Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Carmakers' Latest Idea: Two Wheels and Pedals

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Carmakers' Latest Idea: Two Wheels and Pedals

Article excerpt

'Drivers wanted," Volkswagen beckons in its latest advertisements. But for VW's new JettaTrek sedan, the slogan might better proclaim "riders wanted." Not for the passenger seat - for saddle of the mountain bike.

Volkswagen's new special-edition compact, which comes complete with roof rack and bike, caters directly to outdoor enthusiasts. The popularity of the rugged image has already made sport-utility vehicles a huge success.

Now, in a surprising two-wheel revolution, mountain bikes are all the rage among carmakers, whether the company is known for off-roaders, economy or luxury sedans, or even sports cars. Some of the bikes are sold through dealers, others through bicycle stores, and Volkswagen's is sold part and parcel with a car. So far four automakers have introduced their own lines of upscale mountain bikes, and more are planned.

Here's a run-down by company:

*Jeep has licensed its name to a line of mountain bikes made by Rand Bikes of Long Island, N.Y. The nine bikes range in price from $150 to $1,500 and are available through bicycle stores. The more expensive models have lightweight injection-molded carbon-fiber frames, and one of the bikes is collapsible.

*BMW is selling two bikes through its dealers, a collapsible 21-speed special-edition red-white-and-blue Olympic Games mountain bike, and a mountain bike built for two, both of which are collapsible to fit in the trunk of a four-wheeled BMW. The Olympic mountain bike has front suspension and sells for $795. The tandem lists for $1,995.

*Mercedes-Benz just introduced a bike that matches its cars' reputation for sophistication (and price): full suspension, dual disc brakes, a collapsible frame, and a carrying case designed to fit in the trunk of most Mercedes cars. The bike is made by AMP Research of Laguna Beach, Calif., and sells for $3,300 at Mercedes dealerships. …

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