Thursday, March 2, 2017

Bicycle un-chic

I really like colorful bicycles. For instance, this Marin Four Corners Elite:
Photo owned by Marin Bicycles.
That is a beautiful bike. Though honestly I prefer bikes of a single color. This is my bike:

I also like the splash of red the pannier adds. And the dirt on the tires gives it class.

When I was shopping for a new bike (an ongoing process), one of the bikes I looked at came in two colors: mint green or black. But if I wanted the mint green (which I would), I would have to special order it. I wondered why this was, and was told that when they stocked the mint green, people asked for it in black. No one ever asked for the mint green.

Well, I do live in the San Francisco Bay area. For the most part, black is the color of clothing here. Maybe that extends to bikes. I have seen my share of bike ninjas on my pre-sunrise commute. (If you haven't heard that term, bike ninja, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association defines them as "Bicyclists who ride unlit at night, or under low visibility conditions." I might describe a bike ninja a little more simply and just say black clothes, black bike, no lights at any time.)

So I did the obsessive nerd thing. I googled "most popular bike colors" and guess what I came up with? Black. Apparently that's the most popular color nationwide.

I wonder why. Is there a cool factor? That can't be it. Most of the really cool people have purple bikes. Is it because people think that black bikes are inconspicuous and therefore won't attract the attention of bicycle thieves? I would think that an inconspicuous bike would be more of a target for bike thieves.

Would you steal this bike? It's not distinctive at all, right?

I certainly wouldn't be able to pick this one out of a line-up.
I continue to wonder: what is it about black bikes? I would most likely get one if it happened to be a bike that I really liked and couldn't get in any other color (I almost did, but it was a clearance item and it sold before I could raise the funds), but...I dunno. Give me a blue, purple, or orange bike any day. Or even red or green.

If anyone has any opinions on this, feel free to comment. I'm truly curious.


  1. Black bikes...ugh. I think you're onto something, comparing bike color with clothing color. It's understated, maybe less of a theft magnet? I don't find black frames appealing at all. Interestingly, there are more black accessories than silver, which has confounded me when searching for a variety of racks for Miss Clementine. And think about the availability of all black tires. 10 years ago, black was the only color available; now gumwalls, thankfully, are making a comeback. Hopefully bicycle frames will follow suit.

    1. Funny you mention gumwall tires -- I've been looking at Compass tires as a possibility. A little pricey, but not more so than Schwalbe tires. I don't mind black accessories -- I think they set off the color on a nice bike. :)