FAQ’s – Part II

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 second half.  Read the first half here.

Amsterdam is flat. Chicago is flat. Is Nashville flat? What effect does topology have on how bike-friendly a city is? I suppose Portland is not flat.

I don’t think Portland is flat, no. And Nashville definitely isn’t! IMO that is not the biggest consideration for bike-friendliness, although it may be an obstacle in developing a large bicycling culture since hills can be intimidating. You will develop the necessary muscles, and there’s always the downhill stretches! And hey, as Dottie pointed out in a recent post, there’s no shame in walking your bike up a hill if you need to.

Don’t your feet get sweaty when wearing heels? Even when I wear just flats its definitely not as comfortable as when I wear socks + some sort of sneaker

No, my feet are actually cooler when I’m not wearing socks and sneakers. Maybe you could throw a bit of talcum or baby powder into your heels before you set off and see if that makes a difference.

Hm…I have never seen a blog Q&A on formspring! Was this an original idea or did you see another blog do this?

Trisha has seen it on another blog; we thought it would be fun.

Hello! I am looking to buy a skirt guard for my bike, but I cannot find any online or in stores in the US. I like the netted ones, but I have not had luck finding one. Any ideas?

Unfortunately we have had the same bad luck! I (Trisha) am planning on making one myself as a DIY project so stay tuned — we’ll post a tutorial. :)

This may be a silly question… but do any bike helmets exist that you can wear with a ponytail hairstyle?

Not a silly question – a great question that helmet designers should be asking themselves! I know of no such helmet, but I would really like one. I always end up putting my hair in a low ponytail, but wish I could wear it in a high ponytail or a bun. If anyone knows anything about this, please share.

Dottie, Does your B67 have a shorter nose or no? If not, do you wish it did?

No, the Brooks B67 saddle on my Oma does not have a shorter nose. This hasn’t really bothered me, but a shorter nose probably would be ideal. The Brooks B17 saddle on my Betty does have a shorter nose.

I just checked out the Betty Foy at rivbike.com, and it’s pretty expensive. Is it worth it?

I can only speak for myself and my circumstances. The Rivendell Betty Foy was worth it for me. I had just enough money to buy it after selling my car and renting out my garage space. Love it!

Where did you get your basket for your bike. Actually you have a few fun things I see on your bike for storing items while you travel. Love this site and am I am intrigued.

Thank you! The basket on my Oma is a Hershbergers Baker Basket, made by an Amish family in (I think) Minnesota. I bought mine online from Velo Orange, but they are no longer listed. I get questions about this basket all the time, so it would be nice if a retailer carried them again.

The basket on my Rivendell is a Wald.

I also have a Basil pannier and a Po Campo rack bag. I highly recommend both, especially the made in Chicago Po Campo bag.

Hi! New to the bike search, and wondered if you have an opinion on Republic Bike, which is less expensive. Thanks, L

Hi! We have not had a chance to test ride or see in real life Republic Bikes. I assume the quality matches the price, but it could be good for someone who wants that type of bike at a lower price point and understands the potential quality issues

I live in hilly southwestern Virginia and my road bike does great. I have begun commuting and am thinking about getting a Betty Foy so that I won’t have to wear a backpack. Would you recommend a Betty for large grad hills?

Depends how you build up your Betty Foy. With my 27 gears, I would say yes. Although I’ve not yet ridden on large grade hills (hard to find in Chicago) the Betty Foy is relatively light and the gear options are perfect. You could consider getting drop bars, but Rivendell says that the albatross bars I have are good for climbing.

I saw the question below about the Brooks saddles and I was wondering if there is any reason not to order one before ordering your bike (they are on sale). Like, is there any way it wouldn’t fit the bike or something?

I don’t think that would be a problem, though I claim no expertise on the issue. Both my husband and I ordered Brooks before ordering our bikes (Rivendell Betty Foy and 1970’s Raleigh) and there were no problems.

I’m having a really hard time finding a bike shop in the San Francisco Bay Area that carries Batavus bikes. I’ve been looking for a commuter bike and fell in love with the Bats. I’d like to try one out before buying…suggestions?!?! THanks!!

We do recommend trying before buying. I don’t know which Batavus model you are looking at, but Batavus’ distributor, On the Fourth, lists Ocean Cyclery in San Fran and Menlo Velo in Menlo Park, CA as carrying Batavus. Both have websites, so give ’em a call and see if they have the model you want to try. Good luck!

Fourth Floor’s dealers:

Have you ever peddled with the Devil in the pale moon light?

You joker you. :)

Bonsoir! Your blog beautiful and awesome! I was wondering what saddles are on your bikes. I can tell they are Brooks, but which specific models. How do you feel about the aged ones vs. the original? Merci!

D: Why, thank you! I have no experience with the aged Brooks, but I can let you know how I feel about the saddles I have.

On Betty I have a Brooks B17 Special in honey. This has a shorter nose, which allows my dresses to drape more easily. I like it, but I think the version with springs would be more comfortable on Betty, as she is somewhat upright. Also, it’s still not fully broken in after a

On Oma I have a Brooks B67 in antique brown. This is the most comfortable saddle in the world, hands down. It was fully broken in within 2 weeks of riding. A dream.

T: Merci a toi! I love being greeted in French. :) My bikes actually do not have Brooks saddles, alas. My Peugeot has a vintage Raleigh (which I would like to upgrade to a Brooks B67) and my Batavus has a Selle saddle, which is quite comfortable, easy to maintain and affordable.

What kind of baskets are on your bikes?

D: On Betty I have a Wald wire basket in medium (9.75″ x 14.75″ x 4.5″) that I purchased from Rivendell –
http://www.rivbike.com/products/show/wire-baskets-wald/20-102 I support it with a Nitto rack. I like this set up but have ordered aBasil wire basket that is LEMON YELLOW from Copenhagen Cyclery. It’s basically the same exact basket, but is LEMON YELLOW. I am very excited about this.  [note: I never got this]

On Oma I have a Hershberger’s Baker Basket. I get asked about this basket all the time. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any way to purchase the basket currently. I bought mine from Velo-Orange, but it is no longer listed on their site. The basket is handmade by an Amish family (the Hershbergers).

T: I was anti-basket for a while, but I’ve been weakening. :) I think I might get a shallow, low metal basket or a front rack for Le Peug when I make my next round of improvements.

I hope I am the first question asker! Probably not, but oh well. :) I was wondering if you guys have a favorite online bike (accessory) shop?

D: I try to buy most of my accessories locally, at Dutch Bike Chicago, Copenhagen Cyclery, De Fietsfabriek, Rapid Transit and Roscoe Village Bikes. However, some accessories can be found only online.

My two favorite online shops are Velo-Orange and Rivendell. My #1 best accessory is Rivendell’s German Mirror.

T: I usually try Halcyon Bikes here in Nashville first, since I want to keep them in the neighborhood. :) But most of the local shops in Nashville don’t carry the type of accessories I like (for example, I couldn’t find a handlebar mirror here in town), so I go online to source new or vintage components that are more suited to utilitarian cycling. Velo-Orange and eBay are my favorites

How far do you bike daily? What’s the longest distance that you’ve ever road. Have you ever wanted to go on a long distance bike trip?

D: My daily commute is 9 miles roundtrip, 11 miles if I take the lakefront path. My old commute with my previous job was 14 miles
roundtrip. Often I take additional trips that add to the daily total, such as lunch time joy rides or to dinner. The longest ride I’ve been on was 50 miles. I often day dream about long distance trips and hope to do at least one 2 or 3-day mini tour this summer.

T: My daily commute is just 5 miles, and probably the most I would ride on a given day in Nashville is 10 miles. One of the good things about trying to get around by bike is that it lets you get to know your neighborhood really well. :) That said, I’ll ride Lakefront Trail when I visit Dottie and the Silver Comet Trail when I visit my parents and do something like 12-14 miles. The absolute longest ride I’ve been on is a 20-mile trip on one of Nashville’s greenways.

Like Dottie, I do dream of trying a longer, multi-day ride…maybe the Natchez Trace Parkway this fall!

How do you handle the inevitable perspiration, makeup issues when commuting?

Dottie wrote a great post on summer riding (link at the end of this answer) that pretty much explains our strategy. The basics: take it slow, wear breathable fabric and build in some time to freshen up once you reach your destination. Wear waterproof mascara, or keep a duplicate makeup set at the office and apply it when you get there. If it’s a really hot day, consider bringing a change of clothes, or at least a different top. Good luck!

What is Dottie’s favorite camera? :)

My favorite camera is my Nikon FM2 from 1982.  I also have a new Rolleiflex 3.5E from the 1950’s that takes stunning photos.  Most of my pictures from earlier this year were taken with a Nikon D3000 digital camera, but I sold that to buy the Rolleiflex.

I moved to Chicago last year and really want to start riding my bike through the city. And recommendations for easier bike routes for a beginner? I’m on the north side in the Logan Square/Bucktown area. Thanks!

Check out the Chicago Bike Map online and Googlemaps “bicycling” directions. Both give reliable route suggestions. Damen and Milwaukee are popular routes with decent bike lanes, but for a beginner navigating quiet side streets is probably best. LFP is always good for beginners, though a bit far east from your neighborhood. Email us if you’d like to join the Bicycle Goddess Brigade for laid back riding.


More questions?  Ask us on Formspring.

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9 thoughts on “FAQ’s – Part II

  1. LC says:

    lovely post! And interesting to read all the Q&A :)

    about netted/crochet skit guards in the US you can find them from this Etsy seller: http://www.etsy.com/listing/58545188/crochet-bicycle-dress-guard
    who is also the lady behind Bobbin and Sprocket :D

    and in Europe from Simeli http://www.simeli.nl/welcome/page.php?ID=761&lang=1

    But I very much look forward to your DIY post… I need to further my crocheting skills!

  2. Dave says:

    I can chime in a bit about Portland and hills. While we don’t have hills like San Fransisco or Seattle, Portland is far from flat (we do have a volcano within city limits), and I ride up and down many of those hills on any given day – but I can tell you, I get sweatier riding on flats with heavy wind than I do going up and down hills. This last Spring, and this winter, we’ve had some days of wind up to 30mph, with gusts up to 50-60mph, and even riding along our flat waterfront path, it can be hard to even move forward at times. Sure, a long, steep hill will get you nice and sweaty, but you can always walk a couple blocks to get up it and then it’s over. Wind could last all day, and it’s more unpredictable.

    Certainly, flatness helps you mentally feel more capable of riding in a particular place, and to some extent it can be easier, but I think a place with hills that also makes great effort to encourage people to ride by calming traffic, separating modes of travel where necessary, and trying to create a culture of calm travel will still see a lot of people riding bikes, and it can still be the most convenient way to get places within a few miles. A lot of it has to do with mindset too – if you’re willing to give yourself a little time, and not feel like you have to keep up the same pace going uphill, it becomes much more feasible.

  3. Dweendaddy says:

    Trisha – regarding Velo Orange and Halcyon: Halcyon will order anything from the VO catalog, and then you can try out the item in person. There have been a few things that have not worked for me or my bike, and they just kept them in the shop and I did not have to buy it.
    They are a Wald dealer, too, so you can order anything from there for when you are ready for a basket.

    • dukiebiddle says:

      Yes, Velo Orange is actually a wholesale distributor to bike shops, but are more than willing to sell their products to directly to customers for the retail price, of course. Check with your local bike shop to see, but it’s always good to support your local bike shop and have them order it for you, state sales tax laws notwithstanding.

  4. Dave says:

    Oh, also regarding Brooks saddles and what bikes they will fit – I think there are adapters to fit just about any seatpost, that just clamp onto the rails of the seat itself (that is, the piece that actually connects to the seatpost is not actually an integral part of the saddle itself, so it can be interchanged if need be).

  5. SM says:

    This was fun to read – thanks. You’re both bike rock stars in my book.

    My BELL helmet and i believe most BELL helmets made for women have enough room near the adjuster to pull through a ponytail and it works fine for me.

    The Lazer Urbanize helmet is gaining popularity. And it’s pretty sleek looking. Check it out. I may order one to try.


  6. cloudsofviolet says:

    Yeah, flatness helps and makes cycling easier, but its not neccessary to make a city bike-friendly. I live in SF, very hilly, but its very bike friendly compared to the rest of the U.S. I think its more about the infrastructure and attitude.

  7. Kevin Love says:

    Regarding topography, Switzerland has a decent cycle mode share. Berne in particular has a 20% cycle mode share. Switzerland is not particularly flat.

    David Hembrow makes excellent custom bike baskets. See:


    His online shop, Dutch Bike Bits, also sells skirtguards for 14.28€ each. See:


    No, I do not work for David. :)

  8. Shannon Trainer says:

    One thing you won’t see in Portland are slow, heavy Dutch bikes.

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