• Improving Your Daily Commute: Bike Your Way to Happy and Healthy

    0 comments / Posted by Megan Scott

     Traffic is stoopid.

    Ever stop to think about how many hours you spend in a car every day? According to one study, Americans spend on average 46 minutes in the car every day sitting in traffic. That’s a good chunk of minutes to be wasting. Regardless of how productively you spend that time, whether you’re going over impending presentations or use it as a mental break to listen to music and daydream, switching from car to bike to get to work is all kinds of good for you.

    Physical Health Benefits

    We all know it: exercise is a necessity for healthy living. But we all also know how hard it can be to find time to actually exercise. But changing one habit and switching from riding in a car to pedaling on a bicycle is an easy way to squeeze in some workout time. If you’re leaving home to go to work anyway, why wouldn’t you take advantage of the situation and multitask? Commute + leg day – post-traffic 8PM workout = a way happier you.

    Wait, but what about arriving to work all sweaty and having a big presentation first thing in the morning? Alright, calm down. We’re not suggesting that you ride a bike like you’re training for the Tour de France. Steady pedaling will suffice. Who knows? The breeze might even be enough to keep you cool. If you’re still nervous about it though, throw a fresh and delicately folded shirt and some deodorant into your backpack and get on your way.

    Have you ever contemplated the origin of the phrase, “it’s just like riding a bike?” Well, here it is. Even if you haven’t ridden a bicycle in years, you’ll be able to get right back into it. If you’re nervous about not being in the best shape of your life, that’s okay, too! Cycling is great for improving endurance, cardiovascular fitness, joint mobility, weight control, posture, and coordination. It’s low impact, so it’s less stressful on the body, specifically the joints, than other forms of exercise, and it builds strength holistically (working against resistance and your own body weight, pushing down into the pedals, pulling and pushing off the handlebars, leaning into turns). Every part of the body is involved. But you can take it slow, don’t be afraid to ease into it. When you build up some endurance and strength, you’ll find that your daily commute is less challenging than when you began. Who knows, you might even find yourself looking forward to it! 

     

    Mental Health Benefits

    Want to be in a better mood? Bicycle. Want to sleep more soundly? Bicycle. Want improved memory and concentration? Bicycle. Want to reduce stress and anxiety? Bicycle.

    Physical activity benefits your mental health like nobody’s business. Cycling to work gives you the opportunity to appreciate the environment around you. Soak up the benefits of being outside. Fresh air, vitamin D, and feel good brain chemicals (like serotonin and dopamine) improve your mood. Being in the sun also helps to put your body back in line with its natural circadian rhythms, which promotes deep sleep. And deep sleep allows your brain to clean out plaque buildup. Who wouldn’t benefit from a tidier brain?

    Cycling gets the blood flowing, which helps to create new brain cells as well as improve communication and functionality of existing brain cells. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, a mere 30 minutes of cycling at moderate intensity can improve cognitive capabilities, including memory, reasoning, and planning. Cycling can also put your mind at ease. Studies have found decreased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression in people who exercise at least a little. Simply put, cycling helps to get your happy on! 

     

    Ecological Benefits

    Trading in your morning drive for a morning bike ride is not only healthier for you physically and mentally, but also ecologically. While you’re breathing in fresh air and absorbing warm sun, you’re reducing your carbon footprint and the international astronomical over-consumption of oil.

    According to another study by Texas A&M, individual commuters wasted an average of 19 gallons of fuel in 2014, which came out to approximately $960 per commuter. Even hybrid cars require a good amount of gas, indispensable batteries, and sometimes electricity to recharge. It goes without saying (but we’re going to say it anyway): bikes use no fuel.

    Bikes are significantly less expensive to purchase and maintain. Bikes require less energy to manufacture. Bikes don’t require toxic batteries. The League of American Bicyclists estimated the annual cost of biking to work at $308 compared to a cost of $10,907 for driving to work. The disparity between these two costs is important to note!

     

    Make the Switch

    If you live in a large metropolitan area and spend hours stuck in traffic every day, think about the positive impact you can make on your own life by switching out your car for your bike a few days per week! Reduced stress and toned muscles are only two solid benefits you’ll experience.

    Remember to begin slowly. Ease into it. After one month of commuting on a bike, examine any benefits and changes you’ve noticed. Then keep on keeping on.

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  • Valentine's Day Gift Guide

    0 comments / Posted by Megan Scott

    The 14th of February is almost upon us. Perhaps you’re looking forward to it so you can have a day to celebrate your loved ones. Or perhaps you’re looking forward to celebrating with your girls in true Galentine’s Day fashion. Or perhaps you’re looking forward to celebrating yourself! Whoever you are trying to gift, we have some great options available.

    Critical Cycles's Valentine's Day Gift Guide

     

    1-CityLites ($19.99): This interlocking head and tail bike light is compact and powerful. When the two pieces are attached to your bike, they shine brightly, and when the two pieces are attached to each other, they shut off. It’s a lot like cuddling.

    2-Step-Thru Seven-Speed City Bike ($299.99): This darling bicycle has a Dutch-style frame with a lower standover height to make getting on and off easy. This fully equipped lady’s bicycle is the perfect present to tell your girl she’s awfully special. Available in a variety of colors.

    3-Track Pedals with Leather Straps ($21.99): These pedals with genuine leather straps will make any bike reminiscent of a classic velo bike. Keep it classy this Valentine’s Day.

    4-Classic Commuter Helmets ($24.99): Keep your beloved’s cabeza intact with a classic commuter helmet.

    5-Bondi-2 Bike Light Set ($9.99): Light up your lovely’s life with a set of small but bright bike lights.

    6-Ergonomic Grips ($7.99): Like loving someone, cycling can be hard on your body. Grab a set of these ergonomic grips to reduce the pressures of riding so you can ride a little harder and love a little harder.

    7-Dreamcatcher Basket (from $27.99): Hand-woven and double reinforced, these baskets will protect your beloved’s items as she or he goes from A to B.

    8-Mixte Frame Three-Speed Urban Coaster ($279.99): This bike is optimized for city riding and is equipped with a coaster brake and a three-speed internal hub. It has a little bit of everything for your special someone. Available in turquoise and coral.

    9-Diamond Frame Single-Speed City Bike ($249.99): This single-speed city bike is the counterpart to our step-thru city bike. No one would dare accuse you of being matchy-matchy if you got two.

    10-KMC Chains (from $5.99): This isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey. Keep it lowkey with colorful KMC chains for a touch of personalization.

    11-Kryptonite Locks (from $9.95): Defend your sweetheart’s bike (and honor) with a lock from Kryptonite. (Kryptonite even guarantees your bike’s safety with some of these locks!)

    12-Drone Bike Headlight ($16.99): Your sunshine will appreciate this solar-powered bike headlight.

    13-Fixed-Gear with Pista Handlebars and a Flip-Flop Hub ($219.99): One love. One bike. Our fixed-gear bikes come with a flip-flop hub so your honey can ride it as a fixie or a single-speed with a freewheel.

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  • A Brief Comparison of the Critical Cycle Fixie to the Takara Kabuto

    0 comments / Posted by Megan Scott

    You’ve finally made the decision to ride a fixed-gear bicycle. Good for you. You’ve decided to take all of the control into your own hands. We’re so proud. But the time has come to choose a fixed-gear bicycle. What to do, what to do? You may be thinking, “Oh me, oh my, there is such a vast variety of fixies to choose from.” Worry not, dear friend. Let us lead you and you’ll leave a more informed cyclist.


    Red Pill or Blue Pill? The choice is yours.
    If you really want a delicious warm and gooey doughnut with rainbow sprinkles on it, you wouldn’t settle for a three-day old “jelly” filled pastry, would you? No. At the end of the day, you want what you want. If you wouldn’t compromise on a rainbow-sprinkle-just-out-of-the-oven doughnut, why would you compromise on your mode of transportation?


    The Critical Cycles Fixie has 17 color options, 5 sizes, and 2 handlebar options to choose from. We’re not math majors, but we’re giving you about 170 options. The Takara Kabuto has two colors and two sizes. Again, we’re not math majors over here, but that’s four options, right? Yeah, four. We live in a world with nearly infinite options. Some are more difficult to make than others, but this one doesn’t have to be.


    The Red Pill
    Aside from choosing exactly the bicycle you want, the better-built Critical Cycles Fixie keeps your ride safe and smooth. The tig-welded frame is accompanied by an alloy crank and an alloy seat post, both of which are ultimately the better and lighter choices for this already lightweight fixed-gear. Oh yeah, and we’ve got a fancy leather foot strap on light alloy pedals.


    The Takara Kabuto may not look like the cyclists’ enemy, but it is. This WalMart bike has a quill stem, rather than our threadless stem on our Fixie with BMX handlebars. The threadless stem is ultimately lighter and stronger and allows the rider to easily center it without disrupting the handlebar height.


    The Critical Cycles fixed-gear bicycle has a sealed bearings bottom bracket, which outlasts loose ball bottom brackets by a lifetime. While the latter requires more service more often and will need to be replaced soon after virtually any wear, our sealed bearings will withstand varying weather, road, and riding conditions and are particularly necessary in commuting environments to keep out moisture and dirt.

    Critical Cycles Fixed-Gear Pista Bicycle
    In addition to the lightweight accessories and sturdier stem and bottom bracket, our Pista Fixie has double wall rims as opposed to the Takara Kabuto’s single-wall rims. Although there is virtually no weight discrepancy between single and double wall rims (i.e. double-wall rims don’t add weight to the bike), the construction makes a significant difference when it comes to brawn and stability. These stiffer rims are much harder to bend.


    Flip-Flop Hub
    Sure, both the Pista Fixie and the Takara Kabuto have flip-flop hubs so you can alternate between fixed-gear and freewheel. But do you really want to be riding a bike that lacks a sealed bearings bottom bracket? Letting all that moisture and dirt get into the bicycle? Naw, man. And do you really want to be riding on a bike that has single wall rims rather than double wall rims? That’s another no. And besides, our flip-flop hubs are bit easier to change.


    Dolla, Dolla Bills, Ya’ll
    We get it, money is a consideration for a lot of people. The price point of these two bicycles are comparable, though the Takara Kabuto is about $20 cheaper. But that’s only because you’re getting close to bottom of the barrel bits and pieces. Our single-speed fixed-gear bike has been thoughtfully loaded with Protek cranks, a Sunrun freewheel, a KMC chain, Well-Go pedals, and Promax brakes. Each of these mechanisms have been carefully considered to bring you a bike that will be dependable for years to come.


    Go on, Grasshopper
    You have read this article and will presumably make a decision imminently. Go on, get outta here, and cycle happily.

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  • One of the Best Bicycles for Women

    0 comments / Posted by Megan Scott

    Where the women at? According to a survey completed by the National Sporting Goods Association, about 39.5 million people in the United States cycle, which is about 13% of the U.S. population. But a mere 29% of the cycling population is comprised of women. Why don’t we represent a bigger portion of cyclists? As I am of the female variety myself, I can see an assortment of reasons that would keep me off a bike and in the comfort of my car, my ripped-seated-air-conditioning-less car.

    1 – It’s uncomfortable 2 – It’s dangerous 3 – It’s rigorous…err, maybe I’m lazy

    Critical Cycles offers a solution to the first and second concerns with the Step-Thru City Bike, which proves to be one of the best bikes for women available. (…I think I need to find a solution for the third.)

    Frame
    This Dutchie style accommodates our body proportions better because the distance between the handlebars to the seat post is a smidge smaller than that of other bikes. This city bike also permits an upright riding position as opposed to having to lean forward, which 1-makes riding in everyday clothes easier and 2-preserves your back. The actual structure of the frame of the bicycle is a step-thru, which was traditionally preferred by the cycling ladies of the 1800s to accommodate their attire. The 61.3º angle of the head tube (the top bar of the bike) allows for easy mounting and dismounting because there isn’t a high bar to avoid. This also prevents stretching of clothes when getting on and off the bike (and encourages the wearing of sundresses as there’s no awkward pole between your legs, lifting the skirt of the dress as you ride).

    Saddle

    The brains behind the design of these bikes also incorporated a shorter and wider saddle that is more comfortable for women to ride. This seat style feels better on the sit bones, while thinner, longer saddles are generally intended for men.

    Wheels

    The 700c size wheels are ideal for any kind of riding. Whether commuting in the city, exercising those legs, or taking a stroll under the moonlight along the boardwalk with your honey, these wheels provide a smooth ride from sunrise to sunset and then some.

     

    Critical Cycles Seven-Speed Step-Thru City Bicycle

     

    Shifters

    This Critical Cycles bike comes with grip twist shifters, which gives you the control you want. You can shift gears without removing your hands or loosening your grip, unlike thumb shifters and downtube shifters. These are much more convenient and comfortable.

    Critical Cycles Seven-Speed Step-Thru City Bicycle Shifter
    But wait…there’s more!

    Critical Cycles's step-through bicycle comes with a light, a bell, a rack, and fenders. These features not only extend the retro vibe of the bicycle, but also pacify safety and convenience concerns. The mid-century headlamp has two modes, steady and flashing, to choose from. Most bicycles sold around town and on the interwebs don’t offer these accessories within the sale of the bike.

    Savvy Shoppers: Shop Savvy at CriticalCycles.com

    Women have a reputation for being shoppers. And some women have a reputation for being savvy shoppers (I’d like to put myself in this category). Regardless of whether or not you identify with either of the aforementioned stereotypes, everyone likes a good deal. Critical Cycles’s goal is to provide customers with the best bargain possible. We want our customers to be as happy as we are when cycling and we want you to feel like you made a sound investment. Critical Cycles can offer factory-direct prices because we remove the middleman. We design, manufacture, and distribute these babies so you can get out riding even if you are on a budget. Or, you are like me and just really, really like a good deal.

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  • Why Fixed Gear Bikes Make Great Commuter Bikes

    0 comments / Posted by Megan Scott

    Now that you’ve made the decision to start commuting by bike, it’s time to figure out what type of bike to purchase. Whether you’re trying to go green, save green, or make others green with envy over your new fit body, you will need to look at a lot of options in order to select the right bike for you and your commute. This can seem like a daunting task, but luckily there is one type of bike that works for almost any commute and that is a fixed gear bike. Not sure why these make such great commuter bikes? Read on.

    Critical Cycles Fixed Gear


    The Science of the Thing
    Fixed gear bikes are bikes without a freewheel. This means that if the wheels are in motion, the pedals are too. If you’re not used to a fixed gear bike, one of the first things you’ll notice is that you can’t coast, even if you’re going downhill. You have to keep the pedals going around to keep the bike moving forward. If physical fitness is part of your motivation for becoming a bicycle commuter, you will very quickly see why fixed gear bikes make great commuter bikes. You are fully physically engaged the whole time you’re on the bike. This burns more calories and builds more muscle. This effect is enhanced by uneven terrain since you can’t make it easier on yourself by shifting gears.


    The Maintenance of the Thing
    Ease of maintenance is another reason why fixed gear bikes make great commuter bikes. Fixed gear bikes have far fewer parts than multi-gear bikes. They require very little maintenance and last for years. This will keep you sticking to your bicycle commute for several reasons. First, you won’t have to worry about constant repair, and you can just enjoy the ride. Second, if your bike isn’t broken, you won’t have a good excuse not to ride it. Third, since they have so few components, fixed gear bikes weigh much less than multi-gear bikes. This makes them much easier to transport upstairs if your lifestyle requires it.

    Critical Cycles Maintenance


    The Fun of the Thing
    Fun is always a factor. If you enjoy riding your bike to work, you’re much more likely to stick with it. Many avid cyclists, even those who ride mountain or road bikes, choose fixed gear bikes because they provide the most enjoyable ride. That’s because the fixed gear bike’s motion and the rider’s motion on the pedals are in sync. This makes you feel more connected to the bike and the ground. The bike almost feels like part of your body.
    Besides being simply enjoyable, this connection with the bike also has an impact on your safety since you will receive better feedback from the road. In hazardous or complicated situations, particularly in crowded urban areas, this will improve your alertness and response time if something unexpected pops up.


    Regardless of your reasons for deciding to commute by bicycle, fixed gear bikes make great commuter bikes because they simplify the process of getting to work via bicycle. If you are ready to give fixed gear bikes a try, check out our full selection. We cut out the middleman, so you won’t get a better deal on the highest-quality fixed gear bicycles.

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