You know how, in Close Encounters of the Third Kind the main guy and an unrelated female character find that they’ve been having the same vision of the butte? The mashed potato vision? There’s another vision floating around the ether that’s latching on to more and more people, and it’s a bicycle. And more and more of these people are in a position to act on the vision, bringing this peculiar bicycle into being, possibly into mass production, even. These are longtail bikes designed expressly to fulfill functions usually relegated to cars, namely carrying passengers and substantial cargo. These are precisely the applications Stokemonkey is designed to support.
Scott Dion of Fraser Cycles belongs to what a recently linked Reuters article calls “a class of young designers and welders [whose] designs are taking congested cities by storm,” at least in Europe. But Scott is in San Diego, California. Scott contacted me nearly a year ago, having been inspired as I was by Xtracycle to make a purpose-built version. He conceived his “Frontier” independently of my Xtravois, which is pretty uncanny:
Of course, both our designs derive from Ross Evans’ original Xtracycle concept. And Xtracycle is now half out of the closet with a complete longtail frame project, due to be in ridable prototype stage by winter. Other, similar efforts are rumored (don’t ask). It’s these rumors and non-rumors that have taken the wind out of my earlier tentative offer to produce more Xtravoix. Yes, we’re excited about these bikes and working our tiny little levers to assure Stokemonkey compatibility.
The bicycle industry is very conservative. When smaller companies introduce substantial innovations and survive, however, big parties are seldom far behind. The last revolution was a quarter century ago, with the introduction of the mountain bike, and suddenly everybody was making them. A more modest and recent case in point, still unfolding, is the Electra Townie line, with its cranks-forward design now copied by several large companies. I’m dreaming of the day when every other bike shop has two models each from four companies of bikes that carry three people, and maybe they’ll have some assist options.
It sounds like Dubya and the gubbermint is on board to force this plan ASAP, with bold leadership like this; that’s right, ride the bike on Earth Day while talking up hydrogen, then the next Monday move to end environmental controls on gasoline, stop filling the strategic reserve, and cut federal gas taxes. Burn baby burn.