In many parts of the world, cities are actively taking steps to increase biking as a daily activity – London’s “bicycle superhighway” is the latest example, generating a staggering 70% increase in bike use in one year, even on regular streets. But there’s a hitch to getting a broader professional segment of the population on two wheels: Their suit.
Riding in your suit to work is a deal breaker for many. Sweat, rain, and wrinkled clothes are too much of a hurdle for people to overcome. An opportunity lost. But what if there was a way to carry your suit, your laptop, all the necessaries, and be able to maintain your expected dress while reducing your weight?
That’s why Vancouver’s Chris Thom, himself an Investment Advisor, decided to create a solution when he couldn’t find one in bike stores: Suitsak. There are other options out there, like the Suit25 from Slicks.
But there’s a crucial difference: How it’s sold.
While Suit25 and the like are clearly aimed at the seasoned bicyclist who is already sold on the value and enjoyment of bicycling, SuitSak aims for those who’ve perhaps not ridden a bike since childhood. Further, it isn’t just aimed at bicyclists. Those who ride a motorcycle, scooter, or even want to walk or run to work are presented with an attractive option that’s much like a suit bag, folded in half, that has storage compartments for shoes, computer, lunch and the miscellaneous bits.
They’ve clearly thought out what would motivate potential customers, with three simple statements in bold at the top:
The order is right in line with the reality of people’s motivations: Benefit to basic needs, to self, then to the broader world.
This all sounds great, but being a daily bike commuter myself, I know, whether I was wearing a suit or my other clothes, I wouldn’t want a broad, black backpack on me, trapping sweat. Panniers, the bags that clip on to the front or rear rack of bicycles, take both the weight and the resulting sweat off of you. It’s what I see regular business commuters typically choosing, whereas it’s the trendy and students that prefer backpacks and messenger bags.
Is this a wise business move on Suitsak’s part?
When asked about whether they’d be making a pannier, their answer was, “The research we have done shows that panniers are only important to people who are more ‘committed commuters.’ A backpack is something that allows more people to buy it and plan on starting to ride to work.” An interesting perspective, but why not make something for both groups of people?
Readers, what’s your thoughts? Are you considering beginning bike commuting, would you buy a Suitsak? Would you want a Pannier option?
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.