She currently owns a mountain bike but feels too stretched out and thinks it is not really suited for what she wants and needs for her daily travels. She has never been a fan of "that clingy lycra stuff" and is a little intimidated by road bikes. She doesn't see the sense in putting on special cycling clothes for a trip to the store or for her 3 mile commute to work and return trip home. She just wants a comfortable utilitarian bike for daily use without compromising her personal style.
What she wants is style over speed.
(photo by Zakkaliciousness)
The answer to which bike will suit her needs was a simple one once we figured out she what wanted. Or more to the point what she didn't want. The bike of choice for her has been around since the beginning of the 20th century and is still in use by hundreds of thousands of people today. Because we here in the States have a burning need to label and catorgise everything. You may know it as a "Dutch Bike". The Europeans, Asians, Africans and rest of the known world outside of the US refer to it simply as "a bike".
Now that we knew what she wanted. All that we had to do now was find it. Which wouldn't be much of a task in places like Portland, Chicago or New York. But here in Jacksonville it turned out to be a whole other experience. I found several makes and models online which she then narrowed down to 3. All of the 3 chosen bikes listed local dealers (2 of them multiple dealers) and off we went to see if we could find those bikes or something like them.
Knowing our local bike shops as well as I do. I already knew that none of them wouldn't have these bikes in stock. But what I wasn't ready for was the attitude combined with an udder lack of knowledge of anything outside of their staple line of bikes. We would have most likely received the same blank stares followed by the patented "umm, ah what?" if we had walked in and asked for a flux-capacitor.
But the thing that had me about ready to commit an act that would have surly resulted in my arrest and the phrase, "film at eleven". Was the number of times we heard, "you don't want that" right after they had just uttered the infamous, "umm, ah what?".
How do you know we "don't want that" was all the reply I could muster without also performing the aforementioned act above. I just could not comprehend how these very highly trained professional bike shops employees could form such an intelligent well informed response from the simple request for a certain make & model of bike they had no idea even existed.
I must admit that a couple of the shops did take the time to ask a few questions before letting us know what we don't want. It was truly amazing how hard they would try and push hybrids or mountain bikes on us. Which they would also be so kind as to sell us shorter stems and riser bars so she could sit more up right. How so very nice of them.
When queried as to what my friend should do when she was wearing pants or a dress. The shop sales people were quick to reach for that reflective Velcro strip for her to wrap around her pants leg and they always just found someway of ignoring the dress dilemma.
It just seems our local bike shops cannot grasp that someone would want to ride something with only 3 speeds and internal gears on top of that, fenders, racks and a dress screen all on a frame with a little style. They don't (or won't) grasp that joe & jane public are not going to be training for the Tour De France or screaming through the trails of Hanna Park. They just want a convenient utilitarian bike for getting to stores and work. They don't understand people don't want to spend a half an hour squeezing into clothes that look as if a clown took a crap on them and wearing shoes that cause the wearer to walk like a duck. They just want to throw a leg over a bike and ride. And do it with some style.
When will our local bike shops pull their collective heads out of their ass and start to understand that bicycles can be more than just a source of recreation. That many people in these current economic times are starting to rethink their transportation options. And that just maybe they are selling one of the greatest sources of transportation ever invented. And that also just maybe more people would be willing to make a bicycle that choice if they could have just a little style over speed.
My friend did find the exact bike she wanted. 180 miles south in Melbourne, FL.
If you would like to see what style over speed looks like. Check out Copenhagen Cycling Chic.