Last night, I bought my wife a bicycle. It’s a 1972 green Schwinn Breeze. She absolutely loves it. We found it on the local craigslist. I already have a basket on order for her, and we’ll be picking up a bell and a helmet the next time we visit our local bike shop. (How excited am I that I now have an excuse to visit said bike shop more often?) I’ll also add a front reflector, wheel reflectors, and fresh tires. I have to admit, it’s a sweet bike, and I’m a little envious. My sights are set on finding another old bike like this that I can restore for myself.
Many bike manufacturers are producing bikes that look like older bikes from the mid-twentieth century, and there’s a good deal to commend them over buying an original. But my wife doesn’t envision herself riding great distances or every single day (at the moment, that is — my fingers are crossed that she’ll soon find herself itching to pedal more and more). So she didn’t think it would be necessary to spend much money on something for her. But here’s the rub: she loved everything about this bike.
When I first began looking for a bike, everything I read talked about fit being the most important thing, and by that people meant frame size, seat height, geometry, and that sort of thing. But “fit,” I think, has most of all to do with how you feel about the bike, especially when you’re talking about biking for transportation. The bike-commuting crowd seem more often than not to support this position. Do you like the way a bike looks? Do you like the way you look and feel on it? Then that’s a really, really good place to begin. Size and style are of critical importance, to be sure. The correct size and style of bike will ensure you’re comfortable and safe, and that the bike does what you bought it to do. But if you don’t dig your bike, you’re just not going to be excited about riding it. And, at the end of the day, what matters most is that you’re getting out and riding.