This article is a companion piece to my article on how to get people onto recumbents. This article will focus on how to get recumbents into teenagers hands, which I think will create loyalty that endures generations.
So, Kit, how WOULD you sell recumbent bicycles to kids, given their costs?
Time for a numbered list of points!
First, I’d sell them to rich people. While most parents aren’t able to spend a thousand (much less two or three thousand) on a bicycle, there is a distinct group who don’t think that $1200 or $1800 is too much for a bike. The wealthy. Sell bikes to them. Since rich kids tend to set trends, their recumbent bikes will put pressure on bike companies to make less expensive offerings for middle- and working-class children.
Second, and with a lot less “ick” factor, is marketing them to overweight kids and their parents.
Of course, some of this is based on my experience, but with children in the United States getting heavier and heavier due to a toxic combination where sweet and fatty foods are aggressively marketed to kids AND a sedentary lifestyle abetted by the Internet and video games, a lot of them might want to ride upright bicycles but find them uncomfortable. If you’re fourteen and your parents get you an upright street bike in the hopes that you’ll get out more often, only to find it propping up a garage wall because it is too uncomfortable. . . well, that does no one any good, right?
On the other hand, bents are comfy bikes. They can be marketed at parents as essential and useful exercise equipment – rationalizing the higher price for a bent than upright bike. Saying to a parent, “Spend $1200 on a bicycle that won’t hurt your kid’s back, neck, and groin, dramatically increasing the odds of them using it and lose weight” is a pretty good pitch.
And, then, a certain number of those overweight kids will get into it. And, then, because recumbent bikes tend to be faster downhill and on the flats than just about any upright bike, some of those overweight kids will start to pass their peers on mountain and street bikes as they go to school and other errands.
That’s how I’d market to kids, though. I’d advertise higher-end recumbents to rich people as “cool.” Then I’d focus on parents of overweight children as an exercise tool that has a higher chance of being used than an upright bicycle. Once they’re hooked, I bet they’ll stay hooked.