Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wheel Fun

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wheel Fun

Article excerpt

President John F. Kennedy once said, "Nothing compares with the simple pleasure of a bike ride." There is an irresistible joy that washes over you when you hop on and start to roll. It's a tactile nostalgia for long summer days of playing with friends until the street lights came on.

Bicycles now outsell cars in Britain, France, Germany and Italy, according to a recent NPR report, and the Netherlands is the most bike-centric society on the planet. In Europe, bike riding is less a sport than a way of life, one Americans are beginning to embrace.

If your bike is the fashion statement, you don't need to squeeze into those special Lycra clothes serious riders are wearing. The machines themselves say plenty -- and cost plenty. Two years ago, Italian fashion house Missoni did a limited-edition cruiser for Target stores. The bike came in two styles; black and white zigzag and the more recognizable colorful Missoni pattern. Starting at $400, they sold out quickly and now sell for much more on eBay. Kate Spade, Chanel and Hermes have all done limited-edition bikes.

"More and more I think people are realizing the potential of the bicycle. It is a fun way to keep fit whilst it is a cheap and practical method of commuting," said Charlie Cooper of Cooper Bikes, a British-based company with roots in the automotive world.

Cooper Bikes is the bicycle division of Cooper Car Co., famous for the Mini Cooper. Their Oporto model is a classic easy ride that retails for between $1,500 and $1,700.

Many of the hottest bikes are the old-fashioned upright style that allow riders to sit up rather than bend over the bars as they pedal around town. For those who need a little help, the Biria Easy- Boarding design will keep you feeling in control. The company, which began in Germany, makes a lightweight aluminum frame that can be outfitted with more gears or handbrakes if you tire of the old- fashioned back pedal brakes. It comes in one speed or multiple, depending on your preference, and can change as your ability changes.

Keeping it really simple is Martone Cycling, which offers five colors -- black, white, red, gold and silver -- in men's and women's frames and the same price for all bikes, $899. …

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