This spring, as customers flock into bicycle stores in such places as Orlando, Florida, and Portland, Oregon, they'll find a new kind of bike amid the carbonized rows of road whippets, the hulking forms of downhillers and the hipster parade of cruisers and fixies. This new type of bike most resembles a singlespeed cruiser: The upright, sweeping handlebar holds no gear shifters or brake levers. The seat is wide, and positioned low and far back so riders can plant their feet firmly on the ground while seated.Read more at The Revolution Will Be Simplified. See also the Associated Press story on Coasting: "Bill Lange thought his bike riding days were over. Gears were complicated. Stores were intimidating. Plus he wasn't exactly itching to put those tight spandex shorts on his 58-year-old body. Then Lange, of suburban Milwaukee, saw an ad for a new type of bike out this spring. The Lime, by the world's top bicycle maker, Trek, automatically shifts gears, has a wide seat and fluid style that looks like the bikes Lange rode as a child." (Via the Hugger.)
The most interesting technology of the bicycle is hidden. A dyno-hub powered by the front wheel provides juice to a small computer chip that automatically shifts between the bike's three gears. But this innovation is not what makes these bikes potentially revolutionary--various forms of mechanical automatic shifting have been around for years. These bikes might change the way you, your neighbors, maybe even the whole country, think of cycling. And the reason is simple yet powerful: marketing.