Sunday, May 3, 2015

Goododering Cycling Bags 2.0

Goododering's original bags pictured with the new line of  bags

When I first saw Goododering's bags two years ago, I thought that they were darling, but I didn't really give them much thought beyond that. I still had Brown Betty and she could always hold everything I needed with that huge wooden rack of hers. ( I actually had a fellow cyclist pay BB the compliment of, "Hey, that's a nice rack," before he got all flustered).

These days, I'd have to really think how I would carry groceries on my bike. I have yet to be tested in that regard, but it's always good to be prepared—especially when there are low Kickstarter campaign prices available. I believe that picnic pannier would hold a couple of smallish bags, making room for larger packages to be carried in my basket. It also has side pockets which can hold a water bottle (always useful to cyclists and a very attractive feature as coastal Virginia approaches its hot and sticky season). We'll have to see how it holds up in urban jungle/suburban swamp conditions when I get it in July.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Tokyobike x New Balance



CT700c via The Radavist

996c via The Radavist

Pictured above are members of New Balance's new C Series — well-considered sneakers for the cyclist. The CT700 and the CM600 are available in North America; the other two are available in Asia and Europe. However, I hold out hope that the CT700 and the CM600 constitute the S/S 2015 collection and that CT700c and 996c could be introduced stateside as part of A/W 2015.

The kicks available in the States feature perforations on the heel and near the toe that reveal reflective material underneath. The CT700 has a leather upper and comes with an ankle strap that you put on like a slap bracelet. The CM600 has a synthetic upper that one sneakerhead site claims lends it great durability, but I haven't been able to find information to substantiate such an assertion. It also has a neoprene tongue with a pouch to hold one's shoelaces and an easy on-off bootie construction. Both styles come with reinforced soles and reflective laces and both styles are $119.

All of the shoes in the C Series were conceptualized in New Balance's Tokyo design studio, but the sleek silhouette and colors of the CM600 inspired Tokyobike's latest limited edition Classic Sport. The bike is $925, comes in matte navy or matte mustard, and is accessorized with Brooks Cambium grips and saddle. (I especially like the ivory tires against that mustard frame).

Classic Sport 8-spd in matte navy

Classic Sport 8-spd in matte mustard

Friday, April 10, 2015

Does Chic Pay the Bills?

I never went into full-blown mourning about the shuttering of Houndstooth Road here. I was in metro-Atlanta just a week after they closed, unbeknownst to me. I was hanging out with my friend, Darryl, my mom, and doing a tad bit of shopping. The closest I got to Dekalb County was my old neighborhood of Little Five Points. I told myself I would stop by the shop during my next trip to Georgia. I don't think I found out how wrong I was until I was back in Virginia.

I would've at least liked to have said a, "job well done," to Jae for creating such a delightful bike shop and wished him well in his future endeavours. (And you know if there was a sale going on I would've found something to buy).

After such a bitter end to the summer, I was shocked when AdelineAdeline closed that fall. It felt like all the cycle chic shops were closing. I believe I checked The Daily Rider and Pedal Chic Fb pages to make sure that they weren't closing too. (They didn't).

I reflect upon all of this now after a recent visit to my local, unassuming suburban bike shop. It's not in the most adorable neighborhood in Portsmouth or the reemerging downtown area. It's nestled amongst strip malls in Churchland and has been in this location for thirty years or so.

There are no ruffled or faux fur-covered relective vests hanging on the walls. Hand-painted Belle Helmets and Japanese brass bells are nowhere to be seen. There's just a rack of lycra kit and the accessories needed for basic bike repair, storage, and commuting in their simplest and least adorned forms. As I'm not in the market for a new bike, nothing on the sales floor really catches my eye. I'd say there's nothing remarkable about this place other than the fact that it's been here for upwards of thirty years.

I wonder if having a shop full of chic merchandise in a hot part of town is just too costly to maintain longterm. And if you build it in a neighborhood that's not on the radar will the early adopters still come? It's an especially cruel catch-22 that location can subject a cycle chic purveyor to unsustainably low retail traffic or skyrocketing rent that strips her of her profits. Still, I have faith that those who spurn Lycra will not go underserved. In New York, Eleanor's is carrying the delightful bike accoutrement you'd find at AdelineAdeline— just in a less expensive borrough. Perhaps Atlanta's Historic West end could be the spot for another chic bike store to put down roots. If they build it, I'll be sure to come by.

Monday, April 6, 2015

April Showers Chic

Rain poncho from H&M

Rain jacket and pants from H&M

Rain hat by Takaokami

Poncho and Rain Dress by Takaokami

Another iteration of the rain dress for a Sony ad

     I believe this is the first time I have seen so many pieces of clothing for the waterlogged cyclist. (Well, the skirt-wearing waterlogged cyclist at any rate). I'm happy to see that waterproof apparel is potentially full of fanciful options. I appreciate the fun cacti print on H&M's festival poncho; if they'd made the sleeves longer it would be perfect for cycling too. Their next contribution to spring cycling comfort is far more practical, but it also looks very, very practical.

     You'll have no means of escaping attention with the rainwear of fashion designer and Nordic cyclist, Emma Jorn. Jorn describes her rain hat as the "mixture of an umbrella and the traditional Nordic fisherman['s] rain hat." I describe that hat as serving Alexis Carrington all day. This hat is also relatively inexpensive as European Kickstarter rewards go.

     While there are some delightfully wacky items in this collection that betray Takaokami's "Nordic classic design together with Japanese quirkness," there's a spring wardrobe staple (or two) in here as well. The poncho and the jacket are nice, but the rain dress--in all of its iterations--is everything. While it's called a "dress," this could easily be a dressy lightweight coat and raincoat. How great would it be to look instantly put together by throwing this on over your pj's when you have to take the dog out or get the mail? This rain dress needs to exist. This could be the bedrock of the Takaokami brand. I can see this dress with a detachable caplet or hood, long sleeves or no sleeves, in Marsala or Asphalt or whatever color is hot at the moment. I deeply and sincerely hope that Takaokami reaches its stretch goal which enables the label to move forward on the rain dress.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Finally!!: Levi's Commuter Collection for Women

Super cute chambray anorak

Grey jeans are always good.

When Levi's launched their commuter collection four years ago, they criss-crossed the country in partenship with Urban Outfitters fixing bikes and spreading the news as they went. The recent launch of their women's commuter collection was presented to the public with a lot less fanfare. I would say there is a reason for this-- the women's collection is a miserly eight pieces and much weaker than the men's twenty-one piece collection.

I've used images from what I think are two highlights in the collection, but I have reservations about the jeans. The model is so straight through the hips that I don't think that I could wear any jeans that are geared toward her body type. And this, I believe, is the source of Levi's trepidation about doing a women's commuter line. They don't want to make a bunch of fits like, curvy, plus, and petite for what they believe is a small group of consumers. Fine. Women cyclists understand and are not a bunch of petulant children who are going to pitch a fit because Levi's didn't begin making Curve Id Commuter jeans right away. Still, there is a way to meet us halfway. Why not launch with a boyfriend jean with a relaxed fit that might accomodate curvier cyclists? Why not include waist sizes up to 36"?

Another matter for concern is the white elephant of this collection-- the $358 anorak. Are they for real? That price point is more than twice the highest priced item in the men's collection and it's an anorak. Two years ago, I bought a key-uutte chambray moto jacket from Levi's. Why couldn't they launch with a something like that priced a lot lower. They should've offered chambray vests (dressier than their trucker style) for $58 or something. After all, vest are supposed to be huge for S/S 2015. If they offered a diverstiy of pieces at diverse price points, they would probably be able to have pieces to speak many different kinds of women until they figured out how to create a selection of jeans to fit many different kinds of women.

Lastly, I think Levi's short-changed the women's collection by not including all of the features from the men's jeans on the women's jeans. If the designers didn't think that the gussetted crotch or bike lock loop looked good on skinny jeans, they should've created another kind of jeans with those features. The women's jeans don't have any features that the men's jeans don't so they look deficient by comparison.

As I write all of this, I have to wonder, "Why didn't they think of this?" Do they want this collection to succeed or do they want to just say that they tried? Maybe they're just being cautious and I'm over-analyzing the situation. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

E-bikes Need Both Style and Substance

This substance could use more style.

Oregon Manifest TEAGUE X Sizemore Bicycle from TEAGUE on Vimeo.

This style could use more substance.

The top of this post features the winner of The Bike Design Project presented by Levi's Commuter collection. Denny has a couple of cycling accessories integrated right into the bike--lights and a U-lock--and a newfangled type of fender that brushes debris/water away from you(?). Okay. Let's try new things on our bikes, but without over-thinking the bike. A U-lock holster would've held the lock and allowed a cyclist to customize his handlebars. There are sensor-activated lights on this bike as well as the others, but none of the bikes have reflective sidewall tires. No design team used the slightest bit of color. No design team appears to have had a high regard for beauty.

Conversely, the Martone Cycling Company's idea for an e-bike is all about beauty. They took one of their vibrantly-colored, classically-styled bikes and slapped a battery on the frame. Without a basket, the bundle of wires connecting the battery to the bike hangs glaringly from the handlebars. It's as is they believed they'd pass this less-than-well-designed concept off as a true venture into the e-bike category because they're the pretty bicycle company. If their rechargeable battery came out of a slick compartment that also powered the bike's signal lights and acted as a basket, the Marton-E bike would've been a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign.

An e-bike should be neither a contraption on two wheels nor feature a battery stuck to it with Command strips. Integrating a rechargeable battery and some lights into a hot e-bike that gets tons of press and love from the fashion world may not constitute a leap in technology, but it's intelligent design as far as retail goes. How is poor Fuji supposed to produce the otherwordly Denny at a less than astronomical price point? How is Fuji supposed to sell a bike that looks like that at an astronomical price point? Consumers--especially older ones who rode bikes like this--are going to relate better to a bike that looks like a [traditional] bike. Everyone loves eye-candy. Industrial designers and bike industry insiders cannot be the only people who get excited about a bike because arcane design concepts do not move product.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

M.A.S.S. Bikes by Phillipe Stark and Moustache Bicycles

Mud (Phillippe Starck via designboom)

(Phillippe Starck via designboom)

(Phillippe Starck via dezeen)

(Phillippe Starck via dezeen)

"I wanted the bike to be able to go over all kinds of terrains and especially infinite and poetic territories." Ph.S

 This isn't quite what I was expecting from the man who brought us the Louis Ghost Chair. Even the scooter-bike he designed for the bikeshare of Bordeaux, France has the look of a classic bicyclette. Still, I find something relatable about the Mud electric bike. As a Southerner, it's not unusual to see a truck (or monster truck) plastered with an afternoon's muddin' during warmer months. Perhaps the people who like muddin' would like it even better if they could get covered in mud without soiling the interiors of their trucks. While the bikes aren't my thing, I might mess with these Starck x Giro helmets (below).

Mud (Phillippe Starck via designboom)

Mud (Phillippe Starck via designboom)

(Phillippe Starck via designboom)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Feminine Cycling For Everybody!

Photos by Sam Polcer

As I was writing a rather long comment on this Atlantic Cities article, it occurred to me that I should write a blog on the topic of what femininity means in cycling. I want to look at the big picture so I'll be considering what it is to use bikes the way women use bikes. Anyone can ride a bike the feminine way. It is simply this: riding slowly, in your normal clothes, with the means to carry stuff (or tiny people). A man on his way to work may very well ride in the same manner. Or he may just be concerned about his appearance. In the article, "How to Look Good on A Bike," Sam Polcer offers these tips to Esquire readers
Keep in mind that the vast majority of your fellow cyclists dress purely for comfort or aerodynamics, with fashion taking a backseat, so it’s actually a lot easier for you to impress on a bike.
Pace yourself. Sweat stains are never fashionable.

Dress for where you’re going, not how you’re getting there. If you’re going to the beach, dress for the beach. If you’re going to a cocktail party, wear a suit. Like I said, there are very few rules. Just watch that pant leg.
Outside of fashion concerns, riding the feminine way is about being able to ride with other people whether that means carrying small children or riding with older children, friends, or a partner. Feminine cycling is a widely shared activity, not limited to the fastest with the fastest bikes and most aerodynamic gear. Feminine cycling requires the space (read: infrastructure) to accommodate commuters and recreational cyclists, elders and youngsters. It then returns that space to the public, not just the athlete or the motorist.

Feminine cycling slows city streets down to a livable pace. In order to have widespread cycling in cities, speed limits must be lowered, traffic calming measures implemented, and segregated bike lanes built. All of these changes will make pedestrian, bicycle, and automobile movements more predictable and make everyone safer. If improvements to public transit were also made, automobile traffic might decrease in a real way as drivers would see viable alternatives to getting around the city.

I like framing all of these positive changes in cycling culture as feminine. I like that, for once, there are many voices saying that the masculine standard—in this case, male-dominated athletic cycling culture—isn't the standard at all. I hope that when better cycling infrastructure arrives and all the benefits to society are obvious, a mighty blow will be dealt to this country's miserable lack of political will to do anything that overtly helps women. On every city street there will be concrete evidence that what supports women benefits everyone.