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The Ride Stuff

No one knows the streets of New York -- or the equipment you need to navigate them -- like bike messengers. Here, they deliver the goods on how to get around.

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You're sitting in traffic or wading through pedestrians when a bike messenger whips past, and suddenly it dawns on you: Wouldn't you rather be on two wheels? A bicycle commute in this city, though, means hazarding potholes, thieves, and cabs. So we asked New York's professional road warriors to give us their picks for survival gear. Acquiring an attitude -- or a terrifying curbside mien -- is up to you.

Hybrids and road bikes aren't tough enough to take the messengers' daily grind. Used bikes are cheap ($100-$150 at Frank's Bicycle Shop and Bike Works), but as Thomas of New York Photo Express says, "Nobody gets them unless their shit is busted. You don't know where they've been." Pros prefer the ruggedness of mountain bikes like the Raleigh M20 and the Trek 4500 ($220 and $400, at Metro Bicycles) or the velocity of single-speed track bikes from Fuji and GT ($500 and $650, at Frank's).

As for bags, form is secondary to function. Our messengers won't touch any that aren't plenty roomy and waterproof. Most show loyalty to Manhattan Portage -- which sponsors messenger races -- by buying the X-large 1620 ($99) at the company store. But Spider Man at CD&L swears by the impervious two-strapped Ortlieb rubber top-loader ($150 at Bicycle Habitat): "I could put a six-pack and a bag of ice in there and never have a leak."

Finally, no city cyclist can forget essentials like the Kryptonite chain with EVO lock ($85 at Bicycle Habitat) -- anything else can be broken in under a minute -- and a helmet like the popular Specialized Airwave ($35 at Metro). Says Renaldo of Photo Express: "It's chic and aerodynamic, so it looks expensive. But it's not."

Frank's Bike Shop, 553 Grand St. (212-533-6332); Bike Works, 106 Ridge St. (212-388-1077); Metro Bicycles, 360 W. 47th St. (212-581-4500); Manhattan Portage, 333 E. 9th St. (212-995-5490); Bicycle Habitat, 244 Lafayette St. (212-431-3315).

Picks of the Week
Alice Roi's sample sale has silk dresses and pants you'd find at Barneys, all for less than $142. The Inn at Irving Place, 56 Irving Pl., near 17th St. (212-533-4600); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Fri. 10-8; 3/19-3/23.

New Frontier's sample sale caters to the young and casual -- boot-cut pants and fitted jackets at wholesale prices or below. 250 W. 39th St., third floor (212-221-5236, ext. 21); cash only; Weds. 8-6, Thurs. and Fri. 10-6; 3/21-3/23.

Rhonda Lazar has organized a sample sale with clothing and footwear from lines like Prada and Armani, reduced 50 to 80 percent. Parsons School of Design, 560 Seventh Ave., at 40th St. (888-937-9006); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Weds. 8-8; 3/19- 3/21.

Simon's Hardware & Bath is marking down items in all of its departments, including bath and kitchen fixtures, from 30 to 60 percent. 421 Third Ave., near 29th St. (212-532-9220); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Fri. 8-5:30, Thurs. till 7, Sat. 10-6; 3/19-3/31.

Somethin' Else's liquidation sale means 30 percent off antique windup toys, handmade dolls, and pottery. 182 Ninth Ave., near 22nd St. (212-924-0006); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Fri. 11-7, Sat. till 6, Sun. 1-6.

Always a Deal
Ebates.com can erase all bad memories of rifling through discount underwear drawers. Just click on one of its 400 links -- including J.Crew and Barnes & Noble -- and get a rebate of up to 25 percent off each purchase. Generous types can donate their rebates to deserving charities.


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