Boulder B-Cycle - Not Your Average Cruiser Bike

New B-cycles include unique design features
For Immediate Release

BOULDER, Colorado (Feb. 3, 2011) — At first glance, the Boulder B-cycle bike may look like just another get-around-town cruiser — albeit a very cool one. Examine a little closer, though, and you’ll discover a carefully crafted machine that includes a bevy of thoughtful and unique design features.

“These bikes were engineered specifically for bike sharing,” explains Trek’s Michael Hartzell, product manager of the Wisconsin-based bike maker’s B-cycle project. “This is not an old platform. We did a ton of research and then started design from the ground up.”

That research began with a trip to Europe, where members of Trek’s B-cycle development team examined bike-sharing systems in France, Germany and Spain. They took what they learned across the pond, then improved on it. The result is a bike that’s robust, reliable and a lot of fun to ride.

“With a program like this, the primary objective is to create a bicycle that’s exceptionally functional, and will be able to stand up to abuse,” says Hartzell. “Mechanical problems are not an option. The goal is 100-percent reliability for end-users.”

Thus far the signature red B-cycle bikes have delivered. During the program’s inaugural year in Denver, the only major mechanical was a single flat tire. Not bad considering the Denver program recorded 102,981 individual rides in 2010. But despite the overwhelming success, Hartzell and his team are striving for more.

“We learned a lot from the first year in Denver,” he explains. “Now we’re using that information to improve the bikes for all our programs, including Boulder. For example, we’re making weight adjustments that will help better balance the front and rear end. That will improve handling, making them even more user friendly.”

That’s saying a lot considering all the features already built into the B-cycle bikes. Construction starts with a beefy aluminum frame that’s reinforced at the downtube and has a brawny triple-crown fork.

B-cycle bikes are propelled by Shimano’s 3-speed Nexus drivetrain, which includes reliable internal braking and easy shifting. There’s also an eco-friendly, power-generating Dynamo hub that illuminates safety lights on the front and rear of the bike.

“The lights will even stay lit when you’re stopped at a traffic light,” says Hartzell of the 6-volt, 3-watt hub. “It’s a very efficient system.”

The 2011 bikes will also come equipped with internal global positioning systems (GPS), which will allow users to track their own ride data such as number of calories burned and amount of carbon emissions offset. This information can be kept private, or shared using social media sites such as Facebook.

Ride data will also be used to make sure that the Boulder program’s 200 bikes are effectively dispersed between 25 planned docking stations, and it will be available to city planners to aid with traffic flow analysis.

“This can be exceptionally valuable information because it allows those planners to see exactly how, where and when people ride, and then plan and adjust accordingly” explains Hartzell. “Of course all this information will be 100-percent non-descript and anonymous.”

Other 2011 improvements include a re-designed front basket that will stabilize handling and increase cargo carrying capacity. B-cycle handlebar grips are also being updated, with the implementation of a more UV-resilient material, meaning they’ll stand up better to the bright Colorado sunshine.

Tires and wheels remain the same, with Bontrager reinforced-sidewall rubber mated to robust, 36-spoke triple-cross wheels.

Security measures include an odd-sized seatpost that’s easy to adjust, “but almost impossible to remove and not worth ripping off,” adds Hartzell. “We also use special proprietary bolts, axel nuts, fenders and handlebars. There’s nothing that’s off-the-shelf and usable with other bikes, so there’s no reason to even try stealing any of the parts.”

And of course there’s a built in lock, so you can secure it if you stop off somewhere during your ride. Add it all up and it’s clear that this is not your average cruiser bike. It’s the amazing B-cycle and its coming to Boulder in May 2011.

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1 Comment

Not gonna break any TT

Not gonna break any TT records up Flagstaff, but definitely looks like a very utilitarian bike. I for one hope this program takes off in Boulder, and all the other places it's going in. Baby steps towards a more sustainable -- and healthy -- society.