Bike for Life plus one

I’ll start with the confession. My Bike for Life is now Bike for Life plus one. Yes I have bought another bike 🙂

However, this should not be understood as a failure of my Bike for Life either as a project or the specifics of my Shand Cycles Stoater Plus. In fact quite the opposite!

My Shand is so delightful to ride (while being the most incredibly reliable, low maintenance and practical form of transport ever) that it has kindled more love and enjoyment of just riding my bike. Hence, for the first time in my life, I have joined a cycling club. The Syston Syclers are new this year and have their “Sygnature” rides on Saturdays which suits me very well.

What I have, unsurprisingly, found is that a fully equipped Bike for Life is fine for the slower groups. So I have been one of the ride leaders for the steady paced 30 mile rides where we average around 12mph. The next group up which is now moving to 45 miles and around a 14mph average is rather harder work. On those rides many of the practical, comfortable, low maintenance features of my Bike for Life make it more difficult to keep up with everyone else on road bikes.

If I could be bothered to adapt my Bike for Life it is perfectly suitable for keeping up with these rides. But I would need to save weight and windage by removing

  • steel mudguards (with leather mudflaps),
  • front low rider racks,
  • front handlebar bag rack,
  • rear rack,
  • huge bell

I’d also move to faster tyres than 40mm Marathon Plus and possibly drop handlebars instead of my comfy Jones Loop H-Bar.

Of course that is not practical on a regular basis. So with a big 50th birthday this year, with permission, I started looking.

If money were no object then I’d have gone with a custom Shand Skinnymalinky (custom in order to have hydraulic disc brakes) with the electronic Shimano DI2 gears. That would have given me another beautiful British steel frame but aimed at fast day rides.

I looked at a number of bikes. The Genesis Equilibrium Disc is very nice. I also looked at the Charge Plug (4 and 5) and lots more.

In the end, thanks to a very knowledgeable and helpful lady at Edinburgh Cycle Cooperative in Manchester I looked at and fell in love with a Whyte Suffolk.

SuffolkIt is a British brand even if not manufactured here. It is an aluminium frame which was not my preferred choice (mainly due to higher environmental cost). But it looks great, has unique cable operated hydraulic disc brakes, Shimano 105 gear/brake levers and rear derailleur. It also comes with 28mm tyres with room for bigger and they also have a matching mudguard set.

So I now have three bikes for use each week:

  • Bike for Life: Everyday transport, Leisure, Family rides, Touring
  • Whyte Suffolk: Club rides, fast unladen day rides, exercise
  • Bullitt Cargobike: Shopping, Transporting stuff for work

Surplus to requirements (open to good offers) Giant Full Suspension mountain bike.


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  1. Ian Macsporran

    Ah, at age 65, I’ve bought my first road bike: a Bianchi with Campagnolo bits (and French pedals with Italian shoes). Sort of homage to teenage hours after school with nose pressed against window of local bike shop lusting after gleaming Italian bikes and parts over half-a-century ago. So now – Dawes Galaxy, Bianchi Impulso, Brompton S6L, Saracen Tufftrax, and Peugeot Princeton.

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  5. Hi Dave, had to have a chuckle at this one! I had similar designs last year in terms of buying a lightweight road bike and ended up buying a machine very similar to your Whyte. I rode a 100km and a 300km on it last year and very nice it was too in a unforgiving road bike sort of way. However, I also rode a 100km audax on my 37lb steel framed mountain bike this month and bettered my time over the same distance by a significant amount! Go figure, I reckon comfort is King!

    • Chris,

      Glad to have provided some amusement 🙂

      I am sure I will continue to use my Bike for Life for many long rides 🙂 Comfort, carrying capacity and ability to handle bad weather/roads are all good reasons for using my Bike for Life.

      Club rides are a different animal.

      It will be interesting to see how my times for solo 100 mile rides differ between the bikes.

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