Sunday, March 14, 2010

A study in bike names

I've acquired a handful of used bikes to tune up and sell here at Hub. A good number of them are kids' bikes. One thing that's stuck me about these in particular is split between 'girl' and 'boy' bikes. The color differences are obvious and (unfortunately) not surprising. Girls= white, pink, purple, powder blue, glitter (it's a color). Boys= black, red, chrome, not-powder blue. The thing that's really interesting is the names of the bikes. 'Boy' bikes have action names or numbers... like fancy cars and spaceplanes:


'Girl' bikes, on the other hand, have names that don't suggest any action and/or are just weird:

While 'Whomp' makes one think of kids taking their bikes off sweet jumps, 'Slumber Party' seems very un-bike like. 'Heart Breaker'? I hope that the 6 year old who rode this bike wasn't breaking any hearts. Kids hear all the time that boys are valued for being tough/adventurous and girls are valued for being the opposite of that. Could providing kids more gender neutral bike options improve the world? Probably not. But it would be a good chance to teach kids that not everything needs to be gender segergated. Sometimes you can just be a bike-riding human being...

The bikes I've pictured here are all in rough shape, so they've been sent to pasture (metal recycling). Which is too bad, because I would've loved to have seen some kiddo take the 'Slumber Party' off some sweet jumps.


  1. good commentary, and i hear you on this topic! as the father of two small girls, i can't tell you how often gender segregation comes up in our daily lives. and it's not just in the consumer product sector-- it's in books and schools, as well. pretty much the entire popular culture. the best we can do as parents is to teach our kids that they don't have to subscribe to it; it's impossible to force them to avoid it.

    i salvaged from the curb a fine 14" BMX bike for my 5-year old daughter. it needed nothing more than a tune-up. she was quick to point out that it was a "boy" color (black with flame decals) and that she "couldn't" ride it unless it had some girl colors. despite my best efforts at rational reasoning, the whole affair ended with me eventually acquiescing, taking the bike apart to repaint it two-tone purple and pink.

  2. I had the Desert Rose!!
    And, I did not take it off any sweet jumps :( But, I did crash it into the juniper bushes outside my parents' house on a regular basis. Mostly until I learned how to use the breaks.