Suppose you read on a blog somewhere that Urban Outfitters is now selling these highly customizable single-speed rides, made by Republic, for $399 (roughly the cost of an entry-level hybrid or cruiser). Suppose you found yourself experiencing deep longing for the machine, which lets you choose the color of the frame, seat, handle grips, chain and wheel rims, and even reverse the back wheel so you can actually coast, which you can’t do on a proper fixed-gear bike. (Granny moment: WTF not?) Suppose you also noticed purists dumping all over the bike and wondered, is it wrong to like it? Is the butch vibe of single-speed bicycling somehow emasculated by a cobalt-blue chain and matching handgrips? And if you’re man enough to go single-speed, are you supposed to make it yourself from recycled junkyard parts?
Even though you’re not serious about buying one, you might ask a bicycling blogger, Brooklynbybike‘s Anita Singh, for a reality check. She might say this:
No, you are not wrong to want it. I have to admit I saw someone drop off this bike at when I was volunteering at the bike valet at Celebrate Brooklyn. At first glance, I though it was a sexy bike. Republic Bikes get style points for their customization features…that and a really easy-to-use website.
Anita might go on to say this:
On the other hand, you are buying a fully customized bike for $399. You’ve got to question the quality. If it’s just a casual bike meant for short rides or as an accessory, then this bike isn’t bad. I mean they even state on their website that they offer “fun, modestly customizable bikes for fun, modest prices.” This bike is pretty much for FUN. It’s got a heavy steel frame and parts that aren’t going to be up to performace standards. The fixed gear kids will get all up in arms about the culture taking off, but it’s already happened. Now it’s going mainstream with the Urban Outfitters partnership. Honestly, I don’t care. I just love that more people will be on bikes.
So, friends, even though riding the VW Beetle of single-speed bikes may establish you as someone who cares more about looks than performance, it is officially OK to like it. But don’t wear matching shoes.