Candy Cranks: Global Feminine Bike Recon

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In a world (wide web) where typing “girls on bikes” into Google gives you boobs straddling top tubes, Candy Cranks is redirecting your search options. Founded by Meg Lofts in March of 2009, CandyCranks.com is where women from all over the globe come together to share all things bike-related from the female perspective.

Why is such a place needed, a man might ask? Attend any sausage fest … I mean, bicycle event in Salt Lake City and it will be quite obvious that’s not where you go to meet the ladies. The ratios don’t even out much internationally, either, which is why Lofts, a resident of Sydney, Australia, became proactive. “The idea for Candy Cranks came about as I didn’t have any female friends that wanted to go cycling with me. None of them owned bikes and they found the idea of riding on Sydney roads daunting. I can’t say I blamed them, I was terrified when I first began cycling in Sydney, the motorists can be very aggressive and there are not many cycling paths around the city. I’ve experienced cycling in other cities around the world where women cycle freely to commute, shop, go to a cafe or just go for a ride, I was hoping to encourage my mates and Sydney women that cycling can be a great way to get around and a really fun thing to do,” says Lofts.

In the beginning, the contributors were friends of Lofts’ living abroad. “The first cities represented were Sydney, London, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, Milano and Berlin, which I thought was a great cross section. I never expected to have the amount of authors we have today,” she says. Now Candy Cranks features authors from 29 different cities around the world (and counting), including renowned bike havens like Amsterdam and Portland, and off-the-grid spots like Honolulu and Shanghai. The CC community is as diverse in its content as its contributor’s hometowns, featuring traveling bike cafes in Japan and “Blessing of the Bikes” events in NYC. “I love hearing about what the other authors get up to, I first learnt about Bicycle Dance from Rie, the Nagoya [Japan] author. I had no idea there was a huge culture out there dedicated to Bicycle Dance, it’s amazing,” says Lofts.

Lofts herself participates in all kinds of events, her favorites being themed alley cats and dual slalom races. Obviously passionate about cycling, it has been part of her life from a young age. “I’ve loved riding since I was a kid, I was always taking off with my brother’s BMX and getting into trouble for it. My father would make these ‘Frankenstein Bikes’ out of a mixture of all my brother’s old bikes and then spray paint the whole thing one color. They were pretty embarrassing. I bought my first road bike when I was 16, it was way too big for me and I had no idea how to use the gears. It wasn’t a very cool thing to do at the time so I used to ride to different neighborhoods so my friends wouldn’t see me,” she says.

Candy Cranks caters to every kind of cyclist out there, “Because the authors come from all over the world, there’s a great variety in the style of cycling, and the types of bikes they ride,” says Lofts, who has a variety of bikes herself. Her current whips include a Balfa Belair for cross country, a hand-built Steiger road bike, a tandem she uses to tour with her partner and a Candy Cranks fixed gear among others. That’s right, Candy Cranks also features frames and other cycling products, from entire framesets and chainrings, to t-shirts, caps and jewelry all designed by Lofts. “I started out with one chainring design and it’s expanded from there. I love designing and coming up with new ideas, so to then see your idea developed into an actual product is really fun. Initially I was designing with females in mind, but as it turns out, we have more male than female customers,” she says. The frames are built by her partner Tarn Mott, who owns Primate Frames (primateframes.com.au) and the chainrings are sent to get cut by a manufacturer and hand painted by Lofts. Currently, she is looking into supplying CC products to some shops around the world as well as speaking with a publisher about releasing a Candy Cranks book.

The core motive for Candy Cranks, however, is to inspire women around the world to pick up a bike. “I noticed that there are very few female fixie riders in my country and by writing for Candy Cranks, it helps me to show that cycling is a healthy, sociable sport that girls can still have fun, only with a bike in tow … It’s definitely hard to convince these girls to step out of their high heels and splurge on a bike, but so far, slowly but surely, they’ll get the hang of it and are more willing to give up their Friday nights to ride instead of hitting the clubs,” says JJay Ali, CC author from Singapore and owner of the fixie label PEONFX (peonfx.com). Devan Council, an author from Nashville, Tennessee, says, “It is really refreshing to for once get the female perspective on riding; my blog feed is full of cycling blogs written by guys.  The female perspective is a very important and often overlooked one; in that way Candy Cranks really helps us get our ideas, progress and opinions out there.  It also helps to know that there really are a lot of girls out there riding who are experiencing some of the same obstacles as myself.”

The bicycle has been a symbol of feminine independence for more than a century. American civil rights leader Susan B. Anthony said in an 1896 interview, “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel. It gives woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. It makes her feel as if she were independent. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

So whether you’re a woman looking for a way to feel that boundless sense of  liberty, or you’re just a guy looking for a fresh and diverse perspective on cycling, add CandyCranks.com to your RSS feed and take control of your own handlebars. Women interested in contributing to the blog are encouraged to contact Lofts at hello@candycranks.com. Salt Lake City recently became a part of the CC community and also has its own female cycling blog where you can find local events and bike-inspired posts at SaltySpokes.com.
 

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