It's fun to see a new technology that's so simple it pleases the inexperienced and baffles the experts.
A new class of bikes hopes to bring lapsed cyclists back into the saddle. They're coaster bikes—you remember, the wheels you first rode as a kid, with the brakes in the pedals. Trek and other manufacturers are doing it with new tech from Shimano, which is best known for making high-end bike components for the likes of Lance Armstrong and other racers. Shimano's microprocessor and other electronics automatically shift the three gears on the new Trek Lime.
And Trek made the new wheels look great. The Lime (retail price: $590) has an attractive aluminum frame and highlights, including chain and hub covers, that come in six different colors. Most impressive, Trek did a masterful job of hiding Shimano's new tech, carefully threading myriad cables through the bike's frame. The bike ends up looking as clean as it is simple to ride.
Simple, that is, for folks who've missed the road-racing and mountain-biking crazes, says Shannon Bryant of Shimano. She's watched as cycling enthusiasts in their spandex shorts fumble with the coaster brakes and complain they can't shift the gears. Then someone who hasn't ridden since being a kid gets on the Lime and rides smoothly away. "It's great to see the tables turned," Bryant says.