Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Lovin': Top 5 Stylish Bike Tips

Happy Friday Everyone!

Summer is JUST around the corner, June 21st (as in tomorrow), and if you are anything like me, that day could not come any sooner.
There are so many great things about summer-time: gorgeous patios throughout Vancouver, cute summer dresses, fun cocktails and I'm sure you could add to the list of these items, as long as your arm.  However, for the past couple years my all-time FAVORITE summer-time activity has and is, bike riding around town.  My husband had been trying to convince me to get a bike since we first got married and my initial reaction was "um, NO, my head looks weird in a helmet and my butt always hurts for days after going for a bike ride".  Does anyone else have the same problems as me?
Anyhow, my dear husband surprised me with the most stylist bike last year and I've never looked back, laughing at my previously entrenched bad attitude towards such a FANTASTIC activity while I ride freely around town these days, how silly we can all be at times!
I wanted to share 5 stylish tips I've learnt over the course of my so-called bike career as it is definitely possible to combine style and functionality to any bike ride.

The Brooks Saddle was invented back in 1866 in England with the following motto:
"We believe, and are convinced that all riders will agree, that a comfortable saddle is one of the greatest, if not the greatest asset to real pleasure cycling."
After experiencing the B17 model, I have to whole-heartedly agree.  I was warned by the wonderful guys at Cap's Bicycles that there would be a "molding" period of about 3 - 4 rides but thankfully the saddle "molded" to my butt right away and the comfort of my rides are so amazing these days that I am able to go for 40 - 50 km rides without any discomfort on a regular basis. Not only are the saddles functional but STYLISH, and with such a storied history, how can you go wrong with such a purchase?

I never realized that there were 2 types of bike baskets, the permanent and the quick release.  Let me explain the difference between the two types:
1.  PERMANENT:  The permanently mounted bike baskets are attached to the bike with bolt-on legs (as shown above).  This allows you to carry a heavier load without compromising the basket or your headlights.  Usually the permanent baskets only come in stainless steel/wire.
2.  QUICK RELEASE:  The quick release is attached to the bike with heavy-duty plastic bar mounts.  The baskets can be released to take with you into the grocery store or whereever you need to go.  Due to the baskets being mounted only on the bar, carry load is a maximum of 5 lbs.  Usually the quick-release baskets come in various different materials such as wicker, wire, stainless steel, etc.
When I initially got my bike, I loved the look of the wicker baskets and still do, however I removed my quick release basket within a couple months because it couldn't carry the load I needed it to and it was affecting my headlights, plus I never really "released" the basket so the whole purpose was a wasted function for me.  Since then, I've purchased the permanent style with bolt-on legs and have to admit I am DEFINITELY an advocate of this style.  In Vancouver, it is not only expensive but hard to find this type, therefore my source is The Bikewagon, they are based in Utah, extremely reasonable and have excellent customer service and shipping terms.

One of the best decisions you can make to update any bike is to add some fun wheels.  Not only are your options unlimited but it's a pretty inexpensive way of "personalizing" your ride.
I recently updated my classic black wheels to trendy cream wheels and I swear my bike looks sleeker and brings out the special features of my bike that much more!  Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating but you get my drift right?
Some great resources for figuring out what would suit your bike is again Cap's Bicycles in the tri-city areas, Union Street Cycle in downtown Vancouver, and of course my favorite Pinterest.

I was really torn on this one.  You see, I believe a bike headlight is one of THE essential bike items for night-riding, however the majority of my bike-rides are done during the daytime - on the weekend so I realized that the bike bell has gotten a lot more use rather than my headlight during my bike rides.  Why is this?
If I am riding on the street and passing a car that is parked, I always ring my bell a couple times so that they know I am coming up beside them, as well if there are pedestrians on the bike lanes I can "gently" ring my bell and they will move aside without any accidents occuring.
And "YES" how stylish is a bike bell while providing the functionality every bike rider needs!

Okay, so I know for this "tip" I could get some very upset readers however I'm willing to take the heat, let me explain myself first, (disclaimer: all people under the age of 19 (Canadian legal age) should listen to their parents' decision on this!).
Instead of advocating, I am playing devil's advocate on this one.  The reasons are many but one reason is, there are so many designated bike routes throughout the lower mainland which usually are completely separate from the road where cars are driving.  As well, the Netherlands have one of the largest population of cyclists in the world and the choice to wear a helmet or not is up to them, you may ask why the Dutch?
To lighten up this "tip", one may feel much safer simply because they have long hair.....
Finally, this post is all about STYLE and unfortunately we all have to agree that helmets cannot possibly be put in that category so until Diane v. Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs or Tory Burch (hint, hint) comes out with a very stylish yet functional helmet, I say, "whatever suits your style".
Okay, so there you have it, 5 of my top style tips for bike riding around town this summer.
Will this weekend bring a ride or two your way?

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