The search for the "beautiful bicycle"

I’ve worn out my old bike and it’s time for a new one, but what to buy?

In May in Paris I bought a department store bike for €139 to get around (basket, rack and dynamo front light included!). I sold it for £50 three weeks later, so it was cheaper than a rental, and I didn’t stand out as a tourist. What a wonderful experience to ride a Euro bike – so comfortable and easy. This is a picture of my bike visiting the Luxumberg Palace Gardens in Paris.

What I want from my new bike is for it to be a beautiful looking step through frame like this, and:
- hub gears (7 or 8 gears)
- chain guard, mud guards, stand and rack
- frame size that fits short people like me
- a nice rake to give it that wonderful Euro stability
- desirable: wheel lock, basket, skirt guard, dynamo front light and good brakes
- light enough to carry up the stairs at Redfern station
- not so expensive (>$3000) that I won’t want to lock it at the local shops

It seems it was a mistake to think I could find the right bike in Sydney. One LBS told me that there just isn’t the demand for this sort of bike here. But I know a couple of work colleagues who are looking for the same thing, so is it that bike shops are lagging public opinion or at least an emerging market?

I’m posting this in case it helps others with a similar search, or to see if anyone has suggestions.

My very favourite LBS recommended Gazelle (, but they are heavy (which is ok if you are in Europe and all stairs have wheeling ramps) and is not available in a frame size for short people, so they’re out, unfortunately, as the features are great. The Gofa v2 ( has the features I’m looking for, but doesn’t quite do it.

The Pashley Princess is gorgeous ( but just not enough gears for my part of Sydney (Alexandria or Erskineville would work).

Similarly, the Skeppshult Natur ( is gorgeous and I know Belinda loves her Skeppshult, but it’s heavy (20kg) and not available for short people.

The Kronan unisex 5-speed looks great ( and I love the individual number plates, but again it is too heavy for the times when I need to combine with train stations with steps.

The new Sanyo hybrid electric Enerloop ( looks great, with regenerative recharging of the battery, but I probably won’t need the electric assist before the RTA succeeds at getting the Feds to agree to enter the 21st Century by ditching the unrealistic 200w power limit which currently makes this illegal in Australia.

The Giant Cypress Ladies looks close, but it has front suspension, which is unnecessary and extra weight, IMO.

Clarence Street Cyclery has the Simple City 8 Ladies, which fulfils most of the criteria, but doesn’t quite have the right look and has roller (rear) and calliper (front) brakes. I don’t ride fast, so I don’t need emergency braking much, except when in the door zone, perhaps. I’m waiting for one to arrive for a test ride.

This Norco City Glide looks pretty good, but no local (to the inner west/city) shops that have it in stock.

City Bike Depot say they can get a ladies frame Cannondale Street, which fits the spec, but I still have to check the weight and whether the step through is low enough to achieve that elegant slide into “footpath mode”.

The search continues, with a few possibilities…

Any suggestions, reviews or similar stories?

Views: 3604

Comment by Michael S. (Boxhead) on September 20, 2009 at 12:44am
If the "Giant Cypress Ladies" is close could you swap the suspension forks with some rigid forks. Would that make it a goer (assuming this is possible)?
Comment by Andrew on September 20, 2009 at 11:41am
Electra townie - 7 gears, dynamo and basket would be extra ( I know Lee-Ann lovers her Townie. and unlike the pic, it came with mudguards and rear rack and I bought a front basket
Comment by Adrian on September 20, 2009 at 4:37pm
Hi BikeSaint,
Sadly, the bike you bought OS was probably much better value for money than whats on offer in the Australian bike market. I like the Gofa 2.0 for functionality. For beauty and quality (and big bucks), Pashley make some wonderful bikes.
Comment by Nari on September 20, 2009 at 4:48pm
Perhaps a Cannondale Vintage - 8 speed internal Shimano Alfine hub/gears, Brooks saddle, rear rack with pump holder, front and rear B+M hub lights, chain guard, mud guards etc. Reasonably light. BSC (Brunswick Street) in Melbourne had one in stock the last time I looked about a month ago. Cheap shipping to Sydney at $15!

Comment by naomi on September 21, 2009 at 1:23pm
Have certainly noticed the big brands bringing out some classic looking step through bikes finally!
Comment by BikeSaint on September 21, 2009 at 4:02pm
Nari, thank you so much for that tip! It's the one. I've just ordered it from Brunswick Street Cycles.

Paul, I'm 5'2'', but shorter in the leg.

I can't wait for it to arrive...
Comment by DamianM on September 21, 2009 at 5:23pm
Nice choice Fiona, that looks great. It will be weird not seeing you on the Dahon!
Comment by Adrian on September 21, 2009 at 5:57pm
Awesome! Looks like a great choice.
Comment by Tony Arnold on September 21, 2009 at 6:45pm
Nice bike Fiona. It has everything a good city bike should have!

Oh, and I like the honey Brooks saddle. I just got one for my tourer. :-)
Comment by Neil Alexander on September 21, 2009 at 6:50pm
That is one beautiful bicycle.

Hmmm, I don't have a step-through...


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