Thursday, February 11, 2010

Beautiful Bicycles

If I were to have a significant influx of disposable income, I would have a hard time stopping myself from hopping in a car and driving right to Chicago to pick up these beauties:

Abici Sveltina Donna
image from

Perfect for the days when I just want to race along. I love the mixte frame, the angle of the handlebars, the color blue and the gorgeous pattern of the wheel spokes.

Abici Grandturismo Donna

Perfectly impractical where I live because she only has one speed, but isn't she lovely? She makes me long for summers and sun dresses. Plus, she comes in an assortment of wonderful colors.

Azor Oma

My absolute favorite. Someday, I will have an Oma. Not only is she beautiful, but her features make her extremely practical. I load some groceries onto a front rack and give a friend a ride on the back. She has the potential to be a true car replacement. I look at this bicycle and my heart aches a little bit.

Many people will scoff at the prices of these bicycles, especially in a country that sees bikes as recreation or sport, not transportation, and that defines "value" as "costing as little as possible," with little regard for quality, ethics, or even aesthetics.

These bicycles are all made out of steel, are lugged (no ugly welds here), have strong wheels and durable tires, and comfortable leather saddles. Not to mention all of the practical extras on the Oma, like a full chaincase, skirt guard, wheel lock, dynamo lighting, and strong rear rack. They're classics, look beautiful, and will last a lifetime. They stand up against our throwaway culture.

I remember one of my dear friends telling me that she would buy a cheap backpack every year, because the amount of books she carried ruined them so quickly. She never seemed to consider that perhaps her backpacks only lasted one season because their cheap quality could not handle the stress she put them through. I've had the same good-quality backpack for about 10 years now, and while it's never had to carry a load of organic chemistry textbooks, it has survived high school, college, and trips abroad. Yes, the backpack cost more upfront, but I'm fairly certain that that price was less than what my friend spent on backpacks during the last 10 years.

My point is, quality costs more, and particularly for things you use everyday, the extra cost is usually worth it.

I know that many people cannot afford these bicycles. I can't either, right now, but if I start tucking away a little money each month, I could one day. Many people could, if having a beautiful, functional bicycle was a priority for them (Lovely Bicycle wrote an excellent post about affording beautiful bicycles - read about it here). What bothers me more is when people who could, with a little creative thinking, live car-lite or even car free, complain about the prices of a quality city bicycle. I would ask them to consider that they are paying for their cars in terms of car payments, repairs, gas, insurance, etc. Compared to that, the Oma is a steal!

I live in a rural area and so I depend on a car for many things. But in the summer, I try to minimize car trips by riding my bike to work or the grocery store (Aaron and I already have a date planned for next summer - ride our bikes to the movie theater!). It takes longer but I enjoy the time more and I spend less money on gas, feel better physically and emotionally, and hopefully contribute a little more beauty to the world.

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