Cutting edge stuff! Whatever your preference in alternative transport, this issue will show you something entirely new. Folding bike? Follow our lightweight Brompton project – 10.9kg in 1997 and 9.5kg today. Electric bike? We can offer a range of 35 miles from a Lithium-ion battery… Gears? Professor Pivot investigates a practical fully automatic gearbox… Recumbents? Giant’s new Revive Spirit is stashed with technology.
We’ve tested the future, and it seems to work reasonably well. Compare today’s technology with that of ten years ago, and nothing would be wildly different – just incrementally better in every way. The next ten years will be much the same. Folding bicycles will continue to get lighter, and electric bicycles will go further and faster. At the moment, it’s all rather expensive, but another lesson of history is that prices usually fall once technology gets established. On a final rather gloomier note – today’s transport environment is much worse than it was ten years ago.Will that trend continue?
A to B 49 Contents
Riding a bicycle is getting easier and more reliable.With puncture-resistant tyres (page 24), drum brakes (page 22), a cargo trailer (page 32), and power-assist (page 27), almost anyone could transfer their family shopping from car to bike.Yet the number doing it in the UK can be counted in thousands (maybe hundreds) rather than millions. Why? We’re partly to blame, because we’re obviously failing to get the message across to ordinary people. But if you were to demonstrate this sort of technology outside your local supermarket, people would wave their hands at the sea of cars and blame ‘road safety’.They’d be right, of course. Bicycles may be easier to use and more reliable than ever before, but the perception is that roads have become dangerous places.Will this trend be reversed? Absolutely no idea, but we’re trying to plant the seeds of a revolution, and once a revolution begins, it’s often unstoppable. If a single TV chef can change attitudes to the way children eat, surely the same can be done for the way we get our food home, or the kids to school?
A to B 48 Contents
We’re a little late this time, but we know you will forgive us. Brompton has introduced a whole range of new bikes and by waiting a week or two, we’ve been able to bring you exclusive tests of the lightweight S2L-X and fully-equipped P6R-XDL, plus reviews of the all-new Mezzo i4 and the not-quite-so-new Hase Pino recumbent. With all this excitement, we’ve had to cut just about everything else, so there’s plenty to look forward to in issue 48, including puncture-proof tyres, drum brakes and all the usual tests.
We were hoping to make some sort of comment on the forthcoming election, but with the political parties becoming more and more similar, and less and less palatable, we thought better of it. None of the mainstream parties plans to do anything sensible about transport. Nothing new there then…
A to B 47 Contents
We live in interesting times. As bits of Antarctica drop off, and global meltdown accelerates goodness knows where, it’s business as usual in the UK – more and bigger cars doing more miles, renewed talk of a railway closure programme, and low-impact cycling right off the political agenda. Meanwhile, the chairman of Shell is riding a Brompton to work and making some very anti- oil comments. Whatever next!
Fear not! A to B brings you the usual eclectic mix to reverse the trends: half price bicycles, Routemaster buses, all the usual technical bits, plus gripping tests of bicycles and accessories. And to get you in the mood for a CO2-lite holiday this summer, we have reports on folding bike breaks in Switzerland and Wales.
A to B 46 Contents
For months now we’ve been terribly short of space, but at last we’ve progressed our master plan to add extra pages – four this time, but there may be more in 2005. More space means more expense, but we’re hoping to keep the cover price unchanged for the time being, and we’re grateful to our past and present advertisers who’s continued support has made this possible.A very jolly and prosperous Christmas to the cycle shops and manufacturers big and small that have backed us over the years, and to each and every subscriber. In such a specialist area, and with a relatively small subscription base, individuals really do count Thank you! Oops, almost forgot… bike of the month. We’re tempted to opt for the BionX. It’s certainly one of the most unusual bicycles we’ve seen.
A to B 45 Contents
Anyone renewing their subscription last month should have spotted our survey questions (yes, thanks to all those who pointed out that questions 5 and 7 were exactly the same). Democratic as ever, we’ve published the results on our website in a new page called Feedback, dedicated to your views. Just for the record, folding bike tests remain easily the most popular item in A to B, attracting 29% of the proportional representation votes.The Mole follows with 25%, and Reader’s Letters and Electric Tests both scored more than 20%. Quite coincidentally (we’re not that democratic) this issue is predominantly about folding bikes.
Lack of space is a perennial problem for such a minimalist magazine. Suffice to say that if you were hoping to see something this time and it isn’t here, our apologies. And finally, our ‘bike of the month’ is the Oyama Victor. See what you think.
A to B 44 Contents
Since May, our old web address email@example.com has remained in use on our web site, but only accepting mail with the word MAGAZINE printed in the body, effectively screening out all automated mail. Our primary email address, for magazine subscribers only, changed to firstname.lastname@example.org and this remained unrestricted.
Onetel is now making its own anti-viral arrangements, necessitating a change to @onetel.com, so we’re changing again: email@example.com for casual web enquiries and firstname.lastname@example.org for you lucky lot. Please wipe out all other addresses and use this one in future, because after 1st September the old addresses will cease to exist. No code words needed. Dead simple, eh?
Enough tedium – we thought it would be interesting to reveal which of our test bikes we’d most like to keep each month.This time, it just has to be the Helios SL. See what you think.
A to B 43 Contents
A slightly unusual issue this time because we’re overwhelmed with bikes.This has meant squeezing out The Mole (no doubt back on full form for the next issue) and much else has been cropped to make room, but with so much fascinating hardware around, we guessed you’d rather we cut the waffle and made space available.
We continue to live through momentous times. Oil prices have peaked in recent weeks, on the mere suggestion that supplies from Saudi Arabia might be disrupted. And here in the UK, the hint of a few pence on a gallon has brought the threat of another road blockade. Meanwhile, we’ve been branded the fattest, or perhaps it’s the fastest-growing fat nation in Europe (maybe on earth), as we continue to exercise less and drive more…Where will it all end? Whatever’s coming, it’s just as well to be prepared, and that’s what A to B is all about.
A to B 42 Index
Tale of our times: Like many, we were finding the burden of unsolicited emails a bit tiresome and decided to reopen our long disused email address box at email@example.com in place of firstname.lastname@example.org, because it seemed a more logical address anyway. What we didn’t know is that many of you have been communicating with atob@ for years, presumably without reply. When we activated the address, tens of emails fell out, some quite old. If you’ve been waiting years for a reply, do try again. Otherwise, please alter your address book, because a2b will soon be extinguished.
2004 looks set to be an important year for folding bikes, electric bikes and, by definition, this magazine. No products available yet, but if you look closely, there are some clues in this issue – faster, lighter electric machines, lighter, more aerodynamic folding bikes, and easier ways to pedal. The A to B world has never looked so interesting.
A to B 41 Contents
A few price adjustments for overseas subscribers. In the current jargon, this might be described as enhanced customer choice, but all it really means is a price increase. Due to unreliable delivery and increased costs, we’re no longer sending magazines by surface mail. However, economies of scale have enabled us to reduce the airmail rate from £19 to £17.50. Great news if you’re buying in pounds, but not so good in US dollars, because the current exchange rate puts the price right back up again. Ah well, it’ll all come out in the wash.
A particularly full magazine this time – revised Brompton, new Sturmey Archer 8-speed hub, new folding electric bike (don’t get too excited), a review of 16-inch tyres and a great deal more, naturally. How do we do it for £12/£17.50?
Several problems with renewals lately – if yours is due, it should say so on the envelope, and there should be a little form inside the magazine. This time, we’ve also enclosed a red subscription flyer for everyone.This does not mean your subscription is due, but do please pass it on to someone who would appreciate the A to B message!
A to B 40 Contents
Our advocacy of electric bikes continues to cause controversy. Some readers have made the point that they never see electric bikes on the road, so why bother testing them? Had ‘A to B’ been around in 1903, we would certainly be trying the new steam and petroleum-powered automobiles. They’d be slow, unreliable and offer a limited range. No doubt we’d get letters telling us that they were elitist, expensive, never likely to replace the horse, etc, etc.
The petroleum automobile went on to be rather too successful, which is partly why we’re looking at alternative means of locomotion in 2003. It’s always hard to judge the future of transport, but we’re bound to see massive change in the next few years, and we’re convinced that electric bikes will have a serious role to play when the dust settles.
We may look back in a decade or so and laugh about the 8mph pedicabs with a range of 19 miles, but we will also be glad that we experimented with – and in a small way, helped to perfect – such pioneering machines. That’s why we will continue to feature electric bikes.
A to B 39 Contents
Yes, ten years and 61 editions ago, we started publishing the diminutive ‘Folder’ magazine that evolved into A to B. Thanks to all those individuals who’ve helped in various ways over the years (if only by subscribing), and to the companies that have backed us from Day One – shops such as Avon Valley, Cyclecare, Cycle Heaven and Norman Fay, and manufacturers: Andrew Ritchie of Brompton (subscriber 30), Hanz Scholtz of Bike Friday (55) and Mark Sanders of Strida (91).We now have more than 2,400 subscribers, incidentally…
Things have certainly changed in the office. If you’re sending us written material or photographs, do put your name and contact details clearly on the item itself. The A to B office is in a permanent state of chaos: cats demolish teetering piles of paper, children reverse Range Rovers and trailers across the desk, and magazines, envelopes and maps stack up in every corner. If we lose your name, we probably won’t be able to use the item!
A to B 38 Contents
Not much about bicycles in this issue, but plenty of transport, including supersonic planes, solar power, a brace of electric bikes, child trailers, a recumbent trike, ferries, open-top buses and trains.Yes, it’s true – the Royal Mail will in future be carried by road (although most experts agree it will cost more in the long run). And you can wave a cheque-book at a British railway company all day, but it won’t sell you a ticket to Amsterdam (hardly rocket-science, is it?). Oh, and the railway network now costs four times as much as it did in BR days (yes, in real terms)? It could be worse, but it’s sometimes difficult to see how…
Technical things do pop up in A to B from time to time, and we’ve had a few reminders that the technical bits can be hard to understand. Please don’t give up – there’s a full explanation of G- meters and electrical terminology on our web site. Enter any of the ‘Electric Bike’ pages and click on ‘Technical Things Explained’ at the bottom of the page.
A to B 37 Contents
Ah, technology. Our web site has been down for two weeks out of the last eight, because our ISP has made multiple detags of our address… whatever that means. If you’ve had problems with the site, it’s worth trying one of our satellites: www.a2bmagazine.care4free.net or www.electricbikes.care4free.net These alternatives are even less reliable, and tend to lag behind the real thing and lack a few graphics, but they’re better than nothing.
Back with good old-fashioned paper, you may have noticed an advertising leaflet in this issue, for both A to B and Velovision. The two magazines are complementary in many ways – we’re both minuscule in printing terms, but Velovision is bigger, glossier and more enthusiast-based, while A to B is a smaller and, er, more economical version of the same thing. In this rare (possibly unique) example of co-operation, we’ve decided to share publicity costs.
Please pass the leaflet on to a deserving type. Better still, if you can display leaflets at work, please get in touch and we’ll ship you a pack with a display stand.
A to B 36 Contents
If you’re lucky enough to own any of the later Folder magazines or early A to Bs, we hope you’ll agree that they really were rather good. In those far-off days – before the two-monthly A to B cycle became a bit of a production line – we spent a lot more time over the writing and artwork.The photos were scratchy black and white, and – pre-internet of course – the audience was small, but the results could be quite entertaining.To mark our fast approaching 100th edition we’re dragging some of these classics out of the archives and remastering them… where possible in glorious technicolour. Do send in your requests… we have most of the original photos, so pretty well anything is possible.
A to B 35 Contents
We live in momentous times. Not just because the world stands on the brink of what may yet deteriorate into a third global conflict, but – ironically – because the UK transport scene has lurched towards oil-centricity. New rail services, both freight and passenger, have been abandoned, current services are being scaled back, and the Government is pouring funds into a new round of trunk-road construction. The days when the Government heaved Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott onto a bicycle to illustrate transport policy are long gone…Whatever your politics, the good news comes from London, where Ken Livingstone is pressing ahead with the Congestion Charge, hoping to use the funds to improve public transport and cycle facilities. Good on you, Ken.
A to B 34 Index
A big welcome to hundreds of new subscribers this month, and particularly to our 2,000th victim. If you’re new to A to B, our speciality is transport, primarily pedal power and pedal/electric power. Not leisure cycling, but real A to B stuff. Our aim, if you haven’t already guessed, is to tackle the frightening trends of recent years and bring a little sanity back into transport. So how are we doing? Well, 2,000 of you are clearly heading our way – just another 50 million to go… Actually, you’re an influential lot: many local authorities and transport professionals subscribe (although, strangely, not the Department of Transport), so our influence is greater than you might expect.
A to B 33 Index
Problems with space as usual, so we’ve expanded onto the internet. Don’t worry if you aren’t connected to the confounded thing – the magazine will continue on paper just as before, but we’re hoping to use the net to publish travel articles and items of general interest that would otherwise remain on file. E-publishing is not new, but we’ve listed the ‘shadow’ articles below, together with the ‘real’ ones, which just might be.The address is www.atob.org.uk/32/ plus the relevant page number below.There’s no security password, so these pages are available for anyone to see, but the index is in the magazine, just to annoy non-subscribers.
Thanks to all those who made our stand at CYCLE 2002 such a success, particularly Roger de Freitas for the accommodation, Rob Cope for organising it, Adam Hart-Davis,Tony Hadland and Len Rubin for the fantastic lectures, and Pod & Gordon for tailing Alexander.Thanks also to the 150+ subscribers who took the trouble to drop by and say hello.We really do appreciate the kind words, and apologies that we had so little time to spare, particularly on the Friday morning.
A to B 32 Index
Issue 30 featured only one road test.This time we have a queue of seven bikes that would take over a year to despatch at the rate of one per issue.We’ve decided to cut a number of regular features and hold some tests over until next time.The result, we hope, is something for everyone, and – needless to say – we’re pretty confident they’re all UK exclusives. In the long-term, we could solve the problem by growing, but that would mean a subscription increase – something we’ve tried hard to avoid.Your views would be welcome…
Several readers have shown concern that we might sell or trade their personal details to other publications or companies. As we do everything in-house from your initial enquiry to dispatching magazines – and have no intention of trading information at any price – please be assured that junk mail will not follow.
A to B 31 Index