Worthing Cycle Chic

My Commuting Steed. Taken on NCN2 Lancing Beach, West Sussex (next to yet another 'Cyclists Dismount' sign)

Here is a picture of the thing I happily spend a couple of hours a day on come rain, wind or shine.

I used to own a Specialized Tricross Sport until it got written off in a classic SMIDSY (‘Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You’) incident.  The incident occured in the laughably titled ‘Cycling Demonstration Town’, Brighton & Hove. Although I made a spectacular ‘Starsky & Hutch’ style roll across the bonnet of a very shocked and remorseful driver, I made a complete recovery within days.

My local bike shop is Quest Adventure, owned by the kind, enthusiastic and evergreen JP Saville – Mountain Bike racing veteran and the chap that introduced the Kona brand to the UK. He transplanted the components off the Tricross onto a Cotic Road Rat frame and forks (‘Steel is Real’) with shiny new wheels and hung the tricross frame up in the workshop as a souvenir (it was incredibly battered). The result is an amazingly fast and comfortable commuter hack to this day.

Whilst I was convalescing from the accident however, I considered buying a Pashley Guv’nor with some savings I had as it would encourage me to slow down and really enjoy my cycling again. In the end, I just wanted to get back on a bike quickly and went for the cheaper option that recycled old components. The problem is that it still encourages speed & glimpses of lycra, even with the addition of Schwalbe Marathon tyres.

The point is that, as the components are now getting very worn, I want to give it a makeover that makes it low maintenance, comfortable and sedate enough to provoke the wearing of relatively normal clothes meaning a stop at a pub, cafe, shop, pub again, vineyard or beer festival is not out of the question. At the moment dear brothers and sisters, I am a shocking example of Cycle Chic and an appalling advert for cycling. When people look at me sailing by they suddenly develop sympathy for the homeless as opposed to a desire to try cycling. I am so geared up for the commute that that’s all I do. I never give myself the chance to be spontaneous.

I’m thinking of making the following addtions/omissions alterations and I need your opinion;

Hub gears with drum brakes (for low maintenance)

‘Path Racer’ handlebars

Cream Schwalbe Delta Cruiser Tyres (just because)

Carradice saddlebag with quick release rack (I’m currently carrying work stuff in a courier bag which is insane really).

Mudguards

Brooks Saddle (although the Charge saddle I have currently is outstanding for the money – thoroughly recommended).

My questions are as follows; Is this going to work out prohibitively expensive?  What would you do/add/omit?

Also, for all the wonderful photographs on cycle chic blogs across the globe, can anyone maintain their chic for 12 miles without looking like they’ve just been orgasmed to near death and then pushed through a car wash?

I welcome any thoughts.

PS. If anyone is going to the Cycle Show at Earls Court on Friday 8th October, I’ll see you there!

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17 responses to “Worthing Cycle Chic

  1. Good luck with the chic thing. I find as I’m not chic off the bike I’ve not a hope of being chic on the bike although I do go for a general ‘well, if she can cycle up that hill in that get up then there’s no reason why I can’t’ vibe. I do like to think that after 10 or so hilly miles I look fresh and windswept rather than post-coital although these days I’m generally lightly coated in bugs.

    Can’t help you on the components. Lovely Bicycle has lots of posts on generally tarting up bikes with an eye to chic-ness, certainly far more than I could ever achieve

    • Thanks for the message.

      Fatherhood has definately converted my ‘post-coital’ look to ‘permanently shattered. If he were at Aintree, the screen would have gone round him and the shotgun administered’ look.

      The hub gears I see as a longer term investment as the bike will continue to be a mile muncher. I’m not about to start shopping at Rapha as that’s a level of Cycle Chic that has most people patting their pockets and cycling away. I guess the question is, is Cycle Chic really appropriate for British Commuting considering most commuters I meet are doing double figures each day’.

      And bugs make quite beauty spots, I have been informed.

      • I don’t know about chic. I’ll happily do 20+ miles in clothes that aren’t bike specific although I make some changes if I’m riding (like not jeans if it’s raining or likely to rain, leather gloves, trouser leg tucked into sock). Occasionally I break out the merino and if I’m cycling at night I add the scary yellow jacket but otherwise (as long as I remember to untuck the trouser leg from the sock) nothing that might make people think I’ve been cycling once I’m off the bike and walking around. When I had to work in an office I might take a change of shirt in the summer. The Brooks saddle and the mudguard help, as did switching to a pannier from a back pack – much, much less sweaty. I’m sure hub gears and a chainguard would be even better.

        Of course I cycle very slowly which helps – you’re actually cooler in the summer than people walking or on the bus are but you do get a lot wetter in the rain.

      • Indeed. I definately require a bike that encourages slower cycling. I raced Mountain Bikes when I was younger but the racing bug has never left which is irritating when 37 years old. The Wife never fails to look horrified when I come in sweating like I’ve been trying to escape from something for 12 miles.

        I’m certain that slower cycling widens wardrobe scope and allows for more pleasurable adventures as opposed to being locked in to the lycra festooned rat run. And mudguards would certainly be a bonus with the recent rain!

  2. ”In the late 19th century, large numbers of women were already using bicycles to get to work, women office workers and shop assistants wending their way each weekday morning from the suburbs to the town. They found the bicycle a convenient form of transport for distances up to, say, ten miles”.
    Plucked from John Woodeforde’s book ”The Story of the Bicycle”, 1970

    And that was on machines that would seem monstrous to us now. Not to mention the fact that they were wearing frightfully heavy dresses and thick fabrics. If they could do it on those bikes, in those clothes, there are little excuses for not cycling chic today.

    Look to the past to see the future regarding Citizen Cyclists and Cycle Chic.

    • Amen!

      As I got into my commuting, I slowly bought more cycling ‘stuff’ through the years that I feel merely divorces me from cycling as I’d really like to enjoy it. The end result is a mish-mash of old T-Shirts, Lycra base layers etc that just looks a mess and an insult to my bicycle.

      Cycle chic it is! Watch this space!

  3. Surely if you are going to do the full cycle chic look thing you need a wicker basket on the font, or is that going too far…

    • A good thought but, in view of the recent inclement weather, I think I shall favour a saddlebag so my humble possessions are not open to the elements.

      Also, whilst Victoria Pendleton could get away with it, I fear I may be inviting volleys of fireworks (as we are entering the season) from our local cheery youths.

  4. Jim,

    I don’t know what wheelsize you are after, but on Ebay at the moment is a couple of wheels (listed separately) – 26×1 3/8 stainless rims & sturmey drum front/3 speed drum rear hubs.

    Having just offloaded a road bike I’m going through the same dilemma, although the old road frame I was thinking of going with has 27″ wheels with a low bottom bracket, meaning 700c rims with chunkier tyres. Buying hubs/rims plus handlebars/decent saddle/guards/frame strip & respray starts heading towards silly money. And that’s the problem – take a chance & hope I get something to love at the end of it, or just hang out for something 2nd hand.

    Good luck in your quest!

    P.S:- the blogosphere is alive with these kinds of bikes at the minute – will sales of lycra goods ever recover?! ;>)

    • Ian

      Thanks for the eBay tip. I shall check it out.

      I believe that Lycra certainly has its place in the cycling World as it’s undeniably comfortable, particularly over longer distances. However I also believe that lycra should exclusively be for cycling as sport, as opposed to cycling as transport.

      I think the fact that we set ourselves these challenges is testiment to just how versatile and civilised the humble bicycle is. I had the pleasure of testing the 3 speed Pashley Guv’nor and was smitten but found the £845 price tag a little prohibitive at the time. I would like to build a modern take on it however and now have a very comfortable steel frame to hang everything off.

      Best of luck to you too!

  5. If you’ve got some spare cash, get a decent Batavus from the Littlehampton Dutch Bike Shop. Hub gears, brakes, dynamo, full chain case, jacket guard, integral lock – the perfect impulsive “jump on and go” bike 🙂

    • I must confess, I’m more than tempted by the Velorbis range but that would mean trying to justify another bicycle to The Wife, however well used it will be!

  6. I know it’s not exactly a Pashley guv’nor (indeed the Pashley would probably release the hounds if it ever found one on the estate), but have you seen the On-One Pomeptamine?

    http://www.on-one.co.uk/i/q/CBOOPOMPETVERSA/on-one-pompetamine-versa

    I think Genesis do something similar.
    Sorry to hear about the demise of your tricross, I think they’re great bikes. Indeed they’re becoming very common in my neck of the woods, and they’re almost all decked out with mudguards, racks and panniers.

    • I have checked it out and it does look marvellous (the vintage white scheme in particular). I believe the Genesis you’re referring to is the Croix de Fer.

      Although I loved my Tricross and had even ridden most of the South Downs Way on it plus a couple if trips up the Downs Link along with 24 miles a day commuting duties, I prefer the ride quality of the Cotic frame because it’s steel as opposed to Aluminium (I’ve used 700 x 35c on both)

      I’m just wondering whether converting the Cotic is actually going to work out cheaper than just buying a Guv’nor (or On-One or Velorbis for that matter). I guess I won’t know until I email the bike shop! I want something to stop me sweating like a madman and enjoy the sea that runs alongside my commute. Also, as my cycling wardrobe is as old and worn as the bike components, I want to start gradually integrating ‘normal’ clothes (such as the new Surface range from Charge). Not only can they look good off the bike but can repel showers and baby sick which is quite a good selling point for me at the moment!

    • Brilliant!

      Worthing does have above average cycling numbers due to the topography and factors such as the prom being opened up to shared use. The segregated path in your wonderful slide show is NCN2 linking Worthing with Brighton to the west. The rest of the town is a bit of a horrid mish mash with quite fast ‘arterial roads’ (dual carriageways) when they were the fashion in the 1980’s. However, the Town Council has recently voted unanimously to introduce ’20’s Plenty’ throughout Worthing so we are making steps in the right direction.

      And, no, I hardly see anyone wearing helmets either!

  7. I’ve found that out-and-out cycle chic is just too much like hard work – mine’s a 30 mile round trip, relatively flat, but always windy. So I’ve gone for a simpler form of road bike – second hand frame from the 80s, converted to fixed wheel, with full mudguards, bull-horn bars, Brooks saddle, and a large Carradice saddle back on a QR fixing.

    It’s still somewhat of a faff for the main journey, but for rides from the office to visit clients, it’s just a case of tucking in sock & riding.

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