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Take a Bike

For the tire-less shopper: At these pedal pushers, you won't get shafted when you're shopping for gear(s). But you'll have to supply your own bell for the handlebars.

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Bicycle geeks would have you believe that the only wheels worth owning are a magnesium-alloy Trek frame with handpicked components and a four-figure price tag. But fancy new bikes not only wreak havoc on a budget, they also attract unwanted attention when parked on the street. Competitively priced -- and theft-deterring -- options won't leave you hanging your head in Schwinn-snobbery shame when your neighbor whizzes by.

At Bikes by George, owner George Philbert purchases slightly imperfect frames and builds bikes from scratch. Prices range from $150 for a one-speed model with a foot brake up to $379 for a top-of-the-line Mongoose hybrid. There's also a selection of used bikes priced from $65 to $250. Whichever you pick, the work's guaranteed (three months for used bikes, a year for new).

Frank's Bike Shop sells new wheels from Schwinn, Raleigh, and Bianchi for up to 20 percent less than full retail (from $200 up). But even better deals are on new high-end models from past seasons (like a 1997 GT bike, down from $740 to $550) or spruced-up used bikes ($85 to $175). English three-speeds start at $250.

For a strong selection of used bikes, head down to Recycle-a-Bicycle's Manhattan workshop, where teenagers learn to fix donated bikes that are then sold to benefit local youth programs. There are usually about 30 choices, priced from $15 for kids' styles to $150 for better adult models. Or check out Bike Works, where cycles are serviced and sold for $70 to $150 (one exception: a $2,500 limited-edition Colnago racing bike). About ten used bikes are usually ready to roll. New one-speed bikes that look vintage are a deal at $175.

Bikes by George, 413 E. 12th St. (533-0203); Frank's Bike Shop, 553 Grand St. (533-6332); Recycle-a-Bicycle, Charas Community Center, 605 E. 9th St., Room 314 (260-7055); Bike Works at the Hub Station, 81 E. 3rd St. (388-1077).

Picks of the Week

TSE's sample sale has truckloads of knits, including the line's signature cashmere as well as lighter cotton, silk, and cashmere blends for everyone (even babies). Prices are at least 70 percent off retail. 137 Greene St. (319-8284); A.E., M.C., V.; Wed.-Sat. 11-6; 5/5-5/8.

Yeohlee's edgy, minimalist women's raincoats, dresses, and suits (pictured, right) are among the downtown art crowd's favorites. At the sample sale, spring and fall stuff is up to 75 percent off, from $50 for sleeveless tops to $250 for a wool coat to $500 for gowns. 530 Seventh Ave., at 39th St., fifth floor (704-9600); cash
only; Thurs. 8-7; 5/6.

Area's earthy, neutral-colored linens are usually sold at places like ABC and Felissimo. Load up on wedding and house gifts at the showroom sale (and at Meryl Waitz downstairs). Stock here is up to 80 percent off: Duvet covers and sheet sets are $40-$90; decorative pillows are $5; place mats are $3-$6. 180 Varick St., ninth floor (924-7084); checks accepted; Thurs. 10-8, Fri. till 6; 5/6-5/7.

Meryl Waitz's pretty home accessories and simple silver jewelry (sold at stores like Barneys) are perfect gifts for a hip mom. At the sample sale, prices are at least half off: from $10 for a tiny pewter picture frame to $75 for silver-and-amethyst earrings. No luck here? Stop by Area's sale (upstairs) for bed linens. 180 Varick St, eighth floor (675-7224); cash only; Thurs. 10-7, Fri. till 6; 5/6-5/7.

The Chocolate Soup, the beloved Upper East Side children's-clothing-and-accessories shop, is closing its doors after 32 years. All merchandise is now half-price, including clothes from designers like Ruth Hornbein and Winning Woolies ($7-$100). 946 Madison Ave., near 74th St. (861-2210); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Sat. 10-6, Sun. 1-6; 5/3 until merchandise runs out.

Outward Bound

If you're set on toning for the beach but refuse to enter a gym in fine weather, sign up for inSHAPE's workouts in Central Park. The group of trainers (including several ex-Reebok staff members) holds intimate, high-school-style outdoor classes (from power walking to interval training) for $20 a session (no enrollment fee; they bring equipment). The one flaw: Adults aren't required to take gym, so you'll have to motivate yourself to get there. Call 333-3538 for a schedule.


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