Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Comuter Bike Design- where is it headed?

The first thing that got me started on this post was a good post on bikehugger today, which talked about steel bikes that are equipped with disk breaks for all weather commuting. The post also discussed the current downfalls of current road disk break design and the room for improvement in that sector of the market. This discussion lead to one poster andrew martin to link to Baron Bicycles (pictured above and below). I've been waiting a long time to see someone build a bike specced just like like that. although I can say I would most likely be temped to throw a a few carbon fiber accessories on that beautiful TrueTemper S3 steel frame. Like say seat post, crank set, handlebars. And hey, why not get crazy and lace up carbon fiber rims to a nice dt swiss hub. With the disk breaks you wouldn't have worry about the shitty braking characteristics of carbon fiber. But that's getting of topic, reading the front page of the Baron Bycyles web site, I noticed they were referenceing the 'blue ocean' marketing theory.
We'll odly enough, another one of my favorite blogs, Bicycle Design writen by also had a post which referenced blue ocean idea. Jame's post was focused on designs for bike commuting, and how the industry could improve its approach to this market. When I read Jame's post I had already set out to post about the Baron all condition road training/commuter bike and one of my commuter bikes,
the Kona dew deluxe. My Kona which as you can see has been heavily upgraded from the stock set up. I also will likely ad a carbon crank set, and new brakes in the future. I may even one day replace the frame, at which point I suppose it will be born into a completely new bike. I think a nice custom built moots frame with a cross between 29er and clyocross geometry and perhaps a carbon fork all with disk drop outs. It would also need wide tire clearance to accommodate the tire potentials for the Mavic crossmax wheels which could accept anything from a 700x23 road tire to all out downhill tread. This I think would be a sort of ultimate all weather commuter, for me anyways.
The Kona is of course a purpose built commuter bike, but honestly for most of the year I ride my road bike to work. For me it just works better. To work and back its about 20 miles, over rolling costal Laguna Beach PCH. I probably climb somewhere around 800 to a 1000 ft a day just getting back in forth. So that puts my commute firmly in road bike territory. Another major factor that allows me to ride a bike, which would likely cost upwards of 6,000 to replace, is my office has an indoor bike parking area. We also have two beach cruisers for lunch and errands around town. I only use the Kona in the winter time when it gets dark out before I get out of work and take the free (provided by Laguna Beach Transit department) bus home. The Kona isn't so nice that I'm worried about putting on the front of the buss. This is something I like about the Baron, which could stand up the abuse of the bus rack.
I also want to respond to something James talked about in his post, about his commuter bike preferences. Which are basically the same as mine. He cites his reason for road bike preference, as being a die hard cycling enthusiast. And also says, that he doesn't necessarily think this would work well for everyone. This is of course something I agree with.
However as little as two years ago I was part of the "blue ocean" of non-cyclists. When I was in college I need a car to get to class and bring my laptop with me. Ridding with a lap top was a deal breaker for me, it was too risky and too heavy. I often thought about ridding, but my main focus at that point was finish school and surfing, and then finding a job. I didn't even bring a bike to school with me. Once I had a steady job, where I didn't need to bring the computer along with me, I realized I could start ridding. I had always been interested in bikes, but up until then just mt bikes. My first real nice bike was a Kona King Kikapu, which I loved ridding. When I decided to start bike commuting the Kona Dew appealed to me the most. I wanted disk breaks, and had never ridden with drop bars. The Kona made sense and at the time it's was I could afford. I worked all sumer before senior year to save up money for the bike.
Once I got it I started ridding to work on it, a year latter I got the road bike. Like I said earlier around 800 total feet of climbing round trip. I quickly realized I wanted a lighter bike. So my point is, I wasn't a bike not, nor a fan of road biking but a few months on the open road quickly converted me. I think allot of it was just realizing what made sense for my situation. So out there in the world of bike commuters there are allot of different potential situations, and preferences. So in short we are going to need allot of different types of commuter bikes.

(My road bike)


Adam said...

The Baron is beautiful, but if someone were to build and spec a commuter bike designed to handle foul weather, shouldn't it come with... oh, I don't know... fenders?! Or at least fender mounts? Geez.

Anonymous said...

This bike has speed and racing written all over it. This is not practical for bike commuting.

erik k said...

adamm, it's relay designed to be a training bike, which could also work good for commuting. Baron hand builds them so I'm sure you can get fenders if you want. I wouldn't need them in Socal.

Anon 11:43 Im not sure which bike your talking about, but as I pointed out I commute on what is almost a road racing bike, so surely a road racing bikes with disc breaks has some practicality to me. The bike is not practical for bike commuting for some people, who perhaps live somewhere flat or in a city.

jimmythefly said...

How do you like the c29ssmaxes? I've been pondering them for my L#M*%d Poprad Disc.

As for the Baron, looks nice, but for that money you could get a full-custom with Ritchey Breakaway system from Curtlo. Also note that my Poprad is made from the same OX Platinum they spec, in the USA, and has the rear caliper mounted to the chainstay where I likes it. Sliding dropouts on the Baron are sweet if you need them, this seems to be one of the distinguishing features of the bike.

libertyonbikes! said...

totally on point! i think alot of riders make the 'transition'. i can't belive that i commuted for so long on a road by mountain bike.
but i also heckled the other guy i commuted with for his love of tight clothes, campy, and road bikes. but that was in the pre-
lance 90's era. i learned. now my road bike was getting so beat up i bought a used cyclocross, but even the small knobbies are slow, so i now have reflective slicks,and with the fall weather - fenders. it's such an ugly but practical thing.
my rusty station wagon of a bike.

erik k said...

jimmythefly, well honestly I haven't even ridden a mile o them yet. But one major difference I noticed right away, was how smooth my bike felt with the new hoops. This is because these rims are slightly wider than the road standard size that my bike came equipped with, thus increasing the volume of air inside my tires. More air equals more cushion, which is nice. Especially since, even though these are wider than my old rims, they are much much lighter, a pound and half maybe. But only time will tell how they really perform, but I have high expectations thus far. I will likely do a post in the future on it.

Geoff said...

@adam-It has fender mounts front and rear as well as rack mounts.

andrew said...

Hey - That comment was me!

Here's Baron's blog:


First batches of bikes should be in shortly (including mine). Can't wait to get my new rain bike built. My commute is really my training, and it's 20mi when I take the short route, so a comfort commuter isn't for me. I want true road geometry, high quality steel, and discs.

erik k said...

thanks again andrew for sharing the baron

Danial123 said...

The bike is not practical for bike commuting for some people, who perhaps live somewhere flat or in a city.
beach cruiser bicycles

aabner58 said...

If the frame isn't locked to the tire a thief could remove the front tire and get away with your bike. bike rear rack

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A mix of finishes-blown around the bowl and ring, mirror around the stand and handles-provides the unit a modern day flair.

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