Teach ‘em a lesson!
I’d like to add my voice to the recent debate (Letters A to B 29 & 30) on feigning injury after a crash. I have suffered two nasty incidents in the last few years – one where I was deliberately sideswiped by a motorist and another where a car passenger engrossed in a mobile phone conversation opened his door onto a cycle lane. As I avoided a serious collision and/or injury in both cases, the police were completely disinterested, even though I had some enthusiastic witnesses.The point is not so much that I suffered trauma, but that I was lucky or skillful enough on these occasions (probably the latter!) to escape injury. Neither miscreant showed the slightest remorse, both got off scot-free, and they’re both liable to re-offend.The next time it might be a child or an elderly person.With the benefit of hindsight, I would certainly stage an injury in future, if it helped get the police involved.
Easy on the Motorist!
I am surprised at your answer to Malcolm Clarke’s letter with regard to feigning injury following a Road Traffic Accident. I have been a motorist for many years and a cyclist since childhood, and I have certainly seen some stupid driving, but I have also seen some stupid cycling, especially more recently – cyclists riding through pedestrian crossings while people are crossing, along pavements, the wrong way down one-way streets, and through red lights. If a cyclist does this and is hit by a car, are you still going to claim the motorist is to blame? If so, feigning an injury in an attempt to arouse sympathy from the crowd would be outrageous. I really believe you should think this through again. If I drove my car like some people ride bikes, I would expect to lose my licence.
Colin Rose (Member, the Association of British Drivers)
Cyclists certainly do some daft things, but they’re generally only risking their own lives. Children can be daft too, as can animals – as an experienced motorist, you’ll no doubt appreciate the need to predict their actions too.The biggest cause of crashes is motorists driving too fast for the conditions and being unable to avoid animate or inanimate objects such as cars, cyclists, children, brick walls or trees.The first rule for all road users must be to travel at a speed that allows them to stop when the unexpected occurs. And as motorists represent the greatest danger to others, we think it’s perfectly fair that they should suffer tougher penalties if they fail to observe this simple rule.
Incidentally, in a useful bit of Euro-harmonisation, we understand that the UK may eventually be forced to adopt the Dutch model, putting the onus on motorists to prove that they were not at fault following a collision with a cyclist or pedestrian, rather than visa versa. (Eds)
Cars are Rubbish
Thanks for running an interesting magazine. I think it’s wonderful we can have a magazine for car bashing. If anyone asks me why I don’t drive (I can, and have a licence), I say ‘I would be ashamed to’. Apart from the fact that cars are ugly, inefficient and stink, they’re rubbish in engineering terms, solving the problems of centrifugal and gyroscopic forces by simply adding more weight and wider tyres. How car drivers are not ashamed to take it upon themselves to live off the fat of the land in this way is beyond my comprehension.
More Bus Troubles
After travelling to work with my Brompton on the bus for six months, I encountered a problem on 1st July. A new driver said ‘We do not accept folding bikes’. I said ‘I haven’t had any problem before’, to which he replied ‘We carry pushchairs and suitcases.We do not accept folding bikes!’ Fortunately, he agreed to let me travel that time.
However, since our paths could cross again, I took his registration number and called Arriva HQ, where I was told that the company leaves it up to the driver, but I was impressed with a response acknowledging my complaint two days later. Coincidentally, I encountered the same driver the following day. He just looked at my pass and said ‘Thank you’.
Only five days after the incident I received a written response from the Operations Manager apologising and explaining that I can travel with my bicycle as long as there is enough room on the bus, which there always is, because I commute in the opposite direction to most other people.
The company explained, ‘the driver concerned will be seen regarding this incident,’ and even enclosed two free single trip vouchers. I was impressed with the way Arriva dealt with my complaint, especially since I rely on the bus to get to work. It would be ironic if the company now responsible for the Dales Bike Bus is found to be turning away passengers at the first sight of a package that looks vaguely like a bicycle.
In A to B 3, you trialled the three 7-speed hub gears then available and wrote thus: ‘… we would totally discount the Shimano… the seven speed appears to be lacking in all areas against the other hubs.’ In Cycle Touring & Campaigning magazine, Chris Juden reluctantly recommended the Sachs over the Sturmey Archer at the same time. In the current issue of Velovision, Crispin Bennett suggests the Shimano Nexus 7 is more trouble than it’s worth.
In A to B 30 you tell us that the Sachs/SRAM 7-speed is, ‘nowhere near as pleasant to use or adjust as the superficially similar Sturmey or Nexus’. Can you clarify please? Before you conclude that I am a sad rivet counter, my main concern is to buy products as locally as possible – now that Sturmey Archer has gone, I would have little doubt that Shimano would like to become the sole supplier of these hubs.
In most respects – weight, price, gear range and (particularly) adjustability – the Sturmey was streets ahead of the opposition, but it proved frail in service.With the benefit of several years use of the others – the Nexus has the edge on adjustment, but like Chris Juden, we’d give the SRAM a rather grudging thumbs up overall. Our main gripe is that this hub uses a thin steel rod rather than a cable to effect gear changes, which can be hit-and-miss affairs. Sun Race Sturmey is reintroducing the old Sturmey Archer hubs, so we may see a new 7-speed in the shops soon. (Eds)
I have been searching for a hard suitcase to fit a Brompton and at last I’ve found one… a Globe-Trotter Eminent GT Pullman 32in, reduced from £109 to £43.60 in the sale at Debenham’s Stoke-on-Trent store. Lucky me!
There is room on all sides to cushion the bike with clothes etc, to help protect it during airport loading and unloading. A more expensive Globe-Trotter model was given a glowing write-up in the travel section of the Sunday Telegraph recently. It said the Globe- Trotter brand was well known for durability. However, I have not yet been able to put the case to a flight test. Globe-Trotter cases are distributed by Greenwich Group Limited, Fourth Floor, 5 Greenwich View Place, Millharbour, London E14 9NN.
Sleep On It!
Thanks for the information regarding cheap sleeper tickets in A to B 28. I used it early in March to travel to Fort William, spending just one night in the town. Due to strike action, I found my return journey the following day was to be from Inverness. As I didn’t fancy a road coach transfer, I cycled to Inverness via Aviemore. On another trip, I travelled from London to Glasgow, and cycled to Stirling, returning three days later by train.The following information may be of use to fellow travellers:
1) If storing a Brompton bicycle in a sleeper berth, it will only fit at right angles to the bed and can be positioned near the sink. On three trips where I had to share, the other person was happy with this! I did cover the bike with a plastic sack.
2) A full touring pannier bag will fit along the sink unit shelf between the two beds.
3) I used another sack over the front bag to keep the rain off…
The sleeper trains are a great way to get to Scotland with your bike and they’re run by Scotrail, not Virgin – reason enough for some travellers.We managed to fit all our bags and two Bromptons in the berth when we travelled to Aberdeen a few years ago, but space was obviously at a premium. For those with larger bicycles, skis, or huntin’ shootin’ & fishin’ paraphernalia, the Caledonian Sleepers still have guards vans, but the situation may change when new rolling stock is introduced. Visit www.scotrail.co.uk for the latest information. (Eds)
A Vote for Solid Tyres
Why are cycle shops so set against solid tyres? Punctures put people off cycling, and with modern technology such as shock absorbers, telescopic forks etc, it shouldn’t matter too much if they are a wee bit firm!
I’d given up cycling because of punctures – I used to cycle to work, but the bike proved unreliable, so I started motoring. I had a Bickerton too, and I loved it! But at the start of a holiday in the Lake District, I suffered a flat tyre, miles from the nearest cycle shop.What with the bad weather as well, I ended up taking the next train home.
Now, thanks to Green Tyres, I’m back on the bike and life’s worth living again!
For bigger wheels and lowish speeds, solid tyres can be perfectly practical. However, rolling resistance and a hard ride become more of a problem on smaller tyres, particularly 16 inch and below.We tried a Brompton with hybrid foam-filled tubes and the tyres were warm to the touch after a couple of miles, as was the rider (see A to B 9). Big sizes abound, but there are no solid tyres to suit the 349mm Brompton, Micro or Bickerton.To some extent, though, the puncture resistance of modern tyres has reduced the need for solid tyres.You might find it worth looking again at pneumatics! (Eds)
Know Any More?
A group of us are looking into trying to buy a Velocity electric bike from Switzerland as we’ve read some good things about them. Unfortunately, the website is all in German and we know of no outlets in the UK. Do you have any information on these very practical sounding bikes?
This is one for our Swiss and German readers, because this attractive and practical-looking bike is not available in the UK at present.The specification reads like an electric bike wish-list: 24kg (53lb) in weight, top speed (an illegal) 18mph, range 17 miles and recharge time of under an hour. If you have no luck, try the manufacturer:Velocity AG, Burgweg 15, CH-4058 Basel, Switzerland. Tel: +41 61 693 4358. (Eds)
In Favour of the Heinzmann
At last you review the best ebike! I bought a Heinzmann after road-testing all the others and being disappointed every time. Reading the company’s website convinced me to buy one and I am not disappointed. None of the problems you mentioned are there on Heinzmann’s own bike, the Estelle, and the range of motors is helpful: I chose a good compromise of speed and range.
My bike has a conventional throttle control but includes a pedal movement sensor that acts as a ‘dead mans handle’, disconnecting the motor when you stop pedalling.You really must have a safety device of some sort on any electric-powered machine as it has to be safe to leave around children.
I hardly ever turn off the ignition, except for long periods of non-use, or to discourage tampering – the bike is padlocked when not being ridden.The batteries lock onto the rack effectively and hide very well behind panniers too. I bought mine with an extra battery, which always comes along.This is great when I forget to recharge or make a really long trip.
I plan to change the bicycle frame for a much bulkier one as I carry two kids of five and eight years old plus luggage. I tried a pedicab and a trailer, but we usually cycle in heavy, slow or stationary traffic. Incidentally, the front child carrier is hung on the handlebars and balances everything nicely – it’s not much fun carrying just one child on the back as all the weight of two batteries is there too.
The Estelle comes with every accessory you might need – speedo, pump, lights, mudguards, high pressure tubes and really good tyres with reflective walls. DO get a real one to try sometime – Yamahas and Powabykes nearly put me off E-bikes altogether. I still like riding bikes without power, but not while carrying or towing. Remember lightweights? You don’t get to do this sort of riding often when you have kids.
After 700 miles, we’re also pleased with our Heinzmann. Range while towing is a bit limited at 10- 14 miles, but it’s quite hilly here and the two hour recharge is a real bonus. Like Tim, we rarely use the powered bike for solo rides, but they’re becoming increasingly rare.What the Heinzmann has done is enable us to take Alexander on more and longer leisure rides that we might not have made otherwise. A few weeks ago we rode 12 miles to the Gartell Miniature Railway at Templecombe in Dorset (highly recommended for steam enthusiasts) and plugged the battery in at the ticket office for the journey home. Excellent stuff. (Eds)
A Spoke-eating Curry
Some months ago I bought a Curry Electrodrive and fitted it to my ‘get to work and back’ MTB. It works very well and I’m delighted with it although after 400+ miles of satisfactory service, the strange wobbling from the back of the bike and funny angle of the brakes became too much to ignore.You’ve no doubt guessed what comes next – Yep, ten spokes had snapped at the head end. What made it even worse was that they were all on one side, leaving only eight holding that side of the wheel up!
When the unit is bolted in place it bends the spokes towards the main unit and this stress eventually snaps the heads off.To remedy this I’ve fitted thick rubber sheet under the retaining plates, but only time will tell if this has cured the problem. It was fun re-lacing wheels again after all these years (I used to build them for friends when I was a lad) but I didn’t get the dishing right – good enough for work though!
The Electrodrive is available in two versions – one driving via the spokes, which we always thought a bit dubious, and the other via a custom drive mechanism into the back wheel. Unfortunately, this cheap and powerful bicycle drive appears to be without a UK importer at present, but let us know if you hear otherwise. (Eds)
Bike, Scooter or Car?
I need personal transport to and from work, and I’ve never ridden an electric bike before. My journey is approximately 15 miles (seven miles there and seven back); the land is quite flat (North East Lincolnshire), and I am a reasonably fit 40 year old, but will need to do this five days a week. I remember cycling a non-electric bike when I was in my early twenties (the same type of journey), and I found that taxing five days a week.
Do you think a modern electric bike would be feasible? Or should a greying oldster like me use a car or scooter? Would even an electric bike puff me out?
Paul Hunter, via email
Please don’t consider the car or scooter, because the electric-assist bikes below will handle this sort of daily mileage with ease, and provide you with exercise and fresh air too. If speed is a priority, we’d suggest the Electrodrive (but note the warning on page 15), followed by Powabyke’s Euro, or Commuter. If low weight is important, we’d suggest the Giant Lafree Lite or Comfort, and if you have a suitable bike already, try the Heinzmann or S-Drive conversions. (Eds)
Just a quick note to support Martin Fillan’s comments about catching his feet on Brompton rear rollers. As a size 101/2 (45 European) I had exactly the same problem, especially if I was wearing trousers with turn-ups, which tended to catch on the rollers. I overcame it by taking the dished plastic wheels off and putting them back on with the dish facing inwards. This seemed to give just enough clearance.
We’d still suggest giving your feet a few weeks to become accustomed to the rollers before making changes, because the full width rollers really are useful, especially on the train. Back in 1991 when we bought our first Brompton, we found the rollers annoying, but within weeks we’d acclimatised and the problem never recurred. (Eds)
Brompton Trailer Hitch
Is there a child trailer tat would hitch onto the Brompton? I believe they normally clip onto the bottom bit of the back of the bike. I have just had a baby and am wanting a trailer, but lack any kind of space in my flat so am possibly looking for a collapsible bike, too.
Emily, via email
If space is a problem, we’d suggest the Brompton (unbeatable folded size), Burley Solo trailer (the smallest and lightest around), and the Burley hub-gear hitch.This is the best trailer hitch available, and you can even fold the Brompton rear wheel under with the trailer connected. Not cheap, but worth every penny. Burley UK: 07000 287539, Brompton: 020 8232 8484 (Eds).
The Final Word
In which you get your say… briefly
Another epic issue . Excellent . Absolutely great . Love it . Not A to B, you’re A* Useful info and a great read . Unpretentious, small format, interesting . Humour, modest size, and above all, an eclectic mix . Dry humour . Love the acerbic wit . Best value publication A cover to cover magazine . Best magazine in the country . Bit lefty, but I enjoy it immensely Nice to read a different view on cycling . I look forward to it . Long may you continue Still the best . Jolly useful and fun . Always inspirational . Enjoy comments on modern life and glimpses of a potentially better future . Best representation of ecology with responsibility Very interested in electric bikes . Not remotely interested in electric bikes . Like the bits on railways and politics . Commuting by train with a folder is not that important to me Any information on Bromptons welcome . More on load-carrying, less on electrics More on cycling by folder in big cities . More on standard cycles and maintenance Keep up the comments on politics . Love it . Should be compulsory reading!