Bicycle Makers Woo Non Riders

WATERLOO, Wis. (AP) -- Bill Lange thought his bike riding days were over. Gears were complicated. Stores were intimidating. Plus he wasn't exactly itching to put those tight spandex shorts on his 58-year-old body.

Then the suburban Milwaukee man saw an ad for a new type of bike out this spring. The Lime, by the world's top bicycle-maker Trek, automatically shifts gears and has a fluid style that looks like bikes Lange rode as a kid.

Lange bought the three-speed Lime for himself and one for his wife, no small investment at about one-thousand bucks for the pair.

Bicycle-makers like Waterloo-based Trek and other industry players hope these automatic bikes will encourage non-riders to take up the sport. With an estimated 160 (M) million people considered potential riders, strong sales could reverse the flat growth and dwindling rider numbers that have plagued the industry for years.

Bike component maker Shimano came up with the technology behind the automatic shifter -- called Coasting. Two other bike makers use it too. Shimano says more manufacturers will be on board next year.

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