By Andrew Liszewski
While I assume their motives are more financially-driven than eco-friendly it seems Shimano is making a big push to convince 'non-cyclist' types to get riding again. (Assuming they used to ride when younger of course.) The company recently setup a special group known as 'Shimano Coasting' to develop a line of bikes that would appeal to those who weren't exactly hardcore about the sport. Unveiled a few weeks ago the bikes they designed are quite simple and stylish but also include a nifty bit of innovation.
Instead of levers and exposed gears that might intimidate their target demographic the new bikes incorporate what I assume to be the first automatic transmission designed for a bicycle. (If I'm wrong about this being the first feel free to correct me in the comments.) Like with a car, as you go faster on the bike it automatically upshifts through the next two gears ensuring an easy ride no matter what speed you prefer to ride. Looking at the various prototypes it's pretty obvious these bikes are more designed for a leisurely neighborhood cruise rather than a speedy daily commute but I'm sure this technology will eventually make its way onto a wide range of bikes.