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Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

Cyclorama Retailers

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010 by George Goodwin

Some mechanics hard at work at iCycle - a bike shop whose proceeds suppport the disabled.  Marvellous stuff.You may have noticed that over the last three weeks or so we’ve been adding to the Cyclorama Retailers’ section.   Eventually, this section will have features on what we consider to be the best 10% of bike shops in the world.

What are our criteria?  After all, there’s no shortage of good bike shops out there – what is it that makes a shop extra special?

In some cases, it might be the level of service offered by the staff – we think that the single most important thing about a bike shop is that they treat all customers equally.  There is quite some variation in the way that shop staff interact with people dipping their toes into the murky cycling water, and we’re keen to feature only those shops that happily cater for all visitors, regardless of their experience.  We’re passionate about getting more people into cycling, and so we’re welcoming aboard anyone else who thinks alike.

It might sound a cliché, but sometimes shops really do go beyond just being shops.  Their staff might organise cycle rides for local cyclists, for both beginners and experts.  Some retailers run courses teaching the essentials of cycle maintenance.  This ties in with our first criterion – any retailer that does something extra to get more people into cycling is a big tick in our book.

These luvverly ladies are sponsored by Future Cycles.  See what we mean by "more than just a bike shop"?Another consideration we make are the cycles stocked by each retailer.  We don’t only go for shops that stock Cyclorama products, although this is clearly a bonus!  So long as the bikes stocked by each shop fall into the Cyclorama ethos (brilliant, great value for money etc.), we’re happy.  We’re also interested in shops with unusual specialisations – we already have tandem, recumbent, cargo bike and vintage bike specialists mixed in with more traditional shops!

Finally, all the retailers listed are independent – if you want to go to a chain store, it’s easy enough to find one, and we think that independent shops are much more interesting anyway.  So do keep checking the Retailers’ section out – we hope to have the UK covered by the end of the year.  Any dealer listed will be well worth a visit – support your local bike shops!

Cycling and Music

Saturday, July 31st, 2010 by George Goodwin

Something that seems to invite ire amongst certain road users is cyclists listening to music whilst riding.  A mere sight of a biker donning earphones is enough to provoke these irascible commuters into directing tirades of abuse at those on their bikes.

I write this because there was a letter in one of the UK’s national newspapers only the other day, from a cyclist and car driver who described riders listening to music as dangerous and irresponsible.  “These people are a nuisance,” burst forth the incensed writer.  “They should not be allowed on the roads!”

I humbly submit, however, that it is not the music that makes cyclists dangerous on the road; rather, it is an arrogant indifference to their and others’ safety (that is not peculiar only to cyclists, I might add).  After all, cars have been fitted with radios for decades.  It is not (yet) against the law for car drivers to listen to music whilst driving, and there is no reason why it should be – for a small sacrifice of attention, an otherwise monotonous commute to work is brightened up considerably.  There is no reason why we should treat cycling any differently.

I cycle to work some days wearing headphones, and I don’t think listening to music alters my road-awareness.  I never turn the volume up such that I can’t hear approaching or passing traffic.  Even without them on, I zone out occasionally, and would still meet the same untimely demise if I didn’t notice an oncoming car regardless whether or not I was listening to music.

Personally, I think that the complaint falls under the “Why Do Buses Come In Threes?” line of thinking.  Based on purely anecdotal evidence, I’d suggest that a significant proportion of those who like to listen to their iPods whilst on their bikes also haven’t been trained to use the roads properly (lost generation of cyclists and all that).  They’re more likely to ride dangerously and have their lack of training mistaken for lack of attentiveness by other road users, and thus give a bad name to other mp3-loving bike-users.

My conclusion therefore is that listening to music whilst on the roads is an entirely safe way of making journeys seem quicker, provided common sense is excercised regarding volume.  I think the real problem is a lack of proper road training for our cyclists, and we should not be pointing to the iPod as a scapegoat.

Anyway, I’m keen to hear what the general consensus on this is: is listening to music whilst cycling a bad thing?  Feel free to comment :)

Trailer tales

Monday, June 7th, 2010 by CGIT

I’ve long been a fan of cycle trailers. The first one was an early Bike Hod. Very obviously based around a pull along golf caddy it was useful for shopping but had a tendency to roll over when cornering if too heavily loaded. My second, around 1987 was a used example of the superbly named Cannondale ‘Bugger’. It was Cannondale’s first product before they branched out into bicycles and cycle shorts and Moto X bikes. The brilliant Bugger featured a large plastic tub, removable fabric roof and a seat-post mounted hitch. It had space for two kids on a rear facing bench seat, I guess the theory was that motorists approaching from behind would drive more carefully if they could see the whites of your children’s eyes. The shape of it was such that when stood on its tail it took up little more hallway than the depth of its twenty inch wheels. I borrowed it to haul bottles to the re-cycling bank and liked it so much I bought it for shopping. What really impressed me about it was the handling, the rubber hitch had the effect of forcing down the inside wheel in corners making it impossible to tip. Just about rigid enough to hold the tractor bike upright when parked, you actually had to lean quite heavily on it to get the bike banked over in corners, odd at first but wonderfully predictable to tow. Determined to push the Bugger’s envelope I regularly exceeded the manufacturer’s weight limit with enormous loads of groceries. This culminated in the ultimate test which, in no uncertain terms, exposed the Bugger’s only handling quirk. Hurtling down the long hill from Islington to the Fallen Angel pub in London one evening with 200lb of my friend Andy in the trailer I started slowing for a red light. The height of the hitch combined with such a heavy load meant that any braking force unweighted the rear wheel rendering the rear brake useless. With no tangible signs of a reduction in speed my increasingly frantic application of the front brake simply forced the back wheel off the ground as the inertia of all that beer in the belly of an un-braked trailer monkey pushed against my seat post. My back wheel came to rest jammed under the front of the trailer and we sailed through the junction in a kind of vertical jack-knife. Thankfully we both lived to tell the tale.

Then I had a B.O.B Yak but it never really floated my boat. It was an awful pain to hitch and un-hitch, really ungainly to manhandle when off the bike and seemed to me that it transferred an excessive amount of torsional load through the frame.

We currently use two trailers on an almost daily basis. My girlfriend’s 3yo travels to nursery every day in a Burley kid’s trailer and for shopping and general lugging I use a Carry Freedom. Actually she’s a cycle trailer legend, having towed one or more of her four kids to school for over a decade. This Burley is her third! The first two became very tatty from the high mileage and sacks of potatoes but they moved on to other families and are still in daily use. In fact one of her old trailers now hauls all the equipment for her friend’s home cleaning business.

Brompton hauling a Carry Freedom

My Carry freedom is an interesting little thing, little more than a hitch, a platform and a pair of 16” wheels. Very ‘foldable’, until recently I’ve towed it with my Kona Africa bike (with a large plastic bin strapped on to it) but with the purchase of a second hitch can now easily haul it with my Brompton L3 folding bike. I’ve yet to fully exploit the stupendous folding ability of this tractor and trailer rig but it certainly folds down small for something which can carry so much.

A demonstration of the folded size of a Brompton folding bike and Carry Freedom trailer

I recently used the tubular aluminum frame of my Brompton’s front bag as a rack to lug the brief-case sized tool box of my SDS drill. The Carry Freedom easily managed two large tool boxes stacked one on another, which was everything I needed to plumb in a friend’s washing machine including coring a hole through a brick wall for the waste. I’m an enthusiastic advocate of bicycles as urban transport so I derive an unfeasible amount of pleasure from demonstrating that, with a little thought and ingenuity, a bicycle can easily replace a car for short journeys. Even when there are tool-boxes or bags of potting compost involved.Small enough to slip in a pocket!

The next step? My ambition is to adapt, re-engineer or otherwise butcher the Carry Freedom to haul my access platform and stepladders. Now, where can I get one of those ‘long vehicle’ signs…..??

The LGRAB Summer Games

Thursday, May 20th, 2010 by Camilla

Just a note…

From Dottie and Trisha of the ‘Let’s Go Ride a Bike’ blog, comes a new little challenge for all you cycling folks; we like missions like this.

LGRAB-Summer

In brief, the games are:

May 17-June 6: Social Cycling

  • Go on a group ride
  • Leave a nice note on a bike, or say hi to a cyclist at a red light
  • Schedule a bike date with a friend or partner — dress up!
  • Recruit a non-biking friend for a ride
  • Ride with your family

June 7-June 27: Learning Experiences

  • Perform a maintenance task — big or small!
  • Decorate your bike
  • Read a book about cycling
  • Carry a load on your bike — groceries, etc.
  • Test ride a different type of bike than you normally ride

June 28-July 18: New Territory

  • Ride a greenway
  • Have a bicycle picnic
  • If you don’t normally ride to work, commute by bike, or by bike/train or bike/bus
  • If you do commute, take the long way home: add distance to your usual ride
  • Explore a new part of town by bike

Read more here.

Joining in?

What comes from Iceland and causes disruption at airports?

Sunday, April 25th, 2010 by CGIT

Bjork!

It’s the way I tell em!

There we were just a few days ago wondering (as usual) what it will take to get more people on bikes when along comes an ‘act of God’ so momentous that it grounds Europes 28,000 daily flights (not a typo. 28,000! Jeebus. But that’s a discussion for another day). Iceland’s volcanic cloud left hundreds of thousands of travelers stranded. Many were happy to be stranded in their holiday resort for another ten days but many people simply had to get back to the UK, and as soon as possible. Desperate Brits were making their way back to the UK anyway they could. Rental car availability plummeted to zero over night. Those who could afford it paid £3,000 for taxi journeys and those who couldn’t hitch hiked their way across Europe. To arrive at the quay side facing the white cliffs of Dover with all the ferries fully booked up. Booked up for car traffic, booked up for walk-on passengers, but not fully booked up, it transpired, for cyclists.

Calais’ thrift shops sold out of used bicycles within hours apparently. Brilliant.

Ferry staff, alerted to the ‘scam’occuring under their noses insisted that the ‘cyclists’ actually ride their bikes onto the ferry!

I’ve been to a few cycle trade shows in my time; All the British ones of course, especially the big ones at Ally Pally and Olympia in the ‘olden days’ before they fragmented. The European Handmade Show. And the enormous international ones; Interbike in las Vegas and Eurobike in Freidrichshaffen that take days to walk round.

I’m writing this on the Ferry to Zeebrugge en route to Germersheim and the ‘Spezi’.  The Special Bike Show is legendary among the alternative bike folks of the world, the Cargo bike people, the Recumbentists, the Velomobilers. This is the showcase for innovators at the sharp end of cycling innovation and I’ve never been. This is a very exciting moment for me, watch this space for Cyclorama’s Spezi Show report.

I’ve never been to The York Rally either, being the busiest time of the year for anyone involved in cycling I’ve always been working. I’ve got that to look forward to this year too.

Anoraks

Monday, March 1st, 2010 by CGIT

I don’t know what it takes to make a bike geek/nerd (what we like to call in the UK an ‘anorak). What forces are at work in the process which transforms a normal child into an obsessed adult? Everyone knows someone whose brain is full of the ins and outs of soccer or baseball or railway timetables, like my uncle’s total obsession with the post-war history of the Mille Millia motor race. In my case it’s everything and anything to do with bicycles. Some subjects just grab some people and don’t let go.

For me it goes back a long way, since I broke the rear end off my Pashley Pickle tricycle in 1966 and graduated to two wheels I’ve owned well over a hundred bikes including fifty five mountain bikes. If you need any more convincing may I present the most incriminating evidence of all; my collection of more than three thousand postcards and gift cards, each with a bicycle theme. I am simultaneously proud of and yet slightly embarrassed by my single track mind. For reasons yet to be identified, and in spite of being surrounded by soccer fans and car nuts, I grew up to become a man whose over-riding interest is in all things pedal powered.

I’m guessing that you too have an interest in cycling or else you wouldn’t have found your way to this little corner of the www. Whether your condition is as advanced as mine (or heaven forbid worse!) or you are perhaps a soccer or baseball fanatic who just happens to have a passing interest in cycling what I hope to do with this blog is nothing more than show you some really cool stuff from the world of pedal power.

Bikes are cooler today than they have ever been. Those of us who have been involved in cycle retailing, publishing or promotion for some years feel very strongly that the bicycle’s time has truly come. Peak oil, transport issues, environmental awareness and the rise in childhood obesity might be the forces which push folk towards bikes but in the end, and as you and I well know, cycling is cool and cheap and fast. And fun! And these are the true benefits which keep people pedalling.  We are on the crest of a wave of popularity which heralds a new era in urban transport. From Tokyo to Milan and from Edinburgh, Scotland to Portland, Oregon we are all willing participants in nothing less than the dawning of a new age. The Bicycle Age.

If Cyclorama inspires people to ride bikes we will have done our job.

But if Cyclorama inspires young people to become bike nerds, geeks and anoraks for life all the better!!

MickAllan

Associate Editor, Cyclorama

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…and Hot Rods

Some people just can’t leave well enough alone. The influence of Kustom Kulture is big in the cycle world and getting bigger every year, witness the runaway success of Electra Bikes. Ironically a mass produced brand which produces bikes inspired by the creations of people who adapt mass produced stuff to make it unique.

Here’s a great site which has been chronicling the custom cycle phenomenon for many years: Bike Rod n Kustom

Bike Rod n Kustom website

Bike Rod n Kustom website