Garrish on Bikes, Mostly wrote a Kona-Ute post about a photo I took at the NAHBS last month. My photo showed a wooden snapdeck and sideloader-like bag combo on a Ute. Garrish and readers wondered a) if it was homemade—it was. Props to the owner/builder if you are out there; and b) Why the heck wasn’t Kona sticking with the Xtracycle accessories, snapdeck, and the like.
For weeks now, I’ve been wondering about that too, and mulling over the lame choices Kona made when rolling their “own” long bike design. But before I open my can of whoop-ass, I’d first like to applaud Kona for their work with the Africa Bike, Bike Town Africa and the adopt an Africa bike program.
Way to go guys. Nice work there.
That said, I’d like to turn my attention back to the long bikes. I’m impressed with Kona’s ability to supply a serviceable long bike at this pricepoint ($799), But I wonder how great it could have been for the entire long bike community had they extended the the Xtracycle plug-and-play features. Here’s my current line of thinking. If someone wants to chime in and tell me why I’m wrong, feel free to comment.
Extending the very serviceable Xtracycle model would have done three great things for the cargo-bike market:
It would have essentially created a de-facto “standard”. If Surly and Kona had joined with Xtracycle this product year you can bet next year many in the me-too cycling world (remember U-brakes?) would have been clammering to build Xtracycle-standard (XStan?) compatible bikes.
Such a standard would have spurred/supported the continued development of the third-party cargo bike accessory market. We’ve already got blenders, under bike lights, Val’s totally excellent “kickstands”, Christmas tree haulers, Snapdeck pads and who knows what else popping up in our current (tiny) market. What kind of innovation would a larger market bring?
Finally the move would have given due credit to the folks who pretty much created this movement—Xtracycle. If the Big Dummy and the Ute catch on, I have a sad feeling that the losers will be the Xtracycle kits. Americans love to buy the latest gadget on the shelf and the big bike companies are great at marketing to this tendency. When the utility bike movement catches on, expect to see these manufacturers ramping up the production of shiny new long bikes.
- That’s great for the overall movement to get people out of cars, but probably bad news for the originator. I don’t know how Xtracycle could possibly compete with the Treks and Giants when it comes to volume-driven manufacturing margins; I don’t want to see them gobbled like so many other small companies. At the very least, the existence of the “XStan” would ensure a nice ongoing revenue stream of aftermarket sales for the company.
So, for opportunity lost on all three points I have to throw a big thumbs down to the those supposedly community-focused, chill-out dudes at Kona. On the Ute front you are acting more like a big corporation (maybe your association with pharma giant Bristol-Myers Squibb is rubbing off on you?) than the low-key “bikes feed our families and our souls” folks you claim to be.
Yep. On this one guys, you pretty much suck.