I finally found the perfect mountain bike. After researching on the topic for weeks online, going to several bike shops, and talking to friends who are into the sport, I ended up buying a friend's older bike, in part because it was less intimidating than the other options.
It was a hellish process, I went into several bike stores and was intimidated by the lingo and the general vibe of the store - as a beginner I didn't feel like I belonged. Even after having a good grasp of things after reading some stuff online, I just didn't know the right questions to ask and was worried that I'd buy something that wasn't worth what they were charging or a bike that would break down in a year.

Then I saw this story/case on United's in-flight magazine (thanks to a boss, Kelly S.) and it all made sense. The story is about gear/shoe/bike everything-except-the-frame maker Shimano and its partnership with IDEO in an attempt to build a bike that gets more people into cycling in general, a product that reaches out to more people than to the bike gearheads.

Here's an excerpt:
Ideo equipped team members with hidden cameras and had them follow ordinary people into bike shops. The results were revealing. Consumers often were confused by the myriad offerings: road bikes, racing bikes, hybrid bikes, comfort bikes, recumbent bikes, and mountain bikes, just to name some basic categories. Many were intimidated by the staff as well. “It’s scary to see this shaved-leg, extremely fit cycling guru who talks in jargon and technical terms and say, ‘I just want a bike,’” says Ray Keener, the president of Growth Cycle, a producer of training programs for the bicycle industry based in Boulder, Colorado­.

The typical reaction? “They run out of the store screaming,” says Jay Graves, who owns The Bike Gallery, the largest independent dealer in Portland, Oregon.

To give bike aficionados a taste of their own medicine, the Coasting team gave OEM representatives and a select group of dealers an assignment: Go to a cosmetics counter and buy $50 worth of products. The memory of facing down a battery of face creams and hair gels still makes Trek’s Price cringe. “I was genuinely uncomfortable. I didn’t know what to ask for or where to start,” he says. “It was exactly the same feeling I saw in the people in the Ideo videos—‘I have no idea what I’m doing here.’”

It's an inspiring read. Just brilliant.

photo from flickr user Thorne Enterprises


At 8:22 PM , Blogger kevin said...

you should check out lake accotink park in springfield ... i'm told it has some really good trails.

At 8:25 PM , Blogger joshcarlton said...

thx for the tip Kevin. now that i've gotten over the buying hump i'm ready to get out there... as soon as the snow melts away.


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