News flash: it’s hot out there. By “there,” we mean everywhere. The sun is oppressive, and the humidity pervasive.
Of course, there are the traditional remedies: Slip ’N Slides, ice baths, water-balloon fights and the like. But sometimes, there’s no better way to shake the thick summer heat than hopping on your bike and getting a bit of wind in your hair. And as always, we think you should look good doing it.
So we searched high and low for the sartorial upgrades your summer cycling requires.
Normally, we’d support the move (certainly better than SUVs), but we have to worry for the state of their clothes. If the well-coiffed model in question actually mounted that bike, his cotton shirt would be sweaty-going-on-gross inside of 10 minutes. It’s more like bike style in theory.
Bike style usually doesn’t quite reach the decadent-rock-star vibe…but it’s getting closer all the time. This Epitaph bike is the closest yet. The upholstered leather seat is a start, but the chunky metal frame is what makes it look like the kind of thing Keef would ride through his dining room. And since it wouldn’t be rock ‘n’ roll without a little excess, the front and back wheels each come with two tires apiece. Just because they can.
Khakis usually make for unusually bad biking pants—the pant cuff tends to find its way into the bike gears, except on the slimmest of the slim fit—but Dockers gave their pants a run for its money in one of the toughest gigs in the biking world: Berlin’s World Bike Polo Championship.
These scruffy gents are from the American team, bankrolled and (more importantly) outfitted by Dockers. The slim tapered pair on the left seems to have escaped any chain-related chewing, which speaks for the experiment pretty well—although we’d like to see those pant legs rolled up a little more. Still, count it as one more reason to avoid anything that describes itself as “relaxed fit.”
The Tour de France finished up yesterday and, just like that other earth-shaking Euro-heavy sporting event you might remember, the top prize went to the Spanish—specifically one Alberto Contador. It was good sport, sure, but more importantly it gave rise to some spectacular revelry on the sidelines, including a squad of faux-caveman, a spandex-wearing devil and and a gentleman who seemed to be preparing for a joust. Suddenly, the face-painters at the Garden look downright tame.
Take, for instance, the case of Velo Orange. Their stock-in-trade is bike hardware: shifters, fenders, cranksets and everything else. It’s handsome enough, but not exactly essential gear. But when they turned their attention to bike storage, they had the connections to track down a 50s-era Japanese luggage company and end up with some of the most handsome bike gear we’ve seen since…well, this.
They’ve got panniers (the ones that hang alongside the back wheel) and baskets (the ones that hang over the front wheel), but our favorite is this bag that suspends itself perfectly still over the back tire. It’s perfect for any picnics or unusually refined tailgating you may have in your future. And, thanks to the enduring frugality of the biking crowd, none of it will set you back more than $150.
Amid the current craze for things that are what they are, we came across this bicycle bell that makes the point just about perfectly. It’s a single hammer against a perfect brass bell, and the same Japanese firm has been churning them out since ’74. In America, you’ll have to go to Cooper Hewitt's Design Museum to find it. Because, naturally, it's too perfect to just pick up in a store.
Carrying things on a bike can be dicey at times—we’re usually more focused on not getting run over—but it’s nothing some clever design can’t fix. This Eames-y bike rack holds a six pack just about perfectly. It maxes out at 12 cans, but that’s why you’ve got friends. According to the site, it can also be used to carry things other than beer…but that’s where they lose us.
A Brooks saddle is pretty handsome to begin with, but Kara Ginther has managed to make them even better, thanks to some leather carving tools and some clever design. These bike seats (hat tip) are designed to look like anything from a vintage map to a Fair Isle sweater. And if you've got an even better design in mind, it won't be hard to arrange; at the moment, they’re all custom jobs, arranged through Ginther’s Etsy site.
If you’ve been adventurous enough to join in for Bike to Work Week, you may have noticed a slight problem: it’s damn hard to bring a briefcase along on one of those things. Most baskets aren’t large or deep enough to accommodate one, and keeping it strapped to your torso is asking for a wreck. Luckily, it’s a problem Europeans have been dealing with for a while now, and they’ve come up with a handsome leather solution.
It's called a frame bag, courtesy of a German shop called Retrovelo (hat tip). It's perfectly sized to hold a laptop, and still small enough to dangle between bike wheels. More importantly, it’s got a handle on the top, so you can unclip it when you reach the office and treat it like a briefcase for the rest of the day. Consider us sold.