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Author Topic: Looking at a return to cycling  (Read 787 times)
grahame
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« on: September 28, 2020, 07:19:42 am »

With restrictions newly imposed at my local station (short term spaces changed from "Rail Use Only" to "Pick up and Drop off" so no longer available to volunteers not travelling, and charges introduced in the longer term car park), I am considering a return to cycling.  Good motivation to make me a bit greener and fitter.    But it is many years since I cycled.  Questions / advise welcome.  Please bear in mind that my sense of balance is poor these days (only one working ear / balance organ) and my energy gets soak up quickly - so I think I need electric. And I would like to be able to travel easily with the cycle, including on a bus - so looking at folding.  Amongst my questions to myself (many can be answered online, but I would love views ...):
* How good are folding electric bikes and do people find them impractically heavy on public transport?
* What about security for such cycles on days that I really don't need the bike at the far end - cycle to station and park it there?
* How much energy would I need to ride such a bike?
* If I have luggage / stuff to take, how heavy a backpack can I realistically ride with?
* Wet weather and protective clothing?
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2020, 07:53:33 am »

Stick my neck out time!

Caveats:
1.  I have no experience of electric bikes.

2.  I am a Brompton owner, and fan.

First consideration is that there is apparently a shortage of new bikes on the market. Lots of people like yourself Graham.

Read the reviews, and canvas opinion (which is what you are doing).

Whatever it is, try and get a decent test drive/cycle.

Decide your budget? After you have had a test drive/cycle, after all those years you wouldn't want to splash the cash and then find it is not really for you.

My first (expected) suggestion is hire a Brompton. There are two Brompton docks in Bristol:
https://www.bromptonbikehire.com/docks/2623-bristol:--temple-meads
https://www.bromptonbikehire.com/docks/3156-bristol:-bristol-assembly
and one at Parkway:
https://www.bromptonbikehire.com/docks/3132-bristol:-parkway
Hire for a day, or two and see how your balance etc is feeling. Bromptons are a bit light on the controls, but not so light to carry (save gym fees?).

The Brompton electric adds a ?1000 to the price, and a fair bit of weight.

My personal problem with the electric is the lack of load capacity. I am impressed with the Brompton luggage system, and have the largest bag that was available, with the electric there is one size with part of the space taken up by the battery.

I have always been agin backpacks on bikes, raises the centre of gravity? and makes you less stable? So panniers of something like the Brompton system is my preference.

I never let the Brompton out of my sight, it is currently sitting under the desk.

Wet weather, I have a decent jacket and got some cheap overtrousers from Decathlon. More to the point don't ave money on lights.
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2020, 09:00:45 am »

Stick my neck out time!

Your post hugely appreciated ... and I'll almost certainly take a trip to Bristol over coming days, and be following up with experiences.  I took a look online at the end of last week, and have seen a massive variety of options; for sure many of the sales site are saying "out of stock" but others are claiming stock. 

I even walked in to the cycle store in our town. Promptly chucked out again to wait in the rain because they already had a customer in the shop.  And when I got back in and I enquired, they told me that they don't do electric foldable - helpfully gave me a place in Malmesbury to try; so much for trying to encourage local business - either 100% right of them to know their limits, or not clever turning business away.  But, yes, I would certainly have wanted to try a cycle ride before buying. 

Brompton Dock - excellent idea.   

Lights - noted / I had wondered.

I will take a look / think on both backpack and pannier - I'm unlikely to have heavy weights apart from the bike itself, as travelling with substantive stuff - if I do again - I'll get a lift to the station and if need be bus or taxi at far end.

Further reports to follow.    Further thoughts / comments in the meantime most welcomed!
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2020, 09:31:59 am »

Brompton is the cannonical folding bike. Nothing else folds as small, though there are some which are lighter to carry. But they're unobtainable at the moment unless you get lucky on ebay; the factory isn't even taking new orders, they're so busy. Other decent brands of folding bike include Dahon and Tern. Tern are certainly available with electric assist, I don't know about Dahon. There's a Tern dealer in Bath literally right by the station, Avon Valley Cyclery, and they're the kind of shop that's very much into bikes for transport rather than sport. But I think Brompton is the only one that strictly speaking folds up small enough to meet most TOCs' rules as luggage rather than a bike.

If you were thinking of a non-electric bike I'd definitely say buy secondhand to avoid an expensive wrong commitment and for speed of delivery etc. But I'm not too sure about a used e-bike. There are lots of dodgy home conversions out there as well as official products which are in various ways substandard.

Whatever you get, put mudguards on it if it hasn't got them already. It will rain and while rain from above is just wet, spray off your tyres is mixed in with all sorts of oil and dirt on the road. Also, it creates a stripe up your back that looks even more unfortunate than it feels.
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2020, 09:55:22 am »

Security is certainly an issue. If you are going to leave a bike anywhere that you can't see it, you need to be prepared to lose it or anything attached to it (lights, luggage etc).

As to lights: I'm in the market for a set of 'commuter lights' for my daughter, who now cycles to school every day - I will probably go for a Cateye Volt XC set, which is USB chargeable and costs around ?30 at Wiggle.

I subscribed to the Brompton Dock system a couple of years ago for the very reasons CyclingSid gives, but I haven't got round to actually taking one out! In theory, the combination of Brompton and public transport seems like a marriage made in heaven. Conventional Bromptons have a bewildering choice of gears, combining derailleur and Sturmey-Archer. I'm tempted to go for the Sturmey-Archer as it's simpler to maintain and I'm not planning to cover great distances or attack any Cat 1 hills. You can always get off and push it!

As to whether to go electric: If you think you might end up cycling home from Chippenham, it's probably worth it. But for trips from (say) your house to Melksham Station, or Swindon Station to the GWR offices, it would be very hard to justify.

Oh and it's not just Bromptons that are selling like hot cakes. My daughter is on the waiting list for a Nukeproof Scout. Hopefully we'll get it by springtime!







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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2020, 08:57:59 pm »

I subscribed to the Brompton Dock system a couple of years ago for the very reasons CyclingSid gives, but I haven't got round to actually taking one out! ...

I registered .. or rather tried to register a few minutes ago, and found buttons on my screen that would not work ... switched around and fought for a while before deciding I needed to do it from a phone ... came to try to download and got a screen of reviews, so bad like I have never seen before with everyone reporting problems. Well - actually - I've seen worse reviews once ... that was my wife's ex's sea fishing trip company in Florida, but we had better not go there.

I do need to try ... will find another way.
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grahame
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« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2020, 07:22:06 am »

I do need to try ... will find another way.

I hired a cycle for a few hours from Bath Narrowboats yesterday ... tried it out along the tow path. Glad to report I did not come off an end up either stung (left hand fall) or wet (right hand fall).   Stopped and took a few pictures which are to follow, as is the next chapter of the story.
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2020, 11:46:16 am »

I do need to try ... will find another way.

I hired a cycle for a few hours from Bath Narrowboats yesterday ... tried it out along the tow path. Glad to report I did not come off an end up either stung (left hand fall) or wet (right hand fall).   Stopped and took a few pictures which are to follow, as is the next chapter of the story.

Excellent news! Looking forward to the next chapter!
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2020, 01:53:16 pm »

There's a bloke I know in Birmingham who has several times ended up in the canals. It's worth pointing out this has almost always been on a Friday or Saturday night around about 11:30...
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johnneyw
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« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2020, 05:08:26 pm »

I do need to try ... will find another way.

I hired a cycle for a few hours from Bath Narrowboats yesterday ... tried it out along the tow path. Glad to report I did not come off an end up either stung (left hand fall) or wet (right hand fall).   Stopped and took a few pictures which are to follow, as is the next chapter of the story.

Coincidently (and off course unrelated to Grahame's tow path excursion) the Canal and River Trust are launching a campaign to make everyone do what the rest of us do when cycling canalside.

https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/news-and-views/our-campaigns/stay-kind-slow-down
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2020, 05:26:06 pm »

Shared use paths are, as discussed elsewhere, particularly hazardous. As Dave's cautionary tale shows, even when everyone is doing their best to be considerate collisions will occur.
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grahame
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« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2020, 02:05:13 pm »

I hired a cycle for a few hours from Bath Narrowboats yesterday ... tried it out along the tow path. Glad to report I did not come off an end up either stung (left hand fall) or wet (right hand fall).   Stopped and took a few pictures which are to follow, as is the next chapter of the story.

From last Tuesday:


Bringing the story forward ... after my Bath Narrowboats try-out, I popped into the cycle store under the arches at Bath Spa Station, briefly tried out an EZEGO Fold 2020 (folding electric bike) and arranged to pick one up at the end of the week.   Friday, you may recall, was nice weather for ducks; Lisa and I took the c-a-r down into Bath, had an early lunch at Five Guys (our first eat-out since March, so budget was allowed to go by the wayside) and picked up the bike - which I confirm folds and fits in the small car boot and came on home.

From Friday:


Saturday was also nice weather for ducks.  During a brief slackening of the rain, I headed on the cycle for the station. Truly the slackening was brief, and followed by a soaking - but cycle proven for the trip, with a journey time of just under ten minutes, and a try-out of the locking system so that I can lock the cycle and helmet in the roofed area on the platform.

From Saturday:


Sunday and I suspect the ducks are getting very tired of "nice weather".  Pouring with rain.  But a Wiltshire Council consultation including the sentence "However, Melksham is not well connected to Trowbridge with limited rail services and no cycle facility" struck me as rather odd.  Prior knowledge and reminder online research suggested that the National Cycle Route 403 from Melksham to Semington followed by the National Cycle Route 4 along the canal is a broadly traffic free and reasonably direct, and I have been out to check my facts on the ground. Always sensible to include practical experience when making consultation inputs, especially when you feel that practical "on the ground" knowledge is thin in the team that's put the consultation together.

Just under 45 minutes from home to Trowbridge Station. I now have trousers and coat dripping in the bathroom ...

From Sunday - a couple of hours ago:
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broadgage
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« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2020, 02:43:25 pm »

It might be worth obtaining two cycles.
A lightweight, pedal power only machine for taking onto trains.
And an electric one for cycling longer distances, extra weight is of little importance with electric power, and you wont be lifting it onto trains.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
grahame
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« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2020, 03:03:24 pm »

It might be worth obtaining two cycles.
A lightweight, pedal power only machine for taking onto trains.
And an electric one for cycling longer distances , extra weight is of little importance with electric power, and you wont be lifting it onto trains.

A number of options were considered.  I live far enough from any station, with limited physical energy, to be able to get there and back pedal power only and leave me with energy to whatever else I'm going to the station to do.  Full reports to come. 

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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2020, 03:42:15 pm »

Great stuff! How did the small wheels of the folder ride compared to the more standard sized ones, especially on the gravel and stones of the towpath?

Also, I see that EZEGO has a sort of protective guard on the front chainring but if you find your trousers getting oily, you've got a number of options. You've probably worked them out by now anyway but in addition to trousers in socks, there are a variety of devices such as snap wraps, velcro bands and even bespoke leather bands designed to keep your trousers unsmirched. Though in this weather it might not make any difference...
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