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Cyclist in the city: Julie Hirschfeld brings a Carrie Bradshaw sensibility to biking

Walk into Adeline Adeline, an inviting new Tribeca boutique, and bicycles with creamy paint colors and sleek lines look every bit as appealing as designer footwear. Unlike Louboutins, however, these retro European bikes are actually designed for New York City streets. The whole fleet is eminently practical (if not exactly affordable), and owner Julie Hirschfeld is already selling bikes at a brisk clip, as well as fashionable helmets, adorable wicker bike baskets, slip-on shoes, and soon, her own collection of bike bags.

Hirschfeld isn’t a hard-core cyclist or an MBA in search of an idea; she’s a Brooklyn mother of three-year-old twins who went shopping for a bike last August and couldn’t believe how shoddily she was treated.  “I went into several bike shops looking for a low-tech city bike and I was basically ignored. I also couldn’t find a bike I liked,” she remembers.

The Linus ($390-$550) is Hirschfield's best seller

“Someone should really open a bike store for women,” she said casually to her husband. “You should do it,” he replied, and a few weeks later the two took off to Interbike, the huge annual Las Vegas bike show, leaving the twins overnight with grandma. Three months later Hirschfeld signed a lease for a space on Reade Street, a quiet tree-lined block with a bike lane where customers can enjoy a peaceful test drive. And today, just eight months after her epiphany, Hirschfeld’s new commute is a 30-minute pedal, on her 1-speed Abici Gran Turismo Donna, from Fort Greene over the Brooklyn Bridge to her store for stylish cyclists.

The Biomega ($2000) is a chainless bike, from the cycling savants in Holland

The bikes you see in Adeline Adeline (named after her two grandmothers who shared the name) are not ones you’ve ever seen on NYC streets, or even in this country. In fact, they’re straight out of Brideshead Revisited. At the high-end there’s the $1800 Retrovelo, which is handmade in Germany, and has extra wide “balloon tires” for a bouncy ride on cobblestone streets. Batavus’s Fryslan model, an especially upright bike that allows for great visibility and provides a bump-free ride, hasn’t changed much since it first went into production in the 1950s. Via Italy, there’s the cheerful, zippy, and lightweight Abici for $950. The cheapest of the lot ($390-$550 depending on features) is the only American bike—the Linus, a inspired by French bikes from the 1940s and designed in Venice, CA. So far it’s the top-seller. For a museum-worthy bike, there’s the Biomega ($2,000), a chain-free model invented by a Danish designer, where they know a thing or two about biking. Every single bike is a head-turner and a conversation piece. Adeline Adeline solves the problem of where to buy a fashionable, practical bike in this city. But it introduces another problem. Parking. No way would your sparkly new Biomega last the night on a city street.

Adeline Adeline, 147 Reade Street, NY, NY, 212-227-1150, www.adelineadeline.com

6 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. April 12th, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I have tried a few of the new vintage style bikes and although I really wanted to love them, I just could not get used to the way they rode. After years of city-riding with skinny tires, the bikes seemed somehow too slow and too soft.

    I wonder if this is a common complaint of Adeline Adeline customers? Or, do they stock bikes that are somehow avoid this problem.

  2. April 12th, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    OMG! I’m so happy you did a story on this… I am in the midst of trying to buy a road bike and am finding it to be a painful experience. Its difficult to get answers to questions you don’t know you have! It seems like someone out there has to have more information about women’s needs or recommendations when it comes to biking, but its clearly missing from a lot of local bike shops (run mostly by men).

  3. April 18th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Finally a store that specializes in bikes that look good!

  4. December 3rd, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    […] all the style props. But cycling fashion is moving into high gear thanks to chic bike stores like Adeline Adeline andSoul Cycle’s foray into fashion design. Its truest champion, however, is emerging Brooklyn […]

  5. May 3rd, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    […] all the style props. But cycling fashion is moving into high gear thanks to chic bike stores like Adeline Adeline andSoul Cycle’s foray into fashion design. Its truest champion, however, is emerging Brooklyn […]

  6. September 24th, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    […] bicycles and accessories that are as artful in design as they are functional to ride. After reading glowing reviews about them and browsing their online catalog, I had to see Adeline Adeline in person. I was not […]

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