Pimp My Ride
Let's face it, your ride needs a little love. She doesn’t ride as well as she used to, some of her parts are rusty, and the early ’80s splatter paint job you liked in high school is starting to lose its ironic appeal. Don’t worry, with a few adjustments, you can turn that old hand-me-down bike into a sexy city ride. Here are eight relatively simple ways to pimp your ride.
Nothing pimps out a ride more easily than a new bell, and the classic chrome one is the best-looking accessory. Not only does this little bit of shiny metal dress up your handlebars – it’ll save you from having to yell at aggressive drivers, clueless pedestrians, and slower cyclists. Plus, it’ll get the attention of that hottie walking near The Wiggle. Sports Basement and Mojo Bicycle Cafe have a good collection that are sure to help you get noticed. Ding-ding. Bling-bling.
You’re going to spend a lot of hours in the saddle, so forgo the chammy butter for a comfy seat – and naturally, a stylish one. There’s nothing sexier than a high-grade leather seat. These babies are built to last, and since they mold to your ass over time, they get better with age. Be sure to secure it with a safety lock or at least remove the quick release; you don’t want to put all of that molding time in for someone else to reap the cushy rewards. Mash Transit and Public Bikes stock a nice collection of leather saddles.
It’s amazing how dorky pedals can be. They’re like the jeans of the bike world – basic, necessary, and often times really, really ugly. Large, teethy pedals with reflectors are like pleated jeans. For a pimp ride, you want the skinny jeans of pedals – low profile with a flat platform and a nice strap, like those locally made from Plemons. These handcrafted straps hold your foot in place and they’ll match your gorgeous leather saddle. So give away those plastic toe clips (and the ’90s jeans) and pick some up at Mission Bicycle.
Most people won’t notice this pimp modification, but true bike lovers will give you mad props. Since your headset controls the steering of your bike and connects your handlebar area to the frame, a new one can add a splash of color or even match the hue of your rims or hubs on your wheels. Valencia Cyclery has a nice assortment of colorful headsets. Not only will it make your bike ride better, it just might score you a date with that hot, scruffy messenger at Zeitgeist you’ve had your eye on.
As an urban cyclist, you have
a lot to carry: a six-pack of beer, your yoga mat, your new pit bull puppy mix. And you need a good rack to carry it all – something shiny, something strong, and something bling-arific. Like pedals, racks can be ugly. Many are unnecessarily heavy and poorly brazed or welded. But other racks can be really beautiful, and help glam up your city ride. SF-based company Pass & Stow makes great hand-brazed front racks – so much chrome, so much bling, so much weight off your shoulders.
San Francisco winters can be a rainy, sloppy mess (it’s okay, it builds character). You only need one bike accessory to winterize and sexify your bike: fenders. With so many small-batch urban bike products, there are a lot of interesting, design-y fenders on the market. Box Dog Bikes has a great selection, like handmade aluminum ones from Japan and wooden ones from the Northwest. They can be left on all year, so even if you get caught in an unexpected summer downpour (it was a crappy June), you and your bike will still look hot and dry.
The most drastic way to pimp your ride is with a new coat of paint. Get your steed powder-coated. It’s much tougher than ordinary paint, which means it won’t chip every time you lock up your bike. Plus, you can choose from a myriad of custom colors. The cheapest way to powder-coat a bike is at an auto body shop, like West Coast Powder Coating. It’s the same paint used for custom car jobs, so it’s both durable and beautiful. A fresh powder-coat will turn your ordinary bike into a one-of-a-kind ride.
The best way to bling your bike is with a new set of wheels. A set of deep V wheels are relatively inexpensive. They’re pretty tough and come in a variety of colors (you can match them to your headset). If you want to spend a little bit more, hand-built wheels will add subtle bling and serious speed and handling to your ride. Bay Area company Phil Wood makes some of the best hubs in the business, and high-end bike shops like Mash Transit and Bespoke Cycles do custom wheel builds. For extra flair, ask for a radially laced wheel.