Paint jobs, replacing parts, adding accessories… How do you pimp your bike ride?

How to glam up my bike

A while back I asked for advice on how to gussy up my kitchen table. The advice the homies gave me was so good, so I thought I'd bring another gussying up question to you…

This is my bike. It is a good bike that performs all of it's bikely functions. It was a gift from my in-laws, they got it at a garage sale and I really do love it. I just wish it were more, errr, stylish.

Does anyone have any ideas for how I could spruce it up? What's the best method for painting, for example? Or is there another way to update its looks? Can I replace parts? Add accessories? I'd love to hear some cool ideas. –Jessica

We've talked about upgrading your bike for winter reasons. What about upgrading your bike for aesthetic reasons? Let's talk about your favorite ways to pimp your bike…

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  1. My husband got sparkling streamers for his bike along with pink handle bar grips and pink brake lines and a horn that makes an "ahoooga" sound. He asked me to crochet a seat cover for him but I haven't yet because I'm a terrible wife. I did however get him a pink leopard print helmet that he loves. Dude is rocking some pretty sweet style with his ride.

    While he hasn't painted it at all, I've seen a few bikes around town that appear to have been spray painted all over (tires included) in one colour. Looks pretty awesome. What I'd want to do is paint my spokes in a rainbow of colors so that when they spin in creates a rainbow effect (saw something like this involving a fan once, was awesome). They also have lights you can get for your wheels that show a picture when you ride. Safety feature x awesome = win in my books.

    4 agree
    • My husband has pink handlebar grips on one of his bikes, but he'd probably be supremely jealous to learn that yours has streamers to go with them.

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      • I guess this means I have to stop thwarting my husband's urge to put streamers on his own bike…which already has a twirly kite, googly eyes on the panniers, and a stuffed sloth strapped to the back rack. And yet I thought the streamers were overkill. Lesson learned.

        6 agree
  2. You can definitely add accessories—bells, streamers, fancy lights, basket—yourself! You will probably need a philips head and a flat head screwdriver, and a set of allen wrenches for this (these are also useful to have for DIY bike maintenance).

    I can't quite tell from the picture, but it looks like you've got a lot a lot of stretches of naked handlebar… you could add some handlebar tape! It comes in lots of colors and patterns even, and can really jazz up the look of your bike.

    When it comes to painting and removal/exchange of parts, however, I would definitely try to consult with your local bike shop about that. They will be able to recommend products for you (and might even be able to get them cheaper than you can) and can teach you a lot about your bike. And obviously, they can do the work on your bike for you, which is more expensive than DIY but usually not that expensive (much cheaper than anything anyone does on a car :P), and they're much less likely to mess something up.

    2 agree
  3. I echo Anne's suggestions about adding colored handlebar grips or something like that. It's an inexpensive upgrade that can add some fun pizzazz. Bottle cages/holders, seat covers, and even tires also come in a rainbow of colors.

    Your rack in back would be great for holding panniers (bags). Grocery-basket panniers are super functional and can add style, too:

    Basil Blossom Twig Bicycle Pannier Bag (Blue)

    Kettler Berlin Basket with Click System for Bicycle Rack Mounting, Rattan/Grey

    Axiom Gatherer Shopper Pannier Set

    2 agree
  4. A good loud bike bell is an important safety feature that can also be stylish and cute. How about a skirt guard for when you are going all cycle chic? You can buy really basic plastic mesh ones, but I've also seen adorable crocheted versions like this: http://tinyurl.com/n276p3g.

    If you aren't ready to spray paint your whole bike, you could buy some fenders and get crazy with painting those. Plus, as a bonus, you won't splash muddy water on your butt when riding after a rain.

    2 agree
  5. I recently bought a new bicycle!
    To customize it, I bought a front basket, and a new seat. My basket is Electra brand, and their metal baskets come in multiple bright colors – I got mine in silver, and it holds up to 13 kg. My seat is Terry brand, and it has pretty bright pink swirls on it. Terry originally started as a women's bike seat manufacturer, and then they expanded into men's seats, so you know they have comfort as well as style in mind.
    For my husband's bike, I bought him lights from ThinkGeek that affixed to his bike spokes, they come in white, blue and red. (Though I'm not sure ThinkGeek carries them anymore). I bought the blue lights, because I thought it would be cool if it looked like the lightcycle from Tron.

    1 agrees
    • Cool fact: I can't ride a bike, BUT those are definitely one of the things I miss from being a kid. I only have bad associations with trying to ride a bicycle, but that sound is still pure glee to me.

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      • I never learned as a kid, but taught myself in an empty parking lot when I was 20. Something in my brain clicked then!

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        • My sister-in-law didn't learn until she was about to finish grad school, when she started taking spin classes at her local gym.

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  6. It would be cool (and extra safe!) to wrap your bike in reflective ribbon. I got some once at a fabric store, and it is lined with hot pink.

    1 agrees
    • Nice! You could even take it further and use EL wire. It's less pretty than ribbons in daylight, but looks really cool at night. I got some for Burning Man and started using it regularly so I can be super visible from the side when daylight is short.

      1 agrees
  7. My bike came with a little rack on the back like yours. With zip-ties, I firmly attached an ugly but very functional plastic milk crate to the rack, perfect for groceries or just carrying my purse while I ride. You could make something a little more chic by finding some vintage wooden crates at an antique/junk shop. Drill some holes in the bottom if necessary and zip-tie away!

    2 agree
  8. My bike is pretty new so I haven't blinged it out a lot yet, but I did invest in bright orange flowery panniers! I also added orange reflective tape and an LED on the front wheel that sits in the spokes and is rainbow colored light. (The ThinkGeek one that someone linked to above.)

    1 agrees
  9. I've got shiny chrome fenders and a big silver basket on the front of mine. Granted, my bike was cute to begin with (an 8-speed with vintage cruiser aesthetics in a minty blue-green — the mister picked it out, and he did good!). I'm keeping an eye out for a cute shiny bell as well.

    1 agrees
  10. I love handle bar tape! You can get animal print, tie dye, all kinds of bright fun colors and prints and usually for around $5-10. Bonus that it cushions your hands and is easy to change whenever you feel like something new.

    2 agree

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