A buying spree

Today I got to indulge myself buying stuff although mostly it was not for me.

One of the issues with making riding a bike “normal” is that few bikes in the UK are sold ready for everyday use. That is of course one of the main reasons for buying a Dutch style bike from the likes of Velorution. Having chosen a “British” (sadly only British company, designed not built in Britain) bike some finishing off is needed.

David Hembrow (he of the superb blog A view from the cycle path) has an excellent website (Dutch Bike Bits) for buying stuff that is hard to get in the UK. I was shopping for some bits to finish Jane’s new bike for everyday use. That included:

  • A Hebie two leg stand. The Ridgeback Avenida 8 Open Frame came with a single leg stand but with the front basket this is not really stable enough (I may still need to add a Hebie Steer Stabilizer: Velorution to stop front wheel flop). Fortunately the Avenida does come with a proper welded fitting to bolt a stand to, much more secure than a bolt on bracket and of course much less likely to damage the bike.
  • A frame lock. Makes life so quick and easy for basic security (stops someone riding or pushing your bike away, does not stop them lifting it into a van). I am very pleased with the frame lock I have on my Bullitt, makes it very quick and easy when just nipping into a shop (or when used with a U-Lock to lock the frame to a post.
  • A coat protector. Does what is says on the tin. The whole purpose is a bike you can just ride whatever you happen to be wearing. As Jane sometimes wears a long coat, skirt or scarf this means she won’t have to change clothes to be able to ride her bike.
  • Permanent bungies for her rack (see below). Jane had these on an earlier bike and found them really handy for the odd things that you pick up when out for the day or shopping. Plus much safer than loose bungies.

While I was at David’s site I also ordered a winter tyre for my Bullitt. If the front tyre slides on a cargo bike it will be hard to stay upright so I figure a studded tyre with plenty of tread will make a big difference. It will be interesting to see how long the studs last as I don’t want to be changing between tyres very often. If they don’t last very long than maybe I’ll look at getting a 2nd wheel as it is very quick to switch between two wheels (one with a studded tyre and one without).

From Wiggle I ordered two other things for Jane. First a rack. The basket is really handy for dropping stuff in but not large enough for much shopping when you have two teenage sons. Second the bracket to mount her rear light on the back of the rack. It is no good having the light fitted on the seat post if you are going to wear a long coat or carry something on the rack.

One of the tricky things about having a front basket is how to mount your front lights. The best solution is a dynamo hub with the light fitted to the fork crown. But Jane is not commuting and so does not want to put in lots of hours riding in the dark so this seems overkill at the moment. We will stick to a couple of basic to medium spec LED battery powered lights with rechargeable batteries. Finding a mount that will avoid the basket is tricky. However, I found 3 options in the end.

I can’t help thinking how unsurprising it is that people in the UK often end up with unsuitable bikes for town use. I have been into more than 10 local bike shops (jn different parts of the country) in the last 12 months and asked about bikes for Jane. There are very few that sell sensible urban bikes for women (just try asking for the basic starting points of step through frame, hub gears and not rim brakes – the only possibility I have been offered is the Pashley which Jane found too upright). Sadly all the shops with suitable bikes that we have found are internet based (or with a shop that is nowhere near anywhere we have been) and we felt it was important for Jane to be able to have a test ride.

So no surprise that we don’t see many women riding sensible bikes. Instead we see too many on cheap, rubbish full suspension bikes with knobbly tyres, no mudguards, no racks, no baskets and far too many gears that have seized up. In other words we see them on bikes designed to be totally impractical and high maintenance.

Anyway if you are looking for a sensible women’s bike then you might try Velorution or Practical Cycles (if you let me know of other suppliers I will add them). Of the British makes then to my mind it is either Pashley or Ridgeback (some models in the Metro range).

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