The Blue Ocean Trilogy: Cycling for the Other 90% of Us

Blue Ocean Trilogy
Image: Mark Sanders

Mark Sanders is the inventor of the Strida folding bike.

I’ve had a nice e-mail exchange with Mark Sanders, which surprisingly began after I badmouthed the Strida.

Strida: Your name calling only betrays how desperately envious you are. The cult of Brompton has thicker skin"“and better bikes"“than that.

Sanders is no longer involved with Strida (which is now owned by Ming Cycles). He now works for Pacific Cycles as a designer and advocate.

We often ask, here and on other cycling blogs, What is keeping more people from riding bikes?

Sanders’ answer: The Cycling Industry.

He referred me to The Blue Ocean Trilogy a publication he wrote. The nine-page paper criticizes the cycling industry for focusing on the market of sporty males–where sharks fight it out turning the ocean red with blood–while virtually ignoring the vast blue ocean, which is everyone else.

The paper resonated with some topics I’ve raised in recent weeks: What is bike commuting "expertise?" and the power iconic brands, such as Apple and Brompton.

Here are some highlights:

Although more upright than racing bikes, mountain bikes and hybrid bikes do not give good posture for everyday, and city use, the sporty, lean forward posture, still strains the back, neck and wrists. Only the upright posture is really suitable for a pleasant journey by bicycle, and not a fitness training session.

Bike Posture
Image: Mark Sanders

Sports equipment is the most appropriate when carrying out a sport, BUT for a whole industry to pretend it’s also suitable for everyday use is lazy, patronizing and absurd.


Amazingly, with more bicycles being produced than cars, the bicycle industry still continues to fuel trends towards using unsuitable sporty and racing bicycles around town, this is crazy when there are much larger opportunities to sell bicycles to the other 90% Blue Ocean.

The bicycle geometry and posture a new cyclist will be forced into will most likely be chosen by a cycling "˜expert': A salesperson, a marketing manager or a buyer/specifier. As part of the industry, probably an enthusiast, a long time, long distance bicycle user, someone well versed in all aspects of cycling; sports, leisure, culture and especially cycle racing. Many bike brands even boast of using famous racing cyclists to design their frames, and some even become brands – good for racing but totally inappropriate for town bikes.


But, I hear the industry respond "“ "there is an exciting trend that sporty fixie riders are fashionably cool" , true, this is cyclings equivalent of 1960’s motorcycle ‘cafe-racers’.

However this is 'cool derived from exclusivity'. "˜Natural cool' as Cycle Chic espouses, takes standard elements available to all and with style, elevates them to special. As seen in places like Milan "“ Italians in suits, gently riding upright bikes are effortlessly cool (even in [86℉] heat). They demolish a huge myth and objection to cycling: that it makes you sweat "“ BUT this is only if cycling fast, racing against the clock. Natural Cool, Cycle Chic can be mainstream "“ and making cycling mainstream, attracting the other 90% "˜blue ocean' folk, wearing normal clothes, is surely the way forward for the industry?

You can read the entire paper right here:


When I got to the part about an Apple bicycle, and how Apple would approach bicycles, my thoughts we not how amazing it would be. I wondered if I’d have to pay 99 ¢ every time I went somewhere I hadn’t been before. And when we upgraded to a new bike, would I be able to transfer all of my previous routes to my new bike? I think when Apple figures that out, we’ll see an Apple iBike.

Post navigation