Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on November 17th, 2006 at 9:16 am
“Not a lifestyle, not for fitness: it’s an experience. People like the idea of riding a bike just as they like the idea of going to the park, farmer’s market, lake, picnic, outdoor music/arts, festivals or chatting with neighbors.
Unfortunately most people don’t do it as often as they would like.”
-from Shimano Coasting marketing materials
The bike industry has been buzzing about Shimano’s new Coasting component group since spy photos from Trek’s dealer-only show made it to the web back in August. But so far, official details from Shimano have been scarce.
There isn’t much official on the web (the Coasting website is password protected and won’t be publicly viewable till January), and the only photos and reviews have come from pre-production examples from the Interbike trade show back in September.
Coasting-equipped bikes will be available nationally in March 2007, with a marketing focus on select “bike-friendly” cities*. Portland is one of them, and bikes will be available in dealers here by February. Portland’s official marketing push is planned for June (in hopes of sunny weather).
There are only three bike manufacturers in the world who have been chosen to spec the group on bikes in 2007; Trek, Giant, and Raleigh.
The folks at Raleigh have given me a sneak peak at their finalized, production Coasting models for 2007. They’ve sent photos and interesting details on Coasting straight from Shimano’s marketing materials.
Here are the first published photos of production bikes spec’d with this “revolutionary” new component group:
And for the guys:
According to Raleigh, retail price will range from $399-$425.
What’s interesting about Coasting is the marketing approach. Sure, the tech stuff is cool — it’s got an electronic, 3-speed, internal shifting hub which gets its power from a generator on the front hub — but even cooler is that Shimano teamed up with hot-shot design firm IDEO on the market research and design.
According to their marketing materials they conducted a survey of non-cyclists and asked the following questions:
- Why are so many Americans not riding?
- How can we motivate the non-cyclist to get back on a bike?
- What is the riding experience they seek?
And the results?
This consumer is in search of:
- The right bike – one they don’t need a degree in rocket science to ride
- Safe routes in their cities where they don’t have to compete with traffic
- A non-intimidating, comfortable, inviting retail experience
- The simple pleasure of riding a bike
No real surprises there…but it’s what Shimano will do with these answers that’s important. Word has it that Shimano will put serious money (several million bucks) behind the Coasting marketing campaign.
That alone sets it apart from anything anyone in the bike industry has ever done.
So will Shimano’s efforts result in the first “real” bikes to break into the mass of Americans who currently don’t ride? Can these bikes ween Americans off department store crap and convince them that bikes can be more than toys?
Time will tell. It will be an uphill struggle, but I think Shimano deserves credit for trying. They’re the first ones to make an intensive (and expensive) effort to address tough questions that no one in the industry has been able to answer…yet.
If we build it, will they (leave their cars in the garage) and come?
[*I’ve edited this sentence to reflect nationwide availability of the bikes.]