I am realizing just how much I love bikes while here in Europe general, and I have observed interesting differences in bike culture: In America, at least, certainly in SoCal and definitely in Portland, the minimalist fixie is the beauty standard of bikes, with really finely crafted road bikes just next to that standard, especially in Portland (I guess I make the distinction because at least in SoCal, an increasingly popular look is a very colourful, wide-rimmed fixie).
In Berlin, all the bikes are ugly as fuck. Okay, not all of them, but ~80% of them are really bland, old, colourless, with bits of rust, formless - basically, the aesthetics of velos are ignored, and they are clearly only for transport and practical purposes like throwing a bag on them. no one gives a shit about their bike’s appearance as long as it works, or that is at least the way it looks. Bikes in Berlin have mostly step-through frames.
In St. Petersburg, where I currently am, my mind is being blown every day. ALL the bikes are beautiful, extremely well kept, maintained, cleaned, heavily customized and powerful. The bikes are almost all hybrids with really powerful-looking suspension forks, and are all very colourful. Obviously a hybrid with shocks lends itself better to the pot-holed, torn-up streets of St. Petersburg than a road bike that will suffer a seismic shakeup on these godawful streets.
Honestly, Though aesthetically I love the pic-related bike, I really do prefer the St. Petersburg aesthetic AND function to other velos. I’m that one asshole who will look at a pic like pic-related and be like… “well… it would be cooler with shocks!”