I was parked at the Harvard initiative known as Zone 3, talking with folks coming by for free business advice. The intersection of Harvard and Western Ave is a swirling nexus of commuters in cars, running apparel, busses and bike. Never in all of the Mobile Incubator’s travels have ever encountered this many cyclists.
It got me thinking. Bikes might be the first form of pure freedom we get. What is bike culture? How do you sell bikes?
The oldest purchase that I still own today is my bike. It’s a 1976 Schwinn Collegiate. It’s sparkly green. It came with a pair of side baskets on the back and the whole headlight taillight combo with a generator. And my neighbor gave me a 1950s vintage bell to put on the handlebars.
So I bought this classic bike 12 years ago in Oshkosh Wisconsin for only $10. And at 42 years old, It’s still worth about $150 today. When I ride it people turn their heads and they ask where I got it. How many hundreds of hours have I spent tuning it up over the course of my life?
Maybe before I ask how to price a bike, I should ask what is the value of a bike? It’s more than a means of travel, it’s also about the look, the feel, the cool factor, the speed, the weight. It’s not a commodity for most of us, it’s personal, it’s cultural.
So I lined up an interview with Charles T James and Daisy Chiu, owners of Crimson Bikes. Charles and Daisy love to show people the feeling of freedom that comes from riding a bicycle.
Charles fell in love with biking when he rode with his friends bike to go kill a goose. He founded Crimson Bikes as a co-op style program when he was a college student.
After graduation he stepped back to try and start a career in tech, but realized that helping people experience bike riding was a more fulfilling move. The company operated out of what they describe as a broom closet with only 6 bikes before they were able to “get the tires turning”.
Daisy has a disability that requires here to be in a wheelchair. She is a huge proponent of adaptive cycling and accessibility to exercise for disabled people.