Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Even the Girls: Female Bike Messenger Documentary (2004)

This film is slightly outdated (circa 2004), but I found it recently on YouTube and found it interesting. I like the testimonials from each messenger, and I find the Yeah Yeah Yeahs provide highly appropriate background music. I also love the girl that rides a fixie with a green bow in her hair; it reminds me of my enthusiastic high school field hockey team. A few questions arose as I watched the film:

1) Where are the fast-paced riding scenes? I'm certain the girls ride just as fast as the boys.

2) Why don't these girls use bar tape? Perhaps they prefer gloves?

3) How does the bow-girl put spin her wheel around so easily as she's getting on to her bike if she's riding a fixed gear? Why can't I do that? (see 4:47)

Whether we really get a chance to see them darting through traffic or not, this film acknowledges some tough women. That's right: you go girl.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My New Bike Obsession: Raleigh Rush Hour

My lack of posting reflects neither a declining interest in bicycles nor a lack of free time, trust me: I have both. My blog seems to have fallen to the wayside, as I have been too busy scotch taping rejection letters from prestigious law firms to my wall (K. thinks this is emo, I think it's funny) and working at a jazz & pig themed diner.

I've also been meaning to visit this supposed "bike shop" in south Brooklyn and waiting to post on that--so be on the lookout soon. It's actually just a bunch of garages jam packed with refurbished bikes, which should be cool and make for a good post.

This morning I was directed to my new bicycle love: the 2010 Raleigh Rush Hour Flat Bar. When I first saw the Rush Hour as a giveaway on Chrome Bags' site here, I thought that Chrome had customized the bike for its giveaway. When I went to Raleigh's site I was astounded to find out that this is the stock version! It's beautiful.

Of course, being the short-legged female that I am, I hit a wall: the smallest size is a 50cm. Now, this is the age old dilemma of this blog: I'm short, I like bicycles that are probably designed for dudes, and I'm not willing to compromise and buy a lame women's bicycle like this one. I thought about writing a heartbreaking email to Raleigh's customer service department, pleading with them to reconsider their specs, but I couldn't find the number online so I called them instead. The conversation went something like this:

ME: Um, hi, do you have, like, a customer service email I can write to?

Raleigh guy: Sure, you can send me an email at (his email). I answer all the customer service questions. Is there something I can help you with?

ME: (awkward, suprisingly) Um..this isn't really urgent. I'm just wondering, because I saw the 2010 Rush Hour Flat Bar on the Chrome website - is 50cm the smallest size?

Raleigh guy: Hold on, let me just pull some stuff up here (tapping commences at computer, followed by mathematical jargon, similiar to doctor-speak). What is your inseam?

ME: Um, I'm about 5'2" so maybe 27"? I used to have a 50cm that seemed too big for I ride a tiny track frame, that's 43cm.

Raleigh guy (in disbelief): WHOA THERE, do you have 650c rims on that thing?

ME: Haha, yeah.

Raleigh guy: Well, actually the standover height of a 50cm would be about 29 inches so it might just be slightly too large for you - but there is ONE dealer in the Bronx that has ordered a 50cm. Here is the phone number, you should call and speak with a manager to see if you can test ride the bike.

ME: I live in Brooklyn, is there anyone closer that has a 50cm? (now I'm presumably thinking about test riding one which is bad, since that's how I bought my last bike...oops).

Raleigh guy: Let me see here - the closet to you would be Fulton Cycles, R&A, Bespoke Cycles--looks like you're right in the thick of things.

ME: (happy to live near so many shops) Yeah, there are a lot of shops around me - I'm happy and suprised that they are popping up everywhere. There seem to be a lot more riders recently.

Raleigh guy: That's great - keep it on two wheels, right? I need to keep answering the phone. Is there anything else I can help you with?

ME: (sad to be losing my Raleigh friend) No, you've been very helpful, thank you.

Raleigh guy: (we're best friends) OK, well, talk to you soon.

ME: OK, take care.

Given my current state of employment, I actually considered asking the Raleigh customer service guy how he got his job, but I thought better of it. However, we are best friends. I am tempted to go all the way to god-knows-where in the Bronx just to see this machine, but that seems I'll probably do it.

I really like the aesthetic of this bike - especially the leather seat and the leather straps. I like the color scheme and the fact that it comes with built-in chain tensioners, something I wish my current bike had. I have seen fixies with Brooks saddles that look out of place, but Raleigh is putting together beautiful bikes, and not just fixies. I was originally intrigued by Raleigh's new image when I saw this bike in a shop in NYC:

This bicycle, called the "One Way" has been reviewed in WIRED magazine. It's not unlike the diner sandwich of a similar name ("Our Way"): a little classy on multigrain bread (leather accents) but undeniably desirable (grilled cheddar cheese and tomato).

The aesthetic of the Rush Hour Flat bar reminds me a lot of Specialized new Globe Brand Roll 1, as seen here on

Apparently BikeSnob himself ran into a promotion for the Globe Roll 1 & 2, which he remarked looked like "the world's most uncomfortable looking production bike," and I do agree that it looks comfortable.

Unfortunately, the question remains: unless you want to spend a hunk of change on a custom-built flashy track bike or not-so-much change on a boring standard frame, how can short ladies find a sexy track frame in their size?

Now I will fantasize about finding the Raleigh Rush Hour in 50cm and tweaking it to fit me perfectly - after all, people come in all shapes and sizes, so why shouldn't bikes?