Springer Leash: The Bike Attachment
In the same way that car makers use a variety of different approaches to making their products more accessible, bicycle companies have put forth a wide array of options for attaching their products to people’s bikes. Some are so simple as to be absurdly obvious, like the springer leash (shown above), which has no springs at all but just hooks onto the bike. Others — like the Ollie Leash from moto-joe — have significant spring tension and considerable versatility, but are still complex and expensive.
The first is incredibly simple, because it requires very little from you:
a) You simply attach it to your handlebar (or wherever) with one of several different kinds of fasteners that can be used for various purposes.
b) You then wrap it around whatever you want to secure your bike to, whether that’s your seat post, or a front rack, or anything else.
c) You then walk around on your bike in an effort to get out of it.
I realize this is probably too easy for some people, but I’d argue that it’s possible to make pretty much any kind of accessory into an attachment for a bike using these methods. The important thing here is not so much what the attachment does (it has no effect), but what you can do with it: How easy is it for you? How easy will it be for others? Does anyone else care about allowing me to attach things to my bike? Is there a market demand for such attachments? Are there any substitutes already out there? How easily can I prototype something myself that will work well enough when tested against real customers?
Whatever answer you come up with…keep going! Don’t settle! And remember: “Fiction is non-fiction; non-fiction is fiction” (Mark Twain).
This is the first of a series of posts on consumer and professional products.
We’ve had a long relationship with springer leashes and have seen their products go through some changes in the last couple of years. The current style of leash, which we’re calling the “springer leash bike attachment” (LSBA) is a very different product than what we’ve done in the past. We spent a while thinking about what we could offer our users to solve their bike riding needs, and got to thinking about things like connectivity and integration with other systems. This led us to think about using the bike itself as an extension of the user — instead, getting them off the bicycle and into a vehicle, such as a car or truck.
As always, our goal is for our products to be simple enough for people to understand — just in time for them to use it — but flexible enough that they can expand their use beyond just cycling. Now that we have this idea in mind, we wanted to turn our attention to making sure that this product would be ready for launch and so we worked very closely with our customers from day one.
This post will cover some of that work. We hope you enjoy it!
Safety and Security of the Springer Leash
A common question asked of people who are considering buying a product from a company that sells equipment online is: “Can our dog be trusted with a springer leash?” This question is often answered in the negative.
The argument goes something like this:
“Yes, we sell a springer leash and a dog leash; but only for dogs who do not go on long walks in the park.”
The answer is usually “no”. But there are more than enough anecdotal stories to make it seem like this is more than likely untrue.
You will often hear stories of these cheapskates who buy their dog an expensive collar and leash, only to find out on their first walk that the dog hasn’t been trained properly with the latest model of the leash, and has accidentally pulled off the end of it or even snatched it up out of their hands. There have also been many reports of people who thought they were buying something safe and immediately discover that their pet has chewed through it or injured one or both of them by ripping off its end while they are trying to use it as a handle (the same thing can happen when your pet tries to pull you along).
All this amounts to is that no matter how well-intentioned you may be, your product isn’t safe for your pet if he has not been trained properly. If you want to ensure your product remains safe for your pet, you should train him yourself. And then take some extra steps to ensure he doesn’t end up injuring himself at all when he does so:
• Train him with the correct equipment for his breed (or breed standard)
• Train him in an environment where others can observe him during his training
• Inspect any new gear you purchase for wearability before giving it away as a gift (especially if you are using remanufactured gear)
Benefits of the Springer Leash
I came across this article on the Springer Leash recently, but I think it is pretty well-written. The author cites a number of studies that back up his thesis that when you attach a springer leash to your bike, you are much more likely to:
• Be able to look at your phone or other device while biking
• Avoid theft (or even worse, confiscation)
• Keep your bike in one piece (no sudden jerks or twisting movements)
I’m not sure how many people would agree with all the points made here, but they are all valid and seem like science-based observations. I don’t know whether this is because it is true or because it was just so easy to find research supporting it. Either way (and I’d be happy to be proven wrong), I think the benefits of attaching a springer leash are worth considering for many people.
How the Springer Leash Works
A springer leash bike attachment is a piece of gear that allows you to treat your bike like a dog. A springer leash attaches to your handlebar and is worn around the waist so that when you turn the handlebars, the leash and attached straps stretch out and it pushes against your bike’s frame and causes it to rise up.
A springer leash can be used for both a short-term solution for getting into gear (e.g., when going to the grocery store), as well as for more long-term training (e.g., when heading off for longer rides).
The best way to get started with a springer leash is by buying one at a bike shop or online retailer like Amazon or Bike Hut. But how does this actually work?
The concept of using a springer leash as a training aid, while simple enough, isn’t entirely new — in fact it’s been around since the 19th century! As early as 1895, the German physiotherapist Hans Orel described his “therapeutic bicycle seat”, which was basically just an extension of Orel’s bicycle seat:
Orel discovered that this device helped cyclists ride in such a manner that they did not suffer from ‘cramps’ or other muscle spasm injuries. He called it his “Sitting Bike Seat” and described how it reduced leg muscle tension and improved cycling performance.
Orel also made several improvements on his original seat design – including using rubber instead of leather to solve the problem of rotational losses; he also provided some reinforcement plates in order to prevent meaty bumps from forming on the cyclist’s back while riding (a problem with most existing seats); and he used springs instead of cables so that he could have easier access to replace worn parts without having to disassemble the seat entirely (which was very inconvenient).
Even if Orel didn’t invent anything with these features, many people would probably consider him an inventor because he did come up with them. In addition to his bicycle seat designs, Orel also patented some other inventions:
1.) A method for preventing fatigue by increasing oxygen intake during exercise; 2.) A device which increases blood flow in muscles; 3.) A method for replacing cramp bands; 4.) A method which enhances recovery from muscular fatigue during exercise; 5) A method for preventing cramp bands from slipping off during exercise; 6
Pricing for the Springer Leash
I’ve seen a lot of discussion about pricing for the springer leash bike attachment. It’s been a very interesting conversation, because it seems that many people think that the maximum price is too high or that it will make no impact whatsoever on sales.
In fact, these are two different types of questions which are often asked:
• Is the price too high?
• Does it not matter?
These two questions should be asked separately, but they are often confused. The first question is purely tactical and has little to do with product strategy. The second question is strategic and has much to do with how you price your product.
The answer to both questions is no: you shouldn’t be afraid of raising the price for this accessory. As long as you have done sufficient testing (wherever possible) and have a good understanding of your market and your users you should be able to charge what you think is fair for this technology.
Here’s why: I would consider 95%+ of all applications for accessories to be small business applications (the ones where customizing an interface in the form of software looks like a big deal). These small businesses typically deal with very specific needs (e.g., making sure their child can ride their bike without breaking it), so they need a specific solution for each issue (e.g., ensure that their child’s bike fits properly or allows them to keep up with their younger siblings). This means that 95% of all applications are either niche products or niche solutions — which means most accessories will only appeal to a tiny subset of users on very specific criteria (again, e.g., children vs conventional bikes). As such, most accessories are extremely expensive; and while they may seem like “good value” at the time they are bought, most customers realize early on that their $200 gadget isn’t going to help them solve any problems they may encounter in life (and even if it did, most users don’t spend six figures on stuff like this).
So if you want to make your product seem more valuable than it really is then you will have to charge more than people think it should cost. If you feel uncomfortable charging more than people think your product should cost then use some other sales technique instead; but I would never advocate charging less than people think your product should cost!
We will continue to make updates to this post over time, so please check back often.
Have you noticed how often we mention the word “spring” in this post? It is a recurring theme for us. Why? Because it is part of our core vocabulary. We have a lot of things that spring from it, we do a lot of things with it and our products are built on spring (mechanical, electrical, chemical and bio-chemical). And unfortunately, we don’t just refer to this in our code or on our website: we use it in private conversations too as a cue for what kind of “thing” will be covered by the next section (e.g., “this has a spring” or “a spring can be lifted”).
We also use it when we are trying to describe some specific idea that seems to be missing from the discussion.
The word has two primary meanings: according to Merriam Webster Online , “a device that is used to form or support objects; an object which springs into existence when supported by other objects; a thing which springs into existence when being pressed, attracted or otherwise acted upon by external forces” and according to Etymology Today , “the process whereby something springs into existence; the act or fact of making something spring into existence; something produced through the action of an agent on something else” . In other words, anything that you see sitting around your kitchen table (i.e., food) might be said to have sprung from the table. This applies not only when you are eating your food directly out of a bowl but also when you are cooking your food in a pan or baking your bread on the griddle – these things also have springs.
A similar phenomenon could be described as a certain way of thinking about life – you may not hear us talk about these things as much but they are very important parts of our lives and they do change over time (especially if you are engaged with what’s happening at any given moment).
These two kinds of meaning aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive: there is no reason why they cannot coexist without becoming mutually exclusive at all times. In fact, this is one reason why we prefer using both kinds simultaneously even if they sound very different at first glance: it can lead people away from their previous preconceptions (especially if you try hard enough) and help them see new possibilities