Christopher’s Guide to Being Cool, part one: Bicycles

It used to be that bicycles were only popular with environmentalists, chavs and the Dutch, but no more! If you want to be cool, you’re going to need a bicycle.

First thing’s first, it can’t be flashy. Choppers are acceptable and if you’re happy settling for second best then well done you. Don’t get one with gears or suspension and definitely don’t get a fold-up bike. If someone tries to sell you one with gears and/or suspension, sigh despairingly and loftily say “Look, I just need something to get me from A to B” the same way you told the clerk in the mobile phone shop “Look, I just need something that can make calls and send texts.” This shows that you lead a life above and uncluttered by modern machinery’s geeky complexities. If you want to be cool, you can’t be too knowledgeable about anything vaguely mechanical unless it’s creative gadgetry (there’ll be more information on this in the up-coming section on technology).

Secondly, and this is very important: don’t get a new one. The older the bike someone has, the cooler they are. Seriously; Alice Glass rides a Penny Farthing.


You don’t buy new clothes, so why would you buy a new bike? Also, seeing as you’re cool, you’re probably an artist or a musician or some other bohemian type which in turn means you’re broke, so unless you dip into that trust fund that you never talk about there’s no way you can afford a new bike.

You could get a bike from eBay or Loot but if you want to be really cool and proper edgy you should get a “second-hand” bike from a “respectable businessperson” somewhere along Brick Lane. Ok so it might be a little bit stolen but then until your bike gets nicked, the London bike theft economy doesn’t affect you so, y’know, who cares?

If for some reason you can’t get a second-hand one, at least go to some lengths to make it look old. Get one with a matte, pastel colour frame and scuff it a bit with some rough sandpaper.

Your approach to bike safety gear – hair-flattening crash helmets and unflattering reflective gilets, etc. – comes down to a simple question: would you rather look good or be killed? If you had to think about this for even a split second then you’re not cool. Go back to your dull, sanitised life of seat-belts, white wine spritzers and condoms.


One element of safety you should care about is tucking your trouser cuffs into your socks so they don’t get mangled in the bike chain: it’d be a fashion tragedy. If you’re cool, your trousers should already be tight enough to rival Olivia “I had to be sewn into these“ Newton-John so the only real way you’d run this risk would be if you made a concerted effort to feed your leg into the cogs but that’s not the point. Upon dismounting your bike you should forget your trousers are like this and leave them tucked in. This way people will look at you and think “Wow, they must ride a bike; they’re dead cool.” This look was popular with Liverpudlian scallies in the late ‘90s but they’ve abandoned it for long enough now that cool people can pick up the torch without raising too many eyebrows.

Your trips between A and B may involve getting groceries and for this, you’re going to need a basket on the front. Realistically this should be thatched to further emphasise how in touch you are with simpler, computer-free times (bike bells serve a similar purpose). Also, thatched baskets will give people a better view of the cool things you put in it, like a Borough Market canvas bag full of organic vegetables.


You should get a bike lock so that your bike doesn’t end up in the hands of a respectable business person somewhere along Brick Lane but preferably a key lock one. Combination locks are pretty crass and you’re head’s going to be too preoccupied with being creative and intoxicated to remember the number anyway.

And those, ladies and gents, are the particulars of getting a cool bike. Remember to ride it about town but only to cool places and never when the weather’s looking dodgy.

Next time, I’ll be nonchalantly guiding you through the minefields of either eye wear or technology, I haven’t decided which yet.


4 thoughts on “Christopher’s Guide to Being Cool, part one: Bicycles

  1. Nice post!

    I used to feel dead uncool having an ‘old bike’ as a child but now I have one on my collection that is ‘vintage cool’.

    It means ‘I’m confident in myself’. I don’t have to ‘prove myself’. I have gone ‘beyond this posh bike’ and got something ‘better, a bit of real class’. Elegance even. OK it has one gear but it means ‘it will get me fit’, none of this ‘cheating’ malarky with gears. My bike has ‘history’, a ‘story’ to tell. My bike isn’t ‘old’, it’s ‘retro’. It’s not even one of these ‘ shiny new vintage types’ you see in some funky bike shops – it’s the ‘real mccoy’. It may be a bit scratched but then ‘there’s another story, maybe it got caught by some shrapnel in WW1 so if it can survive a war, blitzed roads, then it can cope with WW3 – ie London’s roads. And, it will stand the test of time, it won’t fall apart like some ‘silly posh bikes’ either. Also you get to get parts from an ‘exclusive’ supplier ie specialist.

    It is slow as hell but that’s ‘retro’ cool.

  2. Velochick, the fact that your bike is slow is most definitely a Good Thing. Whilst having the wind rushing through your hair can feel liberating, it’s murder for a carefully-engineered coif. A slower speed minimises wind damage and also lets you glide on by past less cool people to show them the way and the light, that they might strive to be like you.

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