The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
July 1, 2008

Check out my brand spankin’ new bike

Okay, it’s not such a great photo of my new bike. But it’s a fabulous pic of Arya praying to Ceiling Cat to please let this be the last time she’s forced to look cute in Beth’s new bike basket.


Here’s me on my new Giant Suede DX W 21-speed women’s bike with upright handlebars and nice wide padded seat. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. A bike I will actually ride.

Yes, I’m all about buying used. When my computer monitor died, I replaced it with a used one. When my hair dryer died, I learned how to fix it. When we’ve needed cat supplies or a kitchen door, we checked out Craigslist and Freecycle and Urban Ore. And I can’t even remember the last time I bought clothes that someone else hadn’t previously worn. But buying a bike was different.

Michael, a former bike messenger and owner of 5 or 6 bikes, has from time to time found used bikes for me and fixed them up. And they would collect dust. Oh, I did try to ride them at first. But I always felt like I was going to fall off. I was leaning too far forward. Or there was a bar in my way. Or I couldn’t get the seat adjusted right. Or riding for half an hour left my butt sore for three days. For whatever reason, these bikes felt like they were made for someone else’s body.

What’s the use of having an environmentally correct used bike that never gets ridden? I decided that if I ever found the perfect bike for me, I’d buy it, whether it was new or used.

Well, the first time I test-rode the Suede, which was recommended by Michael’s sister (Thanks!), I knew I’d found it. I experienced not a second of fear or awkwardness on this bike. In fact, I felt like I was 10-years old again riding my bike at my grandparent’s house during summer vacation. (Except that back then, no one wore a helmet or worried much about a locks.) I’m not a racer or a mountain biker. I just want to get around town and ride places for which I might otherwise rent a Zip Car or take a cab.

After picking up the bike on Sunday, Michael and I rode to downtown Berkeley to see a movie. We got there in 15 minutes! And honestly, I didn’t want to stop riding. I could have ridden all day, just like I used to do as a kid, for the sheer joy of feeling the wind on my face. I’m thrilled about this bike, and a little sad that I feel the need to bend over backwards justifying my decision to buy it new. On Friday, Crunchy Chicken wondered if going “no ‘poo” wasn’t hairshirt environmentalism. Not to me. But this agonizing over the nuances of even the decisions that feel right, that’s what I’d call hairshirt environmentalism, and I think I’m going to stop engaging in it right now and go ride my bike.

Oh, and P.S. That metal basket, which I bought separately, easily detaches and has a handle so I can take it to the farmer’s market or into the grocery store with me. Very cool, huh?
 

20 comments
Trisha
Trisha

What a great story. Congrats on finding your perfect bike! Love the picture of your cat in the basket (that's how I found your site, through Lovely Bicycle).6+++++++4444444444444442577777 . . . and those random numbers are my kitty saying hello. ;-)

nollij
nollij

Good for you Beth! I've been a bicycle guy for years but the purchase of an xtracycle in 2005 is what changed everything for me. Now I ride everyday and barely use my car anymore. Race bikes are for racers, and most of us aren't racers! I'm a big fan of xtracycles, dutch city bikes and or course, purpose built cargo bikes (bakfietsen, Surly Big Dummies, etc). As the sticker says "When bicycle wheels turn, it must be revolution" (seen at microcosmpublishing.com)

Cath
Cath

Thank you so much for posting this, I had never heard of Giant bikes before. I went to my friendly neighborhood bike shop and picked out a Giant Sedona today, and am having an xtracycle rack fitted for it.

katecontinued
katecontinued

WANT! I had to immediately write a post (saving for a couple weeks) about my envy. I visited the website and would really like the electric version. I recently gave my truck to my son and would like to shift all of my travel to a bike or walking. There are serious hills where some of my errands take me, so the electric option seems wise for me.Love your kid pictures. Thanks to your dad for posting them. You have barely changed at all. Lastly, where did you find that detachable basket. That is a great idea.

Rosa
Rosa

The answer, as my friend Panda says, is always another bike. Unlike a new car or a new polyester shirt or a new computer that will be obsolete in 5 years, the world *needs* more bikes. When you get tired of this one, or get snared by a newer, shinier bike, this one can either be broken down into reusable parts or passed on to someone else who needs it. Even if it gets stolen (three of mine have been, over the years) you know someone is riding it.

Rejin/Urban Botany
Rejin/Urban Botany

Nice bike, Beth.I keep wanting to start bike riding again, but am afraid to on the mean streets of NY. Hope to overcome my fears this summer somehow.It helps that they are putting in more bike lanes - at least it is a good start.

Allie
Allie

That's awesome! I love that kid feeling of bike riding too. You shouldn't need to justify buying a new bike. It's a good purchase, and it's important to do what works for you. Plus, maybe someone will see you riding around on your pretty shiny bike and decide to become a biker too!

She-Ra
She-Ra

cool! My hubby is a bike guy also. He's leaving for a 6-month deployment so I asked him to fix one up for me before he left. I got two new cargo bags on the back (because I can't carry milk AND library books on my back), new handlebar covers (because I hate getting sticky on the old falling apart ones), and he found my old padded seat. Now I can ride all I want. Of course I'm still working on that "not freaking out while children ride independently in traffic" thing...

axelle
axelle

Now u can ride Soots & Arya to the vet in the pannier. You will need a lot of bungee cords to keep 'em down, but think of all the admiring looks they'll get and how much easier it will be than hauling them in a Flexible Flyer. If enough of your local pals wind up getting bikes like yours, we can form a parade of Big Bottom Bikers. U look like the kind of kid I would have wanted for a friend when I was little.

Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish

Dad! (anonymous t, to the rest of you) Thanks for linking to those pictures. That's why I like my bike so much. It's almost the same as the one I had in 1974, except that in 1974 my bike didn't have any gears to shift.For those who don't want to cut and paste, here's the link to 9-year old Beth on her bike while visiting grandparents in Delaware, from my dad's web site:http://www.mitsawokett.com/Beth_on_her_bike.htm

Condo Blues
Condo Blues

After a biking 12 miles (6 miles one way) from my house to Comfest downtown last weekend, my still sore tushie is jealous of that wide "Grandma" seat on your new bike. :)

Green Bean
Green Bean

How cute are you! I know what you mean about finding the right bike. I always felt so awkward on other bikes but, for some reason, beach cruisers with the wide seat (gotta love that!) and the lack of gears (not capable of that) were just right. We lucked out and found a new used one (bought but only used once) on Craigslist but, honestly, I would have bought it new if we hadn't happened across it. Bikes are one of those things - like our solar tube, and a tankless water heater, or what have you. They are worth it to have the right one. Enjoy your cutie pie new bike.

Anna
Anna

I agree with you that a bike has to be comfortable. For me, it is all about the seat. Mine is really padded and looks like a grandma seat. Things move south when you get older....Looking good, girl on that bike.

Another seed in the garden...
Another seed in the garden...

Wow, your bike looks wonderful! I've been thinking of investing in a bike for myself so I can haul my 2 kids around town more quickly than walking, but I don't want to be stuck with another uncomfortable bike. My super fancy pantsy road bike has flat tires and is propped sadly against a wall because I can't bear to log even one mile more on it. The basket is adorable!

Jennifer
Jennifer

I have a comfort bike similar to that... it IS amazing what the right bike will do! It's all about doing what works for you... I recently bought a (used for $5 because I'm too cheap to buy something that I don't know if I will use for more than that) breakmaker to help with the home baked bread. Cheating, yes. I'm actually using it. So maybe not that bad. Plus, I think it uses less electricity than my oven...

Robj98168
Robj98168

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH! Cool Bike! LOL I hAVE I have recently become the owner of two new bikes- A used columbia single speed, obtaned from craigs list, and a schwinn Varsity 10 speed- obtained for free by dving in a dumpster- I know I rock! You look good on that bike beth!

jennconspiracy
jennconspiracy

HI ARYA! Huh? Was your mommy saying something? Where did you get that...YAY! It's a cute bike!It's only 1 mile between our houses... come to think of it, it's only 1 mile from your house to the movie theatre - did you guys stop at a garage sale? :PI want to stop by to check out your 'maters and see how they are doing. Mine are getting monster huge!

Not up to my ears in credit card debt.
Not up to my ears in credit card debt.

Congratulations Beth! I ride to work (1.7 miles roundtrip) and in the last year have started riding almost everywhere I go in town. Not too bad except when I go to the chiropracter and have to go 4 miles uphill. I love it! Between that and walking, I've lost 44 lbs since Sept. Not bad. And, it definetly has to be a comfortable bike you will use. That makes it worth buying new. I had the same angst about buying panniers. Finally got the nice (read expensive) waterproof ones. I do live in Oregon! They are great and we can use them when we go kayaking. And, they just like your bike, will last as long as we need them with the proper care.