30 March 2010
Cycle Chic Guide #9 Personalising Your Bicycle
Springtime is upon us. Freed from winter clothes, accessories get to shine. Here in Copenhagen, our bicycles are just tools that we use to get around. We don't give them names or fetishize about them, we just use them. However, if you going to spend half your life on your bicycle, you may as well personalise it a bit. We see the bicycle, above, quite often around Copenhagen and it is the ultimate personalised example. Simply gorgeous.
I suppose this isn't really a How To Guide but more of a source of inspiration from the cyclists of Copenhagen to you. With love.
There are different reasons to personalise your bike. To make it look a bit nicer, to make it match your personal style, to hide the rust, to make it less attractive to thieves. Whatever the case, the sky is the limit and only you can make it your own. In Cycle Chic Guide #8 we covered funky bike seats, so we'll leave them out here.
Off we go then. We'll start with a timeless classic:
Flowers on Baskets and Other Bits of Bicycle
Flowers on baskets are almost as old as the bicycle. After the invention around the 1880's of the Safety Bicycle - the design we know today that liberated women and the working classes and provided homo sapiens with the fastest and most effective urban mobility boom in history - baskets were among the first bicycle accessories to appear. Women carried baskets already and it wasn't a quantum leap to start putting them onto the handlebars. Later came back racks and pannier bags but baskets were first.
It's difficult to pin down when women started decorating their baskets with flowers but by all accounts we're still in the late 1800's. I adore the fact that this most simple and elegant personalising detail lives on even today. Many flowers are plastic but here in the spring I've seen several examples of real flowers or pussy willows branches adorning baskets.
You're not restricted to the baskets, of course. The back rack is just as suitable, as well as the steering rod and the rest of the bike. And flora on baskets is not a seasonal issue. In the autumn, why not decorate the basket with leaves like our friend, Klara, with her lovely pink bicycle?
Painting The Frame or Stickering It
The whole damn bicycle is personalisable. Is that a word? Who cares. Armed with stickers, paint or even tinsel, you can go crazy.
A classic Christiania bike stickered ad libitum and a hand-painted bicycle belonging to a girl named Susanne, apparently.
Paint zebra stripes on your fenders, let the world know that it's your bicycle (in the middle photo Tilda has written "Tilda's Bicycle" on the frame) or get creative with stickers, like in the last photo on Marie's bicycle. She used kitchen labels and some other stickers on her frame.
Bicycle Bells and Horns
Bells are another way to leave your mark on your bicycle. Bells are required by law in Denmark, so you have every reason to get one. Like this teapot bike bell, above.
Coffee, tea or me, baby?
There are loads of bells out there but there are also squeaky toys and horns. These are all adult bicycles, by the way. You can also go old school with a vintage bell like the old Husqvarna one at bottom left or the lovely, rusty one on the bottom right.
Decorating Your Skirtguard
Decorating your skirtguard is an obvious choice. It's like a canvas waiting for an artist. In the Cycle Chic #4 we covered Do It Yourself Skirtguards, but here are a couple of amusing examples from the streets of Copenhagen. On the skirtguard to the left the owner has highlighted the hi-tech features on the bicycle; Fingerprint reader, Theftproof, GPS Monitoring, Neighbourhood Watch.
On the bicycle to the right it reads, "Next time, don't touch my bike. If you do, do it nicely. Thank you."
Decorating Your Chainguard
Chainguard decoration is one area of bicycle personalisation that it often overlooked. Putting funky fabric on is one way to do it, but you could also paint it wild. Chainguards used to be gorgeous back in the day, like the vintage Hermes bicycle and brand chainguard to the right. Sweet.
Baskets for Animal Transport
You need a basket for your dog. Nick a shopping basket from a supermarket or dig up a cool, old wooden crate.
Trashing Your Bicycle - Quite Literally
Of course, if you don't personalise your bicycle, and leave it too long without using it, your fellow citizens will personalise it for you. At no extra cost. Rolling bicycles gather no trash, as the old saying goes.
Here's a unique way to personalise your bike for a practical purpose. This bike basket is covered with plastic-covered sheets advertising various pieces of furniture for sale.
Go Hard or Go Home
We started this post with a timeless elegant classic and we'll wrap up with a funkalicious example of personalising your bicycle. Spotted in Malmø, Sweden, just across the bridge from Copenhagen. Plastic grass beneath your ass, funky painted bell, colourful tape on the handlebars, you name it. Go hard or go home.
Alternatively, you're always welcome to visit the Cycle Chic Online Boutique at CafePress.com where various items, including our ever-popular bicycle frame stickers are on offer.