A French Connection

August 3rd, 2011

A lot of clients ask us “who designs your bikes?”  We do.  The geometry of the design is founded on function and comfort. All of our frames have an upright ergonomic ride. Everyday people, of all shapes and sizes, guide our design process. Professional racing is not the intent; PUBLIC bikes respond to the everyday… Read more »

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A French Connection

A lot of clients ask us “who designs your bikes?”  We do.  The geometry of the design is founded on function and comfort. All of our frames have an upright ergonomic ride. Everyday people, of all shapes and sizes, guide our design process. Professional racing is not the intent; PUBLIC bikes respond to the everyday utilitarian rider.  What sets them apart is the attention to practical and quality details such as fenders, chain guards, smooth shifting systems, and comfortable seats.

Our role models are classic European bikes of the 20th century, embodied in this French Mercier Meca Dural 3 Speed Randonneuse – i.e. a cool Parisian bike from the 50’s. This aluminum bike adorns our South Park studio.

Looking at the Mercier is inspirational – a constant reminder that good design is timeless and that form, function, innovation, and style can be built into an everyday city bike. The mixte frame, constructed of aluminum tubing, was very radical and technologically innovative in the 1950’s. The geometry of the mixte frame suited both men and women. Back when ladies’ slacks were not in style in Paris, the Mercier’s unisex frame invited women to bicycle in a skirt or a dress. Some of its most striking qualities are the handsome hammered fenders, a sexy chair guard, visually integrated front and rear lights, a shock-absorbing seatpost, and a nice splash of color (the red tires). Practical necessities were incorporated into the functional design: a bell, rack, light, and chain guard.

The French have been designers of mobility for centuries.  Their love affair with the invention and refinement of the bicycle continues today with the amazing Vélib’ bike-share system that set a standard for the rest of Europe in 2007. But bikes aren’t the only mode of transportation the French have pioneered. Their Metro amazed the world in 1900 and is a landmark in urban transportation design.  The Deux Chevaux car is as iconic as Chanel #5. And then there’s the SST Concorde, 1976.  Just as with style, the French have an obsession with speed and mobility. So it is no surprise that it is home to the Tour de France.

Our “M” series has a French Heritage
The Mercier frame was a precursor to the “mixte” – the frame style made popular by Peugeot and many other followers. It became one of the most fashionable city frame styles in history. Countless vintage mixte bikes can still be seen on the streets here and abroad. The lightly scaled tubing is especially elegant, and the structure has a special appeal to architects and designers.  This was the inspiration for our PUBLIC mixte frame bikes – the M models – that continue to be our most popular internal hub bikes. It’s a unisex style that works on city streets as well as on hip corporate campuses that provide bikes for employees.

Black is Back

July 22nd, 2011

We get more requests for black bikes than for any other color. People love black on cars, pens, shoes, jackets, and – we’re learning – on bikes. Black looks good and is used on just about anything except objects that are supposed to be sanitary like toothbrushes or Band-Aids. Black has been the most traditional,… Read more »

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New PUBLIC Black Bikes

We get more requests for black bikes than for any other color. People love black on cars, pens, shoes, jackets, and – we’re learning – on bikes. Black looks good and is used on just about anything except objects that are supposed to be sanitary like toothbrushes or Band-Aids. Black has been the most traditional, most classic, bike color since the 19th century. So why don’t we offer a black bike? There must be a good, logical reason.

There isn’t.

So to make our customers happy and to curb our passion for bright colors, we’ve had a batch of beautiful black bikes made up. The first small order arrived this month. A limited number of both the V and C models are available right now. (They look especially classic with Brooks saddles). The addition of a white or silver rack (no black racks in stock yet) also preserves the timeless look. We’ve added a few touches of color just for fun – red cable housing and our classic fender stripes. Small and Medium Black PUBLIC D8s will arrive in December.

If you are in the United States and would like to order one of our limited edition black V or C models, please call us at 1.888.450.0123 between 11am-6pm PST on weekdays or 11am-4pm on weekends. Prices range from $600-700. There are only 8 of these bikes available so we’ll only be able to offer them to the first 8 callers. The limited number of black bikes we have in stock now are:

Standard PUBLIC V7 (fits someone 4’10”-5’6″) – $600
Standard PUBLIC C7 (fits someone 4’8″-5’5″) – $600
Large PUBLIC C3 (fits someone 5’6″-6’0″) – $700

We can also take pre-orders for Small and Medium Black PUBLIC D8s ($950) if you’d like to make sure you get in on the first batch. These Black PUBLIC D8 bikes might sell out even before we get them in December so we encourage you to place your pre-order.

Black is, indeed, back.

New Stripes & New Bikes

June 9th, 2011

The quality of our steel frame bikes and their lifetime guarantee are of great importance to us. But we are always tweaking the design of our bikes and products to make them more pleasing, visual, and functional. Our latest bikes, the new PUBLIC C7s and PUBLIC V7s (both $550), have slightly modified frame geometry to accommodate… Read more »

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New Stripes & New Bikes

The quality of our steel frame bikes and their lifetime guarantee are of great importance to us. But we are always tweaking the design of our bikes and products to make them more pleasing, visual, and functional. Our latest bikes, the new PUBLIC C7s and PUBLIC V7s (both $550), have slightly modified frame geometry to accommodate a greater range of body sizes and improved chain guards to make them even less likely to grab trousers – details you might not notice. The biggest visual change we’ve made is to include some stripes and reflective panels on the fenders. Why did we do this? Stripes make us smile and safety counts.

We’re big fans of stripes. We like spotting them anywhere we travel, as seen above, and we include them on our products whenever possible. Our signature Nutcase helmet has stripes running over it. Stripes help us look at the world a little more playfully, as with fabrics, and a little more carefully, as with signposts. They can serve a purpose and make anything appear longer or wider. They are often used on race bikes to suggest speed. But with PUBLIC bikes the stripes are for fun and safety.

We also have some new accessories to go with our bikes. The new racks, panniers, and crates have been big hits with our PUBLIC customers and they work on almost any bike. These products are designed in house and you will not find them anywhere else.

An Invitation to Wear Heels

June 1st, 2011

“Oftentimes people will ask if it is hard to ride a bike in heels. It’s not,” Lauren Gerrie says. “In fact, it makes wearing heels that much easier because your feet hurt less from not having to walk around. I put together my outfits based around the assumption that I will be riding my bike…. Read more »

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SHOES
“Oftentimes people will ask if it is hard to ride a bike in heels. It’s not,” Lauren Gerrie says. “In fact, it makes wearing heels that much easier because your feet hurt less from not having to walk around. I put together my outfits based around the assumption that I will be riding my bike. This opens my world of options up tenfold. I tell you what, a girl cannot stand/walk around this city in 4″ stilettos for that long, but she sure as hell can ride in them for hours on end.”

Until the recent resurgence of the everyday bicycle, bicycling in the United States has primarily focused on performance and recreation. It’s more diversely utilized in other parts of the world.

At PUBLIC, we focus on bicycling as transportation – as a simple and elegant vehicle for joy and getting around our communities. Our vision is a world where more of our public spaces are reclaimed for walking and bicycling.

We welcome everyone, regardless of his or her footwear, to ride a bicycle daily. You can dress in casual or business attire, and wear heels, tennis shoes, flip flops, or just about anything while riding our PUBLIC bikes. We appreciate a combination of practicality, style, health, and fashion.

Bill Cunningham: A Famous Biker You Probably Don’t Know

April 26th, 2011

Bill Cunningham New York Trailer from Gavin McWait on Vimeo. One of the most visionary “cyclists” in the world has been brought to the spotlight by a terrific new documentary film just released titled, Bill Cunningham New York. Cunningham has been photographing street fashion in New York since the 1960’s, from an authentic non-commercial manner…. Read more »

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Bill Cunningham New York Trailer from Gavin McWait on Vimeo.

One of the most visionary “cyclists” in the world has been brought to the spotlight by a terrific new documentary film just released titled, Bill Cunningham New York. Cunningham has been photographing street fashion in New York since the 1960’s, from an authentic non-commercial manner. The film depicts his singular personality, and it is one of the most sensitive, optimistic, and entertaining films I have seen. Cunningham sets a world record as an urban biker; in his over fifty-year career of riding around Manhattan and taking countless photos of style on the streets, he’s had over 28 bikes stolen.

I was introduced to the director of the documentary, Richard Press, earlier this year. He was kind enough to do an interview with us. The interview sheds lights on the unprecedented experience of working so closely with the genuine Bill Cunningham. You can see where the movie is playing around the country.

Bill Cunningham New York

ROB FORBES: What was the initial inspiration for the film? Was it Bill himself, his connection to the NYC fashion world, or something else?

RICHARD PRESS: My fascination with Bill has always gone beyond the work he actually does. While I think he has created a significant body of work – who he is as a person, how he’s chosen to live his life and his almost religious dedication to his work, was the initial inspiration for the film.

ROB: Did you learn anything critical along the way that altered the creative direction?

RICHARD: The most critical challenge was: how do you make a film about a man who is so private that even the people who have known him for years don’t know anything about him personally? Bill’s reticence to be filmed set the practical terms for how the documentary could be made. The spectacle of a camera crew, sound recorder, and boom operator would be impossible. I had to capture him the way he claims to capture his own subjects: “discreetly, quietly, and invisibly.”

As a result, the movie was made with no crew, relying only on small, handheld consumer cameras so Bill wouldn’t feel intruded upon. It had to be a kind of family affair with people he trusted—myself; Philip Gefter, the producer; and Tony Cenicola, a New York Times staff photographer whom Bill knew and liked and who was the other cinematographer.

ROB: How long did it take to complete it?

RICHARD: I joke that the movie took ten years to make, eight years to persuade Bill to be filmed and two to shoot and edit – but it’s true – and had it been any different, Bill wouldn’t have been true to who he is or nearly as interesting a subject to film.

ROB: What was the most enjoyable part of the process in making the film?

RICHARD: Aside from being invited into Bill’s life, which is so singular – making the movie in such a guerrilla a way was really enjoyable. It was very freeing.

ROB: And the least enjoyable?

RICHARD: Making the movie in such a guerrilla a way was also really scary. I had never been a cinematographer for my own films or ever done my own sound. So I was concerned that technically and aesthetically the movie would be right.

ROB: What don’t we see about the process from watching the documentary?

RICHARD: Actually you see most of the process. During filming it began to dawn on me that the process of making the movie paralleled the slow revealing of the man himself and that his relationship with us, the filmmakers, should be a part of telling the story. In looking for a way to do this, I thought of the early Andy Warhol/Edie Sedgwick movies with Chuck Wein as an off-screen presence — a voice never seen but prodding and provoking — just as we were doing with Bill. So I turned the filmmakers into a single palpable character.

ROB: Are there any other documentaries that were influential to you in preparation for this?

RICHARD: I thought of the movie less like a documentary and more like a narrative with a strong protagonist, surrounded by a menagerie of characters (kind of early “Altmanesque” and seemingly loosely structured), but with narrative threads that slowly build, so that when taken together—a portrait emerges and comes into focus. Like one of Bill’s pages — a collage, adding up to something larger than its parts.

The facts of Bill’s life were important to me only to the extent that they reveal the contours of his life. But it’s not what he’s about, even to himself. I wasn’t interested in making a documentary bio-pic. Rather, I wanted to capture something more intangible —though no less powerful, which is the essence of him – that joy – his way of being. Bill has dedicated his life to documenting what is unique and individual and I wanted the movie not only to be a portrait of him and by extension New York, the city he loves, but a celebration of self expression and self invention.

Photo Credits: Left, Alison Maclean, Right, Scott Schuman

Three Fun Gigs for Local Models, Photographers, Writers

April 5th, 2011

PUBLIC Models PUBLIC is seeking models for a lifestyle photo shoot that will feature our new bikes, hats, shoes, and other gear.  We are looking for “real people,” rather than professional models, who are comfortable in front of a camera and on a bike. If you are local and have a somewhat flexible schedule, please… Read more »

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PUBLIC Casting Call for Models

PUBLIC Models
PUBLIC is seeking models for a lifestyle photo shoot that will feature our new bikes, hats, shoes, and other gear.  We are looking for “real people,” rather than professional models, who are comfortable in front of a camera and on a bike. If you are local and have a somewhat flexible schedule, please send us a brief note and a high resolution photo to models@publicbikes.com.  Check out the websites Copenhagen Cycle Chic and The Sartorialist to see what we’re after.

Compensation will be a $100 merchandise credit, plus coffee, snacks, and good humor during the shoot. This modeling gig is more about coming out for fun than about fame. The photos will be used on our website and possibly in a brochure, poster, or magazine. The date and time are weather dependant and TBD but may include an evening.

PUBLIC Video Stars
Do you already own a PUBLIC bike? Come share what you love about biking in the city in a two minute filmed interview.  We plan to publish these fun, casual, spontaneous, and genuine customer interviews on our website. Our first video shoot is planned for Thursday, April 14th. If you are available anytime between 11:00-7:00 please send an email to videos@publicbikes.com. If you can’t make it on Thursday, send us an email to let us know you are interested.  We will plan other video shoots soon. There is a small gift for everyone who participates.

Photographers and Writers for a New Book
Our friend, author Gary Boulanger is writing a book titled Where to Bike San Francisco. This new guidebook about road and bike path bicycling in the Bay Area will be published in late 2011. The book will feature 83 rides (53 adult, 30 family/kids) in color, with four pages dedicated to each ride, including photos, maps, and historical references. Gary will be riding each selected route with a GPS unit, a notebook, and a camera to compile the highlights of each ride in the four regions: San Francisco, Marin County, Berkeley/East Bay, and the Peninsula.

He’s asking for Bay Area cyclists to submit a maximum of four photos that were taken in the designated areas. Winners receive up to $300 and a chance to be published.  Here is a press release describing the book and photo contest in greater detail.  Submit your high-resolution photos to wheretobikeSF@gmail.com.

Fifteen Women Who Rule the Biking World

March 16th, 2011

All right, so women don’t really “rule” the biking world as the title suggests, but something is definitely going on.  At PUBLIC many of our customers are women and we have many on our staff – so it’s altogether fitting and proper for us to acknowledge National Women’s History Month. Recently The Daily Beast asked… Read more »

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Women Who Rule the Biking World

Photo Credits (clockwise from top left): Unknown, Rad-Spannerei, Unknown, John Von Pamer, Randy Harris, Dustin Jensonn

All right, so women don’t really “rule” the biking world as the title suggests, but something is definitely going on.  At PUBLIC many of our customers are women and we have many on our staff – so it’s altogether fitting and proper for us to acknowledge National Women’s History Month.

Recently The Daily Beast asked me to contribute a piece on meaningful developments in the US biking industry. The editor couldn’t help but notice the recent media attention on bicycles and assumed that there must be some technological advancement behind it. I came to the conclusion that the opposite was the case. The wave of new bicyclists seen on the streets has almost nothing to do with new technologies.  It has everything to do with the bike being repurposed and rediscovered for daily social activity, health, fashion, community, local culture, and general well being.  As a result, women from all walks of life are participating in the biking movement, and in some places they are the most influential bicycle advocates.

Guys World

Eurobike, A Guys World?, photo by Rob Forbes

The prominent role that women play in the industry may not always be immediately obvious. If you judged by the percentage of guys working in bike stores, managing bike companies, or attending bike shows it would appear that the biking industry is like the auto industry; largely a man’s world. But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that women today are driving many of the major changes in the industry and advocacy, especially in the realm of how bikes fit into our communities with social purpose. This tradition of modern urban advocacy begins with Jane Jacobs who is something like the Mother Theresa of the Livable Cities movement. Her seminal book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) is a classic read for all students of urban design and a textbook on why grassroots efforts are needed to keep our communities in tact.  She goes at the top of my list of women who make a difference.

Here is my list of fifteen women who are making a significant and positive difference today. It’s constructed of only women I’ve met (with the exception of Audrey Hepburn), so is thoroughly personal and absolutely incomplete.   Please bring other names to our attention and we’ll make them PUBLIC.

Janette Sadik-Kahn
Sadik-Kahn is the current Transportation Commissioner of New York. Her work extends beyond the NYC city limits, as she is recognized internationally for improving the rights of pedestrians and bicyclists. In 2010 we sat down with her for an interview.

Barbara Bigolin
As the CEO of Selle Royale, Bigolin took the company to the next level by bringing together the finest and most legendary names in bike accessory design: Brooks, Selle Royale, Fizik, and Crank Brothers.  At the recent Eurobike show, her new high performance racing shoes under the Fizik brand were the most inspiring new piece of product design.

Carol Coletta
Coletta is the CEO of CEOs for Cities and a powerful advocate for the Livable Cities movement. Follow her on Twitter to appreciate her contributions.

Leah Shahum
As the head of the San Francisco Bike Coalition with over 12,000 members, Shahum is a tireless advocate for improving the biking infrastructure of San Francisco and an eloquent spokesperson for urban biking.

Ulrike Saade
A legend in the biking world of Germany, Saade heads up the world-class European bicycling movement.  Recently she led the VeloBerlin exhibition business operations and on-site organization.  Test your German with this YouTube.

Mia Kohout and Tania Lo
Momentum, the bicycle lifestyle magazine, transpired from the publishers, Kohout’s and Lo’s dream to shift transportation culture in North America from car-centricity to a balance of public transportation, appropriate car use, walking and bicycling.

Vanessa Marie Robinson
A Brooklyn-based designer shares her love of bicycles on the blog, For the Love of Bikes.  Robinson’s design eye and inspirational visions of bike friendly cities align well with PUBLIC’s mission.

Sky Yaeger
During her time as Product Manager at Bianchi from 1990 to 2006, Yaeger helped spark the fixed gear movement with her work on the influential pista design. Her designs for Swobo established a fresh point of view in the city biking scene.  Here is a great interview with Yaeger.

Christena Mackay Gibbs
Gibbs owns the hip Manifesto Bikes in Oakland – a rallying point for urban riding in the Bay Area.

Julie Hirschfeld
Hirschfeld is the owner of Adeline Adeline, a NYC bike shop that has brought the Manhattan fashion world into bicycling culture.

Circe Sher
Sher added a new spin to the hospitality industry in Sonoma.  Her hotel, h2hotel includes bicycles among the basic amenities offered to its guests during their stay. h2hotel is offering PUBLIC fans a $25 dining or spa credit for every night booked by clicking this link.

Liz Lambert
Lambert started Bunkhouse Management, an Austin based company that developed several of the most unique boutique hotels in the world, each of which provide bikes for their guests.

Missy Park
Title Nine is an online retailer of women’s gear that aims to bring functional, athletic apparel to every day use.  Park’s background in biking led her to start up Title Nine.

Shelia Moon
Biking is not just for spandex clad athletes.  With fashion and function equally in mind Shelia Moon started the cycling apparel outfitter, Shelia Moon.

Audrey Hepburn
We just like to get a photo of her in wherever we can.

New at PUBLIC: WALD Baskets

March 7th, 2011

For many of us, a bike is not really complete without a basket or some form of carrying device to hold the various things we need when we ride through the city. In most European cities where people ride bikes for daily transportation, a carrying device is a necessity. In many cases, we place a… Read more »

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For many of us, a bike is not really complete without a basket or some form of carrying device to hold the various things we need when we ride through the city. In most European cities where people ride bikes for daily transportation, a carrying device is a necessity. In many cases, we place a small backpack or messenger bag inside our built-on racks and baskets for convenience instead of strapping a bag across or on our shoulder. Basket solutions are endless and they vary by culture – examples shown below. Our goal at PUBLIC is to provide you with a full range of solutions, and over the next few months you’ll see a lot of racks and baskets added to our product line. We are delighted to offer WALD baskets at PUBLIC.

Wald Baskets: Made in the USA. In stock and ready to ship.
The US company WALD has been manufacturing bike products since 1905. You will see their baskets everywhere in the US, used by pizza delivery guys in New York and hipsters in Portland. Their baskets are a common basic utility with a minimal look that’s easy on the eyes. While many baskets require bulky systems to attach them to the frame, these secure with two bolts on the handlebars and another two on the front forks. Made of lightweight aluminum. They are very simple to install requiring only an Allen wrench and a screwdriver. It is a fifteen-minute exercise. They fit on almost every type of bike (not just ours). Especially handy for purses, small pets, locks, sandwiches, yoga wear, burritos, and anything you pick up spontaneously on the road. Used with a bungee cord, you can even pack in a coffee.

We have 4 different sizes and shapes.

Photo Credit: top row, middle photo by Gil Garcetti from his book “Paris: Women and Bicycles”

Gap Khakis With PUBLIC Bikes

February 11th, 2011

We’re excited to announce that starting on February 10th you’ll be able to see a PUBLIC bike in the windows of 24 top Gap stores around the US and Canada as part of Gap’s Khaki promotion. You’ll also see our green PUBLIC A7 intricately laid out in a visual display in the Men’s department of… Read more »

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We’re excited to announce that starting on February 10th you’ll be able to see a PUBLIC bike in the windows of 24 top Gap stores around the US and Canada as part of Gap’s Khaki promotion.

You’ll also see our green PUBLIC A7 intricately laid out in a visual display in the Men’s department of every Gap around the country.

Rest assured when you order a PUBLIC bike using our Ready to Ride assembly and delivery option, your bike will arrive at your door 99% assembled – not in pieces as depicted in the Gap display. The cool, useful PUBLIC orange tools come with every Ready to Ride box to help with the final touches of your bike assembly.

We’re really proud of our growing partnership with Gap, which started with a pop-up shop in Gap’s flagship store in San Francisco. Over time if we become a nationally recognized brand based in San Francisco, like Gap has done, we will have achieved our mission to increase the number of people who get around by bicycle in the United States.

You’ll see our bikes in the following Gap locations. If you happen to visit one of these Gap stores, please email us a photo to messages@publicbikes.com or post a photo to our PUBLIC Facebook page.

  • Valley Fair in Santa Clara, CA
  • Flood Building in San Francisco, CA
  • Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA
  • Grove at Farmers Market in Los Angeles, CA
  • Houston Galleria in Houston, TX
  • Michigan Avenue in Chicago, IL
  • Rosevelt Field Center in Garden City, NJ
  • Short Hills in Short Hills, NJ
  • 34th & Broadway, NY
  • 17th & 5th Avenue, NY
  • Northpark Center in Dallas, TX
  • Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, FL
  • Mall at Millenia in Orlando, FL
  • 59th & Lexington in New York City, NY
  • 42nd & Broadway in New York City, NY
  • 85th & 3rd in New York City, NY
  • 48th & 6th Avenue in New York City, NY
  • 42nd & 3rd in New York City, NY
  • Lincoln Square in New York City, NY
  • 54th & 5th in New York City, NY
  • Chinook in Calgary
  • Toronto Eaton Centre in Toronto
  • Bloor Street in Toronto
  • Montreal Eaton Centre in Montreal