enough to run into a dedicated evangelist that's trying to grow the sport.

    Even with a warm welcome, have you seen how much it costs to be competetive in say, Bowling??? And Heaven help you if you show up with one of those dern K-Mart balls.
    All you have to do is bowl a good game and the snickers will stop. Better yet, beat them with a house ball and rental shoes.

    Trek also has a bike called Pure, a crank-forward comfort bike that is also a lot of fun to ride. I'm still saving my pennies for a Bianchi Milano. It'll be the cool bike in my stable; the one that I can just hop on and ride, like my 70+ neighbor with his 25yr. old Schwinn.


    You've got people that'll try to convince a newbie to spend a ton of money but you've also got newbies that WANT to spend a lot of money because they think it'll make them better at the sport right away. The only upgrade I recommend is a new saddle, if needed. Otherwise, wait till your bike parts need replacing before doing so.

    I don't recommend Parlees or Colnagos to newbie cyclists but I also don't recommend x-mart bikes, either. A decent bike with a good saddle and some proper cycling clothes(for rides longer than around the neighborhood) is going to set you back somewhat but the increased enjoyment is well worth it.


    Expect other bike manufacturers to introduce their versions of the Trek Lime; I'm surprised there aren't more already on the market.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bantam's Avatar
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    Yes, the article was one big ad. On that note it did contain truth. Eleitism sucks! When I was getting a bike all I wanted was a speed machine, so I got a Trek 1500. I've been riding for 2 months and I am just now starting to be accepted into the group.
    Those bikes are boring, sorry guys.

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    The owner at one of our LBS's just got a Lime in. It wasn't put together yet as it had just arrived. I'll be curious to see how fast it goes. She said it will be $449. Prescott is a bike friendly town with a small college and a some nice retirement communities.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Splashdown's Avatar
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    As a relatively new cyclist (only a few months or so), and one who really couldnt afford to be picky with his equipment (hand me downs, and post wedding. Does anyone realize how expensive these things can be?!) Its been tough. I live in a cycle "friendly" area, but two out of the three LBS are the definition of elitist. Wish I coulda got a pic of the manager turning his nose up at my little commuter Giant. :-D Ive got thick skin though, and am still at it. :-D Elitism is teh suck.

    Also, the Lime is the perfect thing to get non cyclists active. Ad or not, that article had some great points.

  10. #10
    tcs
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    Quick note to the non-cyclists out there:

    Trek Lime Lite automatic shift 3 speed: $500
    Next Monterey manual shift 3 speed: $110.

    TCS

  11. #11
    Bossy Bunny mirage1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sci-Fi
    Trek is also working with its network of 2,000 dealers to make sure novices are not intimidated when they walk into a store. Dealers are learning how to communicate with non-riders - such as calling what is traditionally known as the "saddle" a "seat" - and are instructed to have special displays just for the automatic shifters.

    New riders sometimes feel they're being looked down upon if they ask for help from experienced riders, said Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists. Longtime cyclists need to realize new riders have to be welcomed if the sport is going to grow.

    "They need to remember the time before they were enthusiasts, when they were just getting into cycling and what kind of learning curve they went through and who it was that helped them get the love of cycling they now have," he said.
    Oh, heck yeah. I am trying my best to learn a little by reading the forums here so I can even know what I don't know, but it is so rough to walk into some place and deal with the attitude. Don't they realize that a little nice goes a long way? I had planned to buy a bike last fall, went into the local REI with cash in hand and walked out without anything because the kid working there seemed so embarrassed to even be dealing with me. He wasn't rude, and he was answering my questions, but I really felt like he had no interest in helping me figure out what kind of bike would make sense for me to have.

    Yesterday, I went to a LBS with tire problem on my daughter's "xmart special" and the guy working there walked out to my car to help me bring it in, fixed it, and pumped up the tire, and acted like the simple fix is the kind of thing that anyone could have missed. So then I bought a bike from him.
    Margie

    "Assume a virtue, if you have it not." ~ William Shakespeare

    This advice is the reason I'm masquerading as an athletic person.

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    I just don't get this "gears are complicated" stuff. How much simpler could they be? bk

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkaapcke
    I just don't get this "gears are complicated" stuff. How much simpler could they be? bk
    Yeah, that is pretty funny.

  14. #14
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    Yeah, that is pretty funny.
    Yep. Or "at 58 you don't want complicated" . You know, dude, mental activity helps older people stay mentally alert and sharp longer into their lives. Not that gear-shifting is that much of a mental workout.

  15. #15
    Master of the Obvious
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    Planetary integrated gears systems are a nice idea but the article is really biased. The whole article is a 90% press release from Trek.

    The whole automatic shifting makes biking easier is just plain silly

    The main issue is the cost. A 7-8 speed Nexus hub is going to be $$$.

    I did see a guy selling a Bianchi San Jose road bike for sale...he had an 8 speed hub on it.

  16. #16
    The Zookeeper mtcougar832's Avatar
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    Gears Are Complicated to Some of Us

    Quote Originally Posted by bkaapcke
    I just don't get this "gears are complicated" stuff. How much simpler could they be? bk
    I never figured out gears as a child / teen. Even now, after reading a few tutorials online, I am only beginning to figure out gears (I started really getting into biking about a month ago, when my youngest turned 1 and could ride in the trailer). I still couldn't talk about gears without calling them "harder" and "easier". Maybe I am mechanically-challenged .

    I don't know if automatic is the way to go, but look at cars. I prefer a manual but a used car with a manual transmission is the exception, not the rule. Anyway, I guess we will find out if the automatic bicycles sell.

  17. #17
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    At $500, these bikes are apt to appeal to the serious cyclist, as much or more than the newbie. At our local shop, serious addicts (bike) by bikes like this just to have around. I don't have that much money to throw around but I know there have to be other people like this across the country.

    I rode a Lime the other day. It was sorta fun, but riding any bike is fun. The shifting worked really well, but then again manual shifting works really well too. Plus you get 24 extra gear combos.

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