If you’re gonna ride a bike, ride a rad one
Chico is bike crazy. And, as a top ‘bicycle-friendly community” (No. 1 in the country, according to 1997 Bicycling Magazine survey), the super-fanatics and gear-heads dominate the town’s bike image. You see fleets of them—their softball calves cranking through Bidwell Park on frames that cost more than a used car, sporting a second skin of black and hot-pink space-fabric. There’s also the mountain goats, hopping down Upper Park trails, covered in mud and gripping hand brakes all the way.
The other half of the picture—which includes many of the several thousand of you who just moved/moved-back to town—just digs the fact that Chico is so damn flat. And whether it’s time for class, time for a burrito run or just happy hour, there is only one ride to get you there: the cruiser.
Most of the cruisers in local bike racks are of the Schwinn one-speed beach cruiser variety—big curved frame, comfy seat and nice fat tires. Those are good bikes, and they will get you to where you want to go, but where’s the fun in that? Even though you may not know it yet, you want to be different. You want to stand out in this busy bike town.
‘My demographic is just about everybody—except for the elitists,” says Chico Bike & Board owner Brian Dallenbach. One look at one of the several rows of bikes, where long chopper forks stick out at least 4 feet in front of motorcycle handlebars, and it’s obvious that any ‘elitist” bike geek is not going to dig what this guy’s selling. This is the new style, and this is where you want to come to get an original ride.
The cruisers in Bike & Board shop fall into four categories: your basic cruiser; the ‘fashion bikes"—cruisers tricked out with Hello Kitty or John Deere artwork and super fat tires; chopper bikes, of course; and the low-riders—stretched-out banana-seat beauties with sky-high handlebars.
Dallenbach points to bike-design guru Gary Silva as the originator of chopper-style bikes. Silva helped popularize these specialty bikes at his Huntington Beach-based Phat Cycles (Silva has since left Phat and now focuses on design at his new 3G Bikes), and now tricked-out bikes from Phat and others, like Nirve, Del Sol, Felt, Boardwalk, American Flyer and Orange Cruiser can be found at Bike & Board, Cherry Bikes and most of the other bike shops in town. “Not only [are these bikes] a piece of transportation,” adds Dallenbach, “It’s a form of communication. It’s a fashion statement, [and] you don’t have to be Lance Armstrong to get involved. That’s what makes it really fun.”Where it’s rad:
Chico Bike & Board
845 Main St.
748 W. Fifth St.
330 Main St.
Eighth and Main streets
698 Mangrove Ave.
Park Plaza Center
The Bicycle Wheel
130B W. East Ave.
North Valley Cycles
2590 Cohasset Road