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A bike picture says a thousand words

What do you associate with “bike” in your mind? This is an interesting and useful thought exercise.  It’s interesting because it changes over time, and it’s useful because our answers tell what’s personally most important to us.

Back in the 80’s, biking generally meant one of two things: Tour de France wannabe’s (with drop handlebars and standard, really awkward shifter levers), or BMX biking, with kids in full protective gear on tiny bikes.

thinkbike1 thinkbike2 BMX-Bandits

The message was clear: don’t get into this activity unless you’re prepared to be a committed athlete. Biking declined in popularity in the US for the next 20 years. Cause and effect?

Fast forward to today, and a quick Google search on “bicycles” shows that hybrid bikes (with mountain bikes secondary) have become by far the primary type of bike. It’s easy on the back, and shifting is right at your fingertips. Great progress for everyday biking…which, by the way, is experiencing a US resurgence.


But here are two more free associations for bikes today that are just as important…

unsafe bikes

The underlying message from this medical clinic is that biking is a common way to get hurt. Is it simply more riders = more injuries, or is there more we should be doing in more communities to make biking safer? (or, alternatively, find bikes that are easier to get to safe riding places.)

Meanwhile, what’s the takeaway from this other mailer? Bikes are…disposable.


Is the disposability because US bikes are often purchased to get something cheap at the least cost, or because they rust outside in the rain? Either way, recognizing the problem is the first step toward fixing it.

And the most important part of a bike is…

Well…wheels certainly rank up there! But it turns out that when people draw their bikes from memory, they tend to remember some sort of a triangle in the frame, even if all the other details get a bit jumbled. Here are 3D models of adult-remembered bikes from a design site:

Velocipedia5 Velocipedia24

Velocipedia8 Velocipedia11

Velocipedia21 Velocipedia1

That’s some creative thinking! The triangular design in all of these is important, though, because that’s what gives a bike its stability. You can get to this stability without a triangle, but it’s going to cost you a lot in extra weight.

Put all these together–a non-disposable performance bike with quality components that doesn’t have to live outside in the rain, folds quickly to go to safe (and exciting) riding places, and has a triangular frame for the best in low-weight reliability–and you get a bike that looks a lot like the CHANGE bike hybrid. That’s what I see when I think “bike”!

Happy riding!

Bob Forgrave's Signature

Bob Forgrave is president of Flatbike, an
ecommerce company offering full-size folding bikes
and kits to make any bike take up half the space.



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