Tag Archives: Velorbis

Little Miss Muddy: Coco in the Rain

Trisha showed you her Little Miss Messy coffee-stained Abici and now I’ll show you my Little Miss Muddy Velorbis. On Wednesday I rode Coco, my Velorbis, in the rain for the first time.  I discovered that the gorgeous cream-colored frame shows mud quite clearly.  I’m not good at keeping my bikes clean, but I definitely have to wipe Coco down after the rain.

Although Coco’s aesthetics suffer in the rain, her performance is top notch.  The substantial fenders, chain case, and internal brakes are perfect for keeping me clean and stopping on a dime.  The super cushy Fat Frank tires are a big bonus and make Coco the best among my bikes for riding in the rain.  Normally, I feel paranoid riding on slick roads and through puddles, but the stability and comfort of the fat tires made me feel completely secure. I love those tires.

As for myself, I dealt with the rain fine.  I wore my Patagonia trench rain coat (not pictured below), which caught most of the drizzle.  My wool tights and tweed skirt dried quickly and my helmet protected my hair.

So that’s it. I made it through a 30 minute drizzly bike commute a-okay.  By the time I got to work, I was a little bit more in love with Coco than before.

What aspects of your bike help (or not) when riding in the rain?

 

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Bicycle Favoritism

Like a parent, I really can’t choose a favorite among my three bikes Oma, Betty and Coco. But I do go through periods when I heavily favor one over the others. Right now, it’s Betty’s time in the spotlight.

For the past month and a half, I’ve been riding Betty Foy exclusively. (April 7 was our 2-year anniversary!) I missed her so much during winter, as soon as the ice cleared and I got her tuned up, she became my ride of choice day after day. She’s so fun and breezy. I haven’t ridden Oma since the weather cleared two months ago because she still has studded tires and I hadn’t ridden Coco since…let me check the archives…March 31.

That changed on Wednesday, when I pulled Coco out for the day.

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And boy, am I glad I did! She’s a lovely bike and those Fat Frank tires are so cushy. I feel different when I’m perched atop her riding straight up. Once I break in the Brooks saddle, the comfort level will be perfection.

As for Oma – getting her studded tires swapped out is on my to-do list for this weekend. So Betty may have to take a back seat again for a while.

On another note, after all my talk of allergies, I finally went to a doctor yesterday and learned that I don’t have allergies at all (good!), but a two week virus (basically a bad cold). I plan to bike today even though I feel like crap because I can’t stand a second day on the L. (There’s a double meaning with “stand” – get it?)

Happy Friday!

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Bicycle-Love Fashion

Hi, there! To follow up on the serious and fascinating discussion going on about the Mary Poppins effect, I’ve got some fashion fluff for you.

I’m not one to wear special cycling clothes, but that does not apply to creative bike-themed fashion.  The outfit below, for example (see also, my Makool bike locket).

Maureen of Inspired Cyclist sent me this beautiful printed t-shirt from Target.  How sweet is this??  The t-shirt’s red and pink hearts perfectly match my new Nutcase helmet.

I put the two together with a pink hoodie, black jeggins and cool earrings made from old tire tubes that I bought at the Bike Winter Art Show (can’t remember the woman’s name!).  Then I biked on Coco downtown to see God of Carnage at the Goodman Theatre, which was an amazing play.

Back to my new Nutcase helmet: so sweet!  

I first saw a photo of this design from the Spring 2011 line on City Girl Rides and knew I had to make it mine.  (Do you know City Girl Rides? Good stuff!!)

Nutcase’s website does not list this design and my local bike shop didn’t have it yet, so I emailed Nutcase directly and quickly got a reply email with a link to a shop in Cali that had some in stock.  Score!

The $60 price tag made me hesitate, but I rationalized that if divided into price per wear, it would be pennies a day. ;)


Altogether, I was a very happy cycling lady!  

P.S.  Mr. Dottie was there, too, but evaded my camera.  He sent Sir Raleigh as his LGRAB ambassador.  :)

Anyone else have bike-themed fashion you just love?

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Winter Cycling to the Shakespeare Theater

My love for Chicago is largely based on bike-ability and access to culture.  I try to take advantage of these as much as possible and, as a result, my favorite activity is cycling to see a play at the Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier.  This always makes for a lovely Saturday: 12 miles of bicycling, a stop at the bar for a bourbon, and an imaginative and original Shakespeare production.

On this particular Saturday, going to see As You Like It, the Chicago weather was on my side: a temperature of 32 degrees felt nice in comparison to usual winter temps.  My outfit of jeggings (oh yes, I bought jeggings – and I love them!), long wool sweater, and tall boots kept me warm. I was able to ride along the Lakefront path most of the way, diverting to the inner Lakeshore Drive for the stretch that is not plowed.

It’s a good thing that we love to cycle to Navy Pier because getting there otherwise is a pain. Public transportation to the Pier is not direct, requiring two L trains and a trolley from my place, while parking is at least $25 for a couple of hours (not that I have a car to park).

Navy Pier during the winter has an isolated and slightly Kafkaesque mood that I love.

That’s why I love going to the Shakespeare Theater so much. Not only for the excellent productions, but for the time spent cycling there and back along the car-free Lakefront, as well as the time meandering down the Pier – a combination of my favorite parts of Chicago.

I have a long history of cycling to the Shakespeare Theater, which you can read about in the following posts:

With Jennifer from Scotland
Almost exactly one year ago
Through the rain
Shortly after acquiring Betty Foy
Almost exactly two years ago
One of my first LGRAB posts

Where is your favorite place to cycle?

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Coco’s Geometry

Because of the icy weather, I have not been riding Coco, my Velorbis Studine Balloon, as much as I desperately want to, choosing instead my studded-tire bike.  I can count the substantial rides I’ve taken with her on one hand – not enough for a real review, but enough to talk a bit here and there as I get to know her better.

After my first work commute with Coco a couple of weeks ago, I talked about her ride.  In that post, I mentioned how Coco’s geometry is different from Oma’s, even though the two look like similar style bikes.  The photos below demonstrate how Coco’s distinctive geometry affects my riding position.

As you can see, my hips and legs are aligned almost straight down, while my torso is slightly leaned forward.  My posture is straight, but not totally upright.  You can compare to my positioning on Oma here.

I thought this geometry difference would cause my legs to work more, but thus far I have not noticed a difference in the amount of energy required for pedaling. If anything, Coco may be a bit swifter, although I’m still trying to determine if that’s all in my head.

The geometry does make slight differences to the details of my ride. For example, starting from a stoplight is easier. My foot on the raised pedal simply goes straight down to propel the bike forward; I don’t have to simultaneously push down and forward on the pedal while my other foot pushes off the ground. Another detail is that I can stand up on the pedals for a boost of energy, which I cannot do on Oma. Also, good posture is easy to maintain; I don’t have to keep telling myself to sit up straight and roll my shoulders back as I do when riding Oma.

These subtle differences are hard to describe, but they make riding the two bikes not as similar as some may assume.

I do realize I’m firmly in the “splitting hairs” territory that EcoVelo recently wrote about. To me, at least, Coco and Oma are like apples and oranges. :)

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Coco’s Ride

I rode Coco to work Monday, before Tuesday’s snowfall sent me back to Oma and her studded tires.  I was so giddy to have a new bike, I decided to take Coco on a spin to the lakefront during lunch with my camera and a roll of film.

I haven’t ridden Coco enough yet to provide in-depth opinions on how she performs, but I’ll offer some initial thoughts.  She feels great!  The ride is similar to Oma’s and nothing like Betty Foy’s.  She weighs a bit less than Oma and is a bit more sprightly, but speed (or lack of it) and comfort are on pretty much par.

There are some notable differences.  First, Coco’s balloon tires are super cushy and help me laugh in the face of Chicago’s potholes and train tracks (one of my biggest fears).  Second, Coco has only three gears.  I ended up using all three gears during my ride, depending on incline (ramps in and out of the Lakefront Trail) and wind direction, and the range felt spot on.  Third, Coco’s geometry is almost straight up and down, but a tiny bit bent forward to reach the handlebars, whereas Oma’s geometry is a tiny bit leaned back with legs pushing a tiny bit forward.  I thought this would make riding Coco feel substantially different after a few miles, but my body felt the same while pedaling and once I arrived at work, no more or less fatigued or energized.

I probably don’t even need to mention looks.  She’s a beauty that I love to gaze at.  Beauty should not be underestimated when choosing a bike.  If you’re going to ride a bike every day, it should call out to you.  Coco certainly accomplishes that!

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The Name Game

My new bike is perfectly lovely so far! Yesterday I took her to work and back and also for a lunchtime joy ride. I’ll write more about those rides later. For now I’m still mulling over her name. I briefly considered Chanel based on her rich and sophisticated look, but that would be a bit silly.

Maybe she is more of a crunchy granola hippie type, with her fun and rustic Fat Frank tires. What name would that be: Hope? Sunshine? :)

No, that’s really not her personality. She’s sweet and sophisticated. I think she may be a Chantilly.

Chantilly is my top choice, but I’m not ready to make anything official. I know there are quite a few Rustine fans, but that makes me think of my mom’s big, butch dog, Rusty.

Whatever her name, she certainly gets looks and compliments from all around, including from two midwestern tourists asking directions to H&M, two fur-coated women laden with shopping bags as they left the Chanel boutique (“and look at that bell!”), and a guy in lycra on a nice steel road bike, who said his wife would love it.

Sadly, Chantilly (?) will be staying home today. Snow is falling with several inches expected and the roads look treacherous. I could take Oma with her winter tires, but after a very stressful ride home in the falling snow on Friday, which included being buzzed, nearly right-hooked, honked at, and a car sliding next to me, I’m reminded why I hate riding in the the falling snow. Sure, fresh snowflakes are pretty, but the logistics of riding in the city don’t work out for me. So I am off for the L train. Once the snow stops and the plows have time to clear the roads, I’ll be back out there.

Update 1/13 – Coco it is!  Thanks for the suggestion, neighbortease.  I may hang on to Chantilly and say she’s Coco for short.  I’ll have to wait and see what comes naturally.

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Beautiful Bicycles: Meet My New Bike!

Drum roll, please…

After a teaser several weeks ago, I’m happy to report that a new bike has finally joined the Dottie household:  A Velorbis Studine Balloon: designed in Denmark, made in Germany and sold in Chicago at Copenhagen Cyclery.

Rust-colored Schwalbe Fat Frank balloon tires, creamy white steel frame…

Integrated rear rack with briefcase hook…

Wheel lock, double kick stand, chain case…

Bell, comfy rubber grips…

3-speed Sturmey Archer internal hub…

Brooks saddle, rattan basket, fenders, all around super classiness…

Alas, no integrated lights, skirt guard or fancy leather grips, but that’s what keeps the price at a reasonable $1,295.

I want to be perfectly clear about my acquisition of this bike.  I did not buy the bike, but it is not a tester or a freebie.  Rather, it’s bartered using good old-fashioned economics.  Companies advertising on LGRAB usually pay a certain amount per month.  Instead of money, Copenhagen Cyclery is “paying” with a bike.  I view it as a fair exchange for something Copenhagen Cyclery wants (advertising) and something I want (a gorgeous bike).

I also want to be perfectly clear that the exchange includes nothing about my editorial content.  Copenhagen Cyclery will get an ad on the sidebar, nothing more.  There’s no agreement that I will talk up the shop or Velorbis or write about the bike.  Naturally, the bike will show up as part of my usual posting, just as my two other bikes show up, but I hope that you all will continue to trust that I have not turned into a corporate shill.

Incidentally, if other bike shops or companies are interested, Trisha is open to entertaining offers for an Abici or similar light and classy creature.  ;)

Now that all of that’s out of the way, we can focus on the real important stuff. Like, what should I name her? She reminds me of cream and sugar, a cafe au lait, but how does that translate to a name?

(p.s. Squeeee! New bike! :))

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Go Green Go Dutch Go Bike!

On Saturday morning, I participated in a group ride along the Lakefront Trail, Go Green Go Dutch Go Bike, put on by Active Trans and the Dutch Consulate in Chicago. The event did not attract a huge amount of people outside the Dutch bike community, possibly because of the threatening skies and mid 40′s temperature, but the fact that we have a Dutch bike community is pretty cool. Socializing among ourselves was fun, including groups from each of the city’s three Dutch/Danish bike shops, Copenhagen Cyclery, De Fietsfabriek and Dutch Bike Co. Chicago is the mecca of beautiful bike shopping in America.

I rode an Oma bike from De Fietsfabriek (full review soon) and my husband finally rode my WorkCycles Oma. Once he stopped trying to launch off, he caught on well to the Dutch bike riding style.

The Copenhagen Cyclery crew.

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Beautiful Bicycles: Velorbis Scrap Deluxe

When my friend Ms. Elle called to ask if I wanted to meet up at Copenhagen Cyclery after work, I was quick to agree.  She has been loyal to her vintage bike Cilantro, but decided to explore less “rickety” options.

While she quickly fell in love with the Velorbis Studine (they make a hot couple – see above), I flirted with the Velorbis Scrap Deluxe, a bike I’d never ridden before.

The Scrap Deluxe’s stand-out feature is the set of cream Schwalbe Fat Frank tires.  Aside from being eye-catching and unique, the tires deliver a soft ride over even the most rutted Chicago streets.  There is a bit more drag and weight with these tires, but not as much as you’d think.  Overall, a fair exchange for someone interested in comfort and class.

The bike comes with a Brooks sprung saddle, which breaks in quickly and provides the ultimate in comfort for both short and long rides.  Plus, a Brooks saddle makes any bike look better: an ugly bike gets a distinguished touch of class and a beautiful bike is pushed over the edge into dreamy elegance.  This is a case of the latter, obviously.  Matching Brooks leather grips and a leather mudflap complete the look.

The five speed internal Sturmey Archer hub makes riding on hills, in headwinds and carrying cargo manageable.  I’ve heard here and there that Shimano is a slighty better quality hub, but I don’t have enough experience with Sturmey Archer to compare it to my Oma’s Shimano.

Finally, this handsome Dane has all the attributes that make this style of bike so practical and appealing.  Front and rear integrated generator lights shine brightly when you pedal, no batteries required.  The rear light remains shining even when stopped for a few minutes.  Internal brakes and gears keep the ride safe and smooth in rain and snow.  Fenders and mudlfaps protect your clothes and shoes.  The front wicker basket and rear rack carry lots of cargo – I recommend a bouquet of flowers and a case of beer, respectively.   The shiny “briiiiiiing” bell is tres charmant.

As with all Velorbis bikes, the seating position is straight up, and legs push down and only slightly forward to pedal.  This seems to require a bit more effort than pedaling my Oma, especially when starting from a complete stop, because I can’t take advantage of my thigh muscles as much.  However, I have to attribute this to my personal riding comfort.  After a year and a half of riding Oma, my body is used to pedaling her and my leg muscles have developed in response to her particular needs.

Before testing the Scrap Deluxe, I assumed the ride would be similar to the Retrovelo Paula, since both are elegant city bikes with Fat Frank tires.  I was wrong.  The rides are totally different.  The Scrap Deluxe has a smoother and sturdier ride, more akin to my Oma, while the Retrovelo Paula is sportier.

As always, I highly recommend that anyone considering a bike like this test ride as many as possible.  Only you can decide which is the best choice for you.

In North America, you can order the bike from the lovely Copenhagen Cyclery. I think they’re currently the only NA dealer, but please correct me if I’m wrong. The price is $1,895 (If you think that is too expensive for a bike and own a car, please state the cost of your car when commenting ;) ) For those who really need a more budget-friendly option, Velorbis has a new Studine Balloon in gorgeous cream for around $1200 – similar to the Velorbis Studine Classic.

One last note about the Velorbis Scrap Deluxe – riding this bicycle is sure to get you noticed   ;)

{As always, we at LGRAB receive nothing for our reviews except the joy of spreading beautiful bike love.}

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Cutest Helmet Ever: DIY

Check this helmet out – what an idea! The author of Oh Joy!, a top style-lifestyle inspiration blog, happens to be a very chic cyclist. When she couldn’t find a polka dotted helmet to suit her needs, she made one out of a Bern Muse helmet and sticky decals.

Oh Joy's Polka Dot Bern

She is also the proud owner of a Velorbis Victoria. Classy!

Oh Joy's Velorbis and Bern Helmet

Read about her project direct from the source HERE, including the link to buy the polka dot decals.

I’m tempted to get a red helmet and attach black dots. I have a thing for ladybugs! :) Couldn’t hurt project get-drivers-to-treat-me-like-a-human, either.

Anyone else into personalizing helmets?

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Beautiful Bicycles: Velorbis Mobii Trike

When I visited Copenhagen Cyclery this weekend, I also test rode the Velorbis Mobii Trike. Yay, trike! I’ve been wanting to test ride a three-wheeled beast for some time now. When I wrote about the WorkCycles Bakfiets a couple of months ago, I mentioned that I could not know for sure how I felt about it without riding a trike for comparison.

The Mobii (love the name!) comes in one size and two powder-coated colors: orange and gray. Designed and handmade in Denmark, this thoroughly modern, steel-framed stunner has the power to erase whatever old-fashioned connotations the word “tricycle” has.

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Beautiful Bicycles: Velorbis Studine

Today I met a new beauty in town, the Velorbis Studine at Copenhagen Cyclery, a “younger” and more affordable version of the Velorbis Classic bikes (which I reviewed here). The differences are subtle – fewer gears, painted rims and no lights or leather grips.

Designed in Denmark and handmade in Germany, these stylish steel bikes are chic and cheeky at once. The Studine aka Student comes in three colors (red, green, black) and four sizes (51 and 56 cm for step-through, 54 and 59 cm for diamond frame). If cream-colored Schwalbe tires are not luscious enough, these ones are coupled with powder-coated rims to match the frames. The classy and comfortable Brooks B67 sprung saddle tops the design off perfectly.

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A Real Community

The best part of blogging is meeting (virtually and in real life) so many cool people who share my passion for cycling. A community of like-minded folks is invaluable: I may have been the only bike commuter at my office, but I was never alone. This weekend was packed full of visitors from the online cycling community, and I had a great time.

There’s so much for me to cover, including the people I met, the cocktail party ride, new Gazelles at Dutch Bike Chicago, and the temperature dropping into the 30′s. I’ll start with the visitors.

Velorbis and Elisa at Copenhagen Cyclery

Velorbis and Elisa at Copenhagen Cyclery

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Beautiful Bicycles: Velorbis Dannebrog – Victoria

Way back in January I started a “Beautiful Bicycles” series, wherein I discuss the beautiful bicycles that I came across during my intensive research leading up to purchasing my Azor Oma. Although the first in the series is consistently one of the most viewed posts on this blog, I had yet to do a second in the series. Until now. I present the Velorbis Dannebrog, very similar to the Velorbis Victoria Classic.

5-23 velorbis plate

Earlier this week I briefly discussed the Velorbis Dannebrog in the context of my visit to the new Chicago shop, Copenhagen Cyclery. I decided that this gorgeous bike definitely deserves its own post.

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Copenhagen Cyclery – New in Chicago!

When I began searching for a Dutch-style bicycle last summer, no shop in Chicago sold them. I used a vacation in Vancouver and Seattle for test rides and then in the fall bought my Azor on the day that Dutch Bike Chicago opened. Since then, buying lovely bikes in Chicago has become considerably easier: Dutch Bike Chicago (Azor, Retrovelo), Boulevard Bikes (Pashley, Batavus), and Tati Cycles (Batavus) are the go-to shops, especially my beloved Dutch Bike Chicago.

Copenhagen Cyclery

Copenhagen Cyclery

Now Copenhagen Cyclery joins the group. Chicago’s newest bike shop opened this weekend in Wicker Park and, of course, I had to stop by to check it out.

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