The idea of style is a hugely subjective thing. From this point of view (my own), the idea is wearing whatever you feel like with confidence, expressing personality, perception, mood and the demands of the environment you inhabit. This of course applies to both man/ woman and their machine and so Survey has become (as my colleagues have already discussed) more about anthropology than simply a nice pair of slacks and well wrapped bar tape. And the bike is an extension of this expression. Everything from the head badge (or lack thereof) to the kind of pedals you use indicates your personal approach to how you carry yourself. Here’s my selection of the best of Survey 2012 and some brief explanations as to why these people ride in style.
I’ve categorized my selection, which helped whittle down a good 30 plus pictures. There’s plenty of London and New York but then that was inevitable. Berlin has joined us as a new Survey location this year, as did Portland, Austin and Amsterdam. If you’ve followed the blog, thanks for looking and remember, you could be next, so keep your chin up.
Some of the most stylish and elegant city cyclists are the women. Men can get too enthusiastic with the performance gear and traffic light interval sprints at times, whilst the ladies maintain dignity and grace.
Most people couldn’t carry off cycling shorts and a t-shirt, but this lady not only does it with tattoos and an all black German-designed race bike, she even sticks a puppy in her backpack for good measure. She shows individuality (unless everyone in LA looks like that), so gets my vote. The woman in Austin also sports tattoos, and wears black, so perhaps a pattern is emerging… However, the bike she so casually poses on looks like the perfect rig for her laidback and late-summer demeanour. She isn’t trying and for that looks great.
The term ‘utility bike’ is a broad one, but Survey has shown a good spread of interesting vehicles and their owners that balance functionality and character effortlessly.
Sgt. Intrepid may not be everyone’s idea of style on a bike, particularly if your references are usually Fausto Coppi or Greg Lemond. And the Sgt’s machine is about as far away from a racing lightweight as you can get without lying down, but to roll around NYC like this shows character. Not many people could pull off an M1 helmet, hiking shoes, a gold medallion and a stem like that.
Broncks is the Dutch spelling of, you guessed it, the Bronx. And they make these lovely bikes in NYC. New Amsterdam is one of the style capitals of the world and this man is probably working at an ad agency or design firm. Duck boots – check, Levis – yep, carefully buttoned cardigan – correct. Carry on.
Some people seem to forget that messengers are the people who set the modern standard for city cycling. The fixed-gear craze may have got out of hand over the last few years but to see a courier effortlessly flow through the traffic with one hand on the bars and the other on their radio is certainly a reference point for bike-style in the metropolis. The true convicts of the streets.
Of course there is a certain punk aesthetic to both these individuals and that sits nicely with the DIY aspect of the fixed-wheel bicycle. Both these bikes suggest function, have the de rigeur stickers and absence of any braking component(s). The respective denim cutoff and leather jackets finish the messenger form.
If you want to ride around the city in a café racer type way, then you need to ensure you look good. The amount of unnecessary lycra and bargain-bin team kit you see in the city is what we are all striving to counteract. So the stylish roadie in the city is always a blessing.
The man in the head wrap is channeling (and perhaps housing) a higher state of consciousness, and the composition with the red London buses makes this one of the stand-out Survey images of the year. As for the man in the orange Wind Jacket, it is just the right balance of vibrancy and Euro-ness. The lean also gives it that all-important ‘pro’ sensibility.
Ridiculous and Sublime
Sometimes people’s ensembles are, for want of a better term, bloody ridiculous. But when they are carried off with confidence and personality, they just work. And the world is a better place for it.
These two in the tweed suits are conjuring some kind of New York City equivalent to London’s Gilbert and George (artists and lovers, apparently), but with more pomade and two great big Dutch bikes. Someone buy them a Scotch or two.
As for our man in Tokyo – I don’t know where to begin: Only in Japan would you see this lack of cynicism to be able to combine woolen camo shorts over some leggings, a black bomber jacket and an 80’s BMX with milk crate basket. His hairstyle and goatee are also reminiscent of Rapha’s social media guru, Leo Tong.
There were certainly many more that I would have liked to include here but alas, you can look through yourself and make up your own mind. Style is in the eye of the beholder.