Well after 7 years of restoration I thought it might be a good idea to impart my knowledge of ladies vintage bikes. When we started restoring back in 2005 vintage bike culture in Melbourne was a lot smaller than it is now. Fixed gear track bikes were unheard of to the masses, and the majority of girls were getting around the city streets on either modern hybrid or mountain bikes. Essentially bike culture, particulary womens cycling, was much more of function or sport driven activity in Melbourne and other major Australian cities back then.
Indeed cycling as fashion has certainly never really been a core element of the activity for women in Australia. However we can point to the period from 1989 to 2003 as it being almost in a non-existentent phase. During this time the importation to, or production within Australia of the classic shape ladies frame that had remained for over 100 years simply vanished. There were few reasons for this. One was the 'race to the bottom' effect of cheaper and cheaper bikes from Taiwan and China that made the market too competitive for shop owners. So much so that they were being sold in some service stations back then; as a result different stock was needed or they would simply have to close the doors. Secondly, the continous rise of outdoor recreation to fashionable status had encouraged the manufacturing of off road style bicycles, namely mountain bikes and road/off road hybrid styles. And thirdly, and by no means the least significant, an industry where bike importers, makers and designers in Australia were predominately male did not bode well for cycling as fashion for women.
Its from the mid 2000s then that shops like ours began. We were there to fill the gap (or some would call it the grand canyon) that the previous 15 or so years had created. At our disposal were thousands of 1970s and 80s vintage frames lying around waiting to die. We were buying them for maybe $10 or $15 a piece when we started....and they were not rubbish either.
to be continued.......
Ladies Vintage Bikes Guide - #1 Introduction
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13 June 2012
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