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Cycling into spring


26/03/2013



Admittedly, it may not feel like Spring with the recent Arctic weather we’ve been having recently, but we had a moment of sunshine this afternoon near the Bikeminded office which reminded me of how nice it is to cycle in the springtime.

 

We’ve always enjoyed the gorgeous Beg Bicycles blog so jumped at the opportunity to find out a bit more about them. We’re sure you’ll agree, they make some fantastic looking bicycles and lust worthy accessories. We’re particularly partial to their Beg Betty, and judging by the number we’ve spotted around Notting Hill… you are too! In fact, with those pretty pastels, these could be the perfect bikes for Spring. Today, we speak to Catherine Turner from Beg Bicycles…

 

 

1.    What inspired you to start Beg Bicycles?

 

It all started when I took up daily city cycling whilst living in Paris three years ago with my then baby daughter on the back, and was totally inspired by the elegance and ease of which Parisians cycle around their city, looking drop-dead gorgeous (the women and men!), heels on (and sometimes the men!), bags draped over handlebars, the lot!   So that’s when we at BEG were inspired to start a bicycle business that had style and luxury at its core.

 

There were so many environmental and social reasons that led us to feel the time was right for a classically designed, Sit Up and Beg style bike brand with coordinating accessories. Rising fuel prices, increasing awareness about the benefits of daily exercise and an increasing need for a sense of local community in these uncertain times were all key factors that mean that cycling is back on the agenda. I was very interested in what happened in Paris, a notoriously busy city with some crazy driving, but where the city’s Velib bike rental scheme has been embraced by Parisian’s with gusto. There are now 20,000 of these rental bikes on the roads, and double the amount of cyclists with their own bikes than before the scheme was introduced and an increasingly bike-friendly infrastructure with more and more bike lanes and cycle parks. Inspired by all that and with the help of friends and family, Beg Bicycles was born last year.

 

2.    Your bicycles come in gorgeous colours, what kind of reaction do the bicycles get?  

 

Ah… the colours!  People always mention the colours before any other aspect of the bicycle spec!  We deliberated long and hard over the colours and always anticipated that there would be a clear favourite amongst customers, yet they are all equally popular.  The brand does tend to illicit a very emotional reaction when people see it.  There’s always a lot of lustful sighing and cooing and one lady was convinced that her grandmother had had one of the bicycles. A mid-wife even shed a tear because they reminded her of her old bike she used on her rounds.

 

The Beg Bella

 

3.    How can people order from Beg Bicycles?  

 

We are essentially an online retail business (www.begbicycles.com), although the very nature of our bicycles means that we tend to get to know our customers pretty well before they buy one.  We like to talk through the sizing, make sure our customers have chosen a model that will suit their needs best and so on.  We also operate an appointment service from our offices in Cambridgeshire and welcome people visiting to try out the bicycles and get a feel for them first.

 

4.    You stock some fun accessories, what is your top selling one?  

 

The old-school satchels are really popular, particular with urban cyclists, because you can just sling them over one shoulder and go, and as we gear up for summer, we find that our saddle-strap picnic blankets sell really well.  They clip onto the back of classic Brooks saddles.  Some customers manage to slip a cheeky bottle of rose in there too – and Bob’s your uncle!

 

The stylish Beg picnic rug

 

5.    What is your earliest cycling memory?  

 

Aside from the classic dim and distant memory of my poor father, back-breakingly running along behind me, one hand on the saddle shouting “Keep pedalling! You can do it!” as I finally grasped the whole no-stabiliser’s thing, my first REAL memory of proper cycling is of my mother taking us on summery evening cycle rides along the river Ouse in Cambridgeshire.
We’d end up at Houghton Mill and if we were really lucky, we’d be allowed a lemonade and a packet of crisps in one of the village pubs!  Then when I was a teenager, my best friend Helen and I would cycle exactly the same route in between exam revision.  (We even once found an old bicycle in a skip and set up a ‘workshop’ in her parents garage, sprayed the bike yellow and bought a basket for it).  Who ever knew what was to come!

 

6.    Do you have any tips for keeping stylish on the bicycle?

 

There is only one tip that I have and that is ‘if you have any sense of style whatsoever, that style will only be amplified by being ON a bicycle”.

 

Some Beg Cycle Style

 

7.    What would be your dream outfit for matching to a Beg Bicycle?

 

It would probably have to involve Bensimon plimsolls of any colour, a dress of vintage descent and a big pair of sunglasses, accessorised with the sun shining very brightly.  That does happen from time to time, right?

 

8.    You write a beautiful blog, how hard do you find it to come up with new content?  

 

Thank you – and the feeling is mutual! I thought it would be hard when I stared the blog, but I seem to have a backlog of things that I never get round to covering.  It was always my intention to have a ‘technical’ section for example, that demystifies things like hub gears, and bottom brackets. That will come! Cycling is so on the agenda right now that there is a lot of inspiration around online and via other brands and the ever-increasing (yay!) cycling community. I will get through that backlog.  I WILL!

 

 

9.    We love your Bicycle Bell(e)s interviews, do you keep in touch with your customers?  

 

Yes, we do with lots of them, which is one of the best parts about owning this kind of business.  We love hearing about how they are getting on with their bicycles and how its become a part of their everyday lives.  We’re doing a monthly interviews with different customers on the blog, and are hoping to show what a diverse group of people they are, and how our bicycles suit all sorts of lifestyles.  We were invited to a Thanksgiving lunch with one of our American customers living here, and are hoping to visit another one of our customers who lives in Burgundy, France this summer.

 

10.  Where do you suggest our Bikeminded community cycle if they visit Cambridge?  

 

A classic, but rightly so, route that us folk round here enjoy is the towpath ride from Cambridge city centre out to Grantchester, across the meadows and winding up in the Orchard Tearoom, where you can lounge in a vintage deckchair amongst the apple trees, read the papers and eat scones. Heaven!  Let us know if you’re headed this way… love to see you!

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