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Archive for the ‘Cycle Chic’ Category

Single-Speeds in Rome and at Home

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

I wrote a piece earlier this year that focused on Italian Women biking in Italy, and the biggest difference between Italy and the US might be that you see a lot more women riding on the streets than men.

Lucky for us, we were in Italy again this past month for a two-week residency at the American Academy in Rome to participate in their visiting artist program. If you don’t know about the AAR, and you have serious interest in Italian culture, check them out. It is a remarkable institution that has various programs and is best known for the prestigious Rome Prize that is awarded to academics, designers, and artists. I was there to finish up a book about design found on the streets, and I took special note of the biking scene there. I focused on single-speeds, like the ones we’ve launched this month. They are very common in Rome, a city of Seven Hills, and the fact is that a single-speed bike will work for many of us in almost any urban environment.

Rome is now one of the best walking cities in the world and something of a poster child for the Livable Cities Movement of which PUBLIC is a member in spirit. In recent decades Rome has cleaned up its act by essentially banning cars from many parts of the city. Just two decades ago, cars – and the related noise and pollution – were so bad that it was frequently cited in tourist literature, along with pick pockets, as a dangerous urban element. All that has changed. Rome is now another beacon of optimism for other less progressive cities (like most in the US!)

Rome has actually been known for enlightened public policy dating back to Emperor Hadrian’s rule (117-138 AD) when many social policies were enacted to make the city safe and pleasant for the entire population. So today’s urban reforms have a lengthy tradition. OK, the Dark Ages and 20th Century car frenzy were serious interruptions to that tradition, but we see now that even the oldest cities in the world can adapt to a smarter way of getting around.

The Rise of Technology and the Decline of Driving

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Millennials Prefer to Bike

One of our favorite sources of information about urban issues is the The Atlantic Cities, which recently featured this article by Emily Badger on some of the less obvious effects of the rise of technology.

“Teleconferencing has made telework more common. E-commerce has reduced the need to drive to the mall. Real-time arrival apps have made public transit more predictable. Solar-powered stations have helped bike-share expand. WiFi and smart phones have made it possible to get work done on a moving bus, raising the mental cost of driving alone. And social media, for some people, has reduced the need to travel across town to see a friend you might more easily connect with on Facebook.”

Read the full article here.

A correlation between high-tech culture and smarter transportation is obvious to those of us who live and work in San Francisco. We see many people who choose to live car free, and there are increasing numbers of young people on bikes on our streets. The major tech companies like Twitter, Apple, Google, and Facebook have incentive programs for employees who bike to work, and many have bike share programs on their campuses.

Millennials are a lot more passionate and interested in connectivity — smart phone and apps — than they are about physical mobility and what kind of car you drive. This is an optimistic sign and a phenomenon that appears to hold true in all other progressive cities across the country.

Electric Bikes and Millennials

PUBLIC BionX mixte electric bike in San Francisco

We don’t have any stats on Millennials’ preferences for electric bikes in the US yet. But studies in Europe show that these new electrical-assisted bikes are the fastest growing transportation segment in their cities. This new generation of faster, easier bikes have become a logical alternative to a car for many people. We’ve launched a range of e-bikes this month. Some are made from PUBLIC DNA with a BionX system, and others from the Swiss bike design firm Stromer. They combine technology in a manner that will appeal to both Millennials and the older crowd alike.

Chic Undies, Elegant Bells & Other Kicks for Cyclists

Friday, September 6th, 2013


The leading bicycle industry trade show, Interbike takes place in Las Vegas (September 18-20), and it is the traditional source for new bike products introductions. But we’ve seen that some of the most interesting design innovations in bicycle-related products don’t necessarily come from the big traditional bicycle companies that can afford to pay for an exhibition space and all the costs associated with travel to Las Vegas. And not to state the obvious, but why should the leading bike show in the industry be held in such a bike-unfriendly city? We attend the show every year and always come away with the same reaction.

That’s why we’re big fans of crowd funding websites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other platforms that feature new bike products and accessories that come from entrepreneurs.

Here are three crowd funding products that caught our eye recently, two from the Bay Area and one from Austin, Texas.

Bicycle Bell
Spurcycle’s Reinvented Bicycle Bell
Our friends at San Francisco-based Spurcycle are designers at heart. They’re raising money to finance a new, American-made bicycle bell, and they have already raised over $230,000. Kudos.
Urbanist’s Chamois Panties
Austin-based designer Christiana Guzman is developing stylish, comfortable riding underwear, and changing the way we think about panties. It’s encouraging to see a woman succeeding in this male dominated business. Kudos to Ms. Guzman for already exceeded her funding goal and attracting over 500 backers.
Bluetooth LED
Erogear’s Fos Wearable LED Display
San Francisco-based designer Anders Nelson is offering this wearable LED display system that can be used for bicycling and other purposes.

Back to Interbike. So maybe it’s true that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. What happens on the web happily does not. All around the globe people can see these cool Kickstarter supported products and help fund these entrepreneurs. Please let us know about other products you find online or from other sources.

Win a 3-Night Stay at a Kimpton Hotel

Friday, July 19th, 2013

We’re incredibly excited to work with another San Francisco-based company, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, to debut custom Kimpton PUBLIC bikes at all their 60 nationwide boutique hotel properties.

To celebrate we’re giving away a 3-night stay at any Kimpton Hotel.

It’s easy to enter the contest. All you need to do is get your friends to enter the contest by signing up for our newsletter. Deadline to enter is September 30, 2013. Click here for contest details.

You are probably familiar with many of their hotels that exist in many cities across the country. We’re big fans and customers of Kimpton for their shared emphasis on design, high quality food and amenities. We frequently put our guests in their San Francisco properties. Some of our favorite Kimpton properties are the Hotel Monaco in Chicago, the Amara Resort & Spa in Sedona, the Hotel Palomar in San Francisco, and the 70 Park Avenue Hotel in New York. But all of their 60 hotels in 26 cities across the US reflect their commitment to the same high standards and that personal touch of a boutique hotel.

Kimpton has always been considered an industry leader and this program is one further example. They are the first boutique hotel brand with a national presence to offer custom bicycles for hotel guests at every property. You can read the full description of the nationwide Kimpton complimentary bike program here.

The bikes are complimentary for guests’ enjoyment, in keeping with Kimpton’s commitment to health, well-being and sense of fun and adventure. The Kimpton PUBLIC bike will be easy to spot on the street with its custom cherry-red frame with orange and blue accents, cream tires, matching double walled rims, brass bell, and rear basket. The three-speed mixte frame bikes make city riding a fun adventure for novices or expert cyclists alike.

So join the contest, and think about taking a Third Wheel on your next hotel stay at a Kimpton Hotel.

Get two free cocktails for $1. When you book your reservation at any Kimpton Hotel use promo code PUBLIC. For one dollar more than the best available room rate you’ll receive 2 free cocktails per night during your stay. This offer cannot be combined with any other promotions or packages, and some alternatives may apply based on each individual hotel property. Take advantage of this offer between July 22nd – September 30th, 2013 at Kimpton hotels across the country.

Italian Women

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

We were touring Italy last month checking out the urban biking scene in a range of cities. This makes for some interesting comparisons to the United States and leads us to this quiz:

What is the biggest difference in urban biking in Italy compared with the US?

1. Many Italian cities have retrofitted separate bike lanes in their cities.

2. Bicyclists can ride in bus lanes and on sidewalks without irritating pedestrians.

3. Bicyclists are not intimidated by cobblestone streets, streetcar tracks or rush hour traffic.

4. There are more older people than younger people riding bikes.

5. Helmets are rarely seen except on tourists.

6. Taxis, busses, trucks, and trams all seem to respect cyclists.

7. Bike Share programs are common even in smaller cities.

8. Lycra is not the prevalent dress code.

9. E-bikes are everywhere, and some are quite elegant.

10. There are more nuns riding bikes.

Ok, that was a fake quiz. All of the above are true. The biggest difference is that you see a lot more women riding than men. Mothers texting while riding, older women with groceries, younger women headed to work. They all seem to ride confidently making left hand turns in traffic and riding over rail lines, without looking stressed out. Perhaps this is what accounts for the seeming lack of road rage, the lower levels of testosterone on the streets?

What makes this all the more interesting is that the Italians love their cars (and speed) like almost no other nation on Earth. They have an illustrious tradition that ranges from common Fiats and Alfa Romeos to fancy Ferraris, Maseratis, Bugattis, and many other iconic cars. Car ownership per capita is much higher than any other major European country, despite the fact that they pay more for gas than any other European country (~ $10 a gallon). But they seem to get along on their city roads. Italians taught us to respect and enjoy pizza and pasta. Perhaps they can teach us how to respect and enjoy each other on the streets?

Polka Dot PUBLIC Bike

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Polka dots are a decorative element that we rarely associate with the Holiday season, and that’s precisely why we are introducing them right now.  They have a habit of cropping up in the most unexpected situations. And when they do they almost always bring a smile on our faces.

It’s goofy enough to be appropriate for clowns and serious enough to go on the jersey for the King of the Mountain award in the Tour de France.  They are often associated with kids’ gear but actually crop up more often in accessories and visual statements by the most sophisticated designers.

Venezuelan designer Carolina Herrera put them on dresses and caused a sensation all over her country. Last season, Louis Vuitton invited Yayoi Kusama to bring her famous polka dots into the forefront of the fashion world.

Buddy Guy put them on this Fender Stratocaster.

They were made famous in yellow from a 1960’s Bubblegum Pop song “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss that made it to the Top Ten charts in many countries with hilarious refrain “One, two, three, four/Tell the people what she wore”, and “Stick around, we’ll tell you more”. Listen here. But they are in no way related to the Polka dance as some have suggested.

I have some on a Paul Smith tie that never ceases to draw comments (loved in London, despised in Paris).

Once you start looking for them they crop up in many places. You have to respect Polka Dots for their audacity as well as their humor.  Unlike their cousin Stripes for example, they ignore the form they attach themselves to and steal our eyes attention.  They play with us.

We have helmets with polka dots, but this is our first bike. The red polka dot print is on the cream PUBLIC C7, our most popular 7-speed step-thru city bike. It’s a limited edition one-time shot, and a great way to surprise someone for the holidays.

JUST IN: New Graphic Tees

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

A lot of new t-shirts just arrived at PUBLIC. Sharp enough to wear on their own. Comfy enough to layer with your favorite sweater. Add a pop of color to your winter wardrobe. Check out the whole collection.

New Bikes for $399

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Every now and then some super special deal comes along in the world of transportation.

For cars it might have been the VW Beetle in the 1950’s. In airplanes it might have been Southwest Airlines flights for 49 bucks. For motorcycles it was the popular Honda Super Cub, the most produced motor vehicle in history. In mass transit it was a New York subway fare ride for a nickel until 1948. In Europe it’s probably the unlimited travel Eurorail passes. At PUBLIC it’s our new PUBLIC S7 and PUBLIC T7 that we’re launching this week.

We designed these to be as economical as possible and to meet the needs of so many customers who have pleaded with us to come up with a bike that would sell for under $450. We listened. For a limited time, we’re offering these beauties at a price of $399 (reg. $449) while quantities last. At this price, these might be considered our most PUBLIC and democratic bike.

The PUBLIC S7 and PUBLIC T7 come in a limited range of colors. Although they are without some of the styling details of our PUBLIC C7 and PUBLIC V7 bikes they still maintain the PUBLIC aesthetic with matching fenders and other details. The tires and cable housing are black. While we do not carry matching colored racks, you can select the simple metallic finish or any other complimentary color. The S7 and T7 both come with a 7-speed derailleur.

They ride like butter and are up to our PUBLIC standards. We don’t think you’ll  find a comparable multi-speed, steel-frame city bike with matching fenders, chain guard, and kickstand at this affordable price. It truly is Mass Transit for One.

They are available online now, or in our stores by October 18.

PUBLIC WORKS: Designers Save Cities

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

We are launching PUBLIC WORKS this week.  We invited twenty-seven world renowned designers to interpret the concept of “public” with a vision to improve our cities and how the bicycle can play a part.  The launch begins with exhibitions of twenty-seven large-scale posters in San Francisco at California College of the Arts (October 9th – 11th) and in New York at the FLOS Gallery (October 18th – 25th).  All these posters can be viewed and purchased online and through our stores now, and we will have a book, t-shirts, and other products available shortly.

The impetus for PUBLIC WORKS is to bring greater attention to the critical issues of public space, access, and livability of our cities. If anyone doubts that designers can greatly improve our public world, one only needs to look at the impact that Milton Glaser’s iconic I heart New York logo and slogan had on New York.  Glaser came up with this logo in 1977, a time when New York was struggling financially and culturally. Crime and crack dealers were rampant in all neighborhoods. Subways had become unsafe and The Federal Government was unwilling to help out. President Ford made headlines in the New York Daily News and the infamous headline “ Ford to New York: Drop Dead”.

What to do? Rudy Giuliani had one solution- come down hard on crime. Milton Glaser had another – create love for the city. He created his logo pro bono because he cared so much for the city and because he is an extraordinary public citizen.  Such an act of generosity – the logo inspired a song and seeded a million other derivative marketing efforts around the world.  It may be the greatest piece of public design and the most influential modern logo ever created. And the logo just gets better over time.

We can’t expect Milton’s poster for PUBLIC, nor the other twenty six PUBLIC WORKS and designers to have the same impact, but these works will bring attention to many of the key issues for our cities and our public world that are often overlooked, taken for granted, and even contested. We are in a period when Federal funding for cities, like national health care and public education are suffering from a lack of federal support.  We realize this everyday when we ride smack into a pothole or walk for blocks to find a safe bike rack.

Check out the WORKS from this talented group of designers.  If you would like to have this exhibition in your community or workplace let us know.



Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

PUBLIC WORKS kicks off in New York City at FLOS from October 18th – October 25th. Bike over and join us. By invite only – please email courtney@bdeonline.biz.

PUBLIC, a San Francisco based bicycle company with a mission to improve the quality and character of our cities and public places announces PUBLIC WORKS. We invited a group of world-renowned designers to interpret the concept of “public” in their own voice and style, to play with the word itself if they desired, and to design large scale posters around these ideas.


When: October 18th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Where: FLOS in SoHo (152 Greene Street)

What: Design Exhibition, Spirits, Free Bike Valet Parking

BONUS: First 20 guests receive a free PUBLIC WORKS Book.

PUBLIC WORKS posters (20×30 and 40×60) a booklet, and t-shirts will be available for sale at the show, and many of the designers will be available to sign their poster. A percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the Transportation Alternatives. Free bike valet parking.

More information here.