Shark Designer’s Message

Learn how a birthday celebration helped me create the ideal adult bicycle — with comfort, style, performance, safety and prestige.

john-schlick.jpgHowdy,

My name is John Schlick and I’m a 40 year old bike nut who, in 2004, realized I needed to contribute my vision to the bike industry.

Why? Because I concluded that: ALL bikes are designed for people younger than me!

I’m sure you know what I’m talking about:

  • The need to swing a leg higher than our waist just to get on the darn thing.
  • Saddles designed for rear ends having a much different shape than ours (which are uncomfortable, but more importantly, devastating to certain male functionality).
  • Riding position that doesn’t take into consideration that more than 80% of us have back and neck problems and the rest want to prevent them.
  • Seating positions that constrain visibility — both of what we see and how others see us.
  • Hand and wrist pressures that worsen the arthritis, weakness, and carpal tunnel syndrome that many of us experience.
  • Safety issues (e.g., pant-leg grabbing gears, slow-reacting brakes, narrow tires) which are unacceptable to us folks who are far less resilient to bumps and scrapes.
  • Complicated brake and shifting controls designed to be operated by someone with video-game dexterity.
  • Significant maintenance requirements beyond what most of us have time or interest for.
  • Cheap components selected to meet a family versus an executive budget.

Bottom line — most bikes are designed for folks younger than me.

What about the rest of us?

But, what about us adults? Most of what we are offered are kid’s bikes, at kid-bike prices, which have been only slightly modified for our “more mature” bodies.

Go into any bike store and you’ll see rows of “hybrid” bikes — kid’s bikes but with a bit different seating position.

You may also find a few “retro” bikes like what we used to ride when we were kids — heavy, only 1 to 3 gears, low performance, and still uncomfortable.

The truth is we deserve better – much better. We don’t want cheap. Instead, we want the best and we have the money to buy the best.

But, here’s the problem.

If you want to spend more money to get a high-quality bicycle with some cachet, you only have three choices:

1. Professional road bike, which, unless you are a racer, only makes the problems listed above worse — more uncomfortable saddles, more stressful riding posture, less visible seating position, narrower tires, more complicated shifting controls, higher maintenance. Sure, they are great if you’ve been riding for years or compete but, for casual, enjoyable biking, there is a better choice.

2. Tricked-out mountain bike, with 30 gears, shock absorbers and other newfangled paraphernalia that we don’t need or want.

Mountain Bikes are a great choice if you ride in the mountains or compete but NOT for riding around town or on groomed trails.

3. Recumbent bike, which look goofy and have a goofy riding position.

These contraptions are even more complicated to ride than a professional road bike and, even worse, are difficult for car drivers to see.

See what I mean?

Nothing has been designed for us!

Well, as I said above, I got fed up in 2004 when I turned 36. I wanted a new bike for my birthday but my wife and I couldn’t find anything that met my needs. During my teenage years and into my 20’s, I loved the bikes that were available. But, as my body and interests have changed, so has my opinion of what the BIG bike companies are producing.

For my day job I own and manage a software design firm, but my true passion is bicycle design. For as long as I can remember, I’ve frequented bicycle shops, read bicycle magazines and, more recently, scoured the Internet, to stay up-to-date with the newest and coolest developments in the bicycle industry. I’ve always owned several bikes at one time, with at least one that I had put together by uniquely combining parts from different types of cycles.

schlick-headtube.jpgSo, once I got fed up with the BIG bike companies, I really had no choice. My passion for cycle design drove me to focus all my “bicycle-passion” time on developing the ideal adult bicycle — with the comfort, style, performance, safety, and prestige we unquestionably deserve.

My goal was to create a bicycle which would help people over 35 rekindle that joyful feeling we all once had bicycle riding.

But here’s the fun part.

Since I was starting from scratch and didn’t need to use a standard frame from a high-volume company (which most bike manufacturers are compelled to do) I could design this new bicycle however I wished.

So I went all out and designed a cycle that broke new ground in:

  • Adult comfort
  • Adult style
  • Adult performance
  • Adult safety
  • Adult prestige

schlick-shark-2.jpgThe Schlick™ custom performance cycle – Model: Shark

Let me tell you about my masterpiece

Just like I do when I design software, I began my cycle-design efforts with a list of must-have functional requirements:

  • Riding posture that minimizes stress on back, neck, wrists, and hands.
  • Seating position that’s comfortable and allows the rider’s head to be up where they can watch out for cars and enjoy the scenery.
  • Uncomplicated to ensure straightforward operation and low maintenance.
  • Easy to get on and off and, once seated, rider’s feet reach the ground.
  • High safety profile that addresses the primary reasons for falls.
  • No safety risks from riding in street clothes.
  • Optimal pedal leverage to ensure a highly efficient use of the rider’s muscles.
  • Style and durability fitting for adults who want the best.
  • Easily transportable.
  • Stable to the point that it can be ridden with hands off the handlebars.
  • Rides like a traditional bicycle so you can just get on and go.

Basically, I wanted to create a bicycle that was a cross between a city bike and a recumbent — with the best features of each but none of the deficiencies.

Since no one else had ever designed a bike meeting these requirements, I knew my work was cut out for me. But I also knew the BIG bike companies, appealing to mass markets, had probably never made a credible effort to do so.

See, the BIG bike companies are after volume. And, despite the fact that 51% of the US population is over 35, they view their market as the other 49%. Therefore, that’s where they concentrate their design efforts, which means they don’t understand — or even have any interest in understanding — the needs, wants and desires of adults.

So, although I knew designing a bike specifically for adults was going to be a challenge, I also was pretty confident no one had ever taken a serious stab at it.

And, as I learned, a SERIOUS stab was necessary to get this right.

It took me two years, multiple prototypes, and months of riding but I finally came up with a design that met ALL my initial requirements – and then some. In fact, it ended up being so unique my patent attorney pushed me to file a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Then it was time to choose a frame manufacturer and the cycle’s components. Given the level of style, durability and prestige I was seeking, I decided to go top drawer.

Therefore, I selected Waterford Precision Cycles to make the frame and Shimano for the components. If you’re a bicycle enthusiast, then you know these two companies. Frankly, you just can’t get any better.

Waterford manufactures custom bicycles in the road, mountain, touring and cyclocross markets that are sold at non-kid prices ($2,500 frames, $550 forks, $250 paint jobs). This premium cycle company is run by Richard Schwinn, the great-grandson of the founder the bicycle company with which we are all familiar.

schlick-brake.jpgShimano was founded in 1921 as a manufacturer of bicycle freewheels. Since then they’ve been an innovator and market-share leader in the bicycle component business. This is the company that makes the components for Lance Armstrong and most of the other world-class competitive bicyclists

Specific design features and technical attributes

With that background let me explain the specific features and technical attributes which make the Schlick Shark XL custom performance cycle so special.

Let’s start with the frame – the foundation of any cycle.

It was here I accomplished the greatest breakthroughs — brand new inventions deserving of a patent.

My ultimate design is part functionality and part art. It ended up meeting all my requirements for riding posture, seating position, and safety but it also has the cool look of a Harley-type motorcycle.

Riders can:

  • Get on and off easily
  • Sit in a position that’s comfortable and which maximizes field of view.
  • Touch their feet to the ground at a stop with their seat remaining on the saddle.

In addition, the pedaling efficiency is extremely high even though there’s almost no strain on the neck, wrists, and hands. Better still, riding this bicycle uniquely works the muscle of the stomach and back – the “core” muscles that are used in almost any physical activity and which must be kept strong to prevent injury.

You’d think after 130 years of effort someone else would have come up with a similar design that solves all the problems faced by adult bicycle riders but, surprisingly, they haven’t. I guess that’s why my attorney was so adamant I file for a patent.

In selecting a material for the frame, I took a hard look at the newer materials used in racing bikes (e.g., carbon fiber, aluminum) but quickly discovered these would be the wrong choice for an adult cycle. These materials are incredibly stiff and, when over-stressed, they crack and splinter rather than bend. The result is an uncomfortable ride and a questionable safety profile.

Therefore, I ended up selecting a high-end steel alloy — lighter weight, yet much stronger than traditional steel — which gave my cycle the exact ride quality, feel and safety I was looking for. Also, due to the durability of modern steel alloys, it allowed me to offer a lifetime warranty on the frame.

Two critical pieces that work in conjunction with the frame are the handlebars and saddle attachment. All three of these parts work in concert with each other to meet all the requirements specified above. For example, pedaling efficiency comes from being able to lean back and pull on the handlebars as you push down and forward with your legs. The result is maximal leverage without clip-in pedals (a safety nightmare) or having to stand up and remove your seat from the saddle (a real safety risk).

However, they also produce another great benefit of this cycle’s design — one frame size accommodates almost any person’s height.

Almost every other bike design requires you to purchase a height-specific frame size — meaning that only people of the same height can ride it.

That’s not true with the Schlick cycle. I only make one frame size because that is all that’s needed. Why? Because the saddle attaches to a curved frame member (one aspect of my patent) and the long handlebars can be moved forward and backward. As a result, you don’t have to worry about buying the right frame size for your height and two quick adjustments allow it to be comfortably and efficiently ridden by almost anybody.

If you like simplicity and low maintenance, you’ll appreciate the components I selected for this cycle – the hub/derailleur, shifter and brakes.

As you probably know, no bike manufacturer builds components. Instead, they purchase them from one of the few bicycle component companies. I do the same.

However, my functional requirements are different than what kid-bike companies so the components I selected are different.

If you walk into any bike store, you’ll find the following components on almost all the bikes:

  • 18 to 30 speed derailleur systems with two to three chainrings in the front and 9 to 10 sprockets in the rear.
  • A separate shifting mechanism for both the front and rear derailleurs with gear selection based on a combination of the two shifters and a requirement to only shift when pedaling.
  • Brake systems with calipers that stop the bike by applying pressure to the rims of the wheels.

Frankly, none of these components are acceptable for a cycle designed for adults.

Derailleur systems are difficult to use (it seems like most people end up doing most of their riding in two or three gears) and are a primary source of falls, skin abrasions, ruined clothing, getting stranded miles from home, as well as maintenance costs.

And, I decided early on, my bicycle would make no compromises as far as stopping — the primary safety factor in all moving vehicles. If you can’t stop on a dime – without having to think – then safety is compromised — BIG TIME.

That’s why ABS brakes are so popular on cars. When you’re in an emergency situation, the last thing you want to require is for the driver to remember how to brake (e.g., pumping) so as to not make the situation worse.

Well, with most braking systems, you must use them correctly or risk serious injury. In fact, go to any bike store and ask for instructions on safely using brake systems and you’ll get a ten minutes of instruction. For example, if you slam on just the front brake when riding fast, you will get thrown right over the handlebars.

For me, this just wasn’t acceptable. I wanted my customers to slam on the brakes in whatever way they possibly might try and have the bike come screeching to a halt.

My concerns caused me to pick relatively new and high-end components rarely used on other bikes — an internal hub, a single function shifter and disk brakes.

With the hub and shifter I selected, you can shift whenever you want – while pedaling, when coasting, when pedaling backwards – even when you’re stopped.

There’s no hesitation, no noise, no waiting for the mechanism to “hunt” for the gear you’ve selected. And shifting requires just a simple twist of a single control on the handlebars. You can easily find your sweet-spot, adjust your cadence for max power, and up-shift or down-shift at will.

In addition, internal hubs have only one gear exposed so leg cuts, clothing grabs and damage from external blows are a thing of the past. Also, they require almost no maintenance.

But the best part of this 8-speed system is that there’s no compromise in the range of gears available. The highest gear takes you about 3 times as far as the lowest gear and you can climb almost any hill without getting off the bike.

As far as brakes, I went with the best designs available. A disk brake in the front and a drum brake in the rear for fast and safe stopping power even in wet weather. You will want to apply both brakes for maximum stopping power but, if you only have one hand on the handlebar and need brake quickly, either brake by itself will get the job done. Also, due to the cycle’s low center of gravity you don’t need to fear getting thrown over the handlebars if you apply just the front brake. My design is simply safer.

Well, there’s much more I could talk about but that should give you a pretty good idea what this cycle is all about — comfort, style, performance, safety, prestige, and flexibility that us adults unquestionably deserve.

Who should own a Schlick custom performance cycle

Obviously, the Schlick Shark XL custom performance cycle is for adults — not kids. But, within that large group, who should own one?

Let me try to answer that question by telling you who should NOT purchase a Schlick cycle.

  • Competitive bicyclists who routinely go on very long rides.
  • True mountain bikers who primarily ride on rough and hilly terrain.
  • Individuals who only want to spend a few hundred dollars on a bike.
  • Elderly people with balance issues where a three-wheel cycle may be better choice.

If you fall into any of these four categories, there are better options for you than the Schlick cycle. Frankly, I didn’t design my cycle to meet your needs.

However, if comfort, style, performance, safety, and prestige are important to you, then my cycle is likely your best choice. For example, these attributes should be top priorities if you are:

  • Someone seeking a fun and exhilarating form of exercise which works their cardiovascular system and strengthens their “core” muscle groups.
  • Gym bike riders who are tired of staring at a TV screen and want to, instead, enjoy the outdoors.
  • A parent who wants to ride with their kid(s) – and keep up.
  • An urban or suburban dweller who wants a cycle for commuting, shopping, or visiting friends.
  • A baby boomer couple who want to ride together at the same pace.
  • Someone with neck, wrist and/or back problems who has hesitated to bike ride due to fears of injury.
  • Anyone who wants to ride a cool and hip bicycle that few others own.

Basically, the Schlick cycle is designed for anyone who wants to ride distances ranging from around the block to many miles – but who doesn’t want to deal with all the issues associated with road bikes, mountain bikes, or recumbents.

Instead, they just want to jump on their cycle and ride just like they remember doing as a kid. No learning curve and no stability issues. And, no worries about wearing the right clothes, shifting gears, braking correctly, safety, and/or breakdowns. Also, when they ride, they want to do so with comfort and style, no matter what surface they are riding on.

You deserve the best

If you want a cycle for exercising, commuting, or riding with your kids, you shouldn’t settle for a kid’s bike.

Instead, you should purchase a cycle designed specifically for you — the Schlick Shark custom performance cycle. The only cycle with the comfort, style, performance, safety, and prestige you deserve.

If you think this might be the right bike for you, then I encourage you to give us a call or send us an email for more info.