A lot of the commentary on past posts about the Portland Bicycle (a locally manufactured entry-level commuter bike) has opined that we can’t get the quality we want at the price point ($300 or under) that we’re aiming for, and what we could produce for that price isn’t anything anyone would want to ride for very long (i.e., as they became more experienced they would want a better bike).
So let’s re-conceptualize the problem. We want a way to get a non-cyclist (or very casual cyclist) to make the leap into commuting. If we don’t think we can build a quality bike at a price point low enough to help ease the transition, can we do it another way?
If the bike you want to ride when you start is not the bike you want to ride after 3 months of experience, could we turn this into a leasing program? You could start with an entry-level bike and then have the option to trade up later, or have some kind of credit for purchase of something else. Then we could take your entry bike and turn it around and lease it to another beginning cyclist.
We could bundle the lease with service options. A quarterly tune-up and all repairs included? How about roadside assistance (that should calm the folks afraid of flats) – you wouldn’t actually need it that often – and how much could it cost to have Speed’s towing pick you up and drop your bike at the nearest bike shop?
What do you think, could we define a leasing program with easy terms as a way to get folks into bike commuting? What kinds of services would make this attractive?