Elly Blue penned a cogent article on the BikePortland.org site - Worth a read if you haven’t come across it
She brings up a number of excellent points which I won’t attempt to reiterate here.
It made me think of a few others which might compliment them:
Thought #1 - The Base Perspective
On a good day, it seems we may be oh-so-slowly wrenching the perspective away from racing as the driving factor in cycling. That’s a tough switch, as there was a big lump of people who discovered cycling when Greg Lemond first won the Tour, and a more widespread cultural awareness when Lance Armstrong had his run. That racing approach becomes The Way until you finally realize that it has as much to do with cycling in general as does Formula One racing with using a car in your personal life. There are changes afoot, everything from that group aging to the adoption of more practical approaches to bicycling.
When I worked in a shop, if someone came in to buy a road bike the oft-repeated answer to their inevitable comment that the bars were too far and too low was - “well, after you develop the muscles, it will be more comfortable to you.” Which is pretty much why a whole generation of riders got introduced to cycling by riding mountain bikes on flat, paved paths. But, the expectation was that if you were buying a road bike, you intended to ride it fast, gritting your teeth and mimicking the “pro fit.”
The first Specialized Globe (’93?) was a beautiful bike but an abject failure. Bike shops didn’t know how to sell it, even if it became the most used “shop errand” bike. When the Breezer city/utility bicycles became available, there wasn’t a lot like them, and they struggled until non-traditional bike shops (like REI, with a different client base and sales force) had some successes. Before that, you pretty much had to either import something similar or build your own up from a random frameset. Now there are porteurs, tweed rides and city bikes of all manner - an entire paradigm based on using the inherent efficiency of the bicycle in an urban environment or the enjoyment of the ride.
Granted the great chunk of the industry is racing focused, but what was definitely outside the mainstream has become an identified segment. You don’t need to dress funny unless you want to. It makes it look normal and fun.
more to follow