Bikes in the US vs bikes in Europe on Bikeportland

Heavy, utilitarian, bomb proof. A Huffy Sportsman still serves its owner, even though it was built 50 years ago.

I just read this interesting post on Bikeportland by Michael Anderson (not to be confused with Mikael Colville-Andersen.)* It’s titled Why bikes outsell cars in the USA, too (and why it doesn’t matter). Basically the gist is because most bikes in the US are your $99 Wal-mart specials purchased for recreation and never used. But here’s a paragraph that really got my attention:

But here’s the thing, said (Fred) Clement, whose organization (National Bicycle Dealers’ Association) represents and serves hundreds of specialty bike shops nationwide: most American bikes sold (“99 percent” of which, he said, are imports) simply aren’t much fun to ride. They’re either heavy or fragile, and that’s part of the reason that thousands of them them are quickly left to rust in garages. It’s a completely different situation from Europe, where most new bikes tend to be “classic three-speeds — [they’re] heavy and they’re utilitarian, but they’re bomb-proof,” Clement said. “They’re not going to break or wear out.”

Ah, the venerable three speed. Heavy, utilitarian, and bomb-proof. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

*They definitely wouldn’t wear the same type of pants, for sure.

2 thoughts on “Bikes in the US vs bikes in Europe on Bikeportland

  1. Whether bikes are cheap and disposable or “high end” and influenced by the needs of racers to be made of light weight materials, durability seems like a quality that is almost never promoted in mainstream bicycles. In contrast, just before the war Raleigh and Sturmey Archer sponsored Tommy Godwin in his year long distance attempt to prove how long lasting their equipment was. He rode 75,065 miles in a year, averaging over 200 miles a day, a record that has still not been beaten. You can read about it here

  2. Yeah loved that quote and that article. Not often you see that kind of praise from someone in the industry now. Though I also found it funny that he said that there is lots of great new stuff out there, but really I still argue that other than a couple advances in material selection, the bicycle is still pretty much the same as it was 100 years ago.

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