Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reader Question: Upright, Mixte, or Classic Road?

A reader emailed me a question and gave me permission to answer the question in a blog post. Here is her question:

Love your blog -- you're a woman after my own heart.   But clearly more educated than me. What I mean to say is, I'm a naive casual cyclist but mean to become an everyday cyclist. I care about function but I also care deeply about aesthetics (as you also seem to), as I am a designer by trade.

I don't currently have a bicycle as I was laid off (in 2009) just as my bike was stolen. :( (<-- That Sucked) I have been long-term borrowing sisters' and friends' but it's time to grow up. And by grow up, I mean take my parents up on their offer to buy me any bike, whatever I want, "get a good one." (!!!!)

If I may, let me lay out my sitch: 
  • I don't own a car, I live in Seattle, I pretty much will bike anywhere (bars, errands, work) in a variety of clothing (jeans, skirts, boots)
    • This makes me think I should get an upright.
  • I will be biking in a variety of weather (I mean, it's Seattle oftentimes in rain). 
    • This makes me think I should have fat tires.
  • It's also very hilly where I live. I also am toying with doing a triathlon and training for that.
    • This makes me think I should go for a fast, light, geared road bike.
I have been reading your posts but I wanted a visceral reaction from you to this dilemma: If I were to buy ONE bike right now, what would you choose for me - upright? mixte? or classic road? ughhh hybrid?

I know you're a busy lady but honestly, your feedback would mean a lot to me. I don't know where to start.

Many thanks,

Manny this is a great question, and I'm going to fearlessly tackle it head on. I say get the mixte.  I would not want to ride around a 50 lb upright bike in a city with hills - no way. So I would take that off the list immediately. You would also not be able to consider triathlon training on a bike like that. A well-built mixte like the Rivendell Betty Foy or the Sweetpea A-Line seem tailor made to suit your needs. I've never had the pleasure of trying those bikes, so I'm taking a bit of a leap of faith, but I've read a lot about them. They are both gorgeous bikes so I feel confident that they will satisfy aesthetically! They can be fitted with racks, fenders, baskets - whatever you need or want.

Photo via Rivendell

Photo via Sweetpea

I've been riding my Pashley Princess Sovereign for close to a year now and I have to tell you - there are problems. I feel that the range of where I can ride it is very limited because it is so heavy and slow. (I'll be writing a more extensive post on this later.) On the upside, I do feel like I'm riding a work of art. I just wouldn't advise you to have something like that as your only bike.

As far as the classic road bike goes - it would be good because it would be fast and efficient but you might have trouble wearing certain types of clothing and you might get dirtier than you want. On the mixte you can easily fit it with fenders to keep you clean. Also on the mixte, you'd  have room to put on fatter tires (especially with the Rivendell) if that's what you want to do.