I'm in a cycling state of mind, and not just because the Tour de France starts this weekend. After a stint roaming around city streets while I was on vacation, I'm hooked on finding the best bike to do the same at home. But as a beginner city cyclist I'm overwhelmed by all the information and choices available. To dip my feet in the bicycling waters, I checked out the bikes at Lombardi's Sports, a local sport shop, and learned some tips from the bike specialists there. The first thing they recommend is to figure out the main purpose for your shiny new ride. Knowing a rough percentage of the time you envision yourself commuting to work or whether you primarily want to use your bike for exercise will help you decide whether a road, hybrid, or mountain bike is for you. Read on for more recommendations for first-time bike buyers.
Longer, warmer days mean it's time to dust off your bike and get pedaling. If you pull your bike out of storage only to find one of your tires is flat, fear not. You can fix it. Here are step-by-step instructions from Trek Bikes. The company, which has a great line of women-specific designed bikes, wants to help get gals two wheelin' — be it on the road or mountain.
An unexpected flat tire, when out on a long ride, can be a serious bummer. That's why it is good to practice your tire changing skills. Why not take a rainy afternoon and play with your bike if the weather is keeping you from cycling?
Tools needed: tire levers, bike pump, and if you don't have quick release wheels, you will need an Allen key
Run like the wind. Any mama who's visited a park in the past two years knows the balance bike craze is showing no signs of slowing down. The bikes, long a teaching tool for lil ones overseas, have reshaped the way American tykes have learned to ride a two-wheeler.
The latest to join the lineup on the bike rack is YBike ($80), a plastic version of the bike that is designed for the younger tots. With a unique motorcycle-like design, including an extended front fork angle, and available in four bright colors, the bike is sure to catch kids' eyes. The company sent over a fun orange version for us to test. Keep reading to see what I thought.
Who is this product designed for? Though the instructions that came with the bike state that it is designed for tots ages 2-5, it seems better suited for younger ones, probably 2-4 that are ready to move beyond the tricycle.
What sets it apart? The lightweight, injection molded plastic makes for a light bike that can easily be transported to various locations. With two closely aligned rear wheels, the bike is more stable than traditional walking bikes, and it can stand independently, a real plus for teaching lil ones to turn and stop. It can also be used both in and outdoors, making it great for enthusiastic kids who insist on riding their bikes at all times.
What could be better? We found the steering column, and wheels, to be a bit stiff, slowing the biking experience. While this is great for a new rider, more experienced ones may find it discouraging. The plastic wheels also make for a louder, less smooth ride than their rubber, pressurized cousins.
How long did my child ride it? Though my son is used to a metal bike at school, he was very comfortable on the YBike and rode it for a half hour straight.
Would I buy it? If I were buying a gift for a 2-year-old, I would buy this bike in a second! For older tots, who are closer to riding a two-wheel bike, I would seek out a balance bike with rubber tires and only two wheels for an easier transition to a pedal bike.
Just before I left for a weekend trip to Portland, OR, I heard about an especially geeky bike path that someone had painted on a newly paved stretch of North Williams Avenue in Northeast Portland. And luckily, the bike path was on the way to an especially yummy brunch spot, so I got to check it out for myself!
The path is painted with stenciled details from Mario Kart — banana peels, shells, mushrooms, and a star at the end. While there were only six or seven designs stenciled onto the street (mostly banana peels), it's a cute touch to an otherwise nondescript half-mile of bike path. Check out the designs in the photos below; I'm not sure how legal it is to stencil art onto the street, but you have to admit it's completely cute.
As someone who regularly bikes in the city ("the city" being San Francisco), there are a few things that I always have on me. Things that I think work well for anyone who bikes in an urban environment. First things first, safety — both for you and for your bike. That means bike lights, a helmet, and a lock to secure your bike with. When it comes to actual riding, I opt for cute moisture wicking tops and padded bike shorts that are discreet enough to wear under my everyday clothes. And because you never know what you'll get while out, having a basket or small bike bag is a must. To find out more about an item, or to buy it for yourself, click on the image above.
As someone who lives on her bike, I get seriously bummed whenever I hear that someone's bike was stolen. The former first daughter — Jenna Bush Hager — and her husband had their mountain bikes stolen from their garage last Friday. Making matters worse, the Trek bikes were pretty pricey, totaling $3,500. Not a cheap loss by any means. This whole episode reminded me of the importance of properly locking and storing your bike, something I've become pretty good about. And though I may sound a little paranoid, I live in an urban area where bike theft is not only common, it's rampant.
Here are a few reminders when it comes to proper locking technique:
- Take extra precautions and store your bike inside of your home. Based on personal experience, I know that it's a lot easier for thieves to get into a garage, which is why I keep my bike in my hallway. If space is an issue and you have to keep your bike outside or in the garage, still make a point to lock it up. A friend of mine locks her bike to her backyard stairwell railing.
- Start off with a secure lock. The more important your bike is to you, the better the lock should be. All bike shop owners I know say to invest in a U-lock because these protect best against bolt cutters — Kryptonite is known as making some of the best out there. I also have locking skewers for my wheels and bike seat so they can't be removed with a simple Allen wrench. At the very least, ditch the quick release skewer on your front wheel so it's not an easy target for thieves, or make sure to always lock that front wheel. Also, the less wiggle room in your lock, the harder it will be for a thief to fit a jack inside of it.
To find out the rest of my tips, read more
Tis the season to get outside! Summer is approaching, and what better way to enjoy the fabulous weather than to hop on your bike and go for a spin. Not only is biking great exercise for desk-bound geeks, but it also is a fun way to practice your photog skills — you may discover some picture-perfect sights you can't see from the driver's seat of your car.
Worried about finding a way to get from point A to B? Well you shouldn't be, since Google Maps now offers bike directions on your BlackBerry smartphones (along with your iPhone and Android handsets). Just plug in your destination, choose "travel by bicycle," and Google Maps will not only provide a safe bike route, but it will also show you bicycle-only trails (dark green), roads with bike lanes (light green), and roads that are safe for bikes but that don't have a dedicated lane for your ride (dashed green). This way, you can decide if you want to take the suggested route, or make one of your own. And if you tack on this newly announced Nokia bike-powered charger, well then, you can just ride around all day! Happy exploring!
UK-based designer Sung Kug Kim debuted his Bi-King antler bike handlebars at ICFF this year. Not only are they hilariously brilliant and take the antler trend to a whole new level, but they're also beautifully polished, made of wood and chrome. What do you think? Would you rock these antler handlebars on your two-wheeler?
Did you know May is National Bike Month? You don't have to bike 38 miles to work like one guy did, but it would be cool to participate in style. Cute girls on bikes are all the rage these days — street style photogs get snap crazy over them — so here are loads of inspiration from all over the world, including this one from Amsterdam. There's even a shot of me on my cruiser in Costa Rica. Bike on.
Get excited because May is National Bike Month! Now is the perfect time to start biking to work, planning weekend bike dates with friends and family, or try out cycling for the first time. The Spring weather makes it even better too. I've already had plenty of days of biking in my shorts, and I haven't needed to bundle up to keep my fingers and toes protected from the cold wind.
In celebration of National Bike Month, why not head over to the FitSugar Community page and join the Sweet on Biking group? It doesn't matter if you ride a fixie or a hybrid, commute, or are a weekend warrior — if you have a love of being on two wheels, join the group! And if you're new to cycling, Sweet on Biking will be an invaluable place to learn more about the sport. See you there!