Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Everybody Loves a Lovely Bicycle

Sometimes, between trying to squeeze in 30-mile rides, obsessing about components and taking close-ups for product reviews, I forget the big picture: Beautiful bicycles can lift our spirits.

These two ladies are Isha Ware and Caroline Robinson, from the neighborhood, and they reminded me of why I like bicycles in the first place.

Today I fitted my bike Marianne with a very funky new set of dressguards (from Simeli) and dragged her outside to photograph. On three separate occasions, women walking down the street stopped to ask me about the bicycle. They were clearly happy to see such a bike - eccentric and undeniably "girly", with a colourful "thingie" on the wheel, flowers on the handlebars, and a shiny bell. Isha (pictured above) was wearing an outfit that was the exact same colour as Marianne's frame, and so naturally this had to be documented.

One young woman (not pictured here) told me that she wanted to buy a bicycle, but found bike shops to be male-oriented and intimidating. I remember lots of stories like this from 1-2 years ago, but I thought that things were a lot better now. Apparently they are not completely better; at least not yet. One of my main goals for Lovely Bicycle, is that ladies who have been disappointed or intimidated by bike shops can find the information they are looking for here.

A nice bicycle can make even people who are not into bicycles at all - just people who are passing by - smile and want to pet it. The very form of a nicely designed bicycle is welcoming; the texture of its components inviting. Maybe it's a "woman thing". Or maybe it's universal. But it sure is nice. Lovely bicycles for all!

30 comments:

  1. That's a beautiful dress guard. Really suits Marianne. It's true, Bicycles do put a smile on people's faces, different to the smile of, say, a beautiful car. It's a more warming experience.

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  2. Thanks. I've had this dressguard for a while and could not find a loop-frame bike to put it on. Finally I decided to try it on the mixte, and remarkably the colours actually seem to all work together. It looks a little crazy, but it certainly is a crowdpleaser!

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  3. So how hard would it be to make a dressguard? Crocheted? Paper? Is this something you ever plan to "how to"?

    This one looks great. And I love to see the neighborly interactions your lovely bike inspires.

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  4. Different people in your audience see different things. I see your light mounted much higher on the fork than in some past posts and I wonder if that light wiggles in the mount as mine does even after replacement. I also wonder why it is mounted above the mount rather than hanging down from the mount. I mount all my lights upright, but, lately, I've wondered why not just mount them upside down since the reflectors are symmetrical.

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  5. Steve - the light, including the bracket, occasionally gets moved from bike to bike, depending on which bike is used more at the time. There is no slippage as far as I can tell.

    Emma - Dressguards in this style are crocheted. I can knit, but not crochet, so sadly this can't be a DIY for me.

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  6. I have half a dozen of these Minoura brackets and they are quite reliable if installed correctly. Very solid. The installation can be difficult, having to mold the metal clamp and cut it to shape, the rubber gasket can be a pain to install properly, but it's all worth the effort in the end.

    The Cateye mount has a fairly reliable twist action, but you must be careful not to over-tighten it or it will be damaged. It also does not move.

    The light inside the quick release Cateye mount does not move but may shake. A bit of nailpolish on the rails or some thickening plastic material will make a tighter fit, if desired. But, no, it does not move either way.

    As far as upside-down, it does not make sense with this light. Why would you want to do that? It would be both harder to turn on/off and to remove, and it would be any more stable or any less accident prone. I suppose if it was mounted under a rack, that would make sense.

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  7. @Steve A
    not all lights are symmetric-my Edeluxe and the IQ Cyclo's have a sharp cutoff angle at the top to prevent blinding oncoming traffic.

    Velouria, I know you've seen the bike guards that Amy at Bobbin and Sprocket is experimenting with. http://bobbinandsprocket.blogspot.com/
    maybe someday she'll do some DIY instructions. I actually like the solid guards that Robert had, they prevent stuff from escaping the fenders and getting on your clothes.
    The Lady Tourist has holes pre-drilled for a quarter panel skirtguard, so I suppose some day I'll try to figure that out. Have many challenges before I get to that point though.
    I love that turquoise outfit- it takes a lot of personal style to pull off that much of such a bright color!

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  8. The turquoise outfit looked great on her, and she had blue mascara on her lashes, too. It all went together perfectly.

    I am following Amy's dress guard progress closely and looking forward to the end result. My 1936 Lady Tourist has 1/3 of the fender drilled, so if I decide to restore her she will get a dress guard, too.

    I prefer woven dressguards over solid or plastic-netted because they are lighter and don't make any noise. But the solid ones have their advantages too of course.

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  9. A fixie with a dressguard, now, that's something I like!

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  10. if your neighbor wants to make a field trip, josh & gillian at portland velocipede were SOOOOOOO nice. they let me test ride bike after bike...adjusting each time to make sure the seat height was just right for me and the tire pressure was right.
    and they carry linus bikes which aren't as expensive. :-D

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  11. Oooh, I'd love to meet lovely ladies like that too! Maybe I need one of them skirt guards on my bike!

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  12. Herzog - Definitely; they are chick magnets!

    g.c. - I am looking forward to stopping by there myself next time I am in Portland ; )

    Pierre - Of course! On a fixed gear it's especially important not to get one's skirt stuck in the spokes.

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  13. Lovely Bicycle! ;-) Does Simeli have a translation button on their site? I love her creations but cannot read a word.....

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  14. Paience - I suggest you just email Simone (the owner of Simeli) at simone@simeli.nl . She is very nice and speaks English.

    For those who want to navigate the site: "Jasbeschermers" means dress-guards. Click that word on the left and it will show you all the available models, which you can then add to cart. But if your Dutch is zero, I suggest you email Simone.

    {Simone - If you are reading this, I've gotten lots of emails asking me about your website being available in English; non-Dutch speakers can't even find your contact info!}

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  15. Velouria,

    This is my first time commenting and I simply wanted to say I really love the tone of your post and your all-inclusive attitude toward new-ish and especially potential bikers.

    There was a another bike related blog that recently had a entry making fun of a whole bunch of people's looks- hair, clothes, bra straps, weight, etc.

    It was such a turn-off to read and really reminded me of the exclusive nature that unfortunately some cyclists (a cycle chic-ist in this case) can have and really brought home how ugly that attitude can get.

    Your subjects in these photos look so happy and lovely and I bet your personal interaction brought them one step closer to biking.

    Sincere thanks from a woman who until recently was completely intimidated by all things bicycle and really needed some female guidance. Your blog has been so helpful and inspirational.

    After weeks of sucking it up and heading out to bike shops, I finally found my first adult bike and have enjoyed our first couple of weeks together so much.

    -Gina

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  16. 1. Solid skirt guards prevent sand and snow from flying into your shoes.

    2. Cambridge Used Bicycles is a great place to send people who need a new bike!

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  17. I love the photos. C'mon, admit it: You told Caroline to wear that outfit to match Marianne. ;-)

    And, yes, I love the dressguard, too.

    Trust me: I know that most bike shops, and much of the bike world, is male-centric, and I can understand how women can be intimidated.

    One of the most important things I've learned is that privilege is something you don't know you've had until you lose it. I never would have understood that, or the male-centerdness of bike shops (and so much else!) had I not gone from living as male to life as the woman I am now.

    Still, I wouldn't change anything. I have the "spoils" of my old privilege, which includes my knowledge of bikes and cycling. But I also have opportunities to learn--and, perhaps, to teach--that I would not have had otherwise. And, believe me, the power and speed I once had on my bike isn't half as good as just enjoying myself when I ride!

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  18. Dear Velouria,

    It is so nice to read people from all over the world like the Simeli Dressguards. Thank you for writing such a nice article and the pictures are beautiful too!

    If someone is interested in the Simeli Dressguards, you can write an email to:
    simone@simeli.nl

    Kind regards,

    Simone.
    www.simeli.nl

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  19. Cycler - I am probably going to offer a PDF pattern for the guards on Ravelry (and on Bobbin and Sprocket as well), as well as crocheting them on commission through Etsy.

    Velouria - You knit too, eh? I'm also playing around with a knitted lace guard. :) How do you like the file clip attachment method with your Simeli guards? I've tried that with mine and the "legs" of the clips rub the tires. Much fiddling about was required to get them not to. I would love to hear a review of these from you.

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  20. Velouria~ I love the dress guards on Marianne..They seem to suit her really well too.

    Simone's dress guards also seem to be a great option for those of us that dont have pre-drilled holes in our Raleigh's. I'd try and have someone make the holes for me but I'd be mortified if they made a mistake and I didn't have another rear fender as a replacement.

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  21. girlcanbike - These attach with clips; no holes in the fender.

    Amy - Yes, I am going to review them and compare them to the other ones I have after I ride with them for a bit. The clips work best on Dutch-style bikes where the fenders are enormous and there is sufficient clearance between them and the tires.

    Justine - I had never met these ladies before!

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  22. I love this post. Those women are beautiful. And I love the fixie dress guard a lot. :)

    I get so many comments about my bike. Most are like "that's a bike I would ride, what is that?" and then an older generation of people say they haven't seen a bike like that in years and it's so pretty etc. It's really nice to spread the bike love. And to be a tiny part of demonstrating that there's a bike for everyone.

    Amy, I am excited for a knitted dress guard. Do it and I will follow!

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  23. oh yea...I'm lusting after Simone's dress guards:) I was mostly impressed with the clips too. Glad to see they are working nicely for you and hopefully they will work equally well for my DL-1 too

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  24. Those dressguards are the BEST!! Nice find, you fashion forward chica!

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  25. Did you switch out handlebars again? I am struggling with my vintage roadie myself. I have bad arthritis in my hands, wrists and arms and my drop bars are making me nuts! Looks like you got rid of the Albatross bars and put on some North Roads or something similar? How do they handle on a road bike? Thanks, P

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  26. Patience - Nope, these are the same upside down Albatross bars that I had installed earlier. What I have done though, is removed the cork grips from the ends and wrapped bar tape around them, to create a larger gripping area for more hand positions.

    Where are you holding your drop bars?

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  27. Ahhhh...gotcha! I am holding them around the brake levers, on the ergonomic-rubbery bit. It's possible that I am being whiny, or that the road bike is not for me....thanks for the clarification! Maybe I will try some upside down Alba's myself!

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  28. PMB-Are your hands lower than your saddle? If so, see if you could try a higher stem position (although vintage stems seldom have enough room to come up--Velouria replaced the stem on her Motobecane, which was a separate nightmare due to French sizing).

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  29. Dutch Simeli Dressguards - Clips

    An option is to push the grip of the clip against the mudguard so it does not toutch the wheel. But then it will be difficult to get the dressguards of your bike if you want to change or wash the dressguards.

    In Holland we have locks on our bikes so that is why there is a hole in the Dressguards. An idea is to make a crochet flower in the hole....

    I hope my English is clear...?

    Kind regards,

    Simone.
    www.simeli.nl

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  30. I have never heard of such a thing - bike shops intimidating women. But I do not talk to people about biking except my partner. And I realised that throughout the years, we have biked in many countries and he helped me a lot to choose the right bike. Also he is very handy which I like since I would definitely struggle to go to a bike store and reveal my complete uselessness when it comes to bike repairs and maintenance. Nevertheless, without him I would probably dream of biking but would feel intimidated to do something about it. Oh I have wished I had been born Dutch...

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