Comfy New Commuter Bikes for Getting Around Town Neither age nor inexperience need be a barrier to biking If $4-a-gallon gas has you looking for relief, consider: A concerted effort is underway to attract casual bike riders into the fold. The lure is a range of new commuting bikes that promise to make everyday travel by bicycle as comfortable and fashionable as it is cheap...
In a country where most grown-ups regard bicycles as kid stuff, there are plenty of signs that attitudes are beginning to shift. Bike stores and manufacturers across the nation are reporting significant upticks lately in sales. "They're selling out of all the commuting bikes--all bikes, by the way--that they can get their hands on," says Bill Fields, a consultant who has followed the bicycle industry for decades and anticipates a 20 percent bump in the "comfort bike" category, which includes commuting bikes, by year's end.
Though old hat in many European and Asian countries, commuter bikes, which run generally between $400 and $800, are foreign to many Americans. A cousin to the mountain bike in the sense that it puts riders in an upright position, as opposed to the aerodynamic crouch of the racing or road bike, the commuter bike is more comfortable than either type of sport bike. Its tires tend to be large but smooth and perform better than rugged mountain bike tires on pavement; its wide seat distributes pressure more evenly than the narrow seats on sport bikes; and its ergonomically designed handlebars are curved back slightly for comfort.
Most commuter bikes come with lights and bells, a basket or rack on the back for a briefcase or groceries, and mud flaps and an enclosed chain guard to protect clothes from grease or tears. Some even come with pedal-powered electrical generators that operate lights. ( Read more.)