FAQ’s – Part I

Earlier this year, Trisha and I opened a Formspring account and welcomed you all to ask us questions.  We’ve been answering the questions on Formspring individually as they come in.  Now we’re putting the answers together as a cohesive FAQ section, although some of the questions are not so frequent.  :)  This is the first half.  We’ll post the second half soon.

How and when did Dottie and Trisha meet?

Trisha and I met through our mutual friend, Erin, at a group happy hour. The first meeting I really remember was at a Russian dinner party I threw at my apartment. Trisha showed up with a shirt that said, in Russian, “I love Russian.” Awesomeness. Soon after, we went to a midnight showing of Gremlins and I drank too much beer and had to leave before the movie ended (beer buzz + crowded theater + gremlins driving Barbie cars = overwhelming). From then on, we were fast friends.  :)  That was, I think, about 4 years ago when I lived in Nashville for law school.

What saddles do you use on your bikes?

I (Dottie) have Brooks saddles, which I love. On Oma it’s the B67 with springs – the most comfortable saddle ever. On Betty it’s the B17S – no springs and took longer to break in, but still great. Trisha’s Batavus came with a Selle Royale and her Peug has a vintage saddle.

I just got a bike and was so excited to start re-learning how to ride again. However, on my first ride, I fell off and hurt myself pretty bad. Now I am having trouble figuring out how to get back on – without falling again! Advice?

Re-learning how to ride a bike can be stressful. I was a nervous wreck when I started again two years ago. Try to take it slowly and stay calm. Practice in an alley or parking lot. Figure out what caused you to fall before and how you can avoid the same problem in the future. Once you have some more practice, riding will start feeling perfectly natural again. Good luck!

Do you guys change the tires on your bikes or use the ones they came with?

Both of us have the same tires our bikes came with. Luckily, both of my bikes came with Schwalbe tires, which are awesome. My husband swapped out the tires on his Jamis for Schwalbe, after getting way too many flats with the original tires.

Hi! What do you bring when you bike in case of emergency? (like tools or whatever)

I don’t carry any tools. Same as when I drove a car – I never carried car tools or fixed my own flat tire. If my bike breaks down or something, I’ll take public transportation (either taking my bike on with me or locking it up for the time being). Knock on wood, I haven’t gotten a flat tire since I started riding with Schwalbe tires almost two years ago.

You have cats? What are their names? And do you any other pets? Ever take them on your bike?

I (Dottie) have three cats: Ollie, Ted and Chloe. Trisha has two cats: Willie and Wally. They’re all rescue babies.  No other pets. I’m pretty sure they’d all try to kill us in our sleep if we attempted to take them on a bike ride :)

How do you ladies manage to build up a good enough relationship with local bike shops that they let you test ride — and even borrow — bikes? I always get dirty looks unless I’m standing there with a credit card in hand.

Luckily, there are so many bike shops in Chicago – if I get attitude at one bike shop, I’ll leave and never go back. I find that if I show a sincere interest in bikes, shop employees are more than happy to talk with me and set me up with a test ride. Going a lot helps, too, and they’re remember your face. Now some bike shops know me and know my blog, so that makes it possible to borrow bikes overnight.

where can i get a cherry red dutch style bike

A few come to mind immediately: Velorbis, Electra, Abici, WorkCycles all have cherry red bikes. I LOVE red bikes!

What is your favorite color?

Blue! says Dottie

What inexpensive bike lights would you recommend?

I haven’t found an inexpensive bike light that’s blown me out of the water. I have Cat Eye lights on my Betty and I find they’re a good balance between power and price. Because I always seem to lose my lights, I can’t get anything too expensive. I had some Knog lights but was not impressed with their power.

I have an intense fear of having my new bike stolen. So much so that I refuse to run errands with it where I have to lock it up. How would you suggest keeping it safe?

Abus chain lock, the more expensive, the better. You could always throw a Kryptonite u-lock in for good measure. With an Abus chain and Kryptonite lock, your bike will not be a target. Good luck!

Hi Dottie, I asked the question about your Basil pannier and your answer (thank you for answering!) leads to my next question…. What kind of rear rack do you have on Betty and do you know the tube diameter on this rack vs. the rack on Oma?

I have a Pletscher rear rack on Betty and I would not recommend it. In fact, I’m about to order a new and stronger rack. The diameter is much smaller than the rack on Oma and therefore I cannot fit the Basil pannier on Betty’s rack. The Basil has pretty big rack clips, suitable only for wider Dutch-style racks.

Dottie, How do you maintain your Brooks saddles? Did you treat them before initially riding? <3

I treated my Brooks with Brooks Proofhide before riding and then again after a month or so. I try to remember to put a bag or rain cover on in bad weather. But otherwise I don’t do much to maintain them. Hopefully they won’t get ruined by my lack of care, but so far so good.

Hello! I am looking for some new white tires for my vintage bicycle (20×1.75) and I’m wondering where the best is to get them… Or any suggestions really! Do you know of any good places online to buy white tires? Thanks so much!

Schwalbe is my favorite tire brand – both of my bikes have Schwalbe and I’ve never gotten a flat. They make beautiful cream tires. Peter White Cycles sells Schwalbe, as do many online retailers. Good luck!

Do you have any bike recommendation for under $400?

For under $400 I would go with a vintage bike from Craigslist or a used bike shop. Otherwise, a new sub $400 bike will likely have quality problems. But the KHS Green is supposed to be a good bike and I think it’s only a bit over $400. Haven’t tried it myself, though.

D, I noticed that you said you like the Nikon3000. We bike everywhere and had a Nikon DSLR, bike riding+DSLR not so good for us. I was wondering A) How do you carry your camera B) Do you know of any point & shoots that are a little more indestructable?

I bring my Nikon D3000 DSLR with me almost everywhere. Usually I carry it in my PoCampo bag on my back rack with no special padding. Sometimes I carry it in the special camera case and throw it in my basket. I hate my Canon SD 1200 point & shoot but Trisha’s new Canon S90 is fantastic.

This is for Dottie – what is your natural hair color? I swear it’s changed from before…

My hair color is 100% au naturel. I haven’t dyed my hair in over three years (for a while in law school I had dark brown and dark red hair).

Okay, I’ll bite! Why did Trisha go all the way to England to get her Batavus??

I am a bargain hunter, by blood and necessity. :) Supply & demand in the US for Dutch bikes mean they almost never go on sale. Overseas, however, it’s another story — and when I found an Entrada Spirit for less than half the US retail price, and a shop willing to hold it for pickup for me, four months before I was going on a trip to Europe, I figured any oversized baggage fees would be worth it. Luckily, British Airways was too stunned by the idea of taking a bike on a plane to think to charge my parents anything (they were generous enough to take the bike back with them because I wasn’t flying home directly from the UK) and the Bat was mine for $640.

If you could sit next to any living person on an international flight who would you pick?

This is Dottie. My husband! Because he’s afraid to fly internationally and if I were sitting next to him, that would mean he would have gotten over the fear and traveled with me to Europe. Second place, Tori Amos. We would have soooo much to talk about and become best friends. Third place, Trisha, which I’ve done before and will be doing again in a few months :)

What do you do with your helmet when you go inside a store?

This is Dottie. I carry my helmet with me at all times. Either I hang it off my wrist or hang it off my purse strap. If I’m carrying a big canvas bag, I can fit it in there. My husband often locks his helmet to his bike, but I’m scared a dog would pee on mine.

Did you shellac your Betty Foy handle bars? I want to shellac my cork handlebars to match my Brooks Antique Brown saddle. Any advice?

I purchased my cork grips from Rivendell already shellacked. Lovely Bicycle shellacked her own grips, so you can mosey over there to read her tips.

Dottie, do you perform left turns in vehicular or pedestrian fashion? I am also a cyclist in Chicago, and I’m curious to know which method you favor. Thanks!

I perform left turns in vehicular fashion, even in the monstrous three-way intersections. It’s just the quickest and safest way to turn, in my opinion. Just signal your intention, be firm, and keep an eye on what cars are doing behind you.

Dottie, do you ever use your Basil tote pannier on Betty? I think I’ve only seen pictures of it on Oma, and was wondering if that’s because your heel strikes the bag on Betty. I’m considering purchasing this bag and am worried about heel strike. Thanks

I never use the Basil tote pannier on Betty, but not because of heel strike. The rack on Betty doesn’t work with the clips on the Basil bag – the rack is too thin. I don’t know whether heel strike would be an issue, but I don’t think so.

Did you have any problems adjusting your Brooks saddles? I have heard they have to lean really far back (or point up).

I have not had problems. I point my nose up slightly, more so on my Dutch bike.

Hello! So I am about to buy my first bike in a long while and am thinking about the KHS Green. Any thoughts? Also, what accessories would you recommend to go with the bike? Thanks! LOVE your blog, it’s one of the main reasons I want to start riding.

Hi! Thanks for the nice words about our blog. We haven’t tested the KHS Green but by all accounts it is a good value for money. If you are commuting or riding for transport, we recommend fenders, lights and a rear rack or front basket to carry things. Keep us posted on your sweet ride; we’d love to hear more about the Green from an owner.


More questions?  Ask us on Formspring.

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6 thoughts on “FAQ’s – Part I

  1. Cecily says:

    A tip on Brooks saddles for anyone riding an upright bike: if the idea of the break-in period concerns you, try buying the Aged B67 Brooks. The leather is specially treated so that it feels comfortable from the first ride. It may look a little dusty and unattractive at first, but after about 2-3 weeks of solid riding, it takes on a beautiful patina and is pretty much the same colour as the regular brown B67 saddles.

    The aged saddle costs a bit more, but it was worth it to me to have one that I didn’t have to treat with Proofide or any other substance. Brooks actually recommends that you don’t treat the top of the aged saddle with anything at all.

  2. Amy says:

    LOVED reading all the answers to these questions! Especially about the fear of a dog peeing on your helmet Dottie. It had me pondering different size dogs vs lock up places on a bike to prevent a dog from reaching. Made for some humorous mental images. :)

  3. donna says:

    Reading this blog definitely makes the winter months go by faster. keep up the great work ladies!

  4. cycler says:

    Don’t know about Basil, but Ortlieb makes some inserts that you can put in the wider hooks to fit nicely on narrower tube racks. I’ve never been a huge plechner fan though- prefer wider tubed racks like the Steco ones that came on your Oma.

  5. Bill says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience, this is very helpful! Especially what products you use and enjoy. I definitely need a mirror.


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