Thursday, March 25, 2010

Too Late But Still Cool

Cross Cultual Race... On a Bike from Jim Kellett on Vimeo.

I've actually had this bookmarked since February and it was supposed to be posted for Black History Month, but technical difficulties and my chronic procrastination got in the way. Still, I think this is a cool image and the snippet of documentary is pretty interesting. I'd hesitate to say that the apparent higher status of these folks represents the quality of life for African-Americans in Denver at the time because I don't have anything but this picture to go on. I will say that these folks have obviously got it going on, especially the dude with the major swagger and knickers!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Thought Those Showers Were Supposed to Come In April

Actually, I don't mind riding when it's damp. A little drizzle doesn't bother me. Just about anything is preferable to staying in the house all day (especially when the temperament of a housemate is more miserable than any overcast day).

I also love the opportunity to wear my lipstick-pink, kitten-heel rainbooties.

I just wanted to write a long-overdue post to show y'all that I'm still riding, just not blogging very often. My computer is slowly dying--one failing component at a time--and I just figured out a work-around for the ethernet port that went to the "great beyond" last week. I hope this fix will last until I get a new computer. Until something else goes wrong, I will return to my regular blogging schedule.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Models Sure Love Bicycles

By now, we've all seen pictures of Agyness Deyn on a bike. I did a little post about Lily Cole's bike being stolen. Now, Jessica Stam and company on Velib's. Maybe fashion's love affair with the bicycle won't end suddenly as most trends do. The models certainly find them useful and that's pretty chic in and of itself.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Brilliantly Cycle Chic

This popped up in my Google alerts from the Santa Cruz edition of Craigslist:

I know it's tiny; click for a bigger image.

Stylists, estheticians, support your local bike mechanic!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Plastic Fantastic Eneloop Bike from Sanyo

They don't fit my aesthetic, but could these bikes (and bikes like them) fit the bill for moms wary of abandoning their SUV's to run errands and pick up kids? A comment on the Sanyo Eneloop got me thinking:
This is what the Japanese call the "Mama-chari". Its a purely commuter bicycle, designed for housewives and grannies that go to the grocery and run errands.

The Japanese still run errands using bicycles instead of SUVs, its a generally closer urban environment, so the bicycles aren't completely a recreational purchase like in the US where less people use the bicycle as their primary mode of transportation. So a large basket up front, ease of riding for more elder consumers are important, and a mountain bike won't do.

Also, the 'hybrid' electric system is designed so that going up-and-down inclines are effortless for that 'housewife', its not designed for 'sport' but rather for functionality.
At $1800, this electric bike is a lot more economical than the Velorbis Elechic and all that plastic belies it's fancy-schmanciness and innovative technology. Maybe e-bikes like these could nudge moms into the bike lanes (or streets more than likely) because they'd know that the pedal assist was there for back-up if they were a little tired at the end of the day or if they had a heavy load or a massive hill or any combination of those things. I know that there are moms (and dads) who conquer hills and carry kids without a motor, but they're aren't a lot of them and that poses a big problem for utilitarian cycling.

With my new perspective on e-bikes, I must say that I hope to see more like this--just prettier. I'd hate to lose any potential cyclists to the Vespa (not that I have anything against Vespas, but they don't exactly further the cause of better bike infrastructure).

Electric Velorbis

Velorbis Scrap Deluxe-Elechic gents bicycle

Lithium-Ion battery pack enclosed in waterproof case.

High quality brushless induction hub motor fitted to the front wheel. (Whatever that means).

Display monitor "cockpit" shown with iButton activation key 

The electric bike concept gets a chic shot in the arm thanks to the new Velorbis range called, "Elechic" (a portmanteau of "electric" and "chic'). The Danish designers of classic, coveted bicycles have included several ladies and gents models in the new range: in addition to the Scrap Deluxe, there's the Victoria Classic and Dannebrog for the ladies and the Churchill Classic and Churchill Balloon for the gents. Velorbis is also offering an Elechic version of their Mobii tricycle.  

Perhaps Velorbis was inspired by the Copenhagen Wheel to make a simple electric motor that would attach to their bikes without ugly-ing them in any way. The bike isn't designed around the motor or designed to look like an e-bike, it's just a slick bike with a motor on it. The only hitch is that, even though the motor is priced separately from the frame, it doesn't look like you can have the motor added to the Velorbis you already own. Elechic bikes are built to order. I think that's a significant hiccup since you probably need to be deeply in love with your Velorbis to plunk down another three grand to motorize it. 

Honestly, I'm a little fuzzy on the concept of an electric bike at this price point. According to Velorbis,   "the pedal assisted electric motor system brings added convenience and opens cycling up to a wider audience; to those who may view cycling as a physical struggle, those who have steep hills to navigate, and those who simply need an extra energy boost on their journey." Of course, the Elechic bikes are still green methods of transportation and as pretty as regular Velorbis bikes. If cycling is that difficult for these newbies, aren't they just as likely to take their $4,800 (?!!) to a scooter store to buy a Vespa?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Toodling Style

Add another word to your vocabulary folks: toodling. (I wrote about it at my Globe blog earlier). Sometimes you're not riding anywhere in particular; you're just out and about for fun. You're not commuting, you're toodling. I've been looking for this word for a while. Previously, I've used "cruising" but I think that word is too loaded with car imagery.

Bike commuters can toodle and toodlers can be bike commuters. Maybe toodling is a pre-commuting form of cycling. Of course, it can also be nothing more than getting out on the bike to toodle around the neighborhood. Any way you look at it, I think toodling represents the disconnect some cyclists feel with the bicycle's role in the fashion world. Neither the bikes nor the cyclists seem serious enough.

How am I going to get to work on a one-speed Dutch bike--there are hills on my commute?! Bike in a dress and heels, you must be kidding? I doubt anyone at Vogue was thinking about your commute when they chose to put a model on a bicycle. They were thinking about looking chic on a bicycle. And they very seriously considered the heels and the dress that the model is toodling about in. No one said you had to go far to be cycle chic or that the trip had to be one of necessity. Toodling pretty much represents the high- fashion take on cycling.

Until recently the symbol of toodling has been an expensive, imported Dutch bike available in your nicer bike shops in your larger American cities. But now I believe we'll be seeing fast, cheap, alluring bikes available to the masses in chain stores like Target and Urban Outfitters. Those adjectives seem incongruous with an activity as slow as toodling, but I think these kinds of bikes will cultivate tons of toodlers who--if they don't become bike commuters--will probably become respectful motorists outside of the saddle. Moreover, more seats in saddles encourages those who do want to commute and pushes the big-time bike makers to create bikes with civilized accessories/bells and whistles that commuters and toodlers will find attractive instead of focusing their energies on sporty bikes.

On a personal note, I applaud any American bike company that makes a bike with a skirt guard! That looks like really stepping out on faith when there's only one American retailer even selling skirt guards (that I know of). I hope that millions of people leave the malls of America this spring with new bikes. Chances are they won't be able to reach the mall on their bikes, but that's okay, I'm sure they'll discover new, local places to patronize.
© courtnee cycles chic
Maira Gall