Archive for the ‘Interbike’ Category

Interbike: A First Look at Specialized Women’s Bikes

September 29, 2010

The Specialized Women’s 2011 bicycle line is very impressive indeed.

Specialized has rethought bike design for women in a three dimensional way; this makes their mountain bikes particularly easy to handle in all types of terrain.  The Specialized MTB bikes I tested are light enough to Manipulate and maneuver,  but  have a weight distribution that made it easy to keep  “tires to the ground”.

For Women’s road bikes, the Amira will be the bike to look out for. This is their premium bike for women. There are a lot of details that make the Amira stand out (it has all the earmarks of a really fast bike). One look at the geometry and you can see how nothing compares. It’s also sexy as anything.

If you are a fan of Specialized already, you need to try one of their 2011 bikes.  But if you’ve had questionable results with their Women’s geometry bikes from previous years (hey, I wasn’t always a big fan), then you really need to try the 2011 series. Specialized really went back, did their homework, and found what really works for Women’s geometry; and in this 2011 line up, it  shows.

In the coming weeks I will have separate reviews of 2011 Women’s Specialized bikes, including:

Myka – A 29er Women’s Hardtail Mountain Bike, with entry level pricing (warning, this bike could make mountain biking addictive).

Safire – Women’s All Mountain Bike (a dream to ride in 2010, with some interesting changes for 2011)

Era – Women’s Cross Country Performance Mountain Bike (2011 line adds a budget conscious carbon fiber level).

Amira – Women’s Premium Road Bike, redesigned again ( the delight is in the details).

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Have Things Changed for Women in Bike Shops? (Updated 9/27)

September 17, 2010

Update: Sept 27th 2010

So far, about half the women surveyed said they recognize these, shall we say, regrettable sales tactics. But the other half say they have no problem in their local bike shop, or that their shop has improved. It makes me think that things are changing, but we have yet to reach the tipping point when it comes to the female cycling consumer. There are truly great cycling products available for women nowadays. So why are they not making it on the the floor the of local bike shop?  Why are these bike shops still not connecting with their female clientele?

Could it be that they need a lesson on “Selling to Women?”

This was the title of a seminar I attended at Interbike, put on the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition. It was a wonderful seminar and panel discussion; I personally walked away with new ways to help women feel more comfortable and confident about cycling purchases, and the whole shopping experience while in their local bike shop.

However I couldn’t help but notice that most of the audience were female. I have to say, it felt a bit like preaching to the choir. Why didn’t male dealers/buyers/ local bike shops owners jump at this chance to learn about how to easily increase their customer base?

Guys, if you were at Interbike,why didn’t you check out this seminar? What would get you to go to a seminar like this?

Members of the press who attended, what did you think? (By all means, post a link to your site in the comments).

(coming soon: Women’s Products at Interbike: A First Look)

Have Things Changed for Women in Bike Shops?

About a year ago, I made this cartoon series called “Jane Meets Bike Shop”. I’ve reposted two of them here.
Would it surprise you if I said that this was actually more than just a joke?

These were based on a compilation of real experiences of many women. OK, perhaps with a bit a humor and sarcasm, but my question today is:

Have things changed over the past year?
Is it any easier for a woman to “through a leg over” a bike in her size, at the bike shop? Are women getting treated with more respect as a consumer, at the bike shop?

Take a look, then take the quick poll at the bottom. (please leave a comment, if you like).

Jane Meets Bike Shop

Some women of a town would like to enjoy riding their bike. However, the one “good” shop in town just isn’t very good when it comes to understanding the female cyclist.



Girl Meets (Electric?) Bike: Sanyo Dreams Big with Eneloop Bike

October 7, 2009

It’s a good idea; sometimes big companies have them. Sanyo has entered the North American electric bike market, with one sweet little bike:
the Eneloop:

Guess which one they had me ride?

Guess which one I got to ride?

They call it a Synergetic Hybrid Bike. The idea is that the feel of the electric motor shouldn’t be jerky at all; on the contrary it should feel completely seamless and unnoticeable. Yup, it’s true, the feeling is seamless and fluid, and easy. Plus it’s lots of fun. Did you know that one in seven bikes, is battery operated (worldwide)? Surprising, isn’t it? I could see these bikes being a big hit, if Sanyo works it properly.

The Eneloop has the lightest e-bike battery, weighing a little over 3 pounds. For reference, most electric bike batteries are about 6-10 pounds. But the bike overall, is still a bit heavy for most women to lift (upstairs, into a car, etc.), at fifty pounds. It’s not something I’d like to lug around if the battery runs dry. However, that seems unlikely, as the battery can go up to 40 miles per charge (on auto-mode, or 17-20 miiles on standard mode). The battery charges whenever you coast downhill, and whenever you brake. I really wish this technology was hooked up to something a bit lighter, as I could easily imagine loading the Eneloop with bags, and using it like the sherpa of shopping.

The look of the bike itself is pleasing. It is a step through bike, so you don’t have to swing your leg over the bike to get on. Sanyo presented models complete with fenders, racks, and wicker baskets up front. I loved the one I tried, which was an white color, with pink flowers a bow. Sweet, but what was really sweet, was the ride itself. It was fluid, fast and felt light on the pedals. It was easy to make it go fast, easy to control in general. With a three speed internal hub, I can imagine that this would get you up and down most anything.

Love the Bow

Love the Bow

But Sanyo isn’t just thinking about the normal bike buyer. No, their plan is much bigger, and far better. They plan to have fleets of rental bikes (with all the bells and whistles like these), at convenient stations around cites and towns. Sanyo’s bike recharging station is revolutionary, in that it is fully Solar. That means the electricity to run these bikes will be off the grid. Can I get a Wow!

An extra tip’o’the’hat goes to both Sanyo and Panasonic, for working in cooperation to bring you the best of both worlds for the motor.  You guys had me at “Double Torque Start-up motor.” The “double torque start up” is for when you have a heavy load, or you’re starting out on an uphill. It will allow an easier start, with less strain on the motor.

I’ve often said that if we get the women of a community on their bikes, then the rest will follow. So how will women react to the idea of a “bike sharing program?” I don’t know, yet.  I can only tell you the things that would get me involved in a “bike sharing”program:

  • I’d need to make sure that the routes from station to station were safe, both from traffic, and nefarious characters.
  • I would want to know that the bike I was borrowing was in good shape, i.e. no flats, saddle is in good shape, lights work everything safe and on tight.
  • I would want an inspection sheet at the station, in case I forgot how to inspect a bike to make sure it’s safe.
  • I would want at least one of the fleet with a “baby carrier” option.
  • I would want a bike that was ALREADY adjusted down to my size. Did you know that over 53% of American women are under 5’4″? Personally, if I’m in city clothes, then I don’t want to spend my time, and break a nail, adjusting the stem, the seat height, etc. This would be solved by a simple, two-size option; sm/med and lg/xl.

So, make it safe and easy and fun for me to get from point A to point B, while looking fabulous, and I will ride it.  And share it.

Girls, would you participate in bike sharing? What would your perfect bike sharing program look like?

Engadget wished for an Eneloop bike, back in 2008.

All the Specs for the Eneloop bike are HERE.

Article from Scientific American:  How to Get More Bicyclists on the Road: To boost urban bicycling, figure out what women want

Is It Time for INTERBIKE Already?

September 1, 2009

In the spirit of getting back to business

It’s that time of year again. Just like in the fashion world, September is January for those in the bike industry. All year long, companies that work for and with all things bike, have been battling it out for what will be the next coolest thing. Every year,the next coolest thing is revealed to a captive audience of bike geeks at Interbike. In a few weeks, the amazement and wonder of Interbike(1) begins.

Yep, I am a Bike Geek, and I impatiently await the marvels that will be set before me. What wonders will they reveal this year? Will the trend of recognizing women riders continue? It would be wonderful if it did. Only a few short years ago, the business of Interbike was, well, a bit sleazy IMHO. Set in Las Vegas, it was easy to ignore the call for “real” women riders products, in lieu of the easy out for most of the bike industry, which was that, if you want to call something a women’s product, just “shrink it, and pink it”. Gone is that ABHORRENT practice! These days, the bike industry is finally realizing that if you want to make money, you NEED to cater to the other (nearly) half of the cycling population(2). NO ONE has recognized this better than Rich Kelly, marketing manager for Interbike. In the couple of years since he took over Interbike, he has helped change, not just the mood of the convention, but indeed the biking world itself, from an “old man business” community, to a fresh young hip, and girl-friendly place to be. It’s amazing and wonderful how much the industry has grown (up), and Interbike (via Rich Kelly) has been a wonderful contributor. Nearly gone are the “booth babes” of the convention (those are girls who are usually Vegas showgirls, and have NOTHING to do with bikes the rest of the year). In their place, is a far more palatable type of pulchritude: actual women riders, and venders, buying and selling things to and for women. There’s even a little sorority of sorts that has form by way of the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition luncheon. I always seem to get grounded and have clearer, more set goals after meeting with these dynamic women.

Plus, once again this year, we will have an amazing “urban cycling” fashion show put on by Momentum Magazine. Here’s what it looked like last year:

Grafton 3/4 Sleeve Jersey- You had me at Wool/ Silk Blend

Grafton 3/4 Sleeve Jersey- You had me at Wool/ Silk Blend

Luna's Merino Wool Pro Sweater

Luna's Merino Wool Pro Sweater

So what am I looking forward to seeing? Well, the first thing that to comes to mind is LUNA cycling clothing; yes, the yummy Luna Bar company has now launched their own clothing line for women. And who better, really. They’ve been paying good attention to women’s physiology for a long time, and have built up a great reputation, by way of their awesome, some years unbeatable racing team, the LUNACHIX. These women know how to ride, and I have no doubt that the LUNA gets plenty of chamois/cycling clothing opinions from their often winning roster. No doubt, they’ve come up with something interesting. (HINT- I got a glimpse of the wool/silk blend gear at Sporteve early this year, so I KNOW it’s gonna be good).

Road tires, and Wheels: There have been leaps and bounds in the technology of them round things. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for lightweight riders (those under 150lbs). And when I say “they” I mean that I want to see everyone’s gear. I have no loyalty to any brand right now, save my Michelin tires. So Wheelbuilders and tire companies better bring it ’cause I wanna see, and I’m listening.

More to come as Interbike nears…

(1) Interbike is the annual international conference for the bike industry.

(2) Women now make up ~47% of all cyclists. That’s up from ~44% two years ago. From Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN) June 1, 2009 issue, P 26.

Dura Ace Electronic 7900 First Look: Nice but want to be more Impressed

October 3, 2008

I love Shimano componentry; always have. As a person who knows that her bikes will always be around, I have the philosophy of “Buy once, buy right”, which includes a drivetrain that I will really enjoy riding. Enter my favorite, Shimano Dura Ace 7800. After having ridden the 7800 Grupo for a couple of thousand miles, I’m more in love now, than when I first saw them. So when I heard that Shimano’s new 7900 grupo was now electronic shifting, I was intrigued. I had to see it and test it myself. Mind you, I have yet to really ride it, so I have no idea how the brakes respond in a real world circumstance. I’ll reserve full judgement until I get a true test ride.

Much slimmer hood design, better for smaller hands

Much slimmer hood design, better for smaller hands

Index finger is on shifter button.

Index finger is on shifter button.

At the Shimano booth, I see that there is a test bike in a trainer, so I hope on for a ride, to see how it feels. The first thing I noticed was how easy it is to switch to a larger chainring; it was literally the push of a button with no effort at all. Niiice. The front derailleur placement happens automatically, so no more adjusting for trim. No more fussing around at all. Impressive. I was also taken with the design of the hoods, and marvel at how I could fit my small hands on and around the hoods, so much so that I wonder if this is a “women’s version”. No just a more aerodynamic one. There’s no cables under the hoods, so it allowed Shimano to play with the design a bit.

Then come two bombshells:
1. This full version of the electronic 7900 isn’t going to be available until January, when it will cost you a whopping $4000.00, not $2400-$2700 as I’d originally heard. That’s the price of an incomplete version of this grupo coming out sooner (in a few weeks), but you’ll probably want to wait until January, and not change out part of your grupo.
2. Battery life: Are you joking? 500 to 1000 miles between battery changes? Yep. For the many +100 mile/wk enthusiasts this would never do. Forget doing long Charity rides, like the nearly 600 miles, week long charity ride, AIDS LifeCycle. ….And where do I get the battery, and shouldn’t I have my bike mechanic check out the electronic system while he or she is changing the battery, and … WAIT a second, what does my bike mechanic know about electronics anyway?! The answer is most probably darn near nothing, at least not right now. There is the Achilles heel.

To me, that makes the Shimano 7900 grupo is like a Tesla car; sure I want one, but it’s too expensive right now without enough benefit, (or qualified mechanics to fix it).

I do, however, reserve the right to change my mind if improvements are made on the battery life (they should make it rechargeable), and as bike mechanics become more proficient in bicycle electronics.


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