I was drawn to a twitter post today that mentioned Giant's new bicycle: the "Chixie," a fixed-gear ride built specifically for women. Though perhaps gimmicky and slightly offensive (chixie? really?), I think there are some good ideas behind this bike.
Let's be honest: bicycle components and clothing built specifically for women have to walk a fine line. Ideally, they would appeal to urban hipster 20-somethings AND forty-year-old suburbanites who are more likely to actually dole out the cash to buy their products. The incentive to make products that people actually buy seems to mean that most of this stuff is designed for the forty-year-old suburbanites (re: trying to buy decent cycling gear here), and less for the 20-something urban rider. The Chixie represents a big step away from the grandma stuff towards the cooler stuff.
My initial reaction to a large manufacturer like GIANT is: ugh, another factory pumping out bicycles without any style. I feel this way about Trek too, although my father would probably disagree. Perhaps it's pretension, but there's something achingly uncool about GIANT and Trek; I just feel like these ubiquitous navy blue/silver hybrid bicycles have no soul. Of course, was my mini Fuji pumped out by some other assembly line in China? Yeah. But at least Fuji knows a thing or two about style (check out their 2010 Classic series: it's so sexy).
I think the ideas behind this bike are good. I know I sound like a broken record when I talk about bicycle sizing, but it IS nice to see a mainstream manufacturer produce something that fits. There is a lot to be said for that. Also: the Chixie incorporates a Sugino crankset, the 46T Messenger, which is a nice crankset for a stock bike. Also: this bike is a little bit cool. It has the plain chrome frame that some fixed-gear riders crave and a nice bright blue color scheme. My guess is the Giant Classic Road saddle is neither comfortable nor designed for women, but that is easily replaceable.
Clearly, if you're a female fixed-gear rider, this isn't the bicycle you're going to take to the track. Also, it's way overpriced. You could buy a small, nicer IRO for $200 less. In fact, I think is speaks more to the "I have money to burn and I might ride this cute bicycle to get my coffee" crowd. But, I'm happy to see companies producing small, sexy(ish), fixed gear/singlespeed bicycles for women. Amen to that.