Al, it's just as curious that Lexus is making movies and geting involved in art galleries. The movies aren't about cars. They're actual movies, shown as the Cannes Film Festival. There's a lot I don't understand about automotive marketing.
The weight is not that impressive. It's a the minimum legal for UCI sanctioned events. Lighter weight is possible, without the electronic shifters and carbon fiber frame. But for the racing market, there's not much incentive to go below the "legal limit." I've seen one very pretty steel-framed bike (carbon fiber wheels) that probably weighed about 14lbs. It was for an adult male, but I wouldn't have put a 240 lb adult maile on it, nor would I have taken it on some of the roads around here. But it was very, very nice. And it was expensive, but probably a good bit less than $10K.
My own sturdy, steel-framed touring bike might, on an extreme strip-down diet, get down to 25 lb. But then I'm not racing, and I'm not riding rides with 9000 ft of climbing in a day.
The battery only supplies power to the shifting servos.
Cyclists going for speed don't want to carry the extra weight of a charging system on the bike, nor the extra load of powering the charger while they ride. Charging systems with front hub dynamos are a vast improvement over the little bottle dynamos that used to turn against the the wheel on my English 3-speed, but they still impose a weight and power penalty, and have limited power output. I choose to use Li-ion powered LED rechargeable lights for my commuting. Light weight, lower cost, and lower performance penalties. I don't have Di2 (Shimano electronic shifting), but I understand why one wouldn't use an on-bike charger to maintain it.
The Lexus effort is straight PR, but $10,000 bikes are not out of the question. $150 will buy a bike you can play with, but don't depend on it for much. Just under $1000, you can get a reliable machine that will take you where you want to go. Going up from there, there are two paths, performance and peacock. More money typically means lighter weight, more durable components, smoother shifts and better braking. Depening on the bike, it can mean better ride comfort over long rides (75 miles and longer). For racers, its about getting rotating weight as low as possible without making the bike too fragile, sure handling for high speed descents, and keeping total weight close to that magic number defined by UCI as the minimum allowable for road bikes. At some point, there is the peacock factor. Lamborghini's are pretty cars and go fast, but I can't afford one, and I don't have anywhere I can drive and use the speed. The same can be said for some bikes at the high end -- "See, I have money to burn - I just bought a $15K bike just like the pro's use. I just rode it 5 miles down here the coffee shop. Isn't it pretty." Peacock.
But make no mistake. In between the bike from Wal-mart and the "peacock bike," there is a continuum of technology that some of us find usefuil enough to pay for.
I commute by bike year-round and ride some longer day-touring rides (up to 100 miles). I want my bike to be reasonably light, comfortable for long distance, and absolutely bullet-proof in its shifting, braking, and power delivery. It doesn't take $10K to get there, but it takes more than $500.
Let's see... Lexus' intent with this is to demonstrate "the company's knowledge of carbon fiber construction and advanced electronics." But "the bike doesn't take advantage of the LFA Works' carbon fiber loom, laser cutting, or autoclave equipment," and "Shimano Inc., a manufacturer of cycling components, provided the electronic control." I would expect that Shimano would supply it Di2, but that tells me little about Lexus beyong their ability to choose a good supplier. And if no Lexus CF technology (loom, laser cutting, autoclave) was used in the manufacture of the bike, what can the bike possibly tell me about Lexus' capabilities in these areas. Lexus is not the first automaker to brand a bike, but the story about the bike doesn't support the stated reason for the bike.
John Deere and Harley Davidson are twocompanies that ventured into bicycles. I would promote that a good bike designer could aid the car companies into today's smarket bettrer than the reverse. I'm supprised that it does not have 4 doors and a trunk. PS For the record John Deere and Harley Davidson are not in the market today for bicycles. Go RAGBRAI! (Look it up if you do not know what RAGBRAI is.)
If there is anything this economy need to really get it rolling, it is a $10,000 bicycle. They could be built in Detroit, just in time to avoid them going bankrupt and marketed in those areas where many home owners have lost their homes to bank foreclosures. They need something to spend their excess money on since they have lost their homes.
Then when I hear that some of this audience thinks the price is reasonable, it makes me wonder what field of engineering they are in. My son recently bought a brand new bike (of a brand name I do not recall) that he had customized to suit him. He paid $700 and I almost had a fit, but it is his money. The last bike he had that I bought, about 13 years ago, cost $150.
I guess I need a $10,000 dollar bike to go to some coffee shop and drink a $5 latte, before I go to lunch for a $50 steak. Does anybody reallize how many really important things could be bought for 10 grand. Look at all the fishing tackle I could have bought for that amount. Who knows, some of it may actually catch fish better than live bait.
This is really nice demonstration racing bike alternative, but as others have stated, there's not much new here. Electrically powered shifters have been available for several years and I've seen designs for detecting crank and wheel speed to implement automatic shifting as well. As for the remaining components, they're simply using the best available.
What I haven't seen is an electric bike that uses an efficient hub motor as a regenerative motor/generator to make a true people powreed hybrid (or plugin hybrid) bike. Unlike the Lexus 10K bike, this could be a game changer... a mass-market bike that is useable by both the fit and the not quite so fit for local transportation.
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