Thursday, March 25, 2010

Product for personal transport....the future is now!

"Imagine, just for a moment, that the bicycle had not been invented.  Imagine no mountain bikes, no racing bikes and no bicycle industry.  Imagine no UCI; it's easy if you try."

These are the words of Mark Sanders, designer of the Strida commuter bicycle, speaking at the recent Taipei bike show conference and sounding a little like John Lennon.

"Now imagine that a global consumer product brand, such as Samsung, Ford, Philips or even Apple, introduced a new "product for personal transport'...This 'must have' product has a potentially unlimited market, alongisde mobile phones and microwave ovens."

The cycling entrepeneur says that "the cycle industry is too focused on high-end models when there's a huge market for a bike that, like the Applie ipod, offers user-friendly, innovative and desirable features at an attractive price."  His ideal concept of a "product for personal transport", friendly for the masses, might look something like this:

Note carbon "roll bars" on the "product for personal transport".

Sanders looks to appeal to the untapped market of potential cyclists that he (and the marketing group at Trek) refer to as the "blue ocean"....

rather than wanting to duke it out in the "red ocean" of "casual and enthusiast cyclists" on which the bicycle industry tends to focus.
In this diagram, which Sanders uses in his lectures, I'm guessing the sharks are bicycle companies, and people like you and me are the chum. Which leads me to wonder what the people who choose not to ride in the "blue ocean" are? Mollusks?

As much as I applaud his innovative spirit and general cycling advocacy, I beg to differ with his premise.  I think the "blue ocean" of potential cyclists will remain as vast as ever as long as bicycles require people to actually exert some physical effort in turning the pedals over.  There are reasons why the items he chooses to use as analogies (mobile phones, microwaves) have become so popular amongst "blue ocean" people.  They save time and effort.  Just imagine the calories we all used to burn using rotary phones....
Cycling takes more time and more effort.  You have to want a slower commute and the experience of actually burning a little fat to ride a bike, thus I contend that no matter how hubless, or foldable, or streamlined you make the bicycle, as long as pedals are required to power it, the mollusks will prefer to drive.  Where he suggests that that rate limiting step of increasing cycling is the failure on the part of the cycling manufacturers, I would submit that it is the non-chuffed nature of people residing in the "blue ocean" to want to ride. 

And speaking of devices that no longer require an extended use of the index finger (like rotary phones) I wonder if Alberto Contador will be rocking these disk wheels during the time trial at this weekend's Criterium International.

Mr. FingerBang himself will be going head to head with Lance Armstrong in the much-anticipated race being held in Corsica March 27-28th.  In a clear attempt to intimidate Contador, LA's team RadioShack is releasing it's new televsion promo featuring Mellow Johnny riding through the universe.
Clearly the 'Shack' has spared no expense on special effects for this spot as the computer generated images could rival anything seen in the most popular sci-fi shows.....say, like the classic Dr. Who.
Mellow Johnny

Dr. Who

For those of you who don't know, Dr. Who was a chap who could fly through time and space simply by stepping inside an English tele-box....Now THERE is a 'product for personal transport' geared for blue ocean people...


  1. Bit of a rambler, this post. For more about what an Apple bike would be like, see:

  2. I suggest readers see the original articles which make the case quite clearly ..