In my last Brain Blog post ago I poo-poo’ed the coming electric bicycle groundswell and rallied for electric scooters and folding bikes. As promised, here’s a part two hallucination wrapped around my big wish for folding bicycles in urban markets.
Folding bikes are easy to transport, store and use and could be developed into urban market dream rides. The market is ripening with more people moving to the city and commuting distances getting shorter. Plus, they’re more affordable then any electric driven two-wheeler and maybe just maybe they might have the ability to move past the geekiness of the past. And if you don’t believe me check out the recent WSJ 10/2/10 article all about the folding bike going cool.
It’s time for a story……Must have been about two to three years ago while on a trip to lovely Laguna Beach I stopped by the offices of the Crankbrothers, who are probably the most inventive and cleanest design geeks in the industry.
During the visit I asked the bros to collaborate on a folding bike with me. I even pulled out my short list of folding bike product and design features to whet their appetite. The good news is they were totally into the idea. The bad news was they were so busy with other high margin low hanging fruit product ideas that they were forced to give me the “Heismann."
Luckily for my ego there was some love on the end of their open faced palm. So I stopped short of pleading and groveling for some of the new school, hip trip folding bike industrial design that they are capable of.
Frankly, a bicycle retailer could easily blow holes in my big wish for folding bikes because the product itself has not yet been brought to it’s industrial design potential. Yknow, the high cool factor/function of an iphone combined with the simplicity of a ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ reaction when experiencing the product.
Admittedly, no manufacturer has really hit the bullseye yet. Dahon, Bike Friday, Brompton, Giant, Birdy, etc. All have nice features but no one has been able to get past the folding bike geek factor.
Of course, I have some far fetched ideas on what could spring folding bikes from the current jail of motorhomes and small planes they’re trapped in. If I shared them you might think I was crazy??!!
Bottom line, this is not an easy product development project with plenty of high priced design, testing, tooling and manufacturing dollars tied to it. Which is probably why nobody has really taken on the challenge and broken the mold of the typical folding bicycle.
Thanks for letting me get a bit blog dreamy…..the alien nation will close by challenging the bike industry to create a folding bike that turns into a pop culture driven, compact two wheeled urban icon.