Thursday, July 30, 2009

Protect Your Head

You've got to protect your head! I grew up riding around without a helmet & on a super hot day I'll still go without if I'm just cruising the neighborhood. In any case, here are some of the hottest & most fun choices.

Yakkay makes a great base helmet with a variety of coverings. $120 for base, $60 for covers.

Pro-tec has a ton of color & finish options. A great simple, sporty helmet. $50

Bern is another lovely maker, stylish helmets with or without a brim. $75

Pryme has a cheaper option with tons of color choices. $20

Other fun things at Riding Pretty (fantastic, kitschy helmet covers that will run you around $55) and Bobbin carries the sweetest rain cap for 15 pounds.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What Should I Wear Biking?

Call me vain, but when I first considered biking around town, the first thought to go through my head - "Do I have to wear that God-awful get up?" Everywhere I look it's biker after biker in special clip shoes, spandex-butt padding shorts, yellow or green nylon jackets & some sporty eye protection. I don't mean to judge; some people want to bike fast, not have a sore ass, be easily spotted by cars & not get a rock in their eye. It seems like the best spots to get hi-tech cycling gear in Seattle is REI; there, plus EMS or Sierra Trading Post is great for online purchases.

I like to think of it this way, if you are going to be an aggressive cyclist (either speed or longevity), the gear is worth it. If you are going to ride casually or for only a short commute, you really just need to think about comfort & keeping your pant leg out of the chain. While I consider myself a casual commuter, I understand that in Seattle - biking in skin tight (no lycra) denim & heals can feel pretty constricting taking Pine from Downtown to the top of Capitol Hill. Check out the following links for places to grab functional & stylish cycle gear.

Cyclodelic (London based)
London Cyclechic & their fashion tips
Swrve Cycle Apparel
First Look Commuter Pants
Lindland Cordarounds
Styley helmets by Bern

Keep in touch this week as I get a little deeper into cycling in style.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Buying Vintage Bikes

There are a lot of reasons to buy vintage or secondhand bikes: cost, style, testing your commitment, nostalgia or sustainability. Buying this way has its pros & cons, but can be a solid way to go. Whether you are buying your bike off of craigslist, ebay, or from your local bike shop - you'll want to make sure that you learn as much about the bike as possible. Some things to check:
  1. Has it had a tune up recently?
  2. Is the frame in good shape (rust, dents, bends)?
  3. How do the gears work, are they transitioning smoothly?
  4. Is there tread remaining on the tires, is the rubber crack free?
  5. Does the bike ride smoothly without any friction?
Your answer should be yes to any & all of these if you are interested in purchasing the bike. I also recommend that you have a chance to get your hands (or ass) on a used bike before committing to purchasing it - this means that craigslist, yard sales & local shops tend to be the best.

There are also negatives to consider when buying a vintage or used bike. First, it can be expensive or hard to repair or replace parts for your older bike. The biggest downfall that I've noticed in riding a vintage bike is the missing out on the modern technology. My lovely bike makes my body work a lot harder, especially with its heavier weight & center shifting system. Last, you'll often find little quirks such as new accessories don't fit right or your seat has adjustment limitations, but these can all be worked around.

I support it. Vintage bikes are good for the soul & can offer a stylish way to get around. I also think that riding a used bike is a strong statement toward reuse & sustainability - not everybody needs a brand-new, super high-tech, super fast bike.

Buying the Best Bike for You at Good.
Vintage Bicycle Guide at Riding Pretty.

Image via Lydia1913.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Kind Of Bike Is Right For Me?

When you are trying to find the right bike, you'll want to ask yourself a few questions. I definitely recommend finding a bike shop that will walk you through all of your needs & concerns, to find you the perfect bike & the perfect fit.

Where do I live?
a. Seattle
b. New York
c. Santa Cruz
d. Chicago

The real question here is, what is the terrain? If you are riding steep hills you'll want more than just 3 speeds; you'll also want to tote around a lightweight bike, maybe even one with a little extra electric boost. Although you can still find kids riding fixies all over Seattle & San Francisco. Another thing to consider is the density of your city & the pace in which it moves, as well as the space that you live in. You may find that beach cruisers are too wide squeezing through traffic, next to parked cars or to fit in your tiny Manhatten apartment.

What kind of biking do I want to do?
a. Commute to work
b. Take long distance weekend rides & stay in shape
c. Off road and bike trails
d. Run errands & get around my neighborhood

As I talked about yesterday, different bikes are meant to cater to the type of riding you wish to do. If you are doing a short, slower commute to work & running errands on the weekend, you may be best off with a hybrid, recreational cruiser or electric bike. If you'd like to keep in shape with lengthy rides at a faster pace (ie you want to do the Seattle to Portland Ride in the next year) you'll want to get yourself on a road bike or a hybrid leaning in that direction. If you want to ride in the city as well as some gravel trails, hybrids are totally the way to go.

What is most important?
a. speed
b. comfort
c. compact
d. style

Generally speaking commuter hybrids, road bikes & fixies are the winners for speed. While commuter hybrics, recreational cruisers & some electric bikes seem to be front runners for comfort. More obviously, folding bikes are the most compact, but road bikes & fixies are usually pretty sleek & can fit into a studio or one bedroom apartment. As for style - that's personal.

What is your price range?

a. Under $200
b. $200-500
c. $500-$800
d. $800+

All styles & types of bikes can be found at different price ranges, depending on the quality & add ons you get. For a casual commuter, you could go as low as $350. Another thing that you can consider is going for a used bike while you test the waters. I grabbed my hybrid over 2 years ago for $100 at Velo & am still riding it to work most days & around town on the weekends. Check for used bikes at local shops or on craigslist.

Is there a style you like?
a. Colorful & trendy
b. Hi-tech & fast
c. Beach Cruiser & So-Cal
d. Vintage

Again, this is such a personal side of choosing a bike, but shouldn't be blown off. You should love your bike & feel good riding it!

I hope this helps for all of you debating about which bike to actually get. Remember to talk to someone at your local bike shop, they are the experts. You can also look here for further insight - Her Active Life, STL Biking, Ride the Wind & Seattle Woman.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What Bikes Are Out There?

Recreational Cruisers (Single to 8 Speed) - popular models include the Electra Amsterdam, Trek Cruisers, Trek Allant, Simple City Bikes & many Dutch Models.

Drop Handle Road Bikes - makers include Trek, Bianchi, Schwinn & Giant (for more see here).

Commuter Bikes (Hyrbids that can often separate into sport, city or comfort) - top commuters of 2009 from Metaefficient. AW Cycles has a good break down this category.

Electric Bikes - Models include the Giant Lite, Freedom & Express, Schwinn World & Continental, & eZee Bikes.

Folding Bikes - A great rundown here at Eco Geek & a Northwest resource.

Fixed Gear Bikes (Fixie) - single, fixed speed & oh so trendy. Best Fixies of 2009 over at Bike Forums.

Again, I want to welcome any input or comments that you might have here at Iva Jean Rides. I want to make sure that readers have the best information & sometimes you might be holder.

Monday, July 20, 2009

8 Reasons Biking in Seattle Had Me Freaked

I fantasized about biking in Seattle, a Seattle with no hills & me on a beautiful cruiser. But when I decided to make it happen, reality set in & I was intimidated. It seemed I had so much to learn; what kind of bike should I get, how the heck am I going to haul my stuff around, what do I really need to buy, how am I going to avoid dying? I had some friends to ask questions & coworkers that helped me get used to commuting, but what I needed most was to just start riding.

So, here we are - the 8 reasons biking in Seattle had me freaked...
  1. What kind of bike do I need & how much is this going to cost me?
  2. What am I going to wear (do I really need spandex shorts)?
  3. How will I haul my stuff around?
  4. How can I avoid dying & what are Seattle's bike laws?
  5. How can I avoid dying & how do I deal with cars & heavy traffic?
  6. What's the deal with loading my bike on the bus?
  7. How will I get there?
  8. Ummm, won't I be super sweaty (is there any route without a huge hill)?
In the next few weeks tell you all what I wish I would have known then. Just one girl that wanted to bike around a bit to another.

Image via Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pretty Bikes

Gary Fisher Bicycles presents the Simple City Bike, starting at just $600 heading up to $1000. They boast a European Frame in gorgeous colors with all of the wicker basket/leather accessories you want, but I wonder how heavy it actually is. I'm currently eying the 8W, maybe this weekend warrants a trip to Gregg's.

A friend recently purchased this adorable piece & it has me wanting something similar. The Trek Allant is a little more gear for your buck, a $570 7-speed.

Also to note - Apartment Therapy New York is all about the bike.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Saturday Ride to Fremont & Ballard

It was a beautiful day in Seattle & I was set to head out for a modest ride into Ballard. While this is my usual weekend ride, this time I went out with a purpose. My main destination was Dutch Bike Seattle but Brouwer's in Fremont ended up being the prize spot. This route is fairly easy with little incline & lots of trail. You'll start by rolling through Eastlake (maybe you could even grab breakfast at 14 carrots or luisa's before you start) then head over the University Bridge. Right after the bridge you circle the exit ramp to jump on the Burke-Gilman Trail. From there it's smooth sailing (unless of course your front brake cable snaps) to Ballard & Dutch Bike Seattle. I ohhhhh & ahhhhh'd over their inventory, but realized that I'm way to frugile to ever treat myself to their $1400+ bikes (as gorgeous as they are). I did chat with Fritz about possible basket set up, he was ever so helpful & made my day by complimenting the Motobecane. After that it was lunch at Brouwer's Cafe (640 beers & a lovely falafel sandwich).

My route home was less exciting. I actually wimped out & tried to take the 8 up Denny, but it never came & I ended up riding up the hill anyway. The day ends at Velo where they replaced my cable for next to nothing & added a rear rack, with a promise to have it ready in an hour. I'm excited to start looking for a basket or saddle bags.

Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop

The Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop is a six mile multi-purpose trail that stays surprisingly flat here in Seattle. Taken from the website, "The loop will create safe and attractive access to the lake for all Seattlites - connecting Gasworks and Lake Union Parks, linking more than 35 pocket parks, street ends and waterways that ring the lake, and improving access from adjacent neighborhoods, downtown, and the University of Washington."

You can download a great map available from Seattle Parks & Recreation; pointing out places of interest as well as the best roads to take if you want to shoot off to another neighborhood.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Girls On Bikes

Treehugger talks about women on bikes. I'm not sure why some points are specific to women, but valid either way. The article also includes links to other research & articles.

Image via JCSanchezm.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Drop Sequence by Snowblinded

Gorgeous print by Snowblinded'sAnthony Cozzi, part of Art Crank (a self-proclaimed poster show for bike people).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Good News

Interesting news from the Good Blogs - Berlin Says No to Fixed Gears

Also this Laser Bike Lane. Yup, good idea.

To Work

I woke up this morning ready to get on my bike for the first time since getting home; I have a hair apt in Belltown after work & cycling is the quickest way to get around for me. as I was packing my bag & figuring out what would fit, I decided that today I would bike to work in what I would wear to work. Geared up in my AA pencil skirt, patent flats & my new summer jacket, I took to the streets. getting to work in street clothes doesn't ever seem to be a problem, it's always the uphill ride home that has me worried. If I'm feeling too styley to ride my bike up that hill, I can easily ride down to Denny & put my bike on the #8.

Commute stats: 60 & sprinkling, 2.55 miles, 15 minutes, no drama
Route via G-maps Pedometer

Monday, July 6, 2009

Seattle Biking Resources

Some interesting links for all of us Seattle cyclists. Commute Seattle - a website & resource guide for commuters of all kinds. Plan your trip, get weather & traffic updates, or make a personal pledge. SDOT Bike Program & Plan - contains links to guide maps, riding etiquette, traffic codes & other resources.

Image via Brookem Danno.