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Car friendly cities?

Great piece by Nigel of about making cycling more pleasant in the UK

“” sadly I don’t detect any suppressed majority yearning to get onto their bikes!”

Probably that’s because you’re not looking.

Plenty of evidence out there to suggest that most of us don’t actually like driving much and would welcome the opportunity to use our cars less frequently.

Lynn Sloman’s research suggests that 30% of us don’t have access to a car; 50% of car users don’t like driving. Sustrans research suggests that 70% of us won’t cycle on the roads in their current format because it is perceived as too dangerous.

Lynn Sloman’s research again: The 40:40:20 rule: 40% of current car trips could easily be done by other means right now, without any change to infrastructure or public transport; another 40% of car trips could be done by other means after infrastructure changes, leaving 20% of car trips that cannot be done by other means.

No one’s suggesting we all give up our cars completely; simply not a practical proposition – I’ve no plans to abandon mine – but the concept of the car as the default mode for all trips needs to be challenged, and frequently.

Call it “ideology” if you must. Some of us call it common sense. The “ideology” of striving to make your city more car friendly is probably not the best idea, especially when that city’s street layout evolved long before motor transport. “Quart” and “pint pot” spring to mind. The lessons of the 20th Century need to be learned and taken to heart. Building for car traffic has only ever resulted in more car traffic, resulting in more building to “relieve” the congestion. A vicious circle we really need to break out of. The answers are out there and have been successfully implemented on mainland Europe a generation ago. Time we caught up.”


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Bath Cycle Races

Neither of us have ever done a cycle race so having done quite a bit of cycling over the last few years we thought we’d enter the Bath Cycle Races.  The trouble is there’s ‘cycling’ and then there’s ‘cycle racing’ don’t ever confuse the two we learned the hard way!  Still its better to have tried and failed than to have never given it a go!

The results of our feeble attempt were Becci in last place 1 lap down total time 24.09 with a best lap time of 2.33, and I was 3rd from bottom 1 lap down total time 33.46 with the best lap in 2.18.  The only consolation is that there is a long ladder to potentially climb and we can try to better our own times, it must be harder to be the leader or somewhere near the top.

Photo credit:

We both were both pretty happy with the sharp corners and the effort needed to get the speed up out of the second corner, but we both felt the hill was the real difficulty.  No easy answers, just try a bit harder on the hill I guess.  We didn’t exactly do any interval training either so we don’t have the speed in our legs I guess.  Riding long sportives doesn’t prepare you for the races, pretty obvious!

We’re going to enter the last 2 races provided the spaces on the line are available (should be no problem for the women’s race as there are so few women racing).  I enjoyed making myself feel sick, cramped stomach, hacking cough and dead legs the following day.  Becci didn’t succumb to any similar aches and pains, just felt a bit tired right after the race – and got frozen cold at the end despite nabbing my extra layers!

See you at the races! (Every Wednesday evening in May in Victoria Park, Bath)

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1000 miles in April

On this blog I’ll keep our mileage up to date, with a link to the route taken.  I’ll update with separate posts on the more interesting aspects of our rides.

Day 1

Mileage: 100.28

Total: 100.28


Day 2

Mileage: 25.05

Total: 125.33


Day 3

Mileage: 35.5

Total: 160.83


Day 4

Mileage: 0

Total: 160.83

Day 5

Mileage: 0 

Total: 160.83

Day 6

Mileage: 83.5

Total: 244.33


Day 7 – 0

Day 8

Mileage: 88.73

Total: 333.06


Day 9 – 0

Day 10 

Mileage: 48.5

Total: 381.56


 Day 11 – 0

Day 12

Mileage: 68.9

Total: 450.46


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Kinesis Virsa Steel Mountain Bike Build

The Kinesis Virsa mtb is based around highly regarded Tange Prestige Japanese double butted steel tube set.  This gives the ride of the bike that steel ‘spring’ which is ideal when zinging along twisty singletrack.

The reviewers have certainly given it a thumbs up.  Since the review the Brighton based Kinesis designers, who test all their products extensively on the South Downs, have upgraded key parts of the frame, bit more on this later.

I’ve had the frame for a few months and had been saving up to get various parts for it.  It had to be a ‘British’ inspired bike being a true home grown brand with a growing reputation for ride quality.  So I of course opted for Hope kit, which as well as being totally machined and made in the UK by hand has a great reputation as well.  They recently released a seatpost so that was pretty fortuitous as it meant that all the finishing kit parts on the bike could be based on Hope.  The only parts that couldn’t be British were the drivetrain which had to be Shimano for sturdiness, slickness and great value.

The next big thing on a mountain bike is the suspension and I had been reading great things about X-fusion who have actually been around since 1999, but only recently started to go into selling their products aftermarket.  They’ve picked up some rave reviews recently, so I was very keen to get a fork that customers could try out as a demo with a view to potentially purchasing them.  The fork I got was a Velvet RL120 fork upgraded to 130mm travel, its tapered which adds more stiffness at the steering interface.  Its also stiff at the axle with its 15mm screw through upgrade. The larger diameter headtube is one area Kinesis recently upgraded on the frame, to allow for a new generation of tapered forks.

The wheels are definitely a crucial rider / terrain interface and I wanted to do something a bit different here.  It was to be my first foray into tubeless, well I had to take the plunge sometime!  Just my luck that WTB very recently released some very reasonably priced (26.99) UST compliant rims with regular spoke holes that can be easily built up into a user friendly tubeless wheelset.   These rims are 23mm wide so will make the tyre balloon nicely for a very grippy ride.  So I opted for nice gold Hope Pro 2 hubs, with that colour running throughout the bike as it pairs up with green nicely.  The rims built up very easily, although the offset spoke holes provided some spoke length calculator fun and games!  Setting up the tyres (UST WTB Bronsons 2.3) onto the rims was so simple, just whack on some special rim tape, add a valve core, pop the tyres on and inflate – well in practice, and now I know having had lots of practice.  What you need to make sure is that you have the tyres on the right way before you inflate (most tyres are directional).  When you remove these tubeless tyres, if you do get it wrong, the rim strip gets ruffled up rendering it pretty useless.  So my advice is if you go for these get it right first time and you’ll have no trouble at all inflating.  Its going to be really interesting to try out this wheelset at pressures lower than 30 psi, with no risk of pinch flats and no worries about thorn / stone punctures as the sealant will do its duty.

The bike’s drivetrain is full 10spd XT, so its pretty light and also very slick.  The brake system is Hope Tech X2 which is supposedly their lightweight cross country / light freeride offering, but its pretty beefy especially with the 180mm upgraded floating rotor upfront.   A new innovation on this frame is at the rear brake calliper which mounts into a pair of slotted holes. This means that if you ever wanted to use the horizontal swopout dropouts to run singlespeed or hub gears you can remove the wheel easily thanks to the slotted holes.

Finally the pedals have to be the most bling bit of the bike.  I knew the Vault pedals were good but wait till you see and feel them in the flesh, they are so nice!  And in this case so green!

The bike is available to take out to specifically try out the forks, but also the frame, tubeless wheels, pedals and so on.  The Virsa is available as a ‘ready to ride’ package with different specs, but if you want something a bit different then why not build your dream steel hardtail around an award winning frame / fork combo!


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Spring Offers

So we’ve had a few tastes of spring like weather now- the sun has shone on some lovely long bike rides and the winter jacket has been replaced by arm warmers and gilet (well, almost)

To replace our former winter deal we shall now be running our spring one – 10% off on parts and accessories when you spend £50 or more (including servicing parts).

That includes all the things we commonly replace when carrying out a service including Jagwire stainless steel inner wires, Shimano outer cable housings, chains, cassettes, tyres, tubes, brake blocks etc.

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Shop Refit

We have been very busy for the last 6 days refitting the shop, almost all day and night safe to say it took longer than we thought! Regulars would have noticed Jim Astell the carpenter, busy sawing and shaping wood to make our ideas a reality – he’s done an amazing job! Our favourite features are the helmet shelf and wheel hanging system, they really save space and also show off the products brilliantly. Talking of which new Giro helmets will continue to arrive over the next few weeks as they are coming into stock, particularly looking forward to seeing the Feature helmet. We have put up wall hangers for our new Lapierre bike range that will be coming in over the next few weeks as well, with the first road and fast commuter bikes coming in next week (we hope!). Up till now the space in the shop has been fine for people dropping off bikes for servicing or popping in for something specific they need, however its not been easy for the casual browser being so cramped. Its hoped the layout of the shop will be much more welcoming to potential browsers, encouraging them to stay talk bikes and maybe buy something!

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Well it’s been a very busy couple of weeks!

Well it’s been a very busy couple of weeks! With students returning after the summer we’ve had a nice flow of them coming in for help and advise. Really great to see so many eager to commute by bike! So services and tune ups have been popular, with brakes being of particular importance, bearing in mind the locations of both unis!

Students have also been taking advantage of our discount – 20% off standard service charge, 10% off locks and lights and 10% off new bikes.

We also got to enjoy one of the last days of amazing weather, by heading over to the Afan forest in South Wales, and taking on the amazing 30 mile skyline trail with our mountain bikes. Over an hour of climbing was hard work, but worth it for the stunning views at the top, and, of course, the fantastic final descent!

We also enjoyed hanging out with the Rapha coffee van- possibly the best coffee had in a long time!

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Some exciting developments have been planned for the next couple of weeks!

Some exciting developments have been planned for the next couple of weeks!

For a start we will be closed on Monday the 31st of October, and at least the 1st and 2nd of November as we plan to be refurbishing the shop- making it much more open plan and “user friendly” for both us and customers.

We will then have space to display our new Lapierre bikes! They do a wide range, and we got the chance to see them at the Hotlines show at the Paintworks. There we were very impressed by the finshing quality of even the lower spec bikes, with finshing kits including Ritchey bars.

The carbon Zesty was also incredibly eye catching, especially with it’s colour co-ordinated pivots, seat clamp, brakes and gear hanger- although what was really amazing was it’s weight!

Both Lapierre mountain and road bikes are well reviewed, we were particularly impressed by the recent review of the women’s specific Zesty.

Kinesis have also been making a splash for themselves, with more great reviews in Cycling plus, Road CC and What mountain bike, for the TK2, Maxlight KM220L, GranFondo (Titanium and Scandium) and Crosslight Pro 6.