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State of the Hub: Drupal is Coming!

by Josh Lipton

josh-and-melanie-wedding-cropI took a week off with the “State of the Hub” as I got married to my beautiful bride. So I took a week off from blogging about the state of affairs. Now that all of the wedding hubbub is wrapped up, I have a few moments to get back on the blogging train.

logo_drupalOver the last two weeks, the most dramatic change has been our cracking open of our efforts into Drupal. Frank put in the base code for what will become the new BikeShopHub.com using a still in development version of the latest Drupal, version 7. To get started, we’ve been configuring the forums. This week we are brainstorming the overall look and feel of the home page of BikeShopHub.com. Our intention here is to draw in information from all of our shops, the blogs and the forum into a dashboard style page. We’re working on figuring out the content and the layout with the home that it all blends together into harmoniously into a functional and fashionable looking website.

A marketing idea that I’ve had bubbling around in my brain may be coming to the forefront. Recently, I’ve been contemplating how to make the bike as easy as a choice for quick trips across town as a car is. Even as a lifelong cyclist, I still find myself constantly dealing with small issues with my bicycle. In the last month, several of the things that have slowed me down were a flat tire, a squeaky drive train and a bolt that fell out of my bike rack. While I’m completely capable of sorting out these issues, I’ve been thinking about how these seemingly minor issues can completely disable many from wanting to ride their bikes. On the other side of the spectrum, I’ve been thinking about how (environmental, cost and health factors aside) in general there are a wide variety of reasons that it is often much more convenient to get in the car and go as compared to heading out on by bike. Almost any car has the following: head and taillights, one-key security for the car and your stuff, the ability to keep road grime off of you and generally speaking solid road worthiness.

With all this in mind, I’ve been thinking about piecing together a bicycle that is a one-key, jump-on-the-bike and go bike. This bike would be extremely durable, reliable and easy-to-use for standard situations. Essentially, I would like to put together the Toyota Corolla of bikes. It will probably have an internal gear hub, big heavy reliable wheels, front and rear locking trunks, built in lights and solid built in racks and fenders. And of course, the bike will have an electric system both to make it more jump-in-and-go ready and also to compensate for it’s tough, heavy-duty, heavy parts. Ideally, the same key that locked the bikes built in lock would lock the trunks.

thorn-tandem-with-wandertec-bongo-at-moviesBuilding this bike is intriguing for us from several perspectives. As bicycle accessory experts, it will be an interesting platform to explore a wide range of accessories from. From the blogging perspective, building this bike could offer us quite a bit of fodder for blog postings from our blog UtilityCycling.org as well as potential guest blog posts with our friends at CommuteByBike.com and BikeCommuters.com. From the overall marketing perspective, this project could lead to some interesting and perhaps unexpected opportunities. From the bicycle advocacy direction, our aspiration would be to encourage a dialog in the bicycle industry, at the minimum, joining the current conversation about good commuter bike design, and at the high level, demonstrating an idea that encourages some new thinking within the bicycle industry. Finally, on our manufacturing level, piecing this jump-in-and-go ready bike together could provide some inspiration for Wandertec products and could possibly even be an entry point to us building such a bike.

Our Current Internet Marketing Agenda:

  1. Developing a good set of reporting tools to establish a baseline for our internet marketing success and progress.
  2. Continuing to fine tune and further develop or shopping network feeds. Currently we our using GoDataFeed.com to feed out to Google Shopping, Bing Shopping, TheFind, Price Grabber, NexTag and Shopzilla.
  3. Maintaining our current channels (currently Adwords, Twitter & Facebook).
  4. Looking ahead towards joining the affiliate network Share-A-Sale and possibly setting up our own in-house affiliate network

Our Products Agenda (shop content):

  1. Adding to our lineup of messenger bags at BikeBagShop.com and balance bikes, and trailer-cycles at BikeKidShop.com.
  2. Preparing for better photography and video by investing in new equipment, software and setting up our photo area.
  3. Configuring our website to add videos to our product listings.

Our Website Interface Agenda (web programming):

  1. Setting up a new Drupal website to update the BikeShopHub.com. This site will include a new forum, our blog, a feed from all of our blogs, and pages that feature Wandertec and Extrawheel products.
  2. Fine-tuning our link massaging tool that allows for rapid intuitive cross linking of our content.
  3. Cleaning up layout of our product description pages.

Our Shipping & Logistics Agenda:

  1. Settling in our organization of our inventory.
  2. Integrating all of our inventory management and shipping management into one role.
  3. Exploring a relationship with a freight forwarder.

Our Wandertec Manufacturing Agenda:

  1. Setup relationship for manufacturing of the Wandertec BONGO load bed.
  2. Get back into brainstorming ideas for the BONGO rail system.

Current Promotions:

Check out the BikeShopHub FaceBook feed for a compilation of our latest blog posts

 
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6 Responses to “State of the Hub: Drupal is Coming!”

  1. Rod says:

    While thinking about the “all you’ll ever need bike” keep in mind that several that have gone this route have failed. In my opinion’having worked in bike shops for many years and having worked at Cannondale in R&D and purchasing’the reason they failed was largely (but not completely) weight. These do-it-all bikes tend to go toward the “it must never break” concept and have very strong wheels (36 or even 40 spokes), huge tires, heavy racks, extra strong frame, etc. They come in around 40 lbs and much of it is rotating weight. Now, the problem as I see it is not the prospective purchaser…it’s the bike geek in the shop selling the bikes. I have not met a person selling bikes in a shop that was not a geek (myself included)…and they don’t like heavy. They’re going to talk down heavy. And having sold bikes in a retail situation, I can’t tell you how often people walk up to a bike on the floor and pick it up. They either smile or frown’it’s binary. Hopefully they will take into account everything on the bike when they make the binary judgement, but don’t count on it.

    So, my thinking is as you’re thinking about this, don’t always default to the extreme of durability and completely forsake weight. I agree with internal gears. I agree with built-in lights and generator. But all of these are much heavier than their alternatives.

    Just some quick thoughts off the tips of my fingers. Love that you’re thinking big like this. Come up with a solid “one key” solution (not having to deal with a U lock) and the world will be yours.

  2. josh says:

    Thanks for the thought on the commuter bike ideas. I’m curious if any of these previous “all you ever need bikes” had electric assist as part of the package. While I definitely see a bike like this without electric assist struggling to have an impact, my thinking is that the electric assist would more than overcome the extra weight of an overbuilt design.

    I definitely agree that any heavy overbuilt design even with electric assist may be difficult for the bike geek elite of bike shops to swallow selling. Winning this crowd over, may be quite a challenge, though there is definitely a mental shift going on right now with the rise of cargo bikes and e bikes.

  3. colin says:

    Why not look at bixie, which is the montreal public/commuter bike ‘http://www.bixi.com/

  4. josh says:

    The bixi looks like a solid and reliable bike for its purpose of being a rental bike. However, I’m looking for something aimed more as a daily personal transportation tool like a car. I would like to see built in trunks a built in lock and an electric assist to bring it all together on a bike that likely would share some of the look and feel with the Bixi bikes. While, ideally this would be a mass produced bike, I think it could still have a bit more personalization, styling and sizing as it would be setup as personal transportation rather than a rental for the masses.

  5. Rod says:

    I don’t have much experience with electric assist except for the few I saw in Tokyo. The motor was generally built into the rear hub and there was a large removable battery (probably around 3″x3″x10″) behind the seat post, between the seat stays that you took out and recharged in the house. Not a great solution, but so many housewives there do everything on bikes (take the kids to school, do the shopping, go to the train) that they were very popular.

    I agree that the electrical assist will mitigate the “it’s heavy” argument. I also hope you’re right that shop geeks are broadening their views. From what I see around Chicago, they seem to be pushing a lot of people onto ultra-simple single-speed and/or fixed gear bikes quite a bit. This is an amazingly flat city, but 3 gears would be nice just for the wind.

  6. josh says:

    We’ll know the revolution has begun when we see hipsters on electric cargo bikes.

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