I got a bike. A pretty bike. Like the Fuji X100 (which is what took these photos with), I have literally been stopped on the street by strangers who wanted to learn more about it.
It's very metro in design. Not in a modern way though. It's like the Fiat 500 - European with traditional cues. Not sure how I feel about that but it's still a looker.
So what got me to buy a bike? As some of you may know, I'm in San Francisco right now.
It's a beautiful city. If I'm completely honest, I've never been a fan of Los Angeles at all. It's too big, wide and lacks a certain modern sensitivity. San Francisco is way more inviting to me. Reminds me of cities like Vancouver that I'm more used to. Some of the tight streets and busy people even remind me a bit of NYC.
There is life and culture on the streets. It begs to be seen, captured and experienced.
Almost everything about SF and LA are different. Unlike LA, SF is way more suited to commuting by public transit. I ended up finding myself walking ridiculously long distances. This is when I realised that a bike would be helpful.
I had originally intended to use my car during weekend explorations but I quickly realised that parking and traffic are both stressful acts here.
I was actually rear ended on the freeway last week and my car is totaled. That's a story for another time though.
SF made me see a culture of biking that I had never seen before. Everyone has a bike. The relationship between a bike and a rider is so much more intimate here.
It is when I saw beautiful bikes and accessories when I started seriously looking into bikes. The last bike I have literally bought was in elementary school. I'm a total noob. Let the research begin
First of all, I wanted a folding bike. The main appeal of a bike is that it acts as a range extender. This means that I want something that can fit inside a boot of a car. Bike racks are ugly.
Secondly, I didn't want wheels over 20". I don't care about purists that mock me, I feel that a compact bike is plenty for urban cities.
Lastly, I didn't want to spend a fortune. Bikes like Brompton are just simply too much. I needed a bike as a tool and I'm admitably not an enthusiast.
Then I discovered Citizen Bike. Affordable folding bikes with style. I looked at several models and here are my thoughts:
Tokyo: 16" wheels are probably too small. And the price tag is almost too cheap to trust.
Gotham: I really liked this one because it was white. It lacks some small things like a fender and coiled saddle.
Barcelona: Too girly.
Alhambra: Just right? Would be ideal in white but this thing is loaded.
So, here it is. This is Alhambra. It fits right into this city.
Despite the low pricetag, the build quality and attention to detail is quite decent. It's no Brompton but it tries very hard. Their motto is apparently "Going and Being Human".
And of course, it folds. If I lower the handle bars and seat, it gets smaller. The major advantage of this is that you can carry on a bus. A bus rack has 2 slots. If both are taken and you have a full sized bike, you're screwed.
View from the seat. The seating position is very upright and is ideal for cruzing around town. If you want speed, this isn't going to deliver.
I also picked up this gorgeous bell from Public Bikes. Even the employees there freaked out at what a good deal this bike is. The word "cute" came out a few too many times though.
Alhambra is one of the few bikes from Citizen that have "leather" trim. Not finely crafted but it's nice and soft.
This is a 3 speed bike. It has a Shimano Nexus internal hub system. I know little about bikes but this shifts smoothly. Admitably, it's quite a fight to go up hills. I need the exercise though.
As you can see, the frame is quite substantial. It's some kind of alloy and is pretty reasonable in weight. Not feather light, reasonable.
The saddle has spring suspension. It's nice and squishy over California's trashy roads.
I never ordered these carrying racks but Citizen Bike gave them to me for free by accident. Thanks for the gift! I'll be honest, I don't know how to use them, particularly the one on front. Someone help me.
The foot at the bottom of the bike is helpful for locking it to lamp posts. It's normally used to stand the bike when folded.
I also (obviously) picked up a helmet. Went with this one by Bern. Not a fan of those helmets that look like Alien skulls so looked for something more restrained. Saw this one at Public Bikes and it was ideal.
The great thing about this helmet is the visor. Apparently they were the first to do it.
It also features a nice adjustable padding that really helps to keep the helmet glued to your head.
So there you have it. I love the bike. It's not for everyone, especially those looking for speed or a long distance rider. If you live in an urban city and want something for a trip to the shop of sightseeing, this is perfect. I highly recommend the guys at Citizen Bike. They have affordable pricing, decent build quality and fast shipping.