Imagine, if you will, that your industry received global attention for many years, had a popular and charismatic heroic character for people to look up to, and sparked waves of interest and enthusiasm among all observers. Wouldn’t you think that would be a wonderful thing?
Turns out, not so for U. S. based manufacturers of bicycles. The industry has been in flat growth or in slow decline mode for decades, but was enjoying a false sense of security after Lance Armstrong’s incredible 7-string winning streak in the Tour de France. Then, interest in the Tour and in performance biking led to sales for high-end, sportsmanlike bikes to spike upward. But who got left behind? The 161 million of us who don’t ride, don’t look good in Spandex and wouldn’t know how to operate a performance bike if someone handed us one. Designer Shimano’s response (working with design firm Ideo) was to develop the Coasting line of bicycles. They’re built for comfort, not for speed, with automatic shifting instead of gears that have to be changed, a comfy seat and easy to maneuver brakes and so on. We’ll see how they are received in the market, but it certainly has the potential to revive biking “for the rest of us…”