Shimano Coasting: an Automatic Transmission for Bicycles.

Japanese bicycle company Shimano is launching an experimental bike with the bicycle equivalent of an automatic transmission, called "Coasting"

Link - Thanks Rocky Thompson!

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Silky is absolutely correct, if you want more people to ride bikes to work, it's up to "companies to provide lockers and showers". Otherwise, you'll end up with a bunch of individuals stinking up the cubicles all day.

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I used to work at a shop that sold bikes with electric batteries. The only problem is they make the bike really heavy, and they're unreliable. We sold one on the merits that you could ride it on electric mode to work and then pedal it home, but the battery crapped out after very little time, and we had a very unhappy customer on our hands...

I know people have to be presentable for their jobs (well, I don't, but I'm a grease monkey), but I think the solution to that would be for companies to provide lockers and showers, rather than fix motors to bikes. I live in Atlanta, and Turner provides all their bicycle commuters with stipends and free gym memberships so they can stow their riding gear and shower before work.
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More photos of that bike and details about the Coasting system at Bike Gallery.

I'd have to agree with Silky; this is 95% marketing and 5% innovation. The Coasting gimmick is basically a 3-speed hub with a fancy gizmo that does the shifting for you. How much help should anyone need for 3 speeds? The problem with the concept is that a fancy bike will get people to ride for the short term, but it'll soon be hanging in the garage, unused. Getting people to ride bikes regularly in the real world will take more than a gimmick like Coasting.

The work part is what keeps most people from using bikes more; heck, I'd ride a bike to work 11 months of the year (and I live in the currently frozen North) if I didn't have to worry about other people smelling me all day in the office. The thing that would make bicycling really take off is adding an electric or gas motor to the bike to make the commute easier, and make terrain less of an issue. I'm considering the purchase of one such electric unit for myself; some start at about $200, and many are pretty darned simple to install.

If bike companies would start making turn-key bikes with electric or gas assist more mainstream and more affordable, you'd see them everywhere.
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first off, correction: Shimano is not a bicycle company. Bicycle components are among the many technologies they design and manufacture (once, my shop got a mis-shipment of a carbon fiber fishing reel rather than a high end derailleur)...

Second, this has been done before. It's not experimental. It's a marketing ploy. I've talked to my local sales rep and his boss about this campaign, and I think it's probably one of the stupidest things in recent marketing history. They'll be over priced, and they won't work well for anything but beaches and boardwalks. We already have beach cruisers for that...

How about focusing on the innovations being made in commuter and utility bikes?
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