28 April 2009

Gentlemen Prefer Bicycles - Guide to Bicycle Style pour hommes

My Bike
After seeing an article about bicycles in a Danish fashion magazine for men called Euroman, I thought it necessary to pen this post. The Euroman article was about 'cool' bikes and the bikes were, by and large, frightfully expensive racers. Considering the fact that this magazine attempts to represent 'cool' Danish men, it was odd that their article reeked a bit too much of 'toys' and 'gear'. The bikes, with the exception of the Bullitt by Larry vs. Harry, were not bicycles ridden around Copenhagen by bespoke sartorial-minded gentlemen.

This dismal cyclo faux pas by Euroman begged the question: what bicycles should discerning, elegant and modern gentlemen prefer to ride in buzzing urban centres on their way to a café for an afternoon beer after a demanding meeting at the ad agency/law firm/photo studio/et al? Here's Copenhagen Cycle Chic's opinionated view.

As any dedicated reader to this website knows, I prefer my Scrap Deluxe from Velorbis, as pictured above. It's cheeky, flirtacious and yet urban to a tee. The sophisticated form and the balloon tyres beg for style over speed and I rarely let it down. Although the Churchill from Velorbis is a fantastic option as well.

They say it best themselves: "We put our heart and soul into all of our bicycles - every component or design feature has been well considered for its functionality, compatibility and overall aesthetic."

VELORBIS was born from the hunt for a desirable bicycle on which to cycle around London as an alternative to public transport after the London bombings in 2005. The bicycles are made in Northern Germany, shunning the exodus to China and Taiwan that many bike brands have made.

Danish design and Copenhagen style. Period.


Arrow bicycles are exquisite machines. Stylish, functional and simple, like much Danish and Japanese design.

Jimbei Yamada started selling his cult bikes in Tokyo back in 1972. His slogan, visible above the door to his shop, says it all: "Simple is Best".

He sells basic designs available in 18 colours. Customers can buy them assembled or they can buy them as kits. Many customers chooose to assemble them themselves in the shop, under Yamada's supervision and under another sign that reads: "Your bike made by yourself".

As Yamada says, "I realised that if I could do it, anyone could."

In Yamada's eyes a city bike should be strong, narrow and light. Two of his most popular makes are the Yamajin and the Classic [pictured above].

Arrow only produces about 1000 bikes a year. Yamada doesn't fancy the idea of expanding. Too much stress. He currently has his main shop and four franchises around Japan. He purchases the best parts and that is what makes his bikes so good in a world of cheap bikes.

What endears us most to Yamada and Arrow is his disdain for branding. There is no Arrow logo on any of his bikes.

"You've already paid for the product; I don't see why you should advertise it too", he says.


The Cicli Adriatica bicycles, above, were recently discovered in a foreign fashion magazine by Wifealiciousness, so I dutifully sought them out on the internet. Merely because they're beautiful, normal bikes for everyday use in all urban landscapes. Mostly because they're beautiful.

How I yearn to ride one through the winding streets of some Italian city, nodding knowingly at other well-dressed cyclists who pass by.


The name of this bicycle alone makes us sigh. The Imperiale Uomo by Umberto Dei. This bicycle evaded our bespoke bike radar for a long while until an Italian friend put us onto it. We're glad he did.

The brand has a history it seems, which adds to the allure:

"It happened in the year 1896. The Lumiere brothers had just invented cinematography and Guglielmo Marconi had created the wireless telephone when a little artisan, fond of cycling and extremely meticulous, made his first series of bicycles. His name was Umberto Dei.

"That was the beginning of a marvellous adventure that led him to create a collection of bicycles which were considered among the best in the world. Their level of quality and perfection was so high that the brand Dei became world-known: everybody longed to have a Dei bycicle and win by riding it.

All fine and dandy with a bit of history from the glory days of racing. But we're well pleased that the company produces bicycles for gentlemen like the Imperiale Uomo. I want one, desperately. At €1300, I'll have to wait six months or so. Global financial crisis and all that.


The A.N.T. Bike [ANT meaning 'Alternative Needs Transportation'] is a labour of love produced in a town called Holliston, Massachusetts, USA.

Hand crafted bikes with each their own personality. Organic metallic wonders that are designed for style and function. As Danes, with a long history of design, those two words are music to our ears and the bikes we've seen on the website are operas for our eyes.

They target the needs of the city cyclist and create bikes that suit the individual.

"We not only hope to meet the needs of people's commuter bikes, but to influence the consumers to think about bicycle commuting in a more positive way. We love all types of cycling but feel that there is a real need to bring to the table bikes that have the right combination of style and function that is so lacking in the market."

While we lament the fact that we have never ridden an ANTBIKE let alone stroked our fingers over the cool, smooth frame of one, we are quite convinced that they exude bespoke coolness. From what we gather there is quite a waiting list for one of these beauties, so get your deposit paid and settle back to enjoy the anticipation.

One little detail that tickles us pink is the hand-crafted logo. It's just leapt to the top of our unofficial list of coolest bike logos. Ever ever ever. It's an ant. It's an A and a N and a T. And it is just as rusty as most bikes in Copenhagen. We want a large one for our wall.


As far as sitting up straight in style, as your mother taught you, the Pedersen is hard to compete with. As far as stories go, the Pedersen bicycle story beats them all.

Mikael Pedersen, a Dane, moved to England and with the help of a financier started a bike company featuring his unique frame. It was called the Dursely Pedersen back then, after the town of Dursley where he settled. All went well for a while but he ended up losing control of his patents and designs and ended up dying a pauper in Denmark.

The designs were found and revived by Jesper Sølling in 1978 and the bicycles are now much sought after. The town of Dursley had his remains sent over in 1995 and erected a memorial in his honour. The story in full is here.

The bike is a timeless classic and definately looks best when ridden in an expensive suit.

Do let us know if you know any other bicycles that may apply to this bespoke category.


Otto Cilindri said...

Is that a Mixte frame, speaking technically?

Colville-Andersen said...

hmm. interesting question. i don't know if you'd call it that since the strap on which you sit is a kind of crossbar.

Karl McCracken (twitter: @karlonsea) said...

Lovely shot of your Velorbis - the sun does a great job of highlighting its bling!

The bike missed off the list for me is . . . Pashley.

Unfortunately their web site (pashley.co.uk) is inexplicably down at present. So in the mean time, here's a picture of Siegfried, my Pashley Roadster Sovereign parked up in Jarrow.

Anonymous said...

My choices are:

Retrovelo (from Germany)
Abici (bella Italia)
Gazelle (good old Dutch)

Colville-Andersen said...

Retrovelo, definately. Pashley, even. Their marketing is upscale and appealing. Gazelle, in my opinion is too standard, too run of the mill and too much like generic brands here in Copenhagen. Nice bikes, but not in this league.

patriflux said...

i'm travelling to copenhague very soon and i'm dying to ride a bike around town! (i don't know if in an expensive suit, but i'll try to do my best! hahahah)

kisses from spain!

St Etienne said...

The Classic by Arrow is just a wonderful and elegant bicycle. I ride a very similar single gear bike wth swept back handlebars, all the better for remaining upright, vigilant and sophisticated. Alas, the Melbourne bike police were not so impressed and pulled me over for riding without a helmet in the city yesterday. I'm fighting the good fight here Mikael, even if it costs me $57 for each offense!

Colville-Andersen said...

cargo cult.
there's actually a women in australia who is preparing a court defence for her no helmet ticket.
basing her defence on on this paragraph in the australian laws:

"A person is not criminally responsible for an offence if the person carries out the conduct constituting the offence in self-defence" and referring to the studies that show helmets increase the chance of brain damage and give the cyclist a higher chance of getting into an accident.

bombes.atomiques said...

as Cargo Cult said: "The Classic by Arrow is just a wonderful and elegant bicycle". And i think the same. Really, very beautiful bike...

Colville-Andersen said...

indeed. and i love the fact that they only make 1000 of them each year.

spiderleggreen said...

Euroman??? Isn't that an extinct line of our human ansestors? I suspect that the "speed racer" will become extinct, one day.

I'm having trouble imagining that hamock seat being comfortable.

KB said...

I badly badly badly want to buy a Velorbis - I love the Scrap Deluxe, but I don't know where to find one in the UK! Also, how much are they approximately?

Anonymous said...

I think the WorkCycles Secret Service with white tyres fits the bill (especially if you put some nice grips on):


This one from Tsunehiro Bicycles in Portland:


the "commuter" from Argonaut bicycles in Portland:


There is also a builder in Portland called Metrofiets that builds bikes very similar to the traditional Dutch bakfiets, and they have one with a mat black box with glossy black lettering on the box that looks pretty slick as well.

WestfieldWanderer said...

A certain young close relative has expressed a desire for a Pashley.
Some of us retain a hint of civilisation in an uncivilised world. :-)

Nancy said...

I have a gentleman at home, and always in search of the perfect bicycle, he decided to build his own out of bamboo. I find it very fashionable - and sturdy. He's making me one now.


Not sure if this qualifies as a city bike but it's definitely one of a kind, as is a man in the midwest without a car!

Colville-Andersen said...

KB: Velorbis is available in the UK. You can get them at Harrods no less. Alternatively, check http://velorbis.co.uk/retailers
and scroll down to UK.

everyone else: interesting bikes! thanks for commenting

Unknown said...

The Velo series from Viva bicycles are among the most elegant bicycles for a city stroll or Sunday promenade; I love how they harken back to an earlier time :)

El Duke said...

There's a guy and his wife in Chicago that have a pair of Pedersens, or perhaps the remake of them.

I've seen the guy riding around at night in plain clothes, guided by his hub dynamo.

Anonymous said...

Hi I've imported a Batavus Cambridge Spirt 09 into Ireland and Dublin. It is a fine stylish bike and I just must recommended it for the Gentlemen prefer Blondes and Bikes slot. Its looks really suit the streetscape of my home city.

Andres said...

Hi, nice bicycles, i have a list too, you will check also some good ones: http://biciclasica.wordpress.com/
Enjoy :)

Jimm said...

nice bikes! although i'll personally stick with the recumbent trikes that i ride around Copenhagen in: my Anthrotech with Leitra nose fairing, and my Otrike/GForce trike (which recently carried me home on a 700km ride from southern Germany to Copenhagen - http://thedigitalmouse.blogspot.com

thad said...

Been wanting a classic Pashley design for awhile ...

Your article just convinced me to go look at them again ... got to be classier than the recycled bike I currently sport!

Kurt said...

Hey folks, if you're considering handcrafted bicycles (like the Argonaut), no list is complete unless Vanilla Bicycles is included.


怪物 괴물 said...

Beautiful bikes there. I hear your comment about 'toys'. However the kind of gear I like on a bike is a nice bag or a frame for my extra luggage. Just in case my commute is on a dirty old road I like to carry my stylish clothes in a bag. A guys gotta get his vegetable shopping done/ carrying of passengers late at night done too.

Stefanv said...

Also: Belgian handcrafted classic bicycles: Achielle.

I recently actually spotted one in town, together with a Johnny Loco cargo bike. The ultimate cycle chic family set-up - or one of many possible ultimate ultimate cycle chic family set-ups anyway :)

nickc said...


Thank's so much for this! (Linked from the Ladies' Bike List.) Will be perusing more closely when I get more time i.e. not at work.

Stay real

John-Henry said...

Have you seen the new Globe bikes by Specialized? They are very nice as well, and available in North America

Daniel said...

do you have any suggestion of beautiful bike (exactly for the purpose this article was written for) but with more than a fix gear (Zurich is more up-and-down...)??