I ride my bike around the city a lot more than I get to ride it in the dirt. It is a sad reality of life in the city, but what can you do? Since I’m a big gear head with a fashionista girlfriend, it stands to reason I’d eventually become intrigued with gear that works for casual riding in the urban setting as well as the gear I wear while shredding trail on the weekends.
I’ll admit I don’t wear a helmet on the street that often, since when I’m just cruising around at low speeds I don’t see the need to. Coming from a background riding BMX on the street, I have a skillset that translates to my city bikes as well; hopping up and over curbs and dodging in-attendant drivers simply raises the fun factor for me. That said, most casual cyclists don’t take the time to develop this sort of skillset, and wearing a helmet is never a bad idea. Most helmets have traditionally looked on the lame side though, especially if you’re dressed for a day in the office.
Yakkay is European company that has taken a novel approach to helmet design. Based out of Denmark, they produce a basic helmet similar to the classic dirt jump/ skate helmet, but offer a number of different covers for them, making your helmet look more like a hat. A very big, oversized hat. However, if you’re rolling through the business district in formal wear already, there is something to be said in having a helmet that matches your suit. Last time I checked, they weren’t available stateside, but it appears they have secured US distribution, and there are even three shops in SF set up as dealers. (none in Portland)
I’m still waiting for a helmet company to come up with a solution to the helmet hair problem, (not such a problem for me since I base my hairstyle around having messed up helmet hair) but in the meantime, check them out: Yakkay
SF is known for being the place the popularized messenger bags, and companies like Timbuk2, Chrome and Mission Workshop made their names with their take on the classic shoulder bag. Rickshaw Bags is one of the few manufacturers that still offer a custom made bag to order. You can choose and accessorize your bag on their site and even come watch bags being made at their in-house sew shop.
Check them out: Rickshaw Bags
On the subject of bags, this shoulder bag disguised as an old school boom box by High Fydelity combines form and function with integrated speakers that connect to your media player. While they’re definitely more of a lifestyle piece, they definitely cause a double-take. Get old school with their stereo bag. High Fydelity
I’ve never heard of Virtue Bikes before, but this city bike is kind of interesting. It has the clean lines of a fixed gear with no visible brake levers or cables, and has a coaster brake- perfect for the wanna be that has no business whatsoever riding sans brakes. Or for someone that just wants are super basic bike for getting around town. Full Chromoly frame and fork, 700c tires, double wall rims make for a decent spec that ends up keeping a small price tag. I believe they start at $300 or so, which is less than what you’ll generally find a chromoly frame going for, making them a genuine bargain. For that price you could tear it apart and paint it crazy to match your new Yakkay helmet. If I didn’t already have an classic old school lugged frame built up as my grocery bike already, I’d be all over something like this. And yes, the dropouts are slotted, so a quick rear wheel change later, you can go fixed and hang out at the cafe with the other kids in their skinny jeans and shoe lace belts. Check them out: Virtue Bike
Felt took a crack at getting into the freeride market last year when they sponsored Cam Zink to ride their bikes, and while their MTB line hasn’t really taken off, they offer a pretty sweet line of rides in nearly every category you can think of. Their take on the cruiser caught my eye, but they also have a three speed in their Fixie line that has me thinking. Check them out: Felt Bicycles
Seems like these cats are everywhere- now that Dirt Rag also publishes a companion magazine covering the Urban Bikescape, Bicycle Times, it was only logical they’d be on the scene in SF. Check it out: Bicycle Times