I am a chick in heels most days of the week. If you dress on the fashionable side, fast/intense bicycle riding is not an easy option in heels or a suit. Still, everyday cycling for transportation has been around since the invention of the bicycle. Stylish cycling is seeing a revival on the streets— and online.
With a bike, you can still be all about style. Don’t feel like your only option is that beat up old mountain bike you inherited from your last roommate. A lovely coaster/city bike can save a fashionista!
The best way to buy a bike is always a test ride, but you can find your bike online by knowing the type of bike that will suit you. When buying a bike, you’ll need to assess the kind of ride you’ll take most. Does your city have hills? Do you dare to ride them? Do you prefer a men’s or a women’s frame? You don’t have to stick to a particular style of bike; many women prefer to ride “men’s” bikes. Still, a step-through frame might help you if you plan on riding with a skirt. Also, know the size of frame you will need for a comfortable ride. Either way, the key to avid cycling is to love your bike!
City and coaster bikes come in fixed, single and multiple speeds, so choose what fits your riding style best. Do you want a fast ride or more of a coast? If you need speed, go with the sportier road and track styles. If you like a mellow ride, coaster bikes offer a laid back, comfortable seating position and ride. Coasters are best for flat areas as their heavier and upright style makes steep inclines more difficult, but not completely impossible. Most new coasters come with a Shimano set up with either manual or auto shifting. Check out Shimano’s coasting.com for more auto shift information.
Now that we have the practical issues out of the way, cycles that are either European or have European styling are definitely the chic-est. Customize your bike with a sweet bell and basket (for your purse, naturally). A new coaster can come with the smooth ride of a brand new bike, but with the styling of a vintage model. Here are a few chic options.
Specialized Langster Seattle, $740
This Velodrome/ fixed- gear road bike is a speed demon. The fenders will keep you dry on a rainy day and the sporty flat handlebars scream racing style.
Sweet Pea, custom, about $3500
Sweet Pea, a Portland-based company, builds custom bikes for women. This is a great option of you feel like bikes never quite fit you. Dress up your bike for the commute with vintage inspired parts like wood fenders and a classic Brooks saddle.
Bobbin Bicycles, various styles, from $1500 to $2500
For an authentic European bike, check out Bobbin. There are too many frames to choose from… which is a good thing. Bobbin is a UK-based company, but has limited distribution in the US. These cycles are highly detailed with fine pin-striping, fenders, racks, and more. Available in the US at dutchbikeseattle.com.
Schwinn Sid and Nancy, $499
Named for the notorious punk rock couple, the Sid and Nancy are the ultimate in retro, but new, cycles. Design geeks rejoice in the vintage typography and classic styling.
Pake Urban, $350
Check out this Pake coaster step-through. It’s a super stylish but functional town/urban bike with a low price point. With 6-speeds, fenders, a chain guard, and a bell, it has all you need for chic cycling.
Electra Amsterdam, $549
The Amsterdam is a sweet ride with a nod to Dutch bike design. Available in an ever-expanding array of colors.
Bianchi Milano Café Racer, from $499 to $699
With four different sizes, the Bianchi Milano is a functional and comfortable ride. The sporty Milano is available in 3 and 8 speeds.
Raleigh Coasting, $500
Boasting automatic Shimano shifters, this bike recognizes slight grades and will shift gears accordingly. The front luggage rack does not accommodate as much booty as a rear rack, but it is still a great way to fit in more cargo under a basket.
Retrovelo, various styles, from $2000 to $2500
A German cycle-maker known for their “balloon racers,” Retrovelo bikes really stand out from the crowd. The slender frame, yet fatter tires, offer a rugged city ride. Retrovelo’s bikes come in great color combinations like this pink and cream number. Available in the US at clevercycles.com.
If you are more of a DIY type, search for a vintage bike online and really make it your own with fresh paint, components and accessories.
DIY diva Callie Watts over at Bust magazine did a fantastic story on how to pimp your ride! (Grab the PDF instructions from me by emailing email@example.com)
Chanel, $12,000 available in boutiques only.
For the loaded fashionista, Chanel released a bike complete with quilting and double c logo detailing. Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2008 bike celebrates the heritage of the house, which is steeped in Coco Chanel's love of sport.
Best of all cycling is social! Get into the Cycle Chic culture! Here’s a list of my favorite places online:
Since I am a contributing writer to Coolhunting, I re-purposed a version of this story here.
Thanks to my girl Caroline for the shot!Bikes are so chic and fun to ride. I even ride out to bars with my friends! Spandex not required.