In car-centric Christchurch, it still feels a brave call. Charlotte Bebbington and Ken Ching have opened a shop in the central city selling chic urban commuter bikes.
Bebbington is a young graphic designer returned after eight years in Shanghai. Ching is a Singaporean whose family developed the eZee Kinetic electric-bike range.
And their store – Action Bicycle Club – is certainly something different.
The usual Christchurch cycle shop is a shrine to sweat and testosterone. All fluro go-faster gear and grunty mountain bikes or spindly road racers.
Action Bicycles sells step-throughs with full fenders, chain guards, bike stands and sturdy carrier racks.
Bebbington says not only are these traditional push-bikes practical, they are meant to spell out that life is not a perpetual race with cars. It is OK to pedal the roads at a gentle pace in the clothes you want to be wearing wherever it is you are going, a real psychological shift for Christchurch cycling.
Bebbington shows off the fashion-forward range of helmets for women. You can have a lid in fake crocodile skin or faux leopard pelt. There are special handbags with hidden clips that click on the back rack.
For rain, you want these simple ponchos, she says. Again wrong for speed, but right for urban cycling.
“The customers are young professional women in their 30s. They’ve seen the fashion ads of a girl on a step-through with a wicker basket, riding down to her local cafe,” Bebbington says.
Ching shows off the more functional looking e-bike range. Battery assisted, this is another way of getting around in ordinary work clothes without a sense of battle and sweat.