What is the most identifiable trend of the new millennium? It’s not an accessory, nor a colour or an item of clothing. It’s the bicycle!
Important social campaigns have spread the ecological values of replacing the car with a two-wheel: less traffic and less pollution. In parallel, the industry has developed a sleek and attractive design that captures not only the professional eye, but also that of ordinary citizens and young people. Doctors and specialists have identified in the bicycle a pretext to stimulate the lazy in practicing sport and movement, while cities are evolving to facilitate the circulation of this means of transportation. The city of New York has even developed an important street marketing campaign that informs the citizens about the benefits of moving around by bike. (http://bikenyc.org/)
Also Italian cities, due to the economic crisis, are providing residents with an alternative public transport service, also known as Bike-Sharing.
In short, the bicycle is increasingly seen as a must-have product in the new millennium for both the old and young social innovator.
The industry is aware of this: sales have grown and auctions increased. From being a product in decline, except for children and professionals, the bicycle is back as a product to invest in. Suffice to say that in Italy, in 2011, bike sales have surpassed that of cars; the gap is very small considering a 1,750,000 against 1,748,000 units sold, but the comparison becomes interesting when you consider that a similar situation had not been seen since the end of World War II (figures released by Ancma - Associazione Italiana Cicli Motocicli e Accessori).
How can we ride the wave of this phenomenon?
Small businesses and manufactures have decided to aim for maximum customization of the two-wheel; there is something for all tastes and budgets.
Bamboo Bike, image copyright Bamboo Bike Studio
With this idea in mind, three young New Yorkers set up Bamboo Bike Studio. In their workshop the customer’s taste is the first ingredient for building a new bicycle, and the buyer’s experience becomes unique and unrepeatable. The material used for the frame is Bamboo, and it can be used on both city and sporty bikes. In addition, regular workshops are organised in various U.S. cities like San Francisco, Toronto, and Camden. Customers say, “You walk in on a Saturday and you cycle out on a Sunday on a bike that you built yourself”.
Fixed gear bike
The maximum customization of the product, perhaps, can be found in the market for Fixed-gear bikes. Born as a track-racing bicycle it is famous for its lightness and unusual braking method: wheel movement is stopped when pedalling in the opposite direction or by pointing a foot on the ground and pivoting on the same rotating the rear wheel.
Here, personalisation has no limits: from the chain to the handlebar, the brake pedals and frame colour to the shape of the saddle. It all boils down to a minimal and dynamic design, engaging and overwhelming, on a medium that allows you to move around the city with ease and a trendy, unique style. The metropolis and big cities are full of them; demand is constantly growing, so much so that now even big companies have a catalogue for fixed-gear bikes.
Last, but not least, the fashion world: even the big labels have started to work the cult and aesthetics of the bicycle, obviously with great style.
Chanel is among the first to have ventured in this directions: in Winter 2010 the brand produced the bicycle signed Coco, who, as a sport lover, would surely have been a promoter of such a creation. Chain guards, black leather bags and the distinctive double-crossed “C” characterise this elegant bicycle. In the Gucci boutique, on the other hand, we find the bicycle and its accessories in “La Vera Pelle Guccissima”, in chocolate colour with brand logo in evidence. Even Paul Smith, passionate cyclist, devoted himself to the design of the two wheels and, in 2006, created multi-coloured bikes for Mercian. Comptoir des Cotonniers, as well as bikes for women, offers the “mother-daughter” tandem, a product that is simultaneously retro and high-tech: it is equipped with a wicker basket and leather saddle, but has no chain, the tyres are puncture-resistant and it is extremely lightweight.
Fashion extends also to clothing and glamour accessories that aim to reinvent the traditional image if the urban cyclist and “help the urban landscape by riding with grace, elegance and dignity” (from “Manifesto Cycle Chic”).