Nice piece in Momentum about Jorg & Olif – City bike company in Vancouver BC. We get excited every time we read about interesting bike shops popping up. Anne first read about Jorg & Olif in Inhabitat a little over a year ago and was impressed by their stylistic approach to marketing their bikes. It’s a good way to reach a certain segment of the population – you know – the ones who buy $400 shoes.The regular bike-shop/Bicycling magazine schtick doesn’t cut it with the fancy-pants crowd. As far as we’re concerned, it’s OK that it takes a decent creative campaign to reach those folks – the auto industry has been going after them for years. “Go on,” implore the sexy ads. “Ditch that fancy car and buy a stylish bike. Your life will be better this way.”
At least the bike ads tell the truth.
You may wonder why we need to reach the style spenders. It comes down to safety and acceptance. More riders means more claim on the roads and a better bike life for all of us. It’s a simple concept, but the increasing numbers part could use some help.
Bike popularity is booming and yet we still don’t have enough folks on the road. Part of it is because all of our bike “booms” have been specialized in nature; the mountain bike boom created a whole bunch of riders who had to drive to their rides; Lance’s 569 Tour de France wins created a bunch of lycra-clad weekend-roadies who had to drive to their rides; and the fixie revolution has created a private club of hipsters whose membership, outsiders assume, requires tattos, cut-off pants and really uncomfortable bikes.
We think style-bikes’ success in garnering media attention shows that Jorg and Olif as well as other “Dutch” bike retailers can have some luck in attracting a new kind of riding crowd. Unlike our mainstream manufacturers, they realize it’s not about speed. This class of rider doesn’t want a carbon road bike or a dirty old mountain bike. They aren’t practical like most readers of this blog — a cobbled togther commuter isn’t going to cut it. No, the bike has to fit their image – and unlike the fixie riders, they probably won’t concoct an image to fit the bike.
The beautiful thing for today’s commuter is that style is contagious. Once a core of trendsetters gets established, we’re betting ridership will blossom into the mainstream (helped by rapidly increasing gas prices – we hope). Mainstream acceptance may lose us some of the trendies (or maybe not; cycling is pretty nice once you are into it). We think loss of those early adopters is a small price to pay. We lose the edge, but mainstream means we’ve won the roads.
– Tim and Anne