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Do you suffer from “Bicycle Face”?

August 29th, 2014

For women in the late 19th century, bikes symbolized more than two-wheeled transportation. They were instruments of change, allowing women more mobility and redefining the Victorian notions of femininity. This radical idea of women freely moving about, and in pants no less, did not jive with the traditional notion that the woman’s place was in the home.

As a result, doctors of the era took to diagnosing females in particular with the condition bicycle face, “characterized as including bulging eyes, and a tightened jawbone.” This article from Vox entitled “The 19th-century health scare that told women to worry about ‘bicycle face” does a great job of discussing the false malady and exploring the real reason behind why doctors were diagnosing this.

To the 21st century woman who bikes, wears pants and makes funny faces that don’t “freeze” (thankfully) while cycling, this myth about bicycle face is just plain ridiculous. As the Vox article describes, men viewed bikes as just another toy, women during the early 19th century saw them as a tool. A way to cycle out of their conventional roles and gain equality.

Vox also references this incredible (incredible because of it’s hilarity) “List of 41 Don’ts For Women on Bicycles.” There are so many “good” ones on this list it’s definitely worth a read. If you don’t have the time, here are some highlights:

#2: Don’t faint on the road.
#8: Don’t boast of your long rides.
#10: Don’t wear loud hued leggings.
#22: Don’t chew gum. Exercise your jaws in private.
and #41: Don’t appear to be up on “records” and “record smashing.” That is sporty.


Traffic Jams In All Forms

August 28th, 2014

Take a look at these eerie images of cars abandoned in a Belgium forest. These amazing, haunting images by Rosanne de Lange were actually taken at one of the biggest car cemeteries in the world – the Chatillion Car Graveyard in Belgium.

As discussed on this blog, “According to an urban legend these cars were left behind by US soldiers from World War II, who could not ship them back to the US so they decided to hide them in a forest until they could come back and retrieve them. The locals disagree and say that it’s simply an old car dump of vehicles made after the WWII”.

Click on the above images to share them via Facebook.

Traffic has been in the news a lot lately, including the 8+ hours to get to the playa of Burning Man’s Black Rock City to thousands of concert goers missing a Paul McCartney concert at the last event at Candlestick Park due to the Big Jam.

We’ve written about traffic before on our blog. More bicycles, better public transit, and improved walkable neighborhoods helps. But most importantly, we need to recognize that when we get in our cars, we’re not just stuck in traffic – we are traffic. Feel free to share this image out on Facebook.

Congestion and its effect on quality of life is an issue in almost every US city. We’re not going to solve this problem by building wider roads, at the expense of walkable, livable neighborhoods, or encouraging more cars on our already congested roads.

Even in a progressive city like San Francisco, there are people who are determined to reverse the city’s efforts to reduce car congestion and prioritize transit and walkable neighborhoods. In this November’s ballot San Francisco voters will be asked to weigh in on Proposition L. We at PUBLIC are encouraging our customers and fans to vote No on Gridlock (No on Prop L). Learn more here.


Robin Williams: A Reflection

August 22nd, 2014


With Robin Williams’ passing this past month, the San Francisco Bay Area lost one of its best ambassadors to the world at large and also to the world of biking. I had the privilege of meeting him a few times and knowing him a little.  I am not unusual in this regard.

Robin was a very accessible person, especially to those with a love for bikes.  Many local bike shop owners and bike related charities were also acquaintances of his. He rode the same Marin County routes like Paradise Loop that Bay Area riders frequent. He loved bikes on a number of levels and his obsession was as legendary as his humor.

Robin gave me a tour of his 50+ bike collection at his 60th birthday party. He housed his bike collection in a big garage in Napa and it was filled with amazing road bikes dating back several decades.  In this garage he was “a kid in a candy store.”

Robin had a few bikes by the celebrated Italian bike builder Dario Pegoretti, a bike builder we both respected and admired.  I saw the two of them at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in 2008. The header image and the shot below are ones I took of Robin with Dario at the Portland show.

Read this excellent The Wall Street Journal article about Robin and Dario and you’ll learn about yet another legendary side of Robin Williams – his generosity and heart.

He even once gave a bike to Conan O’Brien to cheer him up. He was like that. Watch Conan tell his funny story.

Robin Williams was well known at Bay Area bikes shops for his patronage. He spread his good will around, exemplified by his generous contributions to non-profits and support for the arts in general. Trip for Kids, a San Rafael based charity that takes bike donations and gives the bikes to needy kids who cannot afford new bikes, was an organization that Robin continually supported.

We all know Robin Williams’ unique talents as an actor and comedian.  At heart he was an enthusiastic boy who loved bikes for the same reasons that we do – the freedom they bring, the jolt of a little friendly competition and rebellion, and a lot of smiling. As Jason Gay from The Wall Street Journal recounted, when asked “why he loved riding a bicycle so much. I’ll always remember his answer, because it was wonderful and true. He said it was the closest you can get to flying.”

I wouldn’t use the phrase Rest In Peace for Robin Williams.  He was too high energy for resting in peace. His spirit is perhaps on a bike somewhere, making those fortunate enough to be biking along side him buckle over in laughter.


Rob Forbes

Please send any personal comments to me here.

The Cool Spirit of Independent Bike Fashion

August 18th, 2014

Thankfully, the biker of today can solve the “what to wear when riding” problem in so many ways other than spandex and neon.  Today’s urban commuter gets to choose from a variety of independent brands that are creating both comfortable and good-looking bike apparel. The kind of stuff you feel good about wearing whether you’re heading into a business meeting or the grocery store.

We love the unique spirit of today’s independent bike apparel brands. Take Betabrand’s Discolab line of sparkly reversible threads. It’s a party on one side and hipster-cool on the other. Or Chrome Industries’s super stylish sneakers, some are SPD optional but you’d never know it by looking. If you’re into high-tech, yet functional apparel, you can’t get much more slick than the offerings from Mission Workshop. And Levi’s has even come out with a Commuter Line of jeans with a “utility waistband” designed for holding a U-lock.

PUBLIC Bikes on Hayes St is exited to be to be the pop-up shop host this Saturday and Sunday (Aug 23-24) for Iladora, another spirited independent bike-wear brand focused on female bike fashion. Iladora takes wardrobe staples like a draped tops and the pencil skirt and reinterprets them in high-tech fabrics with cuts that are flexible enough for riding. The result is clothing that makes for comfortable bike riding and still looks sharp when worn at work.

In honor of the Iladora Pop-Up Shop at PUBLIC Bikes, for this weekend only Iladora is offering 20% off all Iladora Apparel to both in-store and online shoppers. Online shoppers use the promo code PublicBikesSummerLove. This special promotion for PUBLIC customers ends Sunday, August 24.

Iladora Pop-Up Shop at PUBLIC Bikes. 549 Hayes Street, SF. Saturday and Sunday, August 23-24.


PUBLIC + Rudy’s Giveaway Contest

August 15th, 2014

PUBLIC Bikes is teaming up with Rudy’s Barbershop to launch the newest Rudy’s Barbershop location in Bellevue, WA with a pack of custom PUBLIC bikes to demo on-site.

To celebrate the Rudy’s x PUBLIC collaboration we’re giving away a new PUBLIC V7 city bike, valued at $649, along with The Dirty Birdie gift pack from Rudy’s valued at $83.

Entering the contest is easy. Anyone can do it and you’ll maximize your chances of winning by inviting a few of your friends along. Contest ends September 30, 2014.

And the next time you need a haircut, ride your PUBLIC bike to any Rudy’s location in Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, or New York and you’ll get 10% off a trim and 15% off any products from Rudy’s if you show them your PUBLIC bike.

Bait Bikes, Twitter – Bike Thieves Beware

August 12th, 2014

Bike theft is an unfortunate fact of life all around the globe, but in the Bay Area even the police are using smart phones and social to nab thieves. And it’s paying off.

Officer Matt Friedman of San Francisco and his colleagues are on a mission to blunt bike theft and to do this he’s making bikes smarter, and then posting about it on Twitter.
Officer Friedman nabs bike thieves with “bait bikes”, high-value wheels embedded with gps tracking devices that are left outside with the intent of being stolen. Once the bike is stolen, the tracking device is triggered and the police are led right to the thief. This video from The New York Times article, “Police Use High Tech Lures to Reel In Bike Thieves,” even shows a bike thief stealing a bait bike and being apprehended.

After a bike thief is apprehended, Officer Friedman posts a photo of the bad guy to Twitter, using the handle @SFPDBikeTheft. This public shaming of the thief is intentional. Friedman wants to send a message to other bike thieves that “we’re on to your game and you could be next.”

This gets us at PUBLIC thinking that there needs to be more creative ways that technology can be used to deal with this problem. In a world where people can space travel and control drones from thousands of miles away, there has got to be a way for everyday people to keep their bikes safe from everyday thieves.

We’re interested in developing new smart locks to reduce bike theft. We’d like to partner with experienced techies who can help us design and develop some smart products. Send us an email here.

But just as importantly, you should be knowledgeable about the basics of theft prevention. Here is a great theft prevention guide from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.


Paws & Pedals: Now on Tumblr

August 5th, 2014

Two-wheeled objects and four-legged friends mean a lot to us at PUBLIC, so we’re extremely excited to launch Paws & Pedals, a Tumblr page that celebrates all things dog and bike related.

We’re rolling out photos like the one above, taken recently in our PUBLIC Pooch Photo Shoot at our Hayes Valley Store. That photo was not photo-shopped, by the way. It was taken by SF photographer, Akshay Sawhney and those adorable Pomeranians from left to right are Mika, Chloe and their mom, Nana. We need you and your pooch to make Paws & Pedals as epic as possible.

Send your most quirky and fun, dog + bike photos via email and we’ll post them to Paws & Pedals. At the end of each month the user submitted photo with the most likes will get a special gift and recognition from PUBLIC.

If you’ve got doggy style, Paws & Pedals wants to see it.

Photo Credit: Akshay Sawhney

Valencia Store Closing Sale – Last Weekend

July 31st, 2014

After two wonderful years on Valencia Street inside Harrington Galleries, we’re saying a PUBLIC goodbye at our 599 Valencia Street retail location. Our last day is Sunday, August 31.

This is our last weekend open so we will be selling off all bicycle and gear inventory at special in-store only prices. Everything must go.

Call 415-626-6099 to inquire about stock availability. We have very limited stock, but you can probably find:

  • A handful of PUBLIC D, M, and V bikes at 50% off list price
  • PUBLIC WORKS 40×60 canvas posters at 50% off
  • Brooks saddles, helmets, bicycle lights, panniers & t-shirts up to 80% off

    We’ve settled into our new flagship store at 549 Hayes, which is more than double the size of our Valencia store. At our new Hayes location, customers throughout San Francisco can come test ride and purchase PUBLIC bikes, schedule maintenance and repair services, and buy bicycle accessories and gear.

    PUBLIC Valencia Store Address: 599 Valencia Street
    Hours: Friday & Sat 11am-7pm; Sunday 11am-5pm

  • Getting Ready for the Playa

    July 30th, 2014


    Bike Arch at Black Rock City. Image via Flickr from Fabrice Florin.

    Bike Arch at Black Rock City. Image via Flickr from Fabrice Florin.

    San Francisco is the birthplace of PUBLIC Bikes. We take a lot of inspiration from the cultural and social diversity of this city that continues to innovate and transform itself.

    It’s no surprise that San Francisco is also the birthplace of Burning Man, which has since become a worldwide cultural event celebrating art, music, community, and creative self-expression.

    Several PUBLIC employees are regular Burners. In fact, one of our regular bike builders has already left for the entire month to help prepare Black Rock City.

    The focal point of Burning Man is the building of the temporary Black Rock City where 65,000+ participants are expected to gather in the Nevada desert. Burning Man takes place before Labor Day weekend, which means thousands of people from around the world, especially in the Bay Area, are preparing their camps and art projects in August in anticipation for the Burn.

    One of the essential items to bring to Burning Man is your own “Playa Bike” or “Burner Bike.”

    Big Burner Bike. Image by Mack Reed via Flickr.

    Big Burner Bike. Image by Mack Reed via Flickr.

    Burner Bikes

    People go to Burning Man for different reasons, but one of the best parts is to experience what it’s like to live in a city where the primary mode of transportation is by bicycle.

    Black Rock City is essentially a bicycle paradise. The landscape is perfectly flat, spans for miles and motorized vehicular transportation in any form other than an art car is prohibited (with the exception of arriving and leaving Black Rock City).

    Burner Art Bikes. Images by Thomas Kriese, Joel and Ian Kennedy via Flickr.

    Burner Art Bikes. Images by Thomas Kriese, Joel and Ian Kennedy via Flickr.

    Thus, two-wheeled transport is essential with the bicycle being the primary way to get around the city. Imagine living in a city of 65,000+ people where almost everyone moves by bicycle or foot. One of the best articles about this topic is “The Bike Culture of Black Rock City” by Matthew Roth.

    And for many participants, the bicycle also becomes a vehicle of creative, artistic, and individual expression. We’ve rounded up a selection of fun, quirky, and inspiring art bikes in a Facebook album so check them out.

    Creative Burner Bike. Image by Lara604 via Flicker.

    Creative Burner Bike. Image by Lara604 via Flicker.


    Playa Products: Incredibell Disco Bell, SpokeLits and Trieste Coffee Cup Holder

    Playa Bike Recommended Picks
    If you’re heading to the desert later this August we’ve rounded up a few playa-perfect products that are sure to make your trip that much brighter, colorful and safe. We think our Disco Bell that offers an LED light show of red, yellow and green upon every ring is totally techno-ready. Our SpokLits come in either Disco or Green, effortlessly attach to the spokes of any bike, and create a LED light display upon revolution.

    Other gear to consider: our Trieste Coffee Cup Holder (you can put any cylindrical vessel inside it), colorful Spring Clip Rear Racks and baskets for holding anything you might pick up along the way and, of course, bike wash (because you won’t be the only thing needing a good scrub down when you get home).

    Check out our complete collection of fun Burner recommended products here.

    New 2014 Special Edition Bikes

    July 29th, 2014

    Introducing Our New 2014 Special Edition Bikes

    Bikes, like people, have personalities and at PUBLIC we love the idea of taking a bike and making it feel special. The same way earrings and shoes can make an outfit, bike accessories like bells and fenders add character and individuality to a set of wheels.

    Each of our new Special Edition models is outfitted with individual touches like polished silver fenders and brass bells, handmade leather saddles and grips from Brooks of England. Built atop our durable, lightweight steel frames for a distinctive (and durable) ride. Starting at only $549.

    The PUBLIC C1 Amelie edition is a classic single-speed city bike with European chic. This timeless ride is dressed up with a Brooks B67s Aged SaddleBrooks Plump Leather Grips in honey and a classic PUBLIC Brass Bell. Toss a bouquet of fresh flowers or bread into the Peterboro Original Front Basket and breeze down any boulevard with an effortless je ne sais quoiRetail price is $549 (list price $741).


    The PUBLIC V1 Harrison edition gets its moniker from being one of the best bike routes in San Francisco’s Mission District and the home address of PUBLIC’s original warehouse on Harrison Street. Accessorized for the street-smart urban rider, this low-maintenance high function single-speed ride features the bulletproof Brooks B17 Saddle in black, our cargo-ready new Porteur Front Rack in silver, Black Cork Grips and aPUBLIC Brass BellRetail price is $549 (list price $750).

    View all our Special Edition Bikes here.

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