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Still fascinated with Coasting.

Monday, 9 April, 2007

According to Bicycling magazine:

  • In the U.S. you will find six to seven million “active cyclists” who ride at least twice per week. These people tend to purchase their gear at bike shops.
  • We have up to fourteen million people who ride at least once per month, and own a bicycle. Two-thirds of these people buy their cycles from big-box stores. The third who buy their machines through the bike shop infrastructure ride more often.
  • Of the remaining two-hundred eighty million people, fifteen percent never learned how to ride a bike. That’s forty-two million people who never learned how to ride a bike. I don’t mean the rules of the road, shifting a dérailleur system, foot placement and all that crap. 42000000 people around here can’t get up on a Huffy cruiser and make it proceed.

Somewhere along the line somebody worked out that the Coasting automatically shifting planetary-hub system could sell as many as one hundred sixty million units. This is a premium product. The bikes start at $450 and the top of the line Giant Suede Coasting DX will run you a grand. They are marketing these to people who would typically pick up a Schwinn-branded Pacific from Champs, Academy, Allied [rip] Canadian Tire or some such place and expect to pay about $150/C$200 for a “good” one.

I’ve attempted a survey to establish just how outrageous this price point actually is. These bikes are in the same market with the

  • Breezer Freedom which is a traditional (Shimano Nexus) three-speed at $460
  • The peculiar mix of old style and utility with modern layout and components, Electra Amsterdam at $550
  • Raleigh Venture, a post-mountain bike designed to ride like a classic English cycle with modern design, components and weight with seven speeds
  • and a plethora of seven and three speed cruisers, which are heavier and ride differently, ranging from $130 (Schwinn Jaguar, a big box bike) to just over $400 (you can take your pick, but the Raleigh Retroglide NX3 is typical)

So maybe, just maybe this campaign is not as ridiculous as it appears. Well, the $1000 Giant is a bit much.

It looks like the stores which arrange their cycles by type will have to clear some space for a new old category. I will call these “transportation bikes”. Soon when you walk into your local analog to Bicycle Snob Shop the hottie with the distant stare, deliciously developed arms, those shorts and elaborate tattoos which belie her poverty will ask “So, do you want a road bike or a mountain bike, um, or a transportation bike?”

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