Asking the Bike Experts
We asked a few of the vendors in this year's New Amsterdam Bicycle Show all sorts of cycling questions-everything from tips on buying bikes and accessories to advice for the next mayor and suggestions to ease tensions with pedestrians. On the last one, someone advised, "Make contact, smile and say hello." Phil Marmet Office/sales manager, ABUS Mobile Security, Inc. What is the most essential bike accessory and the best splurge item? The most essential bike accessory for New York City would be a good lock-without your bike, there is no place to mount the other cool accessories you can find at the New Amsterdam Bicycle Show. What is the best lock/security system to use? Do any of the less expensive ones give you good security? I would recommend the high-security locks from ABUS. Chains like the Granit City Chain 1060 and 1010 offer excellent protection from even the most extreme attacks, and the Bordo Granit X-Plus and U-54 U-lock are great security options as well. I use a Bordo Granit X-Plus in Chicago. Elayne Fowler Marketing director, Electra Bicycle Company What bikes do you recommend for daily commuters, casual riders and the fitness-focused in New York City? Electra has 5 collections of bicycles that are appropriate for New York City-uptown, downtown, crosstown, over the bridge and Central Park riding.Your choice depends on your personality, style preference and functional needs. Verse is a stylish, lightweight aluminum 700c fitness and everyday transportation bicycle that you can easily add accessories to customize for your specific needs. It comes in 21- and 24-speed. Ticino is designed with the heritage enthusiast in mind; it's a lightweight aluminum 700c bicycle with artisan craftsmanship attention to detail. It's offered in variety of gearing options-1, 7-, 8- and 20-speed. Amsterdam is a lightweight aluminum700c elegantly updated Dutch city bike.Sophisticated fashion and classic designs evolved with modern components to provide practical and stylish transportation, while patented Flat Foot Technology sets the standard in comfort and control. Townie is a lightweight aluminum frame with 26- and 24-inch wheels.It combines the industry innovation of patented Flat Foot Technology with a completely different ride experience, setting the standard in comfort and control. Cruiser has aluminum and steel frames with 26- and 24-inch wheels. It's a modern interpretation of all-American classic, bursting with personality and Electra's coveted patented Flat Foot Technology providing additional comfort and control. Who is best suited for electric bikes? Do people ever have to overcome a "guilt factor" before getting one? Electric bikes are a good option for those who need a little boost to help them on their ride. They're also a good option if you don't want to get as sweaty during a ride. However, they are fairly expensive and heavy-you don't want to bring one up five flights of stairs in a walk-up-but they definitely do have a market. What are the advantages of a cruiser bike and what types of riders tend to like them best? Cruisers are simple and sturdy and are a great option for riders looking for a fun and comfortable way to get around. Some cruiser models are inexpensive, making them a smart choice for those with limited budgets. What advice do you have for riding in New York City? Always be alert and be familiar with your surroundings. Always wear a helmet, follow the rules of the road and use good lighting if riding at night. What's your favorite biking trend? The increased popularity of urban cycling in general. More and more people are turning to cycling as an everyday transportation solution. Is there anything bikers should do to ease tensions with pedestrians? Make contact, smile and say hello. Also, follow the rules of the road and be a courteous cyclist. What is the most essential bike accessory and the best splurge item? A helmet is the most essential bike accessory. A cycling-specific smart phone app, such as Strava, makes for a fun way to log and review your ride. And a stylish pair of quality sunglasses is always a nice accessory for a ride. What is the best lock/security system to use? Do any of the less expensive ones give you good security? Buy the lock that best suits your budget and needs-and don't skimp. You're better off buying one step better in a lock for enhanced security. Do some bikers relax too much in bike lanes? What should they be on the lookout for? Even though you may be in a bike lane, always be aware of your surroundings. Be on the lookout for illegally parked cars, pedestrians and any other potential hazards. Ryan Zagata President, Brooklyn Cruiser What bikes do you recommend for daily commuters, casual riders and the fitness-focused in New York City? Two words come to mind for daily commuters: comfort and durability. You want a bike that you feel physically and emotionally good riding, but also a bike that will stand up to the rigors of your daily commute. We advise internal gearing systems and are also partial to coaster brakes, which tend to be a bit more weather agnostic. If your commute is more than 10 miles, a lightweight, multigeared bike might keep you from being sweaty and exhausted when you get to work. If you have a short commute, I'd advise riding something that keeps your clothes clean and you feel happy and comfortable riding. It's always awkward seeing a man in a business suit hunched over a racing bike with all his tailored garments stretched to their limit. Casual riders should choose something they think they looks good on and reflects their ability or casualness. Fitness-focused New Yorkers don't have much time, so they like to get in a good workout as quickly as possible. If you're going to do laps in Central Park or Prospect Park, make it your own personal Velodrome. Get yourself a track bike-it's said that a 30-mile ride on a track bike is the equivalent to a 50-mile ride on a geared bike. What are the advantages of a cruiser bike and what types of riders tend to like them best? The cruiser is pure cycling joy. It's what we felt the first time we shed our training wheels and experienced the freedom of independent rolling. The cruiser doesn't care about speed or performance; it allows the rider to simply experience the world as it rolls steadily by without thinking too much about handling the bike. What's your favorite biking trend? The trend playing itself out here in New York and in other cities across the globe: that cities are slowly accepting is that cycling is going to be a major form of transportation and they are making accommodations for that. I think it's starting to affect who is getting on a bike in the city. It's not just the cycling diehards-I mean honestly, my grandparents ride bikes too. Is there anything bikers should do to ease tensions with pedestrians? Obey all traffic laws-this includes riding with traffic, stopping at stop signs and red lights and looking both ways before turning. Stay alert; never assume drivers or pedestrians can see you or hear you. What is the most essential bike accessory and the best splurge item? I'll just assume everyone wears helmets, so beyond that, lights, front and back-get them. Splurge on nice wheels; they say a half a pound off your wheel set feels like a full pound off your frame. What are the latest trends in helmets? How do you make sure you are wearing them properly? I think ergonomics have come a long way in helmets; right now we are spinning wheels and pulling straps that make it feel like there is a little tailor running around inside your helmet. Helmets are becoming more fashionable, too, from flashy glitter helmets to tweed caps that look like you should be mounting a horse for polo. I have seen many times helmets worn backwards-I appreciate the comic effect, but you're compromising your safety. Make sure the straps are tight enough to keep the helmet on your head if thrown from the bike, but just loose enough not to choke you. What is the best lock/security system to use? Do any of the less expensive ones give you good security? I'll always say the best security system is to take your bike inside with you-it prevents exposure to the elements and deters the unsavory characters on the street. If you do leave it on the street, be certain that both wheels and the frame are locked to a steadfast holding. A cable lock is going to be good for a minimal amount of time in a well-trafficked area, otherwise, it's virtually useless in stopping an able thief. Do some bikers relax too much in bike lanes? What should they be on the lookout for? We have seen this on occasion, the same way some drivers get a bit too relaxed. We encourage riders to treat bike lanes no differently than if they are driving a vehicle: obey traffic laws and ride defensively, always assuming that others do not see you. The next mayor may not be as bike-friendly as the current administration. What should he or she know about urban biking and what's the next step New York City should take? All the next mayor needs to do is retain Janette Sadik-Khan as commisioner of DOT-she gets it, she really gets it. Julie Hirschfeld Owner, Adeline Adeline, 147 Reade St. What bikes do you recommend for daily commuters, casual riders and the fitness-focused in New York City? For commuters we recommend any bike with fenders and a chain guard. Personally, I prefer a more upright ride. It's much more comfortable in street clothes and it makes you more visible to traffic. We are big fans of Pashley, Linus and Bobbin. What advice do you have for riding in New York City? Ride defensively and enjoy the view. What's your favorite biking trend? Small-wheeled bikes. They evoke '60s cool and are easy to ride and easy to store. Is there anything bikers should do to ease tensions with pedestrians? Stop riding on the sidewalk. Not riding against a light through pedestrian traffic would help, too. What is the most essential bike accessory and the best splurge item? Essential: sadly, a lock. The best splurge item is the Brooks Millbrook leather bicycle bag. What are the latest trends in helmets? How do you make sure you are wearing them properly? We focus on simple skate-style helmets in neutral colors. We also carry Yakkay from Denmark, which looks more like a hat than a helmet. A helmet should fit snugly enough that it doesn't move around on its own, but not so snug that it gives you a headache. What is the best lock/security system to use? I'm a big fan of Abus locks. They're very well-made and easy to use. In New York City we recommend either a U-lock or a heavy-duty chain lock-these are not for the faint of heart. Do some bikers relax too much in bike lanes? What should they be on the lookout for? Being overly relaxed is not how I think of the typical New Yorker. Mostly, I look out for cars in the bike lane. The next mayor may not be as bike-friendly the current administration. What should he or she know about urban biking and what's the next step New York Cityshould take? We need a continued focus on infrastructure and safety. There is no reason New York City shouldn't be a fantastic biking city. For more bike coverage visit nypress.com.
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