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The Gent's Bike

Jack Bettridge
From the Print Edition:
Joe Mantegna, July/August 2011

We have to admit to being taken aback a few years ago when the London tailor Timothy Everest collaborated with Rapha, makers of performance bicycling wear, to create a bespoke business suit for the clever young executive who pedals to board meetings. But the three-piece outfit, detailed with such utilitarian features as a storm collar, sleeves that turn up, buttons that keep the jacket tails from flapping, plus-four pants and an “action back” with shoulder pleats, fit in perfectly with a burgeoning trend in gentlemen’s bikes.

In case you’ve been mired in the vogue for cycles made for streaking along the open road or taking the pounding of a trek down a mountain, these are rides meant not just for exercise or for proving the extreme punishment your body can take. Their forte is taking urban transportation to an urbane level that’s both green and beats the soaring cost of gasoline while looking dapper. The movement embraces both style and engineering, sometimes bending the notion of what a bike should look like, sometimes bringing high-tech innovation to essentially retro looks.

The bicycles of Holland’s Vanhulsteijn (pictured, vanhulsteijn.com) feature sensuous curves and a seating arrangement that seems to defy gravity. Other advance-guard bike makers take the way-back-machine tack, building contemporized versions of classic European models that may remind you of your old Schwinn. Velorbis (velorbis.com), of Denmark, crafts bikes that are at home with carrying payloads in satchels. The low-slung cycles from Vanilla (vanillabicycles.com), of Portland, Oregon, look like they may have been inspired by the cafe racers of the motorcycle world. Bertelli (bertellibici.com), of New York City, combines new parts with pieces reclaimed from flea markets to make track bikes. In these days of dozens of speeds, the Gazelle Toer Populair Gent (dutchbikeseattle.com) and Guv’nor from Pashley (pashley.co.uk) hark to the days of the three-speed epicycle gears. And check out Renovo Hardwood Bicycles (renovobikes.com), which takes the surprisingly not-low-tech approach of fashioning frames from laminated wood.

Whatever your choice you will certainly be breaking away from the pack with these stylish bicycles.

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