A film about Duke's Bike Store for fans of a venerable bike store

Duke's - a making of a brand. A well-made short film, directed and edited by Jim Bachalo, about the Duke's Cycle bike shop that's been at 625 Queen Street West since 1914 (except for the short period following the fire that took down the whole building in 2008).

Curating a beater bike

David Chant, owner of Resist Gallery in Toronto, had enough of the cheap but disfunctional department store bikes. He decided to do something about it by "curating" a bike for the masses: the Beater Bike. Dave endeavoured to create an inexpensive bike that was still strong and practical for the urban experience. I went to its launch party at Dave's Gallery/Showroom.

These sturdy, steel bikes are assembled in Bulgaria and the frames come from China. Canadian tariffs are much lower on EU bikes compared to Chinese bikes: 15% versus 150%. Dave took the "Henry Ford approach of offering any colour the customer may want so long as it was army green. The costs are reduced by offering only one size, one colour, and two different frames: step-through and "regular".

The whole process started only 9 months ago, but was delayed by the unavailability of ships to Montreal due to the global recession. Despite the late launch Dave is confident that he'll sell them through the fall and chalk it up to a learning experience. Next year Dave is planning to offer an even more stripped down bike, possibly an "ugly" fixie or coaster brake with a front drum brake. He'll also be looking for bike stores to start stocking the Beater Bike.

Winter cyclist profile — Tanya the IT Coordinator

Name / Occupation / Age

Tanya Quinn/ IT Coordinator / 34

What do you use your bike for?

Everything! Commuting, shopping, visiting friends, crazy long day rides sightseeing small town Ontario, camping etc.

How often do you ride?

Pretty much every day. It’s my main mode of transport. Some days when I’m more local, I walk.

How long have you been commuting by bicycle and what made you decide to start?

It was six years ago that I became seriously committed. I had been taking the streetcar to work and I found it slow and unreliable. At first I was in bad shape, since I rarely got any exercise, and the streetcar I would have passed me while I was red-faced and lying on the boulevard trying to catch my breath. I kept doing it every day because I bought a bike computer and was fascinated watching my mileage go up and up. After 2 or 3 weeks it wasn’t so hard anymore.

What would you say to convince someone who is considering commuting by bicycle to go for it?

Just pick a nice day and try it out! Or try your commute on a Sunday. The perception of what it’s like to bike in traffic always seems worse than the reality.

When did you start commuting in winter and why?

Other people were doing it, I figured how bad can it be? The first winter I was commuting I had a long commute so I did half bike and half transit to avoid the unpleasant parts of the TTC trip.

Cyclist Profile - Cris the Bike Month organizer

Cyclist profiles are part of an ongoing series at Spacing and I Bike TO. In celebration of the season -- and the City's Bike Winter program -- I will now focus on winter cyclists!

Name / Occupation / Age
Christina Bouchard / Bike Month Organizer / 24

What do you use your bike for?
Transportation and Recreation.

How often do you ride?

How long have you been commuting by bicycle, what made you decide to start and what would you say to someone who is considering trying it for the first time?
When I moved to Toronto for my first year of University, I left my car in Ottawa. I was so thrilled to be out of the burbs and living downtown. I would say:

"Riding your bike is like chopping wood, it will warm you up as you go”.

“Think positive. It may be winter, but it’s still nice to be outside.”

When did you start commuting in winter and why?
By November of my first year, it became winter and I just kept going.

What are the biggest challenges for winter bikers in Toronto?
Be careful of the streetcar tracks.

What reaction do you get from co-workers?
My co-workers all get it, but there are plenty of others who seem to think that my genetic make-up is somehow different from them.

What's the best thing about commuting by bicycle in winter?

Cyclist Profile: Michal Kapral

Michal Kapral, 35, news editor/personal trainer

What sort of bike do you ride?
A Mango velomobile.

When did you start biking? How did you get started?
I saved up for a Bianchi racing bike when I was 14 and got addicted to pedal-powered speed.

How often do you commute by bike to work?
Now that my wife and I have the Mango, I'll be riding it to work every day

Briefly describe your commute.
I live in East York near Danforth and Woodbine, and work downtown near King and Church. Most of my route is in the bike lane on Dundas St. E. It's a great route.

What's your favourite bike store?
Well, it's not really a bike store, per say, but Bluevelo is the best place to get a velomobile.

Where do you park your bike when you get to work?
At the intersection of King and Toronto. I've befriended all the smokers who keep an eye on it for me.

What's your favourite thing about bike commuting?
I like to exercise while I commute. It's a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

Andrew Roy: Ecological Gardening Entrepreneur

Herb's comment: Andrew and I had a great talk about a lot of his ideas of how to expand bike-based businesses, using homes for a new green economy, and why he chose this particular bike trailer over more local versions or cargo bikes, but these I can provide in the comments if you are interested. As usual the interviewees are quite interesting folk! Read on...

Name / Occupation / Age:

Andrew Roy / Ecological Gardening Entrepreneur / 36

What do you use your bike for?

It's my main mode of personal transportation. For the business [Ed: Green Gardeners of Toronto], it used to be THE only vehicle - bike trailers are now used for certain jobs in certain areas.

Why did you chose to use bicycles for your business?

Our business was incubated from a project at the North Toronto Green Community (now Toronto Green Community). The idea was to have a zero emission gardening service both in terms of push mowing and hand tools as well as no trucks. We received support from EcoAction and we were off to the races.

Justin Lafontaine, Project Lead and Founder, Toronto-Niagara Bike Train Initiative

Name / Occupation / Age:

Justin Lafontaine, Project Lead and Founder, Toronto-Niagara Bike Train Initiative, 32

What do you use your bike for?

I use my bikes for everyday commuting, recreation, tootin’ about town (my favourite pastime) and folding bike rallies. This past year, I have also done several long distance, multi-day rides in Maine, Massachusetts, California, Germany and Austria. Travelling by bike is a fantastic way to explore new places and get off the beaten track – and you can work off those large servings of bratwursts and decadent pastries. I highly recommend it!

How often do you ride?

Daily, year-round except for heavy snowfall days (on those days I work from home).

How long have you been commuting by bicycle and what made you decide to do it?

I began commuting regularly by bike after graduating from university, prior to that I cycled mostly for recreation. With no drivers license and tired of sardine-like rush hour on subways and buses, cycling seemed like a good option. My roommate at the time gave me her old bike, and after a few weeks of learning the ropes (ie. avoiding spills on streetcar tracks, several near-miss car door incidents, and finding the more bike friendly routes) I was hooked.

Profile: Paul Dicks

Paul Dicks (with son Joshua)Paul Dicks (with son Joshua)

Paul Dicks/ 45 years old/ Paramedic for City of Toronto

What sort of bike do you ride?
Cannondale racing bike/Fixed Gear 46x16 from Urbane Cyclist/ Giant MTB

When did you start biking? How did you get started?
Started as a kid, did one summer of time trials with the Brampton Cycling Club when I was 24, then stopped riding when I went back to school to become a paramedic. When I became separated from my first wife at 39, I moved to Toronto close to my ambulance station, and bought a bike after nearly killing myself rollerblading to work

Why did you start biking?

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