From a marketing standpoint, a car company selling a branded bicycle makes solid sense. If you’re into four-wheeled fun, there’s a good chance two wheels also light your fire. And for anyone aspiring to own a Mercedes-Benz or other exotic car, a bike’s a nice way to get a Three-Pointed Star or Land Rover in the garage at a fraction of the cost.
But don’t dismiss all auto-bikes as mere sales tools. These days, companies as different as Ford and Ferrari are selling bicycles that offer consumers cutting edge products that won’t embarrass you at the next latte-fueled gathering of road warriors.
"Bikes are on the rise in people’s daily lives as they become more conscious of the environment, and that includes car companies,” says Andrew Bernstein, gear editor at Bicycling magazine, who notes that the range of auto-bike product is broad, from fully outsourced machines to bicycles that are produced with the input of in-house designers and engineers.
The ideal customer for these bikes are people who want the name Porsche or BMW on their down tube,” he says. “But in some cases you’re actually buying something unique and cutting edge, as with many of these e-bikes. The great thing about them is you can bike to work and not get there sweaty.”
Bernstein has a word of advice for anyone considering an auto-related bicycle: Test drive it if at all possible. “The main drawback of these kinds of bikes is that often they’re not sitting in a showroom with a demo program that allows you to ride it,” he says. “If you can’t do that, go online and see what people who already own that model say.”
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