16 April 2009

It's Official: a "Dutch Bike" is now a status symbol

Today the New York Times reports that the "new It object is the glossy black Dutch bicycle". The article goes on to discuss many issues we've mentioned here, and other other bike fashion blogs. It's heartening to see that this topic is going mainstream, and a good read. For the gentlemen, there's even a Fashion Slideshow.

For the local Boston angle, I knew that Club Monaco was selling Gazelles, but I didn't know that they're all being imported by Somerville's Dutch Bicycle Company.

I have seen some evidence that bike culture can be it's own worst enemy, with assumptions about riders, etc. I hope the article is right and maybe "the kiss of fashion may help people embrace the idea of a more practical bike"... Come on everyone, let's show them!


Thom said...

The attorney who "liked the perversity" of riding to work in a suit and tie really gets me. Whatever.

Charlotte said...

Well, remember that it's the New York Times... :)

I think the point about "bike culture" was an interesting one. Of course Europe has no bike subculture, there's just culture. Here we have a "bike culture" and attorneys think it's perverse to flout it by wearing normal clothes. I dunno, maybe it adds some cheap thrill to American bicycle commutes! Gotta look on the bright side.

Thom said...

What's really fascinating, as you and others document, is that *most* people don't wear spandex or sports gear to ride, and yet it's still considered "perverse" to ride to work in your work clothes. Seems like there's a major disconnect between reality and perception.

Charlotte said...

Oh Thom, I think every New Yorker is a rebel in his own mind!

Tapia said...

I have long lusted after the Dutch beauties. I also long for enough money to pay my bills. For those like me that need a comfy and pretty ride ride that doesn't break the bank and can fit studded tires under the fenders (I live in AK)...Raleigh offers a beuatiful line-up at a much friendlier price. They have single and 7-speed versions and they can take a Nokian Extreme under the studs for those living in the northern states.

Carice said...

Well, I have to admit it hooked me. I know that club Monaco was trying to sell bikes to their existing customers, but I had never heard of Club Monaco before, and found myself in their store last night, thanks to bike related publicity. Unfortunately they didn't have any bikes (at Cambridgeside) but they did have that really cute polka dot dress..

Yes, the NYT article is condescending, but the more publicity the better.
I do think that there's a subtle difference they're promoting between riding in non-spandex jeans and a t-shirt (normal clothes) and riding in a suit or a pretty dress, (chic clothes). As someone who has a dutch style bike (fully enclosed chain, fenders, skirt guards, relaxed riding position, etc etc) I will say it is a lot easier to ride in nice clothes than it would be on a normal american bike.
Yes, it would be nice if there were cheaper dutch bikes, but there are lots of vintage bikes around that have many of the same clothes-friendly features.
And I agree about the bike subculture thing. I grew up in a biking family, so it's just normal for me. But many people see bicycling only as a sport or a hobby (with lots of required equipment), not as an efficient means of urban transportation.

James said...

hey there: i'm the guy from the article.

so i'm googling around trying to distance myself from the eye-roll inducing nature of the article generally, and doing damage control with respect to the way my comments came across in print.

but it seems like you're taking issue with my word choice -- perversity -- and that's something i'd actually defend.

i don't think it ought to be considered perverse to ride a bike in ordinary, or even nice, clothes, but i'm afraid that for the most part, in the US, at least, it is.

in NYC there's a specific aesthetic adhered to by most cyclists you see on an everyday basis, and wearing a suit and tie definitely induces some cognitive dissonance in some onlookers here.

i guess i'd admit that the word perversity carries some connotation of a normative judgment regarding right or wrong, and the implication is that to do something perverse is to do something "wrong". i guess you could say that i was likening the normalizing of biking in america to the acceptance of other forms of so-called perversions in mainstream america: consensual heterosexual oral sex, even within marriage, for instance, used to be criminal.

so anyways, sorry; i didn't mean to get to anyone by what i said.

Unknown said...

Good find Charlotte!
Thanks for spotting this and sharing.

Anonymous said...

This is actually pretty amusing: Some Americans (I think) living in China created a parody of the NY Times article: Shanghai Style: The Chinese Bicycle, 5,000 Years of Civilized Riding and The 'It's the S**t!' Factor. Good for a few chuckles....

Velouria said...

I've actually encountered some criticism, or at least sarcastic bemusement, in response to my interest in Dutch-style bicycles. This irks me, and I posted some thoughts about it here: In Defense of the "Frivolous" Bike Craze