An Indoor Culture Emerges

As I continue my Global Search for ‘Pure Funk’ in bicycle design. I again marvel at how 4 of the hottest 5 designs I have seen lately are from foreign bicycle manufacturers. I am sure there is some simple, yet technical reason why European countries seem to be leading the way in innovative and funked out design. My opinion on this issue is simple, after researching American bicycle companies versus their European counter parts; I am of the opinion that bicycles are simply more important to their way of life than it is to ours. I read a statistic the other day that said the European bicycle market is growing more rapidly than any other in the world! NBC
Nightly News reported several months back that 1 out of 3 Americans are considered obese while 1 out of 4 of every child in this country is considered overweight. It isn’t hard to guess at the reason for this, ‘Lack of Exercise and healthy diets!’

It is a rare sight in my neighborhood to look out of the window and see a child or youth riding a bicycle or to see anyone (including me) running or walking to get exercise. Innovation tends to rapidly slow down or even halt as something, such as bicycle riding becomes less important to our society as a whole. When something is very important and economically lucrative, the opposite effect happens. To prove this point, there is no end to technological advancement in computer software, online start up companies, video games and systems and even automobile technology. These are all areas where American Business is strong worldwide. The flip side of that is all of these things take very little physical activity.

You can pretty much sit on your butt and do all of these things and you would have a very difficult time burning any calories doing any of them! And you wonder why we are a nation of fat bodies. I said all of that to say this, we are losing ground as a nation within bicycle industry innovation and funk because we are lazy. The companies who do have the lock on distribution to the stores which 73% of people in this nation buy bicycles, at Big Box Retailers are producing uninspiring designs which produce no emotional response other than “Oh, that is nice, I GUESS I can buy that.”

The companies that do have a little funk can’t possibly hope to get their designs in these retailers because they don’t have the purchasing power that the big companies do so they exist on the fringe. Each of them are so busy fighting for the scraps left by the likes of Huffy and Pacific Cycles that they never think about merging their companies to obtain the purchasing power needed to compete with the big boys! Unfortunately, the biggest losers in this drama are you and I, the bicycle buying public, and worst of all, the spirit in the marketplace that made this country great. We as a country can grab the innovation and funk back from Europe, but not until the emotion is put back into bicycle design.

Above Photo: Courtesy of Mzarek


Jobs Off-Shore = Innovation Off-Shore

With the next few posts, I am going to wax philosophical on the very real issue of Americans losing jobs to foreign countries and make a case for the fact that when we lose jobs, we also lose our edge on bicycle innovation. To clarify, many of you may believe that when I say the word innovation, I mean something mechanically different than what came before. That is a valid argument. However, innovation, to me, can mean a different type of paint job, structural configuration, new rim styles, or just something that produces an emotional response that wasn't present before. I have commented on several occasions about my belief that the brand 'Next', produced by Pacific Cycles and sold at Wal-Mart are uninspiring, cheap and basically a piece of junk. I still hold that opinion. Even those bicycles can be reworked to a point that they do produce an emotional response and a need to own by the buying public.

Before I go any further note: I AM NOT SAYING THESE BIKES ARE THE FUNK!

I have posted several pictures that I came across during the research phase of my project for your review. I can't honestly say that they made me 'Freak Out' but they are very nice and different type of designs. The mountain bike in the top right hand corner has a very eye catching paint job, loud attention getting tires and the seat ties in nicely with the over all color scheme. The Design directly below this paragraph is sure to get the attention of any browser looking for something that is different and eye catching. The description says it is a Mountain Bike and my initial thought was "This doesn't look like a Mountain Bike". After further consideration I recanted my statement and thought "Who am I to say what a Mountain Bike should look like." Yes, me! Now if I am on the search for funk and innovation and I thought like that, what are people who design bikes and are in the business thinking?

Anyone can tell a company's overall thought process by the products they produce. A company's culture is determined by those in charge. 4 of the last 5 designs I have seen that emotionally move me have been produced by foreign companies. More about this in my next posting. Back to the title of this post. With the loss of jobs, comes the loss of inspiring thought to produce innovative products in any particular field. The bicycle industry was HUGE in this country during the hey-day of American Cycle Racing in the late 19th century. Bicycle factories where popping up all over the East Coast and HOOOTTT products soon followed. Innovations such as the 'Chain less Bicycle' which was developed specifically for Marshall 'Major' Taylor to smash all velodrome speed records came along.

We went from the old school 'High Wheel' Bicycles to what came to be known as 'Safety Bicycles' which survive even to this day. The auto industry came along a few years later and the hey-day of American Bicycle Racing had passed. Racing was still popular in Europe and Australia during these years but the damage was done to the American Bicycle scene. I do not know if we can get back there and take over the bicycle innovation business, but what I do know is that the American bicycle design crowd (myself included) should really take a hard look at what we are doing and how we are doing it.

Whoever you are, email me and let's get a dialogue going on what we can do to bring the funk back into the marketplace. Sit back and enjoy these CHINESE designs for now. I will post again soon and continue this dialogue. My next post will be a stunner to most of you. It deals with the obesity in this country and unfortunately with the fact that we have become and indoor culture and how this has affected our ability to innovate with bicycles.



"I Saw The Funk,and It is Good!"

WOW! I found a site called which says it lists bike companies A-Z. After sifting through 15-20 websites, I got frustrated because outside of the different Head badge styles that various companies have, their bicycles all pretty much looked the same. Please understand that I am not being a ‘Hater’. The simple truth is that I long to see something that emotionally moves me in bike design. I saw the Funk years ago when I was a kid in the form of the legendary ‘Pee Wee Herman’, I saw it again 18 years later with Schwinn’s latest incarnation of the ‘Sting Ray’. But I haven’t really seen anything that has emotionally moved me until I came across a Swedish Company called ‘Cube’.

I believe this company is from Denmark. I am not saying that all or even 4 of their designs float my boat, but I found 2 that have just freaked me out! Below is a design with the hottest paint I have ever seen. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing 'Glam Rock' by 'Cube'.
I am not going to write about the gadgets these bicycles have because gadgets don’t interest me, it is the simplicity of the paint, contours, rims, seat etc that excite me. The above Mountain Bike has a ‘Cheetah’ style paint job, not just on the frame, but on the rims to! That my friends is ‘Urban Funk’.

The funk is such that I can just sit back and stare at this ignorance for hours. You all know by now how I give kudos. I do so once again by saying “I saw funk, and it was good.” As I wrap this up, Cube also produced a very nice what they are calling a ‘Tour Bike’. I am from the Old School and where I come from they call these ’10 Speeds’. Nevertheless, this bicycle is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Pearl-White Paint with snake skin accents, light gray & white tires and rims! This bicycle is on a whole other level, just magnificent! Visit the site at These are what, properly priced, would be an absolute HIT in Urban Areas. Cube has definitely paid a visit to ‘Planet Funk’.