Nutters on bikes

You’ve probably already seen his video of Danny MacAskill reliving his childhood playtime in full size…

But have you seen this one of Martyn Ashton? He does something similar but instead of using a strong framed trials bike, he uses a £10,000 road bike (in fact it’s the same one used by Team Sky). This guy is truly mental…

Kona Dr Dew continued

I’ve had this bike (check the Kona Dew Deluxe also) for a while now and had more time to use it. It’s still not my main use bike as I use my racer for the daily commute but it is what I use for cycling with my son or my dog and for quick runs to the shops. So, what do I think?

Well, in short, I love it. it’s comfortable to ride, stops really well (I just love the brakes) and it looks good too.

I’m no expert but the one thing that has bothered me slightly is the mid-range gearing. I don’t know exactly which gear it is but there is one step somewhere around 14th or 15th that is too big. It goes from being too hard to pedal to far too easy. However, the reason I have not bothered to find out exactly where the issue occurs is that it’s only really noticeable if I’ve already cycled a long way and have tired legs or am going uphill. In either case I just back off a little and the problem is solved.

Before I bought this bike I had not heard of Kona. Now that I’ve had it my only regret is that I didn’t have a bigger budget when I bought my racer. Then I could have bought one of their racers as well!

Kona Dr Dew 2013

As you may have read, the tail-end of 2013 brought a lot of bike misery to me. I had my long serving and much abused mountain bike stolen, I replaced it with a hybrid and, after just 11 days, that was stolen too. Luckily a friend of a friend (who runs a bike shop) took sympathy on me and offered to sell me a good bike at a great price. While researching for the first hybrid I’d looked at the Dr Dew but I have a real problem with Cyklotkeket since their staff pretty much ignored me when I wanted to buy my racer and then when I asked for help told me they didn’t have time because the shop would shut in 15 minutes. Now I had a second chance to get the same bike at a better price and from a nicer place.

I went for a quick test ride and was convinced this would be a good bike for me. It was comfy to ride, seemed to be well-specced, didn’t have the lockable front suspension which had annoyed me a little on my Specialized hybrid and would be fitted with the lights, speedo etc that were stolen along with the last bike.

We agreed on a price and I gave the shop a few days to get it in order before going to collect it. I then cycled back across Stockholm to my work. Almost immediately I started to regret my decision. Cycling was a nightmare. I pedaled and pedaled but seemed to go nowhere. Sure, it was windy but it wasn’t that bad, was it? Oh well, too late now so I took the bike home, waited a few days for the wind to die down and tried again. Talk about a difference! It was easy to ride, I could keep up a fairly high speed without too much effort and it was not nearly as jarring as I bashed up and down kerbs compared with the Specialized and that lockable suspension.

Now came the only problem. I wanted to go out for a ride but had no time during the day and it was dark already at night. I’m a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to riding new bikes and prefer to be able to have an easy bedding in period where I only ride in nice conditions and on roads I know. Weeks went by with just short spurts when dropping off my son at day care or zooming to the shops but no long rides. Finally I got an hour to myself and went for a quick spin. My initial negativity is now totally washed away and I love it. The two main gripes I had with the Specialized Crosstail were the lockable front forks (see above) and also the fairly uncomfortable hand-grips. No such issues on the Kona. The brakes are also very good and were particularly strong in the wet which was nice.

What I have heard is that the main difference between the 2013 and 2014 models will be a downgrade of the brakes so, if you are thinking of getting one, I highly recommend you strike now. Yes, the vivid lime green colour of the 2014 model is a bit more eye-catching but I’d rather have a bike that will stop on demand than one that is a little bit prettier.

Do you ride one? Are you pleased with it? If you have anything you want to share on Kona or on the Dr Dew, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

new wheel for converting your bike to an e-bike

As both Pierre and I wrote after Stockholm Bike Expo, e-bikes are all the rage. But what if you already have a bike you love, don’t want / can’t afford to shell out for another but like the idea of an e-bike?

Well maybe the FlyKly wheel could be the answer to your problems. An electric wheel that you can attach to pretty much any bike. Not only that but you can also control it via your smart phone to lock it and track it if stolen (you should know why I’m in favour of that!)

FlyKly Smart Wheel

I still don’t see myself as an e-bike owner and, at the moment, it’s at the Kick Starter stage but it’s a fantastic idea that deserves to get some support. Watch their Kick Starter pitch here.

some pretty out there solutions

Cycle in town

Everyone agrees that something needs to be done to make our inner cities more bike-friendly. The problem is that nobody seems to agree on exactly how that should be achieved. At the one extreme you have bikers who say we should ban all cars, at the other are the drivers who think they should be able to mow done those cockroach cyclists who flout every rule in the book at every available opportunity.

Of course the real solution is somewhere in the middle. There are only two ways major change is going to happen though. Either the politicians need to get behind a serious move for change and give it a serious budget rather than just spouting platitudes and buzzwords or there will eventually be a major spate of cyclist deaths in towns which will stun everyone into action.

While everyone dithers around and doesn’t actually do anything, why not read about some more extreme suggestions that are being floated for how to fix London.

giro d’sverige?

Giro D'Italia in Sweden?

Giro d’Italia takes place in Italy and the Tour de France takes place in France, right? Wrong! More and more they are visiting other countries including England, Northern Ireland and Denmark. And now the Giro may be coming to Sweden1. It’s not going to happen any time soon with the discussions mentioning some time after 2017 but at least it’s being discussed. It could be done in conjunction with Vätternrundan which would mean that most of the infrastructure is already in place and that us mere mortals would be able to join in and ride the same course as the professionals on the same day. Assuming I make it round my first Vätternrundan next year, this would definitely make a second more interesting for me.


  1. http://www.eurosport.se/cykel/giro-d-italia/2012/girot-i-samtal-om-mojlig-start-i-sverige-fantastiskt-erbjudande_sto4011459/story.shtml 

Sweden Bike Expo 2013

Over the weekend I spent a few hours at Sweden Bike Expo at Kistamässan in Stockholm. As you would expect there were big stands for the big names including Shimano, Scott, Nishiki and Cannondale, some local interest groups such as cycle clubs and political organisations who plan to improve cycling around Sweden and then the obligatory sellers of gear that you didn’t know existed or didn’t need to replace but now absolutely must have!

After a quick walk through the hall I then tried to narrow down what I actually wanted to look at. Since my bike has been stolen (again) I need a new one so had a look at a few people who had hybrids within my fairly modest budget. There was always either something I didn’t like about the bike or it was slightly too expensive. I homed in on a Nishiki but the bike was 600SEK over my budget and then I’d need to buy lights, a decent lock etc on top of that so I decided not to go for it.

For years I have been sporting a very nice pair of Specialized gloves while cycling. If I’m honest though I only had them cos I thought they looked flash. Then I started cycling more seriously and, one rainy day, forgot my gloves. Then I realised just how much use they were. They’re getting a little old (about 15 years) and, worse still, they don’t match my current gear, the horror! I had a look around and found a pair that fit nicely, felt good and were really clever. I’ve always had trouble getting my gloves off cos they’re tight and stick to my sweaty hands. These ones had little pulls between the fingers so you can just tug them off. Simple yet effective. Did I buy them? No. The bank seems to think I have to have money in my account before they allow me to spend any.

That Nishiki really was nice. And only a little over budget. Maybe just one more quick look.

The most popular thing seemed to be electric bikes. My friend was interested in getting one so we had a look at a few. While I’m sure they are all very cool in their own little ways, a large number had to be immediately removed from consideration. They were so damn ugly and I’m sorry but I’m never going to buy a bike that is just ugly. Others were fine looking bikes until you put the battery on. It seems that the battery had to be as obvious as possible so you could say, “Look at me, I have an e-bike. Look how green I am.” Others though had really clever solutions. One had a very old fashioned style leather saddle bag which gracefully concealed the battery with just a few wires giving the game away. Others had them mounted inside the frame tubes. We gave one a try and for the first three seconds of pedalling I was entirely unimpressed. It was heavy and oh so slow. Then the support motor kicked in and the bike shot off down the tiny test track. I managed to avoid the children who were trying electric scooters and handbikes (I’m sure all of them were serious customers) and hung on for a couple of laps. I have to say, I’m sold. Since I’m using cycling as a way to get more exercise and lose some waist, I’ll stick to my unassisted pedalling but if you just want an easier commute, I can highly recommend it as long as your destination is within the bike’s range!

e-bike

Oh just one more look at that Nishiki…

We looked at a bit more equipment that I absolutely needed but the bank manager was still saying no. Then I found the most fantastic helmet for my son, said, “Stuff the bank manager!” and nicked some money from our savings to buy this…

Shark helmet

Like his dad, my son is a little mental and I think he’ll love this. The only bad thing was they didn’t have them in my size.

One final look at that Nishiki?

No, I must resist. Quick, get me out of here before I do something my wife will regret…

All in all I was pretty impressed with Stockholm Bike Expo. They had a lot of interesting stuff and while a lot of it was aimed at the serious cyclist, there was enough to keep a hobby cyclist interested too. If anything was missing then it was actual bike shops selling bikes. A lot of the manufacturer stands had bikes on show with prices but I was never sure which were and were not for sale there and then. Maybe your local bike shop can’t afford a stand at an expo like this (it’s not cheap) but surely the Sportsons, Cyklotekets and Cykel Citys of this pedal-powered world could? I’ll be back next year. Let’s see if any of them listen to me…

congestion payment

More and more cities around the world are introducing congestion fees for people who drive their cars into town during peak times.

Congestion Fee Station

The idea is to discourage people from bringing their cars into unnecessarily crowded areas unless they really have to and are willing to pay for the privilege. So far it seems to be working but a lot of the money being raised isn’t used to improve the inner cities but to build more rounds outside towns.

Now Johan Ehrenberg (@JohanEhrenberg) at Dagens ETC has come up with a novel alternative. Instead of just discouraging people from driving their cars, we should actively encourage people to cycle. His idea is that everyone who cycles through a congestion station once per day will be paid 25 SEK. I don’t agree with all his ideas (wearing a hi-vis jacket with a registration number on it and that all people who cycle fast are idiots for example) but I think it’s a great idea. If I knew that I would actually earn money by cycling (as well as the savings I’d make on train tickets), I’d be much more likely to cycle as often as I could.

I don’t know if it’ll ever happen and it’ll certainly need some more thought but it’s pure genius. Read his full article (in Swedish) here.

south pole bike expedition

You might have read my recent story about applying rule 5 by cycling to and from work even though it was pouring with rain and bitterly cold. I was feeling so proud of myself then this guy comes along and ruins it…

Juan Menendez Granados

Juan Menendez Granados plans to cycle to the South Pole! Weather conditions may prevent him from cycling the whole way but he plans to do as much as possible on his specially built bike. You can read all about it on the BBC’s news site here or on Juan’s own official site here.

Now that’s what I call hardening the fuck up!