How can biking be more welcoming?

How can biking be more welcoming?

If I told you that cyclist could be preventing the growth of bicycling overall, you might be a bit confused. I was initially introduced to this idea about a year ago from my friend Benno and it’s something I have been thinking about a lot since. I have experienced this idea a lot myself and I wanted to start a discussion on this topic!

Let me know what you guys think in the comments 🙂

0:00 Benno’s thoughts on cyclists
0:45 Cyclists clothing
1:05 eBikes as vehicles
1:40 Cyclists preventing the growth of biking
2:20 Bikes as a tool
2:40 Intimidated by cyclists
3:55 Cycling compared to skiing
4:25 Equipment and training
4:45 Biking for transportation
5:10 Netherlands bike culture
5:50 Cycling can connect and divide us
7:00 Biking is for everybody


#cycling #ebikes #electricbikes

Readers Comments (50)

  1. You and Benno are spot on. There’s an in, sort of in, and an out group in sports where the costs to participate have skyrocketed over the years. Members of the out group typically can’t or are unwilling to spend gobs of money on their gear, and you see these groupings manifest by the bike brand, model, group set, and components that various bikes sport. Fortunately, there are a lot of us out there who do not subscribe to these crazy, elitist, divisive attitudes and feel that we need to keep getting the word out to "just ride" and ride and wear whatever you wish, including e-bikes, trikes, Hawaiian aloha shirts, casual shorts, running or tennis shoes, etc. Lastly, Chris, don’t you think that this divisiveness occurs most commonly in areas where people are more status conscious and where there are more disparities in income and social class?

  2. I have watched countless cyclists going 40km/hr crash into people on the active multi use paths in Tkaronto… families, elderly, kids, etc. They dont slow down or stop for anyone.. and they think if they YELL REALLY LOUD.. people will dive out of the way for them 👎🏾 GTFOH

  3. Chris, what are you trying to accomplish here? Are you trying to convince ebike riders to not wear lycra? Or to poo-poo road cyclists? Did it occur to you that many of the same people who ride road bikes in lycra might be the same people wandering into one of your stores looking for a ebike, for either themselves, a friend, or partner? This kind of thing is just going to create more division in an industry that disparately needs more unity. Maybe in urban stores like yours, the large majority of your customers are urban ‘bikers’ who dislike the lycra crowed, but in *most* cases, most shops that are trying to survive in suburban and rural areas can’t afford to be elitist or anti-elitist. They have to attract as many bike buying customers as they can, regardless of their affinity for a motor/battery or lycra.

    Lets not continue to push this agenda that divides the community and just hope more people ride bikes of any kind, regardless of whether it has a motor and battery, and regardless of what kind of clothes the rider is wearing. It’s better for everyone on the planet, and especially those like you who are in the industry (and content creators like Russ over at Path Less Pedaled).

  4. Austin Denney May 19, 2021 @ 1:18 am

    I would have to say yes cyclist hurts bicycling in the United States. I ride a trail that is for everyone from walkers, runners, bicycling and cyclist and find that the cyclist tend to be rude to everyone else that don’t keep a high pace or are walking. They have had to put signs up stating that pedestrians have the right away due to the cyclist aggressive ways. So I feel that if you are not wearing certain clothes or riding a high end bike then they look at you as having less rights to pathway, ironic that the average person who does not even ride a bike is the persons who funded this pathway. Our community is making a effort to make our area a walking and biking friendly town but people don’t understand that these things are for everyone not just the guys who want to pretend they are riding in the Tour de France.

  5. Hey buddy, Propel needs to get some KTM Macina Prowler Master or KTM eMTBs since u r BOSCH only shop EWS-e champ

  6. You seem to have an affinity with Holland and their love of bikes ? They also have no hills which you seem not to mention ? 🤣 try crossing the Channel to the UK and you will not see many of those old ancient looking heavy Grandma bikes with shopping baskets, and there is also hills galore, it’s a totally different game, or come and witness cycling in the City of London then you will see how and why cyclists get a bad name . 😉

  7. My girlfriend calls them MAMILS (Middle Aged Men In Lycra)

  8. A short summery of this video would be: Who wants to go ridding around in public looking like a cross between Batman and the hunchback of Notre Dame?

  9. 6 cyclists on the dislike button

  10. Out and About with PB May 19, 2021 @ 1:26 am

    I haven’t driven a car since ’07 when I started cruising on my boat. I currently have two Schwinn (yeah, that would be Big Box store) hybrids. One is a step through frame 26in that I have front, rear and side baskets on for shopping, the other, a 700cc that I just ride and film on. I don’t think about how many miles I go, or how fast I go. I don’t think about how I look or what others might think. I just ride. I do what makes me happy, not what may impress others.

  11. StuffOffYouStuff May 19, 2021 @ 1:29 am

    You’ll get it on both sides won’t you really. And that is heavily modulated by culture too and even in different parts of the same country. The worst of it came out here in UK when a fixie rider with no mounted brakes killed a woman. It didn’t help he was a complete doosh and had no remorse so clearly something else going on with his personality. But, I think if we all look at the youtube video titled "Drum & Bass On The Bike 3 – Bristol" it will make everyone smile! Sums up Bristol, UK

  12. I have to apologize if anyone was offended by this video. It was never my intention to create any division through this video. I know some might take it that way on face value, but please try to look past that. Let’s try and thing differently and do our best to tear the walls down. We have a revolution building amongst us and we all need to build on this together. As always. Thank you all for your support and the amazing ideas presented in the comment.

  13. HarryLovesRuth May 19, 2021 @ 1:33 am

    Out here in Flyover Country, USA, I haven’t found cyclists — road or mountain — to be a problem. I have found bike shop personnel to be people who have no idea what to do with a transportation cyclist. They aren’t well versed in the pros and cons of various ways of carrying passengers and "stuff." The bike shops in my area also tend to be brand specific and have a desire to sell you what they have in inventory.

    Entering a local bike shop and saying "I want a cargo bike, what do you have" was met with blank stares. Once the staring was done, guys who were comfortable mixing it up with auto traffic and putting a 12 pack of beer in a backpack tried to sell me what they used for commuting and shopping.

    When I decided that I wanted a GSD, I spent months trying to find a way to get a local shop to sell it to me. No one local had a relationship with Tern and no one was interested in looking into forming one. I finally found a Tern dealer with a local presence and after a very long inventory delay, I got to strap my kid into her Yepp seat and ride to the school drop off.

    Transportation cycling is a newly reborn concept in the US, and the retail environment has not adjusted to the shift. That doesn’t mean That the demand isn’t there. Except for one guy who is a jerk generally, everyone at the school pick up thinks my bike is cool. The kids all want to touch it. The adults want to know how much it cost. I even had a visibly stoned teenager lean out the passenger window of a car to tell me how absolutely awesome my bike was. (We were both at a stop sign. He even called me "ma’m.")

  14. Rostam Ostmann May 19, 2021 @ 1:33 am

    Elitists ruin it for everyone to feed their insecurities. Sadly they exist in every community.

  15. Ruud van Putten May 19, 2021 @ 1:33 am

    I didn’t know there was a difference between cycling and bicycling. From the video I understand cycling is about a sportive way of using a bike (race bike). In Europe, where I’m from, there is not much of a distinction. Race biking is a excellent way to exercise which I did a lot until recently beside commuting on a normal bike to work or shopping. Now that I’m getting older I made the transition from race bike and normal unsupported bike to an E-bike. Just a natural way of evolving. The more people you see on bikes, the easier it is to identify with either type of cyclist.

  16. I always thought cycling and cyclists, were a specialized niche of high end bikes but not in the majority of biking pastime. we want to see baggy shorts, t shirts and halters, riders wearing a hoodie haha etc.

  17. I ride a long range electric assist recumbent trike. I wear a full face helmet (like a motorcycle helmet but smaller and lighter). It is my everyday vehicle in Albany, NY, even in the winter. I have had so many people tell me how cool they think it looks! I am doing my best to be a good embassador for EV bikes and trikes! And my city is getting better and better!

  18. nigelsheffield May 19, 2021 @ 1:37 am

    Been riding bikes for 50 years, never competitively but it was just transport and leisurely fun.
    I’ve nothing against the spandex clan doing their thing, everyone needs a hobby / sport etc.
    They many are arrogant towards car drivers and other cyclists and even pedestrians causing resentment towards all cyclists , this is the reason that car drivers are now trying to knock me off my bike every time I go out and the reason some pedestrians just wont move over when I ring bell etc etc,
    The way they ride is like a racing car driver trying to race on public roads, isn’t really on, if they want to race they should do so on a dedicated race track away from public.
    This week 3 of my friends have been knocked off and brocken bones from hit and run drivers and I was nearly taken out yesterday.
    Around here the main hurdle for getting people on bikes is safety and in particular bad car drivers but I think the lycra clan are putting the drivers in this state of mind.
    A lycra clad lad came past me yesterday whilst I was on a footpath, I was doing maybe 9mph being careful and he flew past full speed, no bell no warning and pretty close, I caught him up on the road a few minutes later , rang my bell and shouted "on your right" and overtook him giving him plenty of space, the look on his face was funny bit like my dog looks like when he is trying to understand something new lol.

  19. Wow! I’ve never seen so many comments on a video! You certainly have hit a sensitive topic, with a lot of negative experience. And hear I was, thinking that Yes, you were over-thinking it! Let’s remember that we are all sharing a two-wheel fun machine. That no one riding a bicycle is old. And please dress as you like. Forget the snobs. Enjoy your machine, whatever it is. Have fun!

  20. So, as a female rider, and one who has ridden for a long time, I find other cyclists great, friendly, etc, except for the occasional one (and they just pass you). It’s getting better now, but even 5 years ago going into a bike shop was not so fun, if you wanted a high spec bike, or part, it was assumed you were buying it for someone else, and basically like you were just wasting their time…..or they didn’t want you out their on their bikes. But now, since covid, more females are riding, and some bike shops are getting female staff, which make me feel less of an intruder.

  21. Thankfully not everyone wearing “spandex “ fit in the 35 to 55 with more bike then legs crowd (the age group that has money for toys). They are a minority and often poor ambassadors for cycling. I was always amused to see an “Amish” person pass them on a hill. (I ride for enjoyment and positive health effects and enjoy riders celebrating as they pass me on a hill). Being a Fred is fun, and I highly recommend the practice.
    Encouraging more people to simple ride can only help the bicycle community but the community at large. There is a variety of types of riding that needs promotion.

  22. Maxime Thériault May 19, 2021 @ 1:39 am

    I feel like the road cycling community look really snobby sometimes (at least from the outside). On the other hand, the electric bike community feels the complete opposite, maybe exactly since it’s used for transportation and it’s made to be "approachable" cycling.

  23. I love cycling, been on the bike for 45+ years and wore Knicks when they had chamois only with zero padding. I have raced but it didn’t float my boat as riding became a burden and it was full of egos……I simply love to ride and I prefer to do it in dedicated cycling kit. Cycling is for everyone and sadly the Industry is turning such a simple elegant design into a headache via internal cabling, electronic shifting, and disc brakes on road bikes, these so-called developments remove the desire for riders to do their own servicing, this intimacy between rider and machine is now lost and that is a great shame imo.

  24. Leonard Shushan May 19, 2021 @ 1:43 am

    I have a dutch 3 speed that I use in the city, it’s made of heavy steel it looks cool and I take pride in that it wasn’t manufactured in China and is great daily transportation. I also have a Trek Domane sl6 road bike with full Ultegra that I use for touring. I’m 62 and I had a mild heart attack in November 2019 and yes I wear the tight shorts and the form fitting yellow jersey because these are my tools that make cycling on the road comfortable and allow cars to see me. Every year it comes a bit more of a challenge for me to maintain my speed and distance but for me cycling on the road is a meditation on the white line that seperates me from the cars. I’m not one for bike trails or taking it slow but if thats your thing then you should do that.

    The main thing for me is cycling safety no matter bike you ride. For me it means obaying traffic signs and always being aware of your surroundings. Always wear a helmet no matther how short a distance you are going.

  25. İlker İLGEN May 19, 2021 @ 1:44 am

    Why change the video name? Are cyclists bad for biking? Yes absolutely.

  26. Yes yea yes! This makes sense! And is a topic I would love to explore more! As a person who loves biking, but gave up my skinny tire “road bike” because I never fit in, and now rides an ebike (instead of driving a car), I loved this video. I really enjoy this type of short form thought provoking video topics. More please!

  27. Most people don’t understand why road bikes saddles and clothes are they way they are. An they find when they get on a bike in regular clothes and try to “ride” it is not fun and it is painful. You are talking about riding for transportation and riding for exercise. It’s two completely different types of cycling. For transportation with and ebike you are not having to climb a hill and put out 250 watts of power for say 15 minutes. You bought a bike that does that for you. So you can wear clothes that “ makes you feel normal” and sit in a more upright position. Because you legs are not being used as much for actually powering yourself down the road.

  28. Haldor Asgirson May 19, 2021 @ 1:45 am

    I love your gentle manners. Where did you grow up? NYC? I don’t think so.

  29. Thanks for your commentary on personal accessibility to the very broad range of bicycling. I learned to ride other’s bicycles fairly early. 68 years ago my parents gave me my own first bike for my tenth birthday. Today it would be called a 26 inch fat tire single speed cruiser. It was too tall for me but I learned various ways of mounting the steed. Our family could not afford a motor vehicle and we lived in a rural area. So the Western Flyer greatly expanded my accessibility to the everything. Over the following generations I acquired and road many forms of bicycles for pleasure, utility, work, amateur competition, comradery, as well as basic transportation. I transported children to pre-school. I did grocery shopping. The bikes included English 3 speeds, early 10 speeds, a really good tandem, mountain bikes, an 18 pound amateur competition road bike, touring bikes, to name a few. My current stable is equally varied including an electric bike and an electric tricycle. Our needs and interests morph over our life times. No one form of cycling suits everybody. No form of cycling is better than any other. All cycling is wonderful and exillerating. Just ride. And ride safely. Ride whatever suits your current interests and needs. Pay respect to all other forms of cycling. One day you may end up in bicycle eternity.

  30. Spot ON!
    I think we all went wrong by focusing on cycling as a sport or worse… a form of exercise. I cycled my whole life (never had a driver’s license), until I too succumbed to sport/exercise way of thinking and pretty much stopped riding because of it. As I got older and more out of shape, I started to feel like riding around on a bike was less and less for me, which of course led to me getting still more out of shape. Moving to a small town in a mountainous area didn’t help much either. So by my late 50s my high step touring bike was just collecting dust in the garage. However, as soon as I clued in that electric bikes have become so cool and user friendly with great Dutch styles I ordered one. It’s not here yet (sigh), but as soon as it arrives, I will be back on the road in a BIG way and I promise to make it look as inclusive and as fun and as cool as a 60 yr old broad can.

  31. I was just talking about this with my buddy. I’m feeling it man. I was a "cyclist" and slowly getting to serious/competitive almost ruined bikes for me. Now my favorite bike is a 1970s Firestone coaster brake bike I repainted and threw a rack on.

  32. Glad you mentioned weird clipless cycling shoes that don’t make 99% of bicyclists go any faster than a pair of old vans . These are foisted on newbies as a necessary purchase by bicycle shops looking to make extra $$$. Lycra shorts and tight clothes make much more sense though and are proven to make your ride faster and more comfortable.

  33. To be brutally honest, I find it hard to pedal a bicycle and care what other people think at the same time.

  34. I was cycling to work with my ebike, 26km, in Denmark. Most loved the bike and it was kind of new thing (speed pedelec). But there had to be the one "professional cyclist" who informed me that 26km is nothing and it is not a "real" thing… But yea, there is a certain intimidating factor to all professional level stuff.

  35. Mike Ratkowski May 19, 2021 @ 1:53 am

    Airplanes started in the bicycle shop and now you can’t find a plane in a bike shop to save your butt, it happens.

  36. I’ve never cared for the bug glasses.

  37. I agree but in reality it really depends on who’s running your local town hall! Here in Montpellier, France we elected a new mayor. He immediately (as promised) made public transport free at weekend and expanded the bike lanes. Many 4 lane roads have now become 2. Plenty of new projects on the way. We even have up to 1000 euro in regional grants to purchase an E-Bike! Cycling has never been more affordable and safe. Urban cycling is now fun here. Go out of town and the sporty cyclists are abundant. they’re literally everywhere! Do these people use a bike on Monday morning to go to work?

  38. I’m not a cyclist. I’m a bloke who fixes up old bikes and rides an old bike to get places and cart stuff around. I’ve no interest in cycle racing or scrambling up and down mountains. I just wear what I’m wearing when I ride my bike and I don’t go fast by any stretch of the imagination. I believe the Dutch call people like me a fietser – someone who uses a bicycle.

  39. Armchair Wanderer May 19, 2021 @ 1:58 am


  40. John Williams May 19, 2021 @ 1:59 am

    I am in my late 60s, and my knees were starting to limit how much I rode, and how much I enjoyed riding. Pedal assist ebikes have been a game changer for both me and my wife. I pretty much ride daily now, and it is one of my favorite parts of the day. Occasionally someone will comment – that I am cheating – to me the only thing I am cheating is the knee pain that was limiting my biking. I appreciate your sincerity, and hope your business continues to grow.

  41. I am not completely sure how relevant this is right now regarding biking versus cycling. To me the point is why you ride whatever you ride. Some ride to race. Some ride to get exercise. Some ride to supplant the use of a motor vehicle. Some ride just because they enjoy it and that’s why I ride my e-bike as often as I can. Sure people think that because it is an e-bike that I am basically cheating. Well, to the uninitiated into the world of e-biking perhaps that is how it looks. Frankly, any new thing that comes along that "breaks with tradition" will generate negative comments and bring out prejudices based mostly on ignorance. It’s like when digital photography first came into being and the purists thought it was blasphemy. Well, now film is dead and digital photography rules. In time, the cyclists and the e-bikers will be able to co-exist quite easily.

  42. This is a very interesting video, and reflects a very much what I have found as an ebiker……..I found that the off road community is much more welcoming, not only to ebikers, but in general. I freaky think the road biking community needs to step it up a bit.

  43. This is something I have thought about. I think the big paradigm difference is whether the bicycle is an exercise tool or a transport tool. The TDF wannabes see the bike as a means of fitness only. It makes sense that they would deride e-bikes as cheating because if you’re putting in less of an effort you’re exercising less. On the other hand, for those of us who see bikes as not ONLY exercise tools but also mobility tools, the point is having an efficient machine go from A to B. There is room in the world for both uses, though obviously no bike will be ideal for all circumstances. I say this as one who owns an entry level, sporty road bike, as worn the lycra (honestly, the bibs with the padding on the bum are really great, even under baggier shorts), and gone long distances out in the country. I also want to get a cargo bike in addition for bumming around the town and being more comfortable. There’s room for both uses and I’m sad for the people who can only see bikes in one myopic manner.

  44. Igor Albornett May 19, 2021 @ 2:07 am

    Well done Chris, this is a very interesting theme and I relate to many of the observations you make. Keep exploring it.

  45. Michael Morris May 19, 2021 @ 2:07 am

    Not bothered… I was never a racer… although I used to be "cyclist"… but at 59 I’m transitioned into just wanting to use a bike instead of a car, I need the exercise, and I miss being on a bike… so I’m looking for a good bike that I can be comfortable on, and get around without having to work too hard, and that’s as dependable as my car.

  46. I wore tshirt, cargo shorts and vans snikers, 13kg steel bike. And i dont give a sheet what those pro wannabe cyclist think of me. Just wish there are many like me, who just dont give a sheet.

  47. karlInSanDiego May 19, 2021 @ 2:09 am

    You didn’t mention this part, but cycling shorts have the chamois pad for cushioning and comfort when you ride. And they take the place of underwear. To me it’s an even larger differentiator with cycling than the skin tightness of cycling clothes. Wearing shorts with a chamois is the obvious choice to a sporting cyclist and I wonder if that’s a discussion you have selling ebikes or if people destined for utility cycling are using sprung seats and cycling for shorter periods of time with less intensity and don’t miss the benefits of the fact that half of the modern seat comfort experience is built into your shorts. I ride a recumbent trike now, but still ride with lycra because I don’t get chaffing/rubbing you experience with something like cargo shorts or (hard for me to even write) jeans. Cotton is a no go with cycling normally, though it’s my go-to fabric for everything that doesn’t require sweat.

  48. a bike is a utility….an exercise machine and a cheap easy way to get to the beer store….I wear loose sweat pants and a baseball hat of some type…..have not got an electric bike yet, but I do have a 36v battery lawn mower with an uncertain future (potential ebike motor)…..not intimidated by the cycling packs….

  49. Another great video and perspective Chris, Asia and the Propel team. Having lived car free for 10 years + in central London, UK, my family and I now own plenty of bicycles between us with all the cash we’ve saved over the year….kids bikes, foldy bikes, Cargo bikes and only fairly recently, a couple of drop bar Gravel and Road Bikes. Following the Pandemic hitting home March 2020, I’ve definitely kicked off more trips in the Cargo bike, as a person just getting around by bike, than a Cyclist in my lycra on Gravel / Road bikes. It’ll stay that way for the foreseeable future for sure. I’ve undoubtedly covered more distance on my drop bar bikes, but like your skiing analogy, being on a bike like that doesn’t make me a professional “cyclist”, in the same way somehow who buys a Ferrari doesn’t instantly becomes a racing driver, but just a person in a (probably) red car. The use of “cyclist” as a divisive term should stop for sure, and hopefully we should also see each other as people just trying get somewhere in time, and maybe car drivers chilling a little would help everyone 😀

  50. I think we’re mixing up a few concepts. Biking (meaning as purely a means of transportation from A to B) doesn’t require any specific gear. You hop on your omafiets in a nice suit or dress (a la A’dam) and off you are. Typically, you’re talking 15 to 40 min commutes at max. Cycling (where you’re looking to ride for multiple hours at a given pace) requires a bit more thought (gear)… Try cycling 4 hours in jeans and your thighs will tell you a thing or two if it could talk… Too often we fall into Benno’s trap when looking at cycling from afar. Tight clothing have a clear purpose (minimizing drag) and is intended for a given audience. You can still buy quality cycling gear that is not at all skin suit like providing all you’ll need to enjoy your ride, be it e-assist or not. It’s this continuous divide among a few that needs to be addressed. Cycling has many shapes and forms and appropriate gear exists for our specific needs 😉…

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.