Everyday commuting on electric-hybrid bikes is all about the system of gear in support of the program
Bike commuting is inherently good. It’s good for the environment by reducing traffic congestion and pollution. It’s good for the body by way of exercise and good for the mind by pumping more oxygen to the brain in preparation for the workday. According to a study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. Nevertheless, bike commuting can be a chore. It’s not something you necessarily look forward to, especially after a hard day at work (or a hard night, as the case may be). Unless, that is, you pilot a human-electric hybrid bike, such as the Specialized Turbo I reviewed last year.
Since then, I’ve surveyed a number of people who commute on bikes like these — bikes that give you superhuman power — and the feeling is unanimous: riding to and from work is the best part of the day.
With an extra 250 watts of power in the form of a silent electric motor, the chore of bike commuting is transformed into an urban joy ride. Hills and headwinds are completely neutralized, and traffic becomes more of a feature than an obstacle. You still have to pedal. You still have to exert energy, but you can dial the effort to your liking as opposed to being at the mercy of terrain, weather, or your individual limits.
In order to fully adopt an electric-hybrid bike commuting program, though, you need a system. You need the proper gear and apparel that make it safe, sustainable, comfortable, and even fashionable. In addition to the bike itself, the following gear is my system for five-days-a-week bike commuting on the West Side of L.A.
The kits, wheels, tires, helmets and shoes that lead to victory in this year’s Tour de France.
It takes years of dedicated training — not to mention a fair measure of natural talent — to ride like a professional cyclist. To ride with professional cycling gear, however, is just a matter of swiping a credit card. In other words, the gear of the 2015 Tour de France is widely available for purchase. Here are a few key pieces, together with the victories in which they played a starring role.
MTN-Qhubeka jersey($119): I’m typically not a fan of wearing pro team kits. If I’m not actually on the team, why wear the uniform? The one exception is that of African Team MTN-Qhubeka. The nonprofit Qhubeka organization is dedicated to providing bicycles to school children in South Africa who otherwise have to walk an hour each way to school. Plus, the base kit is made by Castelli, which specializes in high-performance road threads.
Key Victory: Daniel Teklehaimanot made history on Stage 6 in becoming the first African to wear the polka dot King of the Mountains jersey.
The localization of marketing leaves other forms of marketing in the past
“I skate to where the puck is going, not where it’s been.”
Gretzky’s well-known quote is one of the most abused business clichés, but that’s because (a) business people love sports analogies and (b) it so perfectly captures the essence of vision.
Vision is the ability to connect the dots of the past and project into the future with the precision of Gretzky skating to a puck. The vision for MomentFeed in 2010 was for a platform that could handle the marketing paradigm of 2015, a paradigm that would be defined by smartphones and mobile computing.
This was ultimately the vision for a new form of marketing…for localized marketing, as discussed in Part I of this series. In Part II, we’ll review the landscape of digital marketing solutions (where the puck has been) and how localized marketing is a fundamentally different animal.
Antiquated Marketing Systems
Before exploring localized marketing more deeply, it’s important to understand the current landscape of enterprise marketing solutions. The largest category of the past 10 years is social media management solutions (SMMS). These cover paid, earned, and owned media, and they provide a range of functions from publishing (CMS) and reputation management to customer service and business intelligence. I’ll also talk about the local search and SEO spaces, which have grown and transformed in tandem with the smartphone revolution.
In the world of enterprise SMMS, there are three legacy companies: Salesforce, Oracle, and Adobe. These software giants acquired the 1.0 versions of SMMS — Buddy Media, Vitrue, and Efficient Frontier respectively — and folded them into what are now “marketing cloud” suites with a number of other disciplines including email and web analytics. As the first SMMS companies were being acquired, the 2.0 versions emerged. These were incrementally better than the first version. They had better UIs, workflow management, and other features that enabled them to capture significant market share among the Fortune 1,000.
The problem is that these 2.0 solutions are still based on the digital marketing paradigm. They’re based on a world where consumers access the internet from PCs at home or at work. They enable online marketing for the online world. Meanwhile, consumers took to the real world with their smartphones. If ever there was a paradigm shift in consumer behavior, this was it. Yet these solutions are not equipped to handle it. To borrow another business saying, they’re playing checkers while consumers have moved on to chess. Which is to say the physical world is infinitely more complex than the online world.
While a majority of social media activity happens on smartphones today, SMMS manage social channels as if consumers are still sitting at PCs. There’s no sense for local context, relevance, or the immediate offline actions that mobile facilitates. As such, there’s a disconnect in how consumers are engaging with brands and how brands are managing these relationships through these solutions. One way to know this is true is to observe the complete lack of search in these platforms. Because if a solution is built for this new paradigm — for mobile consumers — then it will naturally integrate the search function.
The cutting edge in cycling technology is on display at the world’s greatest bike race
The Tour de France, which kicked off on July 4th, is arguably the most significant sporting event of any year that doesn’t include World Cup soccer. This year’s Tour, the 102nd annual, covers 3,360 kilometers over 21 stages and is ridden by 198 of the world’s top athletes representing 22 teams and 31 different countries. It’s big. And it’s brutal.
One aspect of cycling that sets it apart from other sports is the unique role equipment plays. The bikes are every bit as important as the riders and teams. Unlike football, F1 racing, or even soccer, a large portion of cycling fans participate in the sport on a weekly basis. As a result, we tend to geek out about the gear. Which makes the Tour that much more interesting given that the pros are riding the new 2016 models that bike manufacturers reveal just before the race begins — bikes that everyday amateurs can purchase soon thereafter.
The following are five new bikes that five top riders from five different teams are riding in the Tour de France as you read this. If there’s a consistent theme for 2016, it’s that the bikes are quantitatively lighter, stiffer, more aerodynamic, and more comfortable than what we’re currently riding.
BMC used Advanced Composites Engineering (ACE) to produce 34,000 virtual prototypes before settling on this frame design and geometry. At just 790g (54cm frame), the SRL01 is not only light but compliant and refined with razor-sharp handling.
Rider to watch: American GC contender Tejay Van Garderen, who is currently sitting in 2nd place overall after placing 5th in last year’s race. the BMC Racing Team won the Stage 9 Team Time Trial, an event in which they are also the reigning World Champions.
Refinements on the already super-light EVO frame include greater compliance (comfort) at the fork and seat post, which should smooth out the ride. Yet a new tube design around the drivetrain is 11% stiffer for more efficient power transfer i.e. speed.
All brands need to prepare for the localization of marketing…or get left behind
It’s late 2009. Foursquare and Gowalla are the rage among the technorati. Social navigation app Waze is just getting traction. Twitter acquires GeoAPI, a startup specializing in location technology, and the tech blogs are buzzing about the promise of geolocation — about the idea that location-aware mobile devices will revolutionize how consumers and brands interact in the physical world.
This is the dawn of the modern mobile era — an era defined by iOS and Android devices and by the decline of PCs as a broad mechanism for accessing the internet. This is the context in which my first software company, MomentFeed, was founded five years ago.
MomentFeed is an enterprise marketing platform. Like so many others, it’s a SaaS model that integrates a range of marketing channels and disciplines into a unified solution for large brands. What sets MomentFeed apart, however, is not some set of features and capabilities. Rather, it’s an entirely new marketing dynamic: the millions of places where companies do business and how billions of consumers interact with them via mobile devices.
Inspired by the revolution in mobile computing that was just getting started, we set out to build a marketing system that could handle this new reality — a reality where consumers rely heavily, even obsessively, on their smartphones for information, navigation, communication, and entertainment. Where consumers can be reached with contextually relevant marketing at all times of the day, wherever they happen to be.
In 2010, we started to build a technology platform that would be able to handle the marketing paradigm that smartphones would lead to in 2015. After five years of iterating, expanding, and staying true to the vision, we arrived at what can only be described as a new form of marketing. It combines the best of brand marketing, local marketing, and direct response. It is equal parts search, social, web, and mobile. It can be executed at all levels of an organization, from the CMO to the store manager. Finally, it is managed and measured with unprecedented levels of granularity and scale. As such, what we started to build was the world’s first localized marketing platform.