A safe Bullitt in a storm

Yesterday was not the best of days in terms of weather! Leicester escaped the worst, but we still had some heavy rain causing localised flooding and for a while high winds.

2011-08-31 15.18.48So it might not have seemed the ideal day for riding a Bullitt Cargobike with a large cargobox on it.

However, Jane had gone into Leicester by train and I had promised to carry the Christmas Shopping home after I had completed some work.

So I rode to Rothley for a meeting. It was raining a fair bit and the wind was a strong front crosswind which is about the worst direction as it both slows you down and buffets you sideways. Yet the Bullitt continued to be stable and reassuring to ride. It was even nice enough for a bit of singing in the rain 🙂

It rained very heavily during my meeting in Rothley, by the time I left the rain was stopping and the wind had died down a bit. So the ride into Leicester via an errand in Birstall was straightforward, even if the roundabout in the centre of Birstall was flooded (fortunately on the northbound side so didn’t affect me).

I was able to park in the Town Hall Bike Park (still free at the moment) and collect bags of Christmas shopping off Jane to load in the cargobox. Just before the Bike Park closed I filled the box with the rest of the shopping and moved the bike to outside John Lewis where we met up again. Finally we went for a Chinese buffet with the Bullitt parked outside Cafe Rouge.

After the meal Jane headed off to the station while I took all the shopping home. The evening had cleared up so it was much calmer and dry – except of course that much of the cycle route floods. Fortunately the Bullitt will ride though water several inches deep without the rider getting at all wet. The combination of the long wheelbase, cargobox, good mudguards with added Brooks mudflaps works brilliantly. While my fixie has excellent mudguards and mudflaps when the water is deep you get it diverted by the front tyre straight onto your toes.

Through Watermead park there were plenty of twigs, small branches and wet leaves all over the cycle path. The Bullitt is extremely sure footed in these circumstances. Much more so than either my fixie or Trek road bike (the front wheel can easily slip sideways when you cross a twig on a corner). The Bullitt feels just as secure as my full suspension mountain bike in these conditions.

When the weather is bad it is so easy to believe the idea that cycling is impossible or crazy yet the reality is that it is still convenient and fast. Rain and wind always seems worse in a car than on a bike.

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  1. How are you finding the front disc brake in the wet? I’ve had mine lock up twice now, admittedly on slippery ground both times. Once on wet smooth paving slabs (laid by the council in a cycling / shared space area! ) and the other time on a pile of wet leaves. Both times the lock up and jolt sideways (front wheel seems to pull left when locked?) was enough to tip me over sideways!

    The rest of the time though I think the weight of the bike (plus cargo sometimes) helps to anchor and keep it up in the heavy sidewinds etc.

    • I have not really had that problem – probably just a cautious coward :-). I was quite worried about it happening at first and so was very cautious with the front brake but have gradually gained confidence in it’s grip.

      Initially I found unsurfaced cycle narrow paths (where you tend to go onto mud slopes at the sides of deep puddles) tricky if the front wheel slid down the mud slope, but I am not much more used to it and don’t notice it anymore

      The only time I fully came off was then the whole bike slid sideways on a bad camber in very icy conditions, maybe the front lost grip first but the back was also sliding. I just stepped off through the frame and it was only my ego that was hurt 🙂

      I have found my Trek (28mm 700c) and Fixie (25mm 700c) tyres much more prone to giving me scary moments on wet leaves (especially when you don’t notice a twig among them). But I am more likely to be riding them faster on the twisty sections of deep leaves.

      I do switch my Bullitt to a studded front tyre when there is much ice or snow expected – that works well but is noticeably slower and noisier when on clear roads.

      I agree cargo weight really helps although I do ride my fairly light a lot of the time (yesterday it was only my laptop and a few bits and bobs during the windiest time).

  2. On Monday night my bike slipped from under me outside the garage nr Mountsorrel, where the cycle lane goes onto the pavement. I did look a bit silly, on my backside in the rain :0)

    • Sorry to hear that.

      That part of the cycle route is daft. A great pity as from Mountsorrel to Quorn is almost adequate making it one of the best facilities in the area. From Syston to Loughborough I generally go via Cossington and Sileby and so miss out this bit (and a couple of hills).

      The quality of dropped kerbs is so incredibly varied, they give the impression that there is no quality control and no inspection of work done when they are installed.

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