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The Look of International Cycling Chic

Danish street photographer Mikael Colville-Andersen shares his tips and photos of two-wheeled style from biking hotspots around the world, including London, Paris, Barcelona, Montreal, and Copenhagen.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

A stylish biker in Copenhagen.



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In 2007, the globe-trotting photographer Mikael Coville-Andersen launched his photo blog Copenhagen Cycle Chic with a picture of an attractive Danish cyclist on a street corner. Since then, more than 50 Cycle Chic blogs have popped up, everywhere from Berlin to Bogotá, turning the European-style roadster and its well-dressed riders into new icons of urban elegance. Here, the international bike ambassador shares his doctrine of style over sweat.

Bikes are the new black.
"For the last 40 years, biking has been branded as sports and recreation, something kids do in the driveway—or maybe crazy messengers do around the city. But going back to the first bicycle girls in corsets and bloomers, urban cycling has been synonymous with style. If you've got a good bike-path system in your city, it can be like a rolling catwalk."

Act like you're in Rio (or Tokyo, or Barcelona).
"Brazilians ride to Ipanema beach in board shorts, carrying their surfboards. In Japan, you'll see young dudes riding to work on $100 department-store bikes wearing suits worth more than everything most people have in their closets. In Barcelona and Paris, people ride in high heels and polished brogues. But the most stylish cycle-chic city I've ever seen is Ferrara, Italy. It's filled with impeccably dressed men sitting on upright bikes like emperors. That's how I want to look when I'm older."

Dress for the destination—not for the journey.
"Open your closet: It's already full of cycling clothes. You shouldn't be thinking Lycra, you should be thinking tweed. In the old days in Europe, a bespoke suit would come with two pairs of trousers—one for everyday use, one for cycling."

Lose the fixie, go vintage.
"Fixed-gear bikes are the gateway drug to urban biking, but they're ridiculous. Nobody should be riding without brakes in city traffic. The real movers in New York, London, and Berlin have already moved on to vintage steel frames. The ultimate score is a bike ridden in a stage of the Tour de France, with all its original components. Schwinn has some fantastic designs from the 1950s which could be revived for urban riding. In Copenhagen, I ride a bike called a Long John, which has a cargo bay in the middle. They're the SUVs of Denmark: You can easily carry two kids and a week's worth of groceries. My dad rode one when he was a delivery boy in World War II. A Danish brand called Larry vs. Harry has brought out a lightweight, modern version of this 90-year-old design."

The must-have fashion accessory.
"The only accessory you really need for urban cycling is a trouser clip, to keep your pant legs from getting oily. I like the super-elegant aluminium and rubber straps made by the Danish company Sögreni."

Make your bike a fashion statement.
"Gucci and Gant have launched European-style city bikes, and Chanel has a basic-black model that retails for $28,000. They can be more about style than sporting."

Speaking of traveling . . .
"There are now 450 cities around the world with bike-share programs. The best are in London, Paris, and Montreal, where they've got these sturdy, easy-to-ride bikes and racks are everywhere. In Paris, I used to ride the Metro, but on a bike I've discovered parts of the city I never knew existed."

Helsinki, Finland
Photos courtesy of Mikael Colville-Andersen.
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