While there seems to be some effort being made by a few cycle retailers in New Zealand to stock a couple of (token?) 'commuter' style bicycles, there are virtually none selling the fully equipped modern European style urban utility bicycles which are the choice of the much wider demographic who make up the masses of cyclists in the Europe 'cycletopias' and in other countries such as Japan.
There is an obsession among New Zealand's existing cycling culture ,
with speed and with at least, seeming to be going 'hard out'.
By catering exclusively for this culture, the cycle retail industry in New Zealand is depriving a lot of ordinary New Zealanders (i.e. the elderly and women in general and those of us disinterested in 'athletic' pursuits) from taking up cycling as an alternative to driving for their everyday transport needs ( i.e. for 'getting around (at a relaxed pace)' as opposed to just (hard out) 'commuting').
The mountain bikes and road racers , to which New Zealanders are
almost exclusively limited, are neither designed nor appropriate for
urban utility style cycling and are virtually useless for carrying stuff ( shopping etc) and in wet weather and are definitely not appropriate styles
for a very large section of the potential cycling population.
There must be a huge market among the vast majority who currently choose not to cycle, for the 'comfort' bicycles that dominate the market whereever cycling is really prevalent.
'Sit up and beg' posture, step through frames, folding frames,
technologies such as internal hub-powered dynamo LED or Halogen lights with capacitors to keep the lights going while stopped at intersections, maintenance and problem free internal hub gearing systems, mudguards, chain-guards, baskets on the front and back, wheel-brace snap locks, pull back stands, skirt guards and of course bicycle bells...
- all of which are pretty much standard on bikes in Europe and Japan , -the kinds of technologies that make cycling so much more convenient, practical, practicable, comfortable, convenient, reliable, and safe,- are sadly virtually unobtainable in New Zealand.
Having lived for 10 years in Japan where there is a very broad cycling
demographic (of 86 million cyclists!) , it is glaringly obvious to me
that the unavailability of urban appropriate utility style bicycles in
New Zealand is limiting our opportunities for seperating ourselves from
What do YOU reckon ?
Alan Preston , (presently) in Christchurch.