Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Frames and Figures (or why women look like their bikes)

See? She's so got edge.
I have developed a theory. Like dogs and their owners, I think we all look a little bit like our bikes- or at least female cyclists do.

Bear with me. I had this epiphany whilst following a whippet thin girl on a lean silver racer. She had cropped platinum hair and neon clothing clearly chosen for the 80s clubbing reference rather than visibility. I started mentally formulating a blog post about this common bike tribe, a branch of the family tree related to east end boys on fixies, but had a blinding realisation. I've never seen a woman with proper boobs on a fixie. Or a single speed. Or even a racer.  

I have a very precious friend. She is much cooler than me, and very slim, with short red hair. She used to live in New York and throws amazing margherita fuelled parties to celebrate mexican festivals I've never heard of. Can you guess what kind of bike she rides? A sleek red racer called Rudy.

I, on the other hand, ride a hybrid named Trusty becuase I need the speed with the distances I cover, but I have stuck a basket on the front and a pretty panier on the back because in my head I ride a Pashley. I have long hair and curves and like to cook and go for country walks and have my friends over for dinner. I enjoy my friend's Margherita fuelled parties but tend to drink gin and tonic, and I'd like to visit New York but probably not live there. I am, in Mad Men's memorable dichotomy, a Marilyn not a Jackie- or in a 21st century UK context; Nigella not Kate. I don't have a lot of edge. As well as just not suiting a racer personality wise, my figure means that from the front I'd look like a toffee apple. It's just not flattering. I need a frame with a bit of substance. My sleek figured friends look good on sleek sets of wheels, and just a bit overwhelmed by big bikes.

Wether it's women's natural instinct for accessorisation or truly destiny that guides us to steeds that suit us, I defy you to find many examples of opposite pairings. 

Image by richardmasoner


  1. Loving your blog Liz, your personality is totally coming through :-)

  2. I too love your blog, and i really think you're on to something...i just got back from my cycle commute (Rudy blushed a deeper shade of red when i relayed your compliments to her) and you're right...the sleeker the girl, the sleeker the bike. Every now and then you see a man (and it's always a man) with an enormous gut wobbling around on a skinny fixie and it just looks all wrong.

  3. What does a man of a certain age and figure ride? I know that currently if you are entering mid-life crisis it needs to be a super expensive bike (MTB or Road/Sportive it doesn't seem to matter). This overpriced bit of kit is to be ridden excessively for 6 months with much red faced puffing and then consigned to storage.

  4. Brilliant observation. There's a certain correlation, I think, between body size and bike size just by necessity. I'm almost six feet tall, and built on a large scale, and frankly, my Dutch Workcycles Omafiets was one of the few options available that would support my weight PLUS the weight of a whole grocery-shopping trip, without popping a spoke.

    I don't know how those big middle-aged guys do it on the skinny lightweight bikes, but I can only assume they're replacing spokes a lot.

  5. This post made me laugh out loud :) I ride a hybrid, even though in my head I'm riding a racing bike - and I've always wanted to get a fixie, but when I see girls on fixies they always look like they've just stepped out of the pages of i-D! I think fashion as well as body type totally dictates bikes - maybe its just girls but I've never seen an east london wannabe hipster on a bog standard hybrid, they're always on fixies, and you don't seem to vintagey girls on anything too racey? I think I overthink this!

  6. @Nobody Girl, you're right, totally about fashion. Although doesn't seem to apply to the males...