Cycle Chic on the Cheap
Yes, it's over the top. You won't be missed on a dark street, however. Photo of a Rotterdam bike via joancg @ flickr.
When the design world discovered that bike commuting is growing in leaps and bounds, city-style cyclists had to take the good with the bad. The good being better-designed solutions to our biking needs, the bad being that better-designed solutions to our biking needs obviously cost more than many of us frugal cyclists want to pay. So, here we comb the web and the TreeHugger archives for a few examples of bike commuting style-plus-affordability. Sometimes solutions don't entail much purchasing, just a bit of bike DIY.
1. Style and safety synonymous.A bike accessory gets cycle chic status if it manages to do a needed job consistently yet with panache. That's why these LFLECT scarves and hats from lost values get the nod in spite of their more-than-a-pittance price of £63.00 - £75 if you want a pompom at the top. That's $123 dollars to stateside buyers -- over the top for a hat. So, for the DIY enthusiast, there are glow-in-the-dark threads that would allow you to put a little bit of that magical light-up power into your own knitting project.
2. Consider a Cape.Charlotte at Chic Cyclists lusted after the cape at Dashing Tweeds but couldn't handle the big £450.00 price tag. So she made one at home for less than $10 of materials. Her cape turned out great. If you need this type of style but in a waterproof variety, try to find an inexpensive raincape such as those from Magellan's for $34 or for men from BicycleClothing.com for $45, and dress it up yourself with reflective trim.
3. Splurge on the Right All-purpose Item.Whether you swear by full retail (my partner) or try never to buy anything that isn't marked down at least 20% (me), for stylish bike commuting you need to be ready to spend on at least one great piece of outerwear that suits your personality and your biking style, and perhaps can do double or triple duty. For me it was a full-price Do You Velo? jacket, which combines great features: wide cut for lots of room for layers, waterproof fabric, and armband reflectors (they'll tuck into the sleeves if you don't want to see them). For men it might be this great but pricey Arc'teryx Veilance blazer -- no steal at over $800 but definitely a bike-to-boardroom item. And lest you think it sounds absurd to spend that much on a jacket, Arc'teryx has a devoted following of people who love its attention to detail and the 'practical' lifetime guarantee.
Warm and toasty in chilly fall temps - the only article of performance gear is wind-proof pants - extra layering in the basket. Photo c.mascher.
4. Learn to Layer.For this, you don't need to buy anything. If you've got a great outerwear layer (see above) the layering doesn't usually need to be high-performance gear. You can wear your work clothes, just bring extra layers for warmth. This is where those old wool sweaters, scratchy socks, and vintage cashmere coats from Goodwill really come in handy. Also long-sleeved cotton t-shirts that can be stylish and practical.
5. Reflect your personality.Reflectors, along with lights, are a big part of safe cycling as the northern hemisphere gets into late fall and winter temperatures. Reflectors really don't need to be boring - have fun with reflective tape or reflective ribbon. You can also dangle plastic reflectors from the back of your jacket, as above, or glue them to your mud flaps. Or take a page from Chic Cyclist and grab a handful of "slap bracelets" with reflector tape and use them as pants cuff holders but also as bracelets -- the more the merrier.
Photo Jerome's bikes.