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07/13/2011: "Workaday Bicycles"
Linus_Gaston_sm (336k image)Saw this Linus Gaston in the wild last week, parked at the info booth for Marina del Rey. These are designed in LA (Venice, where they have a charming tiny showroom) and built of a mixture of high-ten and 4130 in China.

They are handsome, realitvely light, and practical, with a line of reasonable and good-looking accessories, and they are pretty cheap. Sort of the Toyota Corolla of bikes. I see loads of them around the Westside, being ridden by folks who don't look at all like "enthusiasts."

I think that between bikes like these and the similar Public bikes, and the cheap neon fixies I see downtown, we're seeing a wave of practical cycling that I suspect won't draw back as far as the '70s bike boom did--and perhaps not draw back at all.

Downtown yesterday, I saw hordes of bikes all over the streets--being ridden as transportation, not recreation; you don't do much recreational riding in downtown LA traffic. Almost all fixies or singlespeeds, with a smattering of, yes, more French & Dutch roadster knockoffs such as these Linus and Public things, and the usual cheap mountain bikes assigned to food delivery. And of course messenger bikes. This effect extended pretty far west. I see lots and lots of bikes in my neighborhood too--a pretty good mix here, with fixed/SS a plurality and more road bikes, folders for the small apartments, and even Xtracycles. I see old folks in baggy pants on bikes--sometimes even neon fixies! Lots of women too.

There's a local shop on Broadway downtown, DTLA Bikes, that has designed its own house brand of super-cheap Chinese fixies. They also carry other bikes, and maange to fill two stories of a department store. There's a locally-famous in-shop test track for trying bikes out!

Most bike shops concentrate on bikes that, if they were equivalent cars, would be Porsches or Jeep Wranglers. But I am really glad to see "Corolla equivalent" bikes out there in growing numbers!

I just wish we were making them here. But the foreign car makers have brought a lot of the production for the US market back to the US. Maybe some of these new bike companies will eventually do the same, at least for frames.

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