After almost three months in Melbourne (oh my god where does the time go), I think we were starting to feel a little confined. Back to working 9-5 and travelling on the city tram over short distances, with no car to venture further, we were conscious that the the ‘daily grind’ was creeping it’s ugly head around the corner.
With the weather improving day by day, our constant pursuit to find some routine exercise and the 100s of other Melbournians on bikes, there was only one logical answer, so after seeing a pretty smart vintage bike sat just metres from our house with a sign that read ‘bike shop 200 metres’ we took the signal and soon ended up proud owners of two Lekker Amsterdam bikes.
The Dutch brand was born in Amsterdam, but raised in Australia, and craft premium retro, vintage and fixie style bicycles that are perfect for the everyday commute in the city. All their bikes come with custom options from bull horn handle bars, leather saddles and baskets, plus there’s a lifetime warranty and free service in your first 6 months. They’re super stylish, with a timeless design and the friendly staff will happily put up with your indecisiveness when choosing and testing the range!
After careful consideration we finally chose our bikes and actually ended up with exactly the same (I do blame James for this though since the men’s range of classic styles was more than the women’s).
Heres what you need to consider when buying your own bike:
How much are you willing to pay? As with any city, there’s a huge culture for anything hip and trendy and vintage bikes definitely fall into that category, which means many a bike has been purchased, ridden for a month and then forgotten about before being listed on eBay or Gumtree. So if you’re on a budget you can easily find one second hand for $100-$160 and if you’re only looking for a short term fix then this could well be the best option. If you’re not much of an eBay whiz like me though and you have a boyfriend with expensive taste then there are plenty of quality bike shops around the city to grab a brand new shiny number all your own.
Vintage styles are everywhere these days and they’re the perfect commuter bike for lots of reasons. Girls wanting a relaxed, easy ride can enjoy an upright position, wide comfy seat and up to 7 gears not to mention the selection of gorgeous pastel colours they come in and with a handy front basket to carry a small dog, pint of milk and freshly baked bread..! They do look great but for me it was a little too relaxed and girly. I opted for the retro, a classic light weight design with three speed option, aluminium frame, and slick matt black finish. If I was tall enough to go for the men’s frame I would have opted for that, there’s just something less cool about the low bar for women.
Lekker offered custom parts, from wider and more padded saddles to handle bars which would allow the rider to sit more upright. You could also have front or rear racks, kick stands and lights so think about how often you want to ride, how far and therefore how comfortable you’ll be. Bike stores will always let you test ride but you can’t always tell if you’ll feel the same after 30K. If you want to be able to go longer distances, maybe on rides at the weekend, you’ll definitely want something that provides comfort over style.
If you’re not interested in going pro then there’s really only one option, especially as a city commuter in Melbourne…the fixie. No laid back city hipster is complete without one! But if you’re not mega fit it could catch you out and you’ll end up jacking it all on within the first week. Although Melbourne is relatively flat, there’ll still be moments where one speed just doesn’t cut it so you might be tempted for a few more gears. We tried out a couple geared road bikes at another store but in the are way one isn’t enough, 26 was unnecessary, which is why the three speed was a great option while I work up my fitness!
5) SAFETY (helmet, locks, repair kit, routes)
The final part of the puzzle is safety. You can’t just buy the bike, you need accessories! They come in the shape of a helmet, lights, bike lock, pump and puncture repair kit as a minimum. In Melbourne its the law to wear a helmet and for good reason, which is why you should also get clued up on the road, cycle routes and Highway Code. There are some great off road trails you can get around on, check out some of the routes including the Capitol City Trail here.