21 May 2008

Cycle Chic Guide - The Bikes of Copenhagen #01

The Basket Bag Syndrome
Wifealiciousness rummages through the basket on her Velorbis Victoria Classic for her keys.

We get alot of lovely emails and comments from readers about what bikes feature on the streets of Copenhagen, what bikes are cool and what bikes we can recommend. It's a tough subject. Mostly because the vast majority of bikes in Copenhagen aren't available abroad and are made by companies most of you have never heard of. Which is a shame, really. We're spoiled for choice in this bike-saturated market but in regions like North America only a few brands of European bikes are on the market.

Only a few Danish and Dutch brands are geared for export. The majority of the well-established companies are content with producing their bikes for the Northern European market. The brands that are exported to North America are generally very fine bikes and this is reflected in the price. They tend to market themselves for the upscale crowd. Fair enough, we say, but still a shame that so many cool bikes are inaccessible to bike culture lovers abroad.

We'll try to highlight some of the brands seen in Copenhagen in some upcoming posts, as well as cool brands from elsewhere in Europe.

There is a bike boom happening in Copenhagen, which seems to have started within the past five years. There are lot of new bikes on the bike lanes with new, bright colours and forms available after a century of black frames. We'll focus on bikes for ladies - the classic 'Bedstemor cykler', or 'Grandma bikes' as they're called in Danish.

By and large, however, most of the bikes are classic workhorses and many are of a rather generic nature.
I don't know what brand the bike above is but I see them, and others like them, all day long. They do the job. There are hundreds of bike shops in Copenhagen and many of them sell these basic "bedstemor cykler" - or Grandma bikes

Raleigh of China [formally of Nottingham] enjoy a strong prescence on the Copenhagen bike lanes. Vintage bike lovers will wet themselves standing on a busy street corner. Old Raleighs roll past in their scores and new Raleighs accompany them.
Making Raleigh Look Good
The bike above is a newish Raleigh. One of the travesties of the bike marketing world is that Raleigh produces classic models only for the Danish, German and Dutch market, leaving the rest of you out in the cold. You can see the contrast when looking at:
Raleigh's Danish website - elegant girl in heels on the front page - and then looking at
Raleigh's US website - agressive sports orientated image, or even
Raleigh's UK Website - outdoorsy weekend cyclists and loads of 'gear'.

On the Danish website there are 8 Ladies models under 'Shopping' and a classic retro model under Tourist De Luxe. On the US website there are four 'women's bikes', with only one resembling a normal everyday bike.

Old Raleighs are, in many ways, much lovelier. A bit of rust adds so much character. Many young women choose these trashed bikes as an image statement. They are coolest with heels and elegant clothes, for some reason. We have spotted a tendency to wear shoes by Louboutin while riding an old Raleigh.
Bike Lane Shadows*

It's not just old Raleighs, there are so many old brands that still do service on the bike lanes. In most cases, it's not about the bike, it's about the person riding it.
Bluebike Heels
A fancy, expensive and wonderfully designed bike is cool, but you don't want people noticing the bike when they should be noticing you.


maike said...

hi. great idea this blog. i would like to post about you but i'm no member at flickr. may i use some of your picks from this side? greetings

Maria said...

Thank you for your blog - I absolutely love it. It's the first think I check each morning.

Great comments on Raleigh. I'm trying to buy a new Raleigh and can't even find a dealer because of the way they have their USA site set up. And the local bike shop only wants to sell what they have in stock - not what I want.

So for now I'm sticking with the 1964 Raleigh sport my friends pulled out of their garage attic and gave to me. They got it at a garage sale for a couple bucks a few years ago and decided they didn't need it. It needs a new saddle, some baskets and I need some of those cool high heels and I'll be all set to go.

Anonymous said...

GRATE comparison between the Danish, U.S., and U.K. Raleigh sites. It is SUCH a travesty, isn't it? The women cyclists in Chicago definitely want to compete with the rough and tumble bike messenger boys. No nod to style whatsoever! It's a real shame. I stand alone in the fight for good-lookin' and classic bikes. *sigh*

Vintage Raleighs though, they are gorgeous. Go Maria!

Sara Kristine said...

I'd like people to notice both me (my helmet) and my beloved bike:)
Sara Kristine

Jillian said...

LOVE the basket on wifealiciousness's bike...and her bike too...she is just all around chic.

my hyggelig said...

This is a great idea for a posting series. I am really looking forward to what is to come because today was great. Thanks for sharing your knowledge! The insight that the high-end bikes are the only ones available in the US while there are loads of affordable cool bikes on your side of the world is useful (and sad). I say it's a great reason to head to Denmark! And are you saying that the Danes are actually riding bikes made in China? I'd like to hear more on that perspective.

Michael said...

What has happened to the young people these days...

"Yo...yo..yo! Bedstemor, what's up? - må jeg låne din cykel? Jeg skal til en FRESH party..."

And yes, I still want to add a step-through bike to to my collection... ; )

Anonymous said...

Raleigh US has many more bike models for women for 2009, and there are many that look like a normal bike to me. (Raleigh Superbe Roadster internally geared 8 speed, Roadster?) Fenders but no rack, in most cases.

Anonymous said...

Pashley -a dream to ride and look at :)