November 18, 2012

DBC City Bike Design

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On a recent trip to Boston, Peter and I visited DBC City Bike Design downtown. We stood on the corner of Pearl and Purchase streets for a moment, unsure if we were at the right address, before we realized we were standing just outside the door leading to the basement level shop. The shop’s interior was about as inconspicuous as its entrance. There was a handful of various types of bikes, mainly Dutch in origin, but the shop was lacking in retail accessories. It felt more like a workspace and that’s because it is – there are no bikes for sale, only orders for custom builds.
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Before we had reached the bottom of the stairs, Dan Sorger welcomed us to his shop. He soon began telling us the story of Swift bikes. After initially importing Dutch bikes, Dan and his wife, Maria, began a project to improve upon the old-fashioned, Dutch bike design, as described in a recent Distro article. They used engineering expertise from MIT and input from hundreds of bicyclists.  Although the Swift and Ladies Swift look similar, the design processes for each were kept separate, so as to avoid designing a bike for men and then making a knock-off version for women.  
Dan said that a bike built for transportation should allow people not to have to think about using a bike for transportation. You don’t have to wear bike gear and plan ahead to ride a Swift bike. As with most people’s daily experience driving a car, you can just hop on and go and reserve your mental energy for everything else you’ve got going on. 

Dan was very averse to branding bikes with badges or stickers. To the unsophisticated eye, Swift bikes look very plain, simple, and inexpensive, which is also good camouflage for hiding from urban bike thieves.  

In short, Dan provided an explanation for each bike component on the Swift, but the proof's in the pudding. A test ride on his wife’s bike demonstrated that the Ladies Swift handles like no other and is worth the custom-build price.

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