Errol Drew, one time Friends of the Earth activist and founder of Madison Cycles, moved to the US in 1996, turning the maker of Aztec brake pads into Delta Cycle Corporation, a components distributor. He swore he'd never market bicycles: but then he created an upscale, belt-driven bicycle, the iXi. This has a cup-holder on the handlebar-stem and is sold online and in the Conran Shop in London.The iXi, says Drew, is "as appealing as the Mini car or the iPod. Simple, hassle free and fun, the iXi bike brings a new dimension of delight to the entire cycling experience."
At £899 for the base model, the iXi is reassuringly expensive, and deliberately not marketed to cyclists.
"With the iXi, we aimed to capture the imagination of those who rarely, if ever, venture into a bike shop," goes the blurb on the iXi website.
The iXi Bicycle Company issued a press release today, although the iXi website has been online since at least September, when a link to it was provided on velovision.co.uk.
Editor Peter Eland said the iXi bike was "a stylish little thing from the USA."
The iXi press release says the iXi Bicycle Company is "Bermuda-based" and that the bike's inventor is Errol Drew. The US distributor for the bike is said to be Delta Cycle Corporation, of Foxboro, Massachusetts. On Deltacycle.com, Drew is listed as Delta's founder and owner.
Drew was one of the founders of the Freewheel chain of retail stores. The original Freewheel shop turned into Madison Cycles, now the UK's biggest cycle distribution business. It made a name for itself by importing hitherto little-known US bicycle component lines such as Avocet, Blackburn, Grab On, Phil Wood and, of course, Aztec, still a brake-pad brand today.
Drew's iXi bike has a pump and repair kit included inside the seat post compartment and a rain poncho hidden behind the front frame cap.
"Traditional bikes are often not convenient for running errands and not practical as an everyday work vehicle, said Drew.
When we designed the iXi bike, we paid attention to details that solve the hassles of everyday bike riding. We wanted it to be convenient, comfortable and easy to use and maintain."
Sold online and via Paragon Sports in New York City and the Conran Shop in London, the iXi is available in two models, the one-piece iXi at £899 and a breakaway £999 model that splits with the use of an Allen key.
The iXi is a departure for Drew. In 2002, he told Bicycle Retailer magazine he had no interest in selling complete bicycles:
"At Delta we don't sell bicycles and there's a good reason for that. There's pressure all around, but the industry is too focused on numbers and less focused on quality. I am afraid, as a European, that like food, the emphasis here [in the US] is on quantity over quality. As an industry, we should concentrate on quality and value and less on numbers."