Friday, May 16, 2008

Looks aren't everything...

I am starting to doubt myself and this Dutch-style bike obsession... Though I am 100% committed to looks, like shoes - if I can't use them, looks won't get me too far. Though I thoroughly believe in the weight and heft of a Dutch bike, and I want a solid ride, I have a few issues. In the ideal world, I would have 4 bikes that fit all the criteria, in my world I have to try to find the bike that meets most of the criteria.

The criteria:
1. A great looking well designed bike
2. While beautiful the bike should be relatively non-descript and have a low flash factor
3. The bike needs to not break the bank - I don't want to be super sad if someone steels her away (I will be regardless, but I will be less sad if it does not cost as much as a car)
4. The bike while maybe being a little less expensive, should not look like a cheap piece o'...
5. The bike needs to be useable, not just beautiful - this means a bike I won't be afraid to ride 8 miles on and actually get somewhere in a reasonable timeframe
6. The bike should allow me to wear regular people clothes whilst riding it
7. Coaster breaks are out - I want front and rear breaks with a control on the handle
8. 8 gears are in (3 gears won't work for this gal)
9. Riding downtown to The Local would be fun now and again
10. Weight is a concern (see below)

The issue of weight:
-I am 5' 4"
-I weigh 113 lbs.
-I am not super woman for my size - lifting my 22" carry-on around the world above the seating on the plane pushes my height and strength restrictions
-I can not ride a bike 1/2 my weight up a hill, let alone push it loaded to more than half my weight up the hill - just not realistic (As an example, on Bike to Work Day, I did it, but it was tough. Cannondale: 28 lbs., Bike rack: 2, lbs., Paniers loaded: 4-5 lbs.: Total bike weight: ca. 35 lbs.)
-I have a no-walking-bikes up hills policy with myself
-I want to ride the Dutch-style bike to the following locations:
-my local co-op. 1.72 miles, big hill on the way home (not a huge deal, but the hill is a pain fully loaded)
-my reliable local co-op. 7.58 miles, some hills, not necessarily close
-my reliable big chain organic food grocery store. 7.61 miles, big hills between here and there for a person on a heavy bike with groceries
-one of my favorite restaurants for coffee and a scone before I go to the store with Hubby on Sunday. 6.16 miles. Again, big hills between here and there.
-The local homegoods store (this one is a no brainer, I can get here and back): 1.24 miles
-work: 2.83 miles

Granted, I actually can put the bike in the garage, so at least I do not have stairs, but distance and hills are the issues for me. After riding the Cannondale to work in normal clothes the other day, I can see the beauty of what others call 'sit up and beg'. I got the Cannondale because I have a bad back, do not like 'city bikes' and road bikes are out of the question, but it does not quite meet my criteria.

I want a pretty Dutch-style bike, how am I going to accomplish this? There is one place I would like some weight and it would make this decision a no-brainer - in my wallet! sigh....