There is “riding a bicycle” and there is “racing on a bicycle”. the two are fundamentally different: from the attitude of the person, the vehicle between their legs down to the shoes on their feet. one requires lightweight, expensive sports gear, the other is only limited by people’s imagination.
People racing bicycles will find a market saturated with gadgets, primarily targeting male riders. There is very little wrong with catering for a majority, however, people riding bicycles for transport or recreation will find very few pieces of equipment that actually do make a difference to their way of getting around. While there is not much special gear they may have to have, those items that do, like panniers, bells or rain coats, will only suit the look and feel of the more sporty crowd.
Caz Nicklin, author and director of online retailer Cyclechic, made the same discovery in 2008. “I started my business Cyclechic because I loved cycling but felt so let down by the lack of stylish accessories on the market. My first mission was to find a helmet that was safe but didn’t make me look like a dork. When I found the Bern helmets, I started to blog about them. I bought 12 helmets to sell from my flat and they sold really fast so I knew a business selling stylish accessories for the growing female market had potential. Cyclechic was born.
Caz’ business has grown from providing access to stylish helmets and now features a large range of products including all kinds of accessories such as bags, baskets, panniers and clothing. “My inspiration for my business is people expressing their personal style on their bikes and looking great. I am a woman who likes fashion and cycling – and that is who we cater for – which definitely helps choosing a product range that women want to buy. Our products have to look good, be affordable, safe and practical to make it into our shop.”
Offering products that cater for females on bicycles, who don’t want to don the Lycra, certainly satisfy a need that’s currently not being met elsewhere and continuously growing sales, not only in the UK but also overseas including Australia, prove Caz’ point. However, the entrepreneur is aware of the biggest hurdle yet that prevents women from hopping onto their treadlie.
This is why Caz wrote The Girls’ Bicycle Handbook
, which provides useful tips and tricks from choosing the right bicycle, what to wear and how to get to your destination safely. “Hopefully the book will help more women overcome these barriers and get on their bikes.”
The handbook caters for absolute beginners and may instil a similar passion for bicycles in the reader. “Although I use my bike for transport, it means more to me than just getting from A to B. Yes, I enjoy getting exercise through cycling, but I don’t think of it as a sport. I feel proud that I have chosen a more economically and environmentally sound way to get around and on top of that it makes me feel happy and part of a community. This is why I refer to cycling as an ‘accessible lifestyle choice’ rather than cycling. It is the best way to explain how integral it is to my life.”