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Designing an all-arounder bike

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Designing an all-arounder bike

Old 08-25-16, 09:26 PM
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jade408
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Designing an all-arounder bike

If you were designing a good all-arounder bike, the bike you'd pick for most rides, in most situations, what would it be like?

In my mind an all arounder bike would work pretty well for the roads and light gravel (like on an MUP), be comfy for longish rides, good for social rides, support some errands and work without too much special clothing.

So spec out your dream all-arounder (or the bike that you have to do-it-all or do-most-of-it.)

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Old 08-25-16, 09:27 PM
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Can't I just have 3 or 4 bikes?
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Old 08-25-16, 09:41 PM
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Gravel bike. Will fit large tires, will have eyelets for racks/fenders, will have smaller gearing, will have endurance geometry.

I ride a CX bike, the only real difference being no factory allowances for fenders/racks. I ride it everywhere.
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Old 08-25-16, 10:06 PM
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Good question. I have room for only one bike but have two anyway. And still want a folder.

I could get by with one bike if it melded the better points of both bikes:
Sloping top tube -- much easier to mount/dismount on days when my hips are aching, or when the bike is loaded down with groceries.
Longer wheelbase and room for panniers without heel strike.
Weight under 30 lbs, steel or aluminum, don't care.
Room for 38-40 width tires and fenders.
V-brakes. My new-to-me old bike has center pull brakes -- I'd forgotten what a PITA those are to adjust. It's much less hassle with the hybrid with linear pull V-brakes.
Most-terrain tires like the Michelin Protek Cross Max, but preferably lighter than 1,100 gr.
Long quill stem. Yeah, old school, but it's much easier to adjust the height as needed to suit my achy back and neck, or lower the bar for good days.
Lightweight suspension fork with enough adjustment to handle bumpy roads (no technical stuff or tricks) and enough rigidity for better efficiency on smooth pavement. I'll never be able to handle a rigid fork again without making other compromises -- softer tires, upright bars, etc. A good fancypants suspension fork would be worth it for me.
Lightweight dyno hubs and lights.
Might even consider an IGH instead of derailer.

Sigh... I suppose this is gonna cost more than $1,000.
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Old 08-25-16, 10:14 PM
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Here's my all rounder. This could be my only bike, but I also have a "fun" bike that's lighter and faster. And I have a dedicated winter bike, with studded tires, which allows me to avoid riding my other bikes through the road salt. Under conditions such as lack of money or space, I'd have no problem doing everything with one bike.

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Old 08-25-16, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by memebag View Post
Can't I just have 3 or 4 bikes?
An analogy: most people have more than one coat (outerwear), but there is still one coat/jacket/sweater/whatever that gets used most of the time!
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Old 08-25-16, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
An analogy: most people have more than one coat (outerwear), but there is still one coat/jacket/sweater/whatever that gets used most of the time!
So the one bike I would ride most of the time? That's easy. My CAAD.



But I don't want to put panniers on it.
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Old 08-25-16, 10:40 PM
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This question has been asked before. It's impossible. There is no one bike that will be good at roads and offroad. Period. Sure, some bikes will be adequate at both, but never good. The closest you can get is with a flat bar cyclocross bike (is that considered a gravel bike?) with a rack and a couple of different sets of wheels/tires.

There is a reason why bikes have separated into different types. There's a reason why road bikes look nothing like their mountain counterparts. There is a reason why in races that feature both dirt roads and paved roads that everyone simply rides road bikes. That reason is because the loss of speed due to the dirt on a road bike is much less than the loss of speed riding on asphalt on a mountain bike.
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Old 08-25-16, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
This question has been asked before. It's impossible. There is no one bike that will be good at roads and offroad. Period. Sure, some bikes will be adequate at both, but never good. The closest you can get is with a flat bar cyclocross bike (is that considered a gravel bike?) with a rack and a couple of different sets of wheels/tires.
What's the definition of adequate? What is wrong with adequate?

I think by definition, an all-arounder is OK at everything, but doesn't excel at anything. Or in more positive framing is flexible and versatile.
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Old 08-25-16, 11:41 PM
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My 'ideal' bike changed so much over the years that I finally had to stop looking at the catalogs and stay away from the LBSs

But if I could go back in time and snag one of the models I had the pleasure to actually take for a test spin, it would be the Trek Sawyer.

The shop had that Sawyer set up as a 29er with discs and a 1x_, but the dropouts could also handle SS/FG- and it could be configured with the Gates belt drive as well.
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Old 08-25-16, 11:48 PM
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Basically a Roadster like Pashley with a Rohloff. Brooks Flyer saddle.
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Old 08-26-16, 12:43 AM
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If you want to race, one bike will never have that winning edge in all conditions. Short of racing, one bike can do a whole lot very well. It is the bike industry that wants you to believe you absolutely must have n+1. Oddly enough, the bike industry has added this do-it-all-well bike to the quiver. It is called an adventure bike. Or even better, the all-road Randonneur.

I ride mine to work daily, on fast group rides, unsupported centuries, gravel, etc. The other bikes don't get out much any more.
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Old 08-26-16, 03:54 AM
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
What's the definition of adequate? What is wrong with adequate?
Lots of issues here. First off, I want More than "adequate."

Adequate is "the minimum to get the job done." I want more than the minimum, and yes, that requires other compromises, but I want to a do a better job than an merely "adequate" tool can do.

For instance, a camping knife is an "adequate" tool in most cases. With extreme care it can function as a screwdriver for a lot of screws. If it has a solid butt it can be used as a hammer. If the blade has sufficient sweep it can be used for skinning and slicing meat. If it has sufficient heft, it can be used as a hatchet.

But everything you do with it will be done more messily, with much greater risk of failure, and take longer than if you had the right tool.

Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
I think by definition, an all-arounder is OK at everything, but doesn't excel at anything. Or in more positive framing is flexible and versatile.
"Flexible and versatile" is entirely different and doesn't meet you other requirements.

For instance, any bike with a typical top tube is going to be a real issue for a woman in a dress or a skirt, and in a slim skirt, forget it. And of course, it is pretty difficult to pedal in heels.

Also, though you don't say it, you want a bike for people who don't sweat when they ride (I commuted in Florida for 15 years ... if you stepped outside, you sweat. If you bike, you sweat hard ... even at 3 mph (95 degrees, 95 % humidity, beating sun ....)

There is a reason for wearing "special clothes---it is in part to cope with sweat. I tried riding in street clothes, and I find even cotton t-shirts are really not suited to riding---I wear almost exclusively "technical Ts" which are really just polyester T-shirts with back pockets. I wear biking shorts, because they are more comfortable (in my experience) than plain shorts---and I have years of testing which led me to that conclusion.

Further, you are imagining a bike which never gets ridden very hard---the clothing issue underscores this. Anyone who is going to exert real effort is going to have to have a change of clothes ... so why not wear "special clothing"?

So already we see that you are looking for a low-performance bicycle. Actually, that makes things a lot easier.

I was thinking about this a lot last night. The kind of bikes people suggest for "do everything" really cannot. I know a stretch (a typical stretch) of trail I ride on my MTB---several very short, steep climbs and descents punctuated buy steps and drop-offs and turns.

First off, wide-range gearing is essential. To ride this section, one needs to head in very fast, downshift quickly usually from the top of the middle gear to the top of the low and then further down the rear cluster), and halfway up each climb there are ledges and roots and step-ups which take a lot of skill---or good suspension, the route I use---to negotiate. A rider has to lift the front end of the bike a foot in the air (while still pedaling hard) and lunge forward (while still pedaling hard, and then try to lift the back end a little to hop up the step---while still pedaling hard.

Suspension makes this doable for other than super-fit, super-skilled, super-coordinated athletes. Also, with a single gear or with a three-speed, which cannot shift under load and across a wide range of gears (obviously,) it would be almost impossible to keep the needed momentum. Also, if the bike were heavy, it would be exhausting to try to take climb after climb like that---and without excellent brakes you would be falling down a hill or swimming in a river when you weren't able to negotiate the sharp turn to the next short, steep climb.

I have seen the crazy dudes who ride rigid single-speeds on serious trails.... but I have never seen them clear these kind of obstacles.

No kind of "do everything" bike could do that.

I realize riding like this is not part of your world ... but if you ignore it, your "do-everything" bike suddenly becomes a "do a couple things" bike.

And That Is Okay.

Same with my road rides. Sometimes i want to haul a ton of groceries. Sometimes I want to go camping and bring all my gear. But sometimes I want to travel fast and light and quick ... or quick for me---and That "quickness" is the specific pleasure.

Your idea is "Well, with a 'do-everything' bike you couldn't go really quickly ... but that isn't important to me, so it doesn't matter."

Thing is, It Does Matter to Me.

I am a fat old man with weak lungs and a bad heart. I do not imagine myself to be an athlete. I am not fast and never will be. Put me in a Ferrari, and I will still be a Honda Civic driver. I know this. I am not fooling myself.

Still, I get a Lot of satisfaction from riding a more responsive machine. Even if I am only going 0.3 mph faster, or saving five minutes on my route, I enjoy it for what it is. You are telling me that if I compromise, it won't matter, but to me, if I compromise, there really is no point. You don't care about such stuff, but others do.

Also, each of my bikes rides differently. Each one is its own experience. I could get by with one bike ... and I would lose some of the joy of riding. Seems to me, you need to think of others a bit more.

Now, Let's Get Back to What You Really Want ...


What you want is not a "Do Everything" bike. What you want is a bicycle for the casual rider. You want a simple, self-contained machine which will meet the needs of people who are not primarily cyclists ... they are using the bicycle to do and be other things.

This is how almost everyone uses their cars: not to Drive ... but to get to places to do things. Shopping, meeting firends, seeing a movie, going to a pleasant vacation spot, going to work---Very few people go out to Just Drive.

I have some enthusiast-driver friends who actually do also race (on tracks, organized events.) They sometimes go out in cars or on motorcycles just to Drive---to travel swiftly and efficiently over challenging roads which mildly test their skills and give a mild adrenaline/endorphin boost.

Most people drive with the destination in mind, or the activity at the end of the ride ... not focused on the Drive itself.

The reason this distinction matters is that if you properly define the goal, you can better hit it, and if you properly define you desires, you don't run into friction from people who would be negatively impacted by your misstated, badly described "goal," which is not your real goal at all, but since you didn't make that clear ...

I have to go for a few but I will get back.

This is a Very interesting subject, and I think one Can design the bike you have in mind (in fact I think there are a lot already out there but they are not popular for reasons I have listed elsewhere at great length and repeatedly.)

I am NOT saying you cannot do what you want. Define what you want more precisely; let's get to work figuring out exactly what your "do-everything" bike really needs to do and doesn't, and let's see what we can come up with!

Last edited by Maelochs; 08-26-16 at 05:17 AM.
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Old 08-26-16, 05:30 AM
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Actually this ties in well with your "lifestyle" idea ... but possibly what you want to do is not to sell people on a cycling lifestyle, but to find ways for people to add bicycles to their lifestyles ... or so it seems to me.

You cannot do this by attacking people for whom riding is a major part of their lives---"lifestyle" be damned, I don't have one. I have a life, and some of the time, I like to ride my bicycles.

if you tell people who like riding bikes that they need to compromise or are doing it wrong, or if you tell the retailers who are making their livings selling bikes to these people, that they are doing it wrong ... then all you will meet will be opposition.

You are looking to expand cycling, so be very careful not to impinge on the lives and habits of the people who have been biking happily for a long time, or making decent money selling bikes for a long time.

Particularly with bike shops: They Know they are not doing it wrong ... because they have seen the ones that Are doing it wrong, go broke.

If you want bike shops to feature more and more varied bicycles, you need to First prove that there is a customer base.

And if you (or more often, the folks who jumped into your threads) try to tell everyone that there is "One Perfect Bike" which everyone should be riding, one bike which is "Good Enough" .... the people who ride seriously (whatever that means, in each different case) will dismiss you because they Know that your proposed "One Bike" is Not good enough.

Most of us started, back as children, with some version of the "Do Everything" bike you propose, and we have advanced past that. Telling us to go back is never going to work.

Augmenting existing riding options, both via bikes and bike paths and facilities, is a positive thing. Getting non-cyclists to ride bikes (without necessarily identifying as "cyclists" and without making the sacrifices which "cycling" at a higher level demand) is a wonderful goal---Europe shows that it can work ... and that it takes a lot of work.

If you tell people you are trying to develop and market a bike for non-cyclists, and "normal-people-friendly" bike, or a "non-cyclist-friendly" bike, that would be both more accurate and easier to understand.

As I have said repeatedly, those bikes already exist, but currently don't sell. I think the approach needs to be two-pronged, and you represent both prongs: Infrastructure needs to be improved, and people need to be told that cycling is not Cycling ... it can just be using a bike to do things.

I think I am starting to understand what you have been trying to say all along.

I appreciate your patience.

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Old 08-26-16, 05:37 AM
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650b, room for fenders at least with 38mm tires, lightweight, low trail.

Compact double x at least 9 - 7" gear steps from under 30" to over 90"

I built a 700c upright on a CX frame for an all-road rider, and was surprised how perfectly it does distance and speed. Only way to improve it would be lower trail for a front load and bosses for fenders and racks.
Could change the cockpit to compact drops and really round it out.


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Old 08-26-16, 05:45 AM
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
What's the definition of adequate? What is wrong with adequate?
Adequate is suboptimal. If you can have optimal, why settle for adequate?

What is my motivation for only riding one bike? Do I lack storage space? I can buy more storage space. Do I lack funds? I can get more money.
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Old 08-26-16, 05:49 AM
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Since the OP didn't ask about touring across the country, a "sport touring" type bike is the best all arounder. Racing geometry frame, can fit big tires, caliper brakes (not a CX bike) and has fender mounts. I don't buy in to the so-called "endurance" geometry. If a bike fits properly it will be comfortable on long rides. A so-called "gravel bike" is about the same thing.

Flat bars do not qualify. Your hands basically have to stay in one position the whole time and your body becomes a parachute in strong headwinds since you can't crouch into a proper aero position.

This is mine. My average mph is no slower than on my 16lb modern racing bike.



The Surly Pacer is a good modern one.


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Old 08-26-16, 05:59 AM
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Most non-cyclists hate drop bars ... and for most urban riding an upright posture is not a problem because most rides are not that long. There is no "Do-Everything:" bike ... not a single bike people have suggested would do crap off-road. Even "gravel bikes" and "CX bikes" are really only going to work well on smoother trails.

You might come up with a "do a lot of things on the road well" bike ... but if you really read all of jade408's posts, I don't think that is what she is looking for.

To get non-cyclists onto bikes ... a step-through Dutch city-bike style bike is probably the best direction to head. Women can ride in skirts, people can carry a reasonable load of purchases ... sure the bike would be a pig on hills, but a lot of cities are not especially hilly---and a wide-range CVT transmission might help. People wouldn't have to know how to shift---they wouldn't have to Learn something before they could ride the bike.

Seriously, if someone wants to market a real all-purpose urban transport machine it needs to have electric assist ... maybe one of those wheels with a motor in it. I know this is anathema to "Cyclists," but looked at as an urban transport planner ... it would vastly increase the portion of the populace which could and would use the thing.
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Old 08-26-16, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
Since the OP didn't ask about touring across the country, a "sport touring" type bike is the best all arounder. Racing geometry frame, can fit big tires, caliper brakes (not a CX bike) and has fender mounts. I don't buy in to the so-called "endurance" geometry. If a bike fits properly it will be comfortable on long rides. A so-called "gravel bike" is about the same thing.

Flat bars do not qualify. Your hands basically have to stay in one position the whole time and your body becomes a parachute in strong headwinds since you can't crouch into a proper aero position. ...
great bikes and no offense, that's not racing geometry, but low trail and is a great front-load hauler

Understand about the parachute, but again, my upright is amazingly fast and with the bars set right, I've been out 88 mi on it.
I ride on my core muscles and have the bars set for no pinch. With my bars I can also lean pretty good for a semblance of aero.
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Old 08-26-16, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
This is how almost everyone uses their cars: not to Drive ... but to get to places to do things. Shopping, meeting firends, seeing a movie, going to a pleasant vacation spot, going to work---Very few people go out to Just Drive.
I'm certainly in that category. For me, a car is an appliance.

But maybe this supports the point you've been making: While most people use their cars to just get around, they won't be caught dead in a car that looks like it's just for getting around, and if you make a car like that, people won't buy it.

I'm one of the few people. I bought a car in a couple hours by going to Consumer Reports, looking up the ratings, and buying the cheapest car with good ratings. But the car makers lose money on people like me.
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Old 08-26-16, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Long quill stem. Yeah, old school, but it's much easier to adjust the height as needed to suit my achy back and neck, or lower the bar for good days.
Actually a really good idea. Adjustability is key---both so a wider range of riders can use each frame size, and so a wider variety of riders can use the same bike, or adjust it to suit. Threadless headsets are basically "One size fits---or you're out of luck."

Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Lightweight suspension fork with enough adjustment to handle bumpy roads (no technical stuff or tricks) and enough rigidity for better efficiency on smooth pavement. I'll never be able to handle a rigid fork again without making other compromises -- softer tires, upright bars, etc. A good fancypants suspension fork would be worth it for me.
This is so specific to you, and suspension forks are either so useless or so expensive, and also heavy, i wouldn't specify one for general purpose riding for a general population.

I can easily see where one would be essential for Your perfect bike ... and congrats on your ongoing recovery.
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Old 08-26-16, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
What's the definition of adequate? What is wrong with adequate?

I think by definition, an all-arounder is OK at everything, but doesn't excel at anything. Or in more positive framing is flexible and versatile.
Adequate is fine, if you are limited for whatever reason to one bike. My Le Tour can do almost everything adequately, and it can do some things well. Since I have no limitations, though, I have bikes that does what it can only do adequately much better.

The bike I set up for touring would probably be the closest I can think of to a do-everything decently bike. Has racks and fenders, for carrying stuff and riding in less than optimal conditions, 32mm tires work well enough on most surfaces I am likely to encounter, CX top brake levers allow me to ride upright in a crowded environment and retail the utility of drop bars outside of that. Fairly relaxed geometry makes riding all day comfortable. I guess if I were to equate it to something new, it would likely match up to a CX/gravel style bike.
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Old 08-26-16, 06:47 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by bulldog1935 View Post
great bikes and no offense, that's not racing geometry, but low trail and is a great front-load hauler

Understand about the parachute, but again, my upright is amazingly fast and with the bars set right, I've been out 88 mi on it.
I ride on my core muscles and have the bars set for no pinch. With my bars I can also lean pretty good for a semblance of aero.
Wheelbase is a little longer obviously but yes it's basically a racing geometry. They don't have a high bottom bracket, they don't put you in an upright position, they're fairly light, you can take them on fast group rides or even race them.

I wouldn't even consider your flat bar bike on an A group ride. That's not an all arounder bike.
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Old 08-26-16, 06:58 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
I'm certainly in that category. For me, a car is an appliance.

But maybe this supports the point you've been making: While most people use their cars to just get around, they won't be caught dead in a car that looks like it's just for getting around, and if you make a car like that, people won't buy it.

I'm one of the few people. I bought a car in a couple hours by going to Consumer Reports, looking up the ratings, and buying the cheapest car with good ratings. But the car makers lose money on people like me.
Hmmmm ..... depends?

No one wants to buy a car they think is ugly ... but why did anyone ever buy a Pontiac Aztec? Sorry, I digress ...

Budget is a huge factor with cars, as is financing. Some people can pick the car they like best ... and a lot of people have a limited choice of cars they can afford, and a limited number of dealers who will offer finance.

When it comes to bikes ... i would think a line of all-urban citicycles could come in a wide range of trim and option levels to meet the needs of the lower-class working family as well as something fancy enough for the upwardly mobile young exec type---jade408's 25-45-year-old female executive who could buy a pure "lifestyle" bike if only it could fit into her lifestyle.

I think non-cyclists don't share the same perception of what a "good bike" looks like, that more serious road cyclists might have.

Most road riders seem to abhor swept bars and baskets as much as we would streamers and giant spoke reflectors. But I think (never done the surveys) that a lot of people don't think that the typical drop-bar road bike looks "cool;" but instead it looks uncomfortable. I think non-cyclists would vastly prefer big ugly flat pedals (in colors, with flashing lights,) wouldn't mind a lower top tube, don't think baskets look bad .... probably most of those people's image of "bicycle" was created in childhood and hasn't been revisited much.

I agree a grey-painted tank with stove-pipe fittings wouldn't appeal to many folks ... but I bet a lot more non-cyclists would like my wife's three-speed Schwinn with a step-through frame, sofa saddle, and swept bars than one of my tiny-saddle road bikes with drop bars.

Most people Like to Sit on the seat ... on my bikes, if you sit on the seat you will be Very sore and soon very numb.

Most folks would prefer to sit upright and pedal gently----on my bikes, they wouldn't be pedaling hard so they would have too much weight on their hands which would soon get sore and go numb.

I don't know what the best "look" would be for an urban-centric bike designed to appeal to non-riders ... that is the business of the marketing department with its polls and focus groups.
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Old 08-26-16, 07:02 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by drisotope View Post
gravel bike. Will fit large tires, will have eyelets for racks/fenders, will have smaller gearing, will have endurance geometry.

I ride a cx bike, the only real difference being no factory allowances for fenders/racks. I ride it everywhere.
+ 1.
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