Don’t Call it a Girl’s Bike

Just because your bicycle has a sloping top tube doesn’t mean you have to call it a “girl’s bike.” That slope can make it easier to cycle modestly while wearing a dress, sure, but it also comes in handy once you start carrying any sort of cargo on your bicycle.

Adding cargo adds weight to your bicycle and the “step-through” frame design makes it easier for you to balance your packages or children while mounting and dismounting your bike.

Here are just a few “step-through” bicycles for women and men that can help you carry your cargo and avoid the delicate dance of getting on and off your bike:

The above Linus Mixte comes with a rear rack ready for you to strap a basket to, available at Bikes on Wheels.

The Globe Live 1 Mixte will stand out in the crowd, if not for the bright red colour but also because it comes stock with a huge front rack, available at Urbane Cyclist.

While the Dutch may call this design by Electra an “omafiets” (literally, grandma’s bike) both men and women have benefited for years from this easy to step through design. Available at The Cycle Shoppe.

When it comes to really maximizing your cargo carrying capacity, the Kona Ute certainly stretches the limits. Available at Sweet Pete’s.

And that’s not all… you’ll find even more sloping step-throughs at Curbside Cycle who carry models from Batavus, Pashley and Abici.

Quickly Convert Old Tubes to Bungee Cords and Tie Downs With IT Clips

Here’s a simple way to reuse your old bicycle tubes. IT Clips are a set of plastic clips and metal hooks that convert your old tubes into usable straps for securing loads to your bicycle.

More information at IT Clips.
Available in Toronto at Sweet Pete’s and Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Cruisers, Cargo bikes, Handmades and More – The Toronto International Bicycle Show

On Sunday, March 7, 2010 I took a bike ride down to the Toronto International Bicycle Show held in the Better Living Centre on the CNE grounds.

For the most part this show is a spectacle of the latest road racing, BMX, trials and mountain biking products and accessories. Major Toronto and GTA retailers set up shop here to blow out last year’s inventory and highlight the latest designs from top brands.

While I recently started mountain biking again (I know, an oxymoron in Toronto) I was looking for the day to day cycling options at the show. Road bikes made of carbon composites and mountain bikes equipped with long-travel suspension are impressive, but I wouldn’t give them more than 20 minutes locked up to a post and ring downtown Toronto. And I think rear racks would look a little out of place on the back of a Trek Madone.

Much to my delight there were plenty of exhibitors who understand that cycling isn’t just about sport. Although, looking back of some of my morning commutes, I’d say a trip to work on Toronto’s busier streets can be a sport itself. Here are photos by Huy Le with a few words about what I discovered at the Toronto International Bicycle Show.

Until Sunday I had never straddled an electic-assist bicycle. The Sanyo Eneloop Bike looks like a regular step-through commuter with a battery pack tucked nicely behind the seat tube. And that’s the point. This is a bicycle first and foremost yet it also provides battery assistance to help commuters take on challenging hills and headwinds.

The battery connects to a surprisingly powerful front hub-motor as well as both front and rear lights. I took the bike for a quick spin around the carpeted test area at the show. As I lined up to head out I had the battery on and after a half pedal forward the motor kicked in and I thought the bike was going to take off on it’s own. Applying the brakes quickly kept me from taking an embarassing flat land spill. The reps from Sanyo suggested waiting until I was in motion to turn on the battery, and I recommend it.

Actually riding the bicycle was a pleasure. The motor is on the front wheel hub, so after a few pedals the electric-assist starts up and you feel a gentle pull forward. The first couple of boosts were a little terrifying on the short test track, but I quickly learned when to anticipate them and use them to my advantage for building up speed with little extra effort on my part.

In the manufacturer’s showcase Opus brand bicycles from Quebec had their commuter rides on display. If you speak/read French then be sure to check out their Urbanista Blog.

For cyclists with kids and basically anything else they need to haul around, WIKE from Guelph, ON had their line of trailers on display.

Around the corner and also from Guelph, True North Cycles had several handmade touring and cargo bikes on display.

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Trek had some bright and shiny Madones on site… but the multi-thousand dollar price tag makes for expensive roadie dreams. On a more affordable note Trek also had their Eco steel bikes on display.

As part of the Globe blogger team I was hoping to see a few models at the show. Unfortunately all I found was this Globe Roll.

Sweet Pete’s had up on high, overlooking their booth, their Kona collaboration bicycle, the “Door Prize.” With tongue planted firmly in cheek this bike is named after the unique to Toronto term for colliding with a car door is outfitted with city riding essentials and is priced under $600.

On to accessories. Zef Kraiker (not pictured) was at the Urbane Cyclist booth with plenty of WIPT (Wear It Proud Toronto) cycling caps and Push The Envelope bags for sale.

Energetic reps introduced me to the iBert safe-T-seat that allows you to carry small children up front, improving rider stability and giving your child a view of more than just your back. The seat can be removed quickly and easily when not in use and is made of 10% recycled materials.

Introducing his alternative to panniers, Winnipeg year-round cyclist (you read that right!) Aphirath Vongnaraj had his Hybrid Backpack on display. He demonstrated the pack’s ability to secure all sorts of items to a rear bike rack. The unique “velcro” locking system ensures that what you want to carry stays with you for your whole journey.

I was pleasantly surprised to see so many commuter cycling options on display at this year’s Toronto International Bicycle Show. Of course, there was much more to be seen, but I’ll save that for another post.