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The Uncommon Life

Show Your Bicycle Pride!

May 19, 2011

Not only are we in the middle of National Bike to Work Week (May 16-20), May is National Bike Month! You can show your bike pride while peddling to work, enjoying a weekend ride through the park or by sporting some bicycle-inspired gear.

So spread the word about National Bike Month, and check out a few of our favorite ways to share your love for those two-wheeled transportation sensations!

1.) Bicycle Built for Two Spin-off Necklace

Bike Necklace

Made in New York, this playful pendant celebrates biking, movement and fun. The twirling medallion features a bicyclist on one side and a woman dancing on the other. Give it a spin and a la flipbook the image becomes a bicycle built for two!

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The Uncommon Life

Biking to Work

May 15, 2011

May 16-20 is Bike to Work Week, and it’s the perfect time of year to give your bike a tune-up, and start pedaling.

I checked in with Mindy, our HR manager, who has been biking regularly in 2006. She’s been testing out our new Cycle Care Kit, $15, to see if it helps her keep her bike in great shape.

Made in Atlanta, the Cycle Care Kit has a selection of bike care products, along with bug repellent, to make sure your daily bike commute, or weekend bike trip, goes smoothly.

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The Uncommon Life

Anyone up for a game of bike polo?

July 12, 2010

bike polo

Definitely not for the faint of heart, bike polo is an up-and-coming urban sport that requires some serious grit and skills. Check out the full story about this uncommon sport by the Wall Street Journal.

bike polo

Hey! We know that guy! That’s UncommonGoods CEO Dave Bolotsky and his family taking in a game of bike polo at the Lower East Side court, known as The Pit.


The Historical Conquests of the Bicycle

May 21, 2010

I’d like to start off this post with one of my favorite quotes about the bicycle from a Baltimore minister in 1896:

“[It is] a diabolical device of the demon of darkness … imbued with a wild and satanic nature.”

Whoa! Talk about a rough start. But that is the how the bike began. With criticism like this, it’s amazing that the bike even survived to modern times.

The bicycle has been rolling along now for nearly 200 years. It has undergone multiple transformations, endured harsh criticism and even changed the face of fashion. This seemingly simple machine inspired automobiles, plane designs and modern roads. It helped the campaign for women’s rights, expanded people’s worlds, and, today, it is enjoyed across the world over as a way to exercise, commute or just enjoy a nice day.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, in honor of Bike to Work Day, I present to you: the history of the bicycle!

Rolling through history

Imagine a bike made entirely out of wood: no means of steering, no brakes, no pedals and an animal head in front. That’s what the first versions of the bike looked like. Mede de Sivrac invented a two-wheeled device in 1790 that was basically a rocking horse with wheels. Although the origins of the bike are disputed, historians consider this invention an inspiration to the modern bicycle.


In 1817, Karl von Drais replaced the head with steering bars and a less bulky design. Although primitive, the steering capabilities sent this version into further development. This slight alteration earned von Drais the title “Father of the Bicycle”, even though the invention was impractical for long-distance travel. Not to mention, it scared the locals. According to Riding High: The Story of the Bicycle by Arthur Palmer, adults and town leaders thought von Drais’ contraption was dangerous and threatened to expel him from the streets if he didn’t give up his crazy ideas.


Von Drais’ bike mainly was used for downhill riding and involved a lot of awkward pushing and coasting. Kirkpatrick Macmillan, a blacksmith from Scotland, didn’t find this propulsion method practical. In 1838, he added pedals to the frame, which allowed riders to propel themselves without touching the ground. This version was the first practical bicycle.

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The Uncommon Life

Bike to the Future

May 19, 2010

Bike Week

These days, I spend most of my time at a desk, pecking away at my keyboard, talking on the phone, and sitting in meetings.  But twice a day, I get to be free, riding through the streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side and the industrial corridors of Brooklyn.  And, to boot, when I commute, I save time – it’s actually quicker than the subway.

When I moved to NYC in the ’80s, I biked quite a bit – my favorite ride was out to Fire Island at the crack of dawn, before the beach traffic kicked in.  I also liked riding in the city, especially up to Central Park, though a cab hit me once and snapped my bike frame in two.  Fortunately, Frank’s, my local bike shop was able to replace the frame and it’s served me well ever since.

In recent years, there’s been a biking revolution in NYC – thanks to the work of the bicycling advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives, and the visionary Transportation Commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan.  Bike lanes have cropped up throughout the city, across the Manhattan to Brooklyn bridges and on many streets, making commuting by bike a bit safer.

There’s a lot of debate about “sharing the road.”  With a limited amount of public pavement, we need to decide how to allocate this resource between pedestrians, cyclists, cars and buses.  The car has been the king for many years, but now people are wondering if we’ve got it right.

So get out this Friday, ride your bike and show your support for cycling –  May 21st is National Bike to Work Day!

Gift Guides

Tour de Style

May 19, 2010

In honor of bike week, we rounded up some of our favorite gifts for cycling enthusiasts. Happy biking!

Bike Gifts

Starting at the top, from left to right: If Mode bike, $2200; recycled bike chain frame, $32; bear and cow seat covers, $20; map of the world water bottle, $18; recycled bike tube Night Out card case, $15; recycled bike chain bottle opener, $9 ; bicycle tie, $35 ; recycled bike gear clock, $76 ; recycled bike tire belt, $30 ; NYC skyline leg bands for biking, $22; walk and ride organic cotton babysuits, $25; recycled bike chain bowl, $63.50; recycled bike tube Queen Anne wallet, $58 ; Strida bike, $800; recycled bike chain lizard keyring, $18.

The Uncommon Life

Happy Bike Week!

May 18, 2010

Bike Week

So this is a little belated…but Happy Bike Week everyone!

For those of you who don’t know, May is national bike month and May 17-21 is Bike-to-Work
Week with Friday, May 21 being the big hurrah – Bike-to-Work Day!

Stay tuned this week for more posts about cycling…until now here are some resources and fun stuff about cycling:

Check out the League of American Bicyclists they have a lot of great news articles and blog posts, as well a tool to help you find bike resources (clubs, leagues, shops, etc.) in your area.

Ride the City is another super useful site that helps you find the best urban biking route, ranging from direct, safe and safer. Available for New York, Chicago, DC Metro, Austin, Louisville, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Toronto.

And now for some fun stuff…

Matt, Al and Meredith battle it on The Today Show in this year’s commuter challenge: bike vs. subway vs. car.

And of course, how to make a smoothie using a human-powered bike blender!

Do you bike to work? Are you going to try biking to work this week? Let us know! And if you have any other cool cycling websites or tips to share, please do so in the comments section. Happy Biking!