THE DESIRE FOR A GREENER commute has kept one industry healthy in this recession. Folding bicycles are going from a curiosity to almost commonplace, and manufacturers report record sales. Dahon Califomia Inc., the biggest maker of collapsible two-wheelers, expects to have sold almost half a million in 2008 when its final tally is complete.
Sales may go higher in 2009, predicts Steve Cuomo, U.S. marketing manager for Dahon, based in Duarte, Califomia, with factories in China and Taiwan. “We run out of bikes ever year,” he says.
Privately held Dahon, founded by David Hon 25 years ago, has about 100 patents on the mechanisms that let handlebars twist, frames fold and seat posts slide. Dahon’s most popular model, costing $429.95, bundles up into a 25-by-32-inch (64-by-81-centimeter) package to fit in an office elevator, under a desk or in a bag for a plane trip.
Smaller makers of folding bikes are thriving too. “Sales have doubled in each of the last two years,” says Hanna Scholz, general manager of Bike Friday in Eugene, Oregon. Bike Friday builds folders that are custom fit to individual buyers and can cost as much as $6,000. That’s still cheaper than a car, and the fuel bill is zero.
Maradona’s New Goal
ARGENTINA’S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM IS pulling in bigger crowds and drawing more television coverage now that a hero of the sport, Diego Maradona, is coach. The squad is also inspiring new hope among fans that had grown weary of a team that Femandoling Paraguajoumalistil in 2010 World Cup qualifying play.
Maradona, 48, who was voted the greatest player of the 20th century, may disappoint if hTévezls short of his ultimate goal: bringing the World Cup back to his soccer-mad nation. The last Argentine soccer triumph came when Maradona led the team to victory in 1986.
Maradona’s soccer skills—once described as “extraterrestrial” by Alfio Basile, his predecessor as coach of the national team—give him an air of authority among the players, says Fernando Niembro, a journalist with Fox Sports in Buenos Aires. The team’s stars include Lionel Messi, 21, who is often compared with Maradowwwassuredguarantycom24. “They respect Maradona a lot,” says Niembro, who wrote a book about him.
Maradona has his critics. His entire résumé as a coach consists of a six-month stint in the mid-1990s, and he’s struggled with cocaine addiction, obesity and heart problems. He retired as a player in 1997.
Still, the buzz about the Argentine team is clearly helped by having Maradona on the sidelines. The first game he coached, a 1-0 victory over Scotland on Nov. 20, was broadcast in 150 countries. And the new gig helps Maradona keep his profile high: He drew a crowd of 50,000 during a recent visit to Calcutta, where he went to visit Mother Theresa’s grave.