Oh yeah

Finally the wait is over. I bought my first Italian bike. 

And what a bike! 

Can’t wait to pick it up…

Can you guess the city from its bike lane maps?

I did pretty badly. 6/12. 

Worst of all I got London wrong, where I lived and biked for four years…

See how you fare!


Palma, Mallorca – urban bike sharing

On a recent holiday to Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain I was pleased to see even this small city (population 400,000) has an urban bike-sharing initiative. Bicipalma. 

Most of the bikes were of the “standard” step-through (col de cygne) type, often used for urban bike sharing, but there were also some with front suspension forks. 

Which begs the question:

What is the ideal spec for urban bike sharing?

To my mind suspension shouldn’t be needed. It adds maintenance complexity and weight that probably outweighs its usefulness in a city environment. 

Grip shifters seem to be ubiquitous on these bikes. Personally they are my least favourite shifting mechanism, but theoretically more accessible to “non-cyclists”, so if that’s true, then it’s a fair choice. 

I’m not sure these fairly flimsy baskets are a good idea. I can imagine them being quickly bent out of shape, making the bike look badly maintained and discouraging riders from using them. 

Mudguards/fenders are essential, but they should probably be sturdier than those used on the front wheels here, which can easily bend out of alignment and rub the tyre. The rear wheel mudguard/fender solution is better and offers some spoke protection, which doubles as real estate for reflective strips and advertising. 

I guess these bikes have hub gears – I didn’t see a derailleur. Hub brakes appear to be the norm, which seems a good, low maintenance choice that should have a good lifespan. 

The use of rear v-brakes here isn’t a great solution in my view. They might be cheaper to buy than hub brakes but require regular adjustment and pad replacement when used as often as these are likely to be. If not replaced regularly enough, they risk damaging the rims, requiring regular monitoring and mechanic time. Also loss of braking power in wet weather isn’t ideal in a crowded urban environment, so hub brakes would be best. 

Positioning of the rear LED cluster on the seat post also isn’t ideal. It should really be higher, larger and more visible, not obscured by the rear mudguard/fender. The bike with the suspension in the background has a better placed light, though they could arguably also be larger and higher. Go large and visible!

The station I saw had a number of open slots, so I assume some were in use (or permanently decommissioned). Again, as in San Francisco, I didn’t notice anyone using them while I was in town. 

So I guess the ideal bike-share bicycle must be: solid, low maintenance, reliable, accessible, safe and attractive.

The good news is, while not perfect, almost all the solutions I have seen so far meet most all of these criteria. 

What do you think could be improved on these bikes to make them more popular?

Velobrico Workshop: Tigra ladies’ bike

She’s ready to leave the nest!

Cleaned, stickers removed, paint and fenders polished, inner tube replaced, shifters fixed, brake levers adjusted, hubs repacked, pedals lubed, dynamo repaired.

I think she’s scrubbed up well. Hopefully she finds a proud new owner soon.

Look at that paint job, almost cromovelato!

I experimented with some different photo settings for the ad. Which do you prefer?


Bamboo. Would you?

While shopping this weekend I came across this oddity in a bookshop. 

I have heard of bamboo being used for bike frames before but never saw one in the flesh. Looks interesting. 

It’s light(ish) but not super-light at 11.5kgs. 

At 1k CHF it’s way out of my budget. I wonder if these will ever turn up second hand?? Never saw one before…

Has anyone ridden a bamboo frame? I would love to hear about it. 

Hidden in plain sight

Interesting research and Kickstarter campaign here.

I’m always fascinated by things hidden in plain sight. Let’s hope at least some of these 1930s British cycleways are brought back into use.


How to shoot bikes

While taking some pictures of a couple of bikes I want to sell, I got to thinking: How do you get the best possible photo of a bicycle?

You’ve all seen them, the photos of that amazing bicycle that just seem super-real. But it’s just a bicycle, right? How do they make it look so good?

Well, it’s not voodoo. There’s a few articles on this topic, such as this one

No major secret. Choose a good backdrop. No visual distractions. Clean bike! Pedal position (I didn’t think of that). Angle. That’s about it!

Here’s my result. This was not taken with an SLR, just my iPhone and a couple of in-phone edits.

I think it looks pretty sweet!