The self-appointed ambassador for beautiful bike bags

Swing Velvet

For those in search of a bag that works on and off the bike, there’s now even more choice than ever

Once upon a time – a little over two years ago, to be precise – I started out on my quest to find the perfect bike bag.

Back then, the majority of bike bags out there were generally rather ugly and utilitarian. Surely, I thought, given cycling’s ever growing popularity, there was a market for stylish bike bags?

Judging by the response I had to my initial post, I was right.

It’s by far my most popular post, representing around 10 per cent of my total page hits to date. It’s also had more comments than just about any other post – and is still getting them now. Continue reading

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Beyond pink: The rise of the female-specific bike shop

Everyone BikesWalking into Everyone Bikes, in Battersea, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d wandered into a boutique rather than a bike shop.

Everything here has been laid out with an eye to its visual appeal – from the helmets, forming a colourful display along one white, minimalist wall, to the clothes, draped from wooden hangers towards the back of the shop. There are bikes, yes, but they don’t dominate the shop. It’s a calm, clutter-free space – one that owner Alex Coleman describes as “a relaxing environment” and “a comfortable place to come and ask questions.”

If this doesn’t sound like your typical bike shop, that’s because it’s not. Continue reading

Dear Father Christmas…

I wonder what will be under the Christmas tree this year?

I wonder what will be under the Christmas tree this year?

It’s December. How did that happen? One minute I was riding home from work in broad daylight, trying to find ways to cool off, and the next minute it’s dark and cold, and I’m wearing head-to-toe waterproofs on an almost daily basis.

And it’s almost Christmas. That kind of snuck up on me, too. Life has kind of taken over lately, hence why this blog has been so quiet. What with getting ready to be a student again in January, and sorting out a visit to my boyfriend in America for the new year, I almost forgot about that little thing called Christmas. Continue reading

Bike dreams (part two)

Cityglide or Specialized - which is it to be?

Cityglide or Specialized – which is it to be?

In last week’s installment, the prospect of yet another expensive repair to the Trusty Steed led me to think about retiring him – and my idle daydreams of a beautiful new bike took a step closer to becoming reality

Ah, the beautiful Norco Cityglide 8…so pretty and yet so practical. Could this be my bike of dreams?

There was only one thing for it. I had to take it for a test ride.

In my experience, there are two possible outcomes to a test ride. One is that I fall hopelessly in love, and can think of nothing else but how wonderful the bike is and what a difference it will make to my life – with the inevitable consequence that I cannot rest until I’ve bought it. The other is that a bike I’ve spent days drooling over turns out to be rather more prosaic than I’d been imagining, and my dreams are left in tatters. Continue reading

Bike dreams

The ever faithful Trusty Steed - but is it time to retire him?

The ever faithful Trusty Steed – but is it time to retire him?

Dear readers, I have a confession to make. I have cheated on the Trusty Steed.

It started, as these things usually do, innocently enough. One quiet afternoon at work an email advertising Evans Cycles’ end of summer sale landed in my inbox. I had nothing pressing on my to do list at the time, so I clicked through.

As I glanced through the array of slightly-cheaper-than-usual bikes, one of them caught my eye. The Norco Cityglide 3 – a beautiful powder blue, three-speed town bike. Not a brand I’d ever heard of before, but never mind that. My head had been turned. Continue reading

Tweed Run – 17 May 2014

A little light refreshment along the way

A little light refreshment along the way

In a narrow, winding street just off Clerkenwell Green, lined with shuttered shops and old warehouses converted into modern office space, all was quiet. Except for me and a man out walking his dog it was completely deserted. There was no indication that anything was going to happen to make this particular Saturday afternoon any different from every other Saturday afternoon in this part of town.

And then from around the corner a lone cyclist appeared, dressed in head-to-toe tweed and riding a vintage bicycle. Continue reading

Review – The Girls’ Bicycle Handbook, by Caz Nicklin

The Girls' Bicycle Handbook - a female-friendly introduction to cycling

The Girls’ Bicycle Handbook – a female-friendly introduction to cycling

When I first started riding a bike in London, I knew next to nothing about cycling or bikes.

I thought hugging the kerb would make me safer, and if I had to turn right I would get off and walk my bike rather than risk venturing further out into the traffic.

I couldn’t name most bits on my bike, let alone know what to do if anything wasn’t working. I couldn’t fix a puncture, replace a brake pad or even put my chain back on if it came off.

I thought wearing hi-viz and a helmet was compulsory; the idea that it was possible to look good while cycling never crossed my mind. Continue reading

Spin Ldn – 28-30 March 2014

Spin Ldn - in the heart of Brick Lane

Spin Ldn – in the heart of Brick Lane

It was while I was talking to Jon of Fresh Fabrications that it all started to make sense. I’d been at Spin Ldn for a couple of hours by that point, and in my wanderings had noted that – compared to last year – there was little in the way of cycle fashion on display. Hold on, I thought. I thought this show was meant to be about cycling and looking good while doing so. Where’s the style?

And then Jon said something that made me look at the show afresh. I’d just confessed that the main reason why I’d like a custom bike – not that I can afford one – is so that I could have a bike that looked exactly how I wanted it to look. Rather than turning away in horror at my shallowness, Jon agreed with me. Looks are important, he said. Just like people dress a certain way to express themselves, people want a bike that says something about who they are.

And that’s when it hit me. Of course – it’s all about the bike. Continue reading

Review – Cassandra coat, by Water Off A Duck’s Back

jacket-velovixenMy friend casts an admiring glance at me as she opens the front door. “Ooh, nice coat. Very smart.”

It’s not often I get compliments for a cycling jacket – but then the Cassandra coat is no ordinary cycling jacket.

Water Off a Duck’s Back was born out of owner Antonia Maybury’s frustration at the lack of stylish waterproof cycling gear. As she says, ‘I take care and pride in my appearance and I love cycling.  It baffled me that there was nothing out there that looked stylish and was waterproof, breathable and made you visible after dark.’ And so she set about designing her own. Continue reading

Review – Goodordering handlebar bag

It looks great - but how well does it work?

It looks great – but how well does it work as a bike bag?

Let’s face it – most bags designed for use on a bike are not particularly attractive.

The demands of practicality and function mean that aesthetics are usually the poor relation. For those of us who want a bike bag that looks like something we’d carry when we’re not on our bikes, this can be a little frustrating.

Thankfully, with the rise in urban cycling and cycle chic, an increasing number of companies are coming to realise there’s a market for bags that work both on and off the bike. Continue reading