New London cycle commuter

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
LondonBikeCommuter
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New London cycle commuter

Postby LondonBikeCommuter » 21 Apr 2013, 4:31pm

Will be moving to London shortly so in anticipation will be buying a new bike as I intend to commute to and from work a 17.5 mile round trip.

Budget is £2000. Yes to a lot of people that might seem a lot of money but to put it into context a yearly 1-3 zone travelCard is about £1500 and at the end of it you've got sod all to show for it.

Do any London cycle commuters here have any advice on bike security? have seen the Youtube vids of industrial strength locks being broken in seconds. Are there any obvious city do's and don't around security? Also is London any more dangerous for cyclists than any other UK city? am I going to have near death experiences on a daily/weekly/yearly basis?

WB

JamesE
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Re: New London cycle commuter

Postby JamesE » 21 Apr 2013, 6:07pm

Obvious security do's and don'ts: do use two locks, one for front wheel and one for back. (A lot of people recommend using different types eg D-lock on rear and chain on front, as it makes life a bit harder for thieves). Don't leave it in the same spot every day. Don't lock up to cast iron railings (thieves will happily smash them to get at your bike) or to any signpost where it's possible to just lift the bike off the top of it.

Regarding safety... I commute 7-15 miles every day, and near-death experiences, definitely not. Stressful experiences, yes - there's usually one or two idiot drivers every day, overtaking too close or failing to indicate or honking and shouting or jumping red lights, but rarely a genuine danger.

The main things to bear in mind are: don't cycle in those stupid narrow cycle lanes that put you right in the car-door zone, and don't ever go up the side of HGVs, buses or tipper trucks, even if they're not indicating and don't look like they're turning. Which is good advice anywhere, really, but tipper trucks seem to kill a lot of people in London in particular.

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horizon
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Re: New London cycle commuter

Postby horizon » 21 Apr 2013, 6:38pm

LondonBikeCommuter wrote:Will be moving to London shortly so in anticipation will be buying a new bike as I intend to commute to and from work a 17.5 mile round trip.

Budget is £2000. Yes to a lot of people that might seem a lot of money but to put it into context a yearly 1-3 zone travelCard is about £1500 and at the end of it you've got sod all to show for it.

Do any London cycle commuters here have any advice on bike security? have seen the Youtube vids of industrial strength locks being broken in seconds. Are there any obvious city do's and don't around security? Also is London any more dangerous for cyclists than any other UK city? am I going to have near death experiences on a daily/weekly/yearly basis?

WB


1. £2000 isn't a lot for a bike, you are right. But cycling 17.5 miles every day, it might make more sense to buy a cheaper bike which will do the job more than adequately and save your best bike for sunny weekends. OTOH if you work in a very competitive male environment, it may make sense for your own peace of mind to have the best and latest.

2. What happens when you get to work re storage? Can you take it in?
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

Geriatrix
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Re: New London cycle commuter

Postby Geriatrix » 21 Apr 2013, 6:40pm

LondonBikeCommuter wrote:Do any London cycle commuters here have any advice on bike security? have seen the Youtube vids of industrial strength locks being broken in seconds. Are there any obvious city do's and don't around security? Also is London any more dangerous for cyclists than any other UK city? am I going to have near death experiences on a daily/weekly/yearly basis?

WB

I don't know how effective the strategy is but with some judicious use of old tape you can make your bike look a lot less valuable than what it is without damaging it in any way.

Locks are important but how you use then equally so. There are some good YouTube video's on this.

Don't read my polemics on safety but do read John Franklin's Cyclecraft. You won't get better safety tips than he can offer. I also like Richard Ballantine's City Cycling which is a more entertaining read and offers a lot of good tips that go beyond pure safety.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled - Richard Feynman

kwackers
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Re: New London cycle commuter

Postby kwackers » 21 Apr 2013, 6:47pm

Has it got cow-horn bars?

Round here the only reason to lock a bike up with cow horns is to stop it getting thrown in the canal, regardless of how much it cost.

On the other hand if it's got rear suspension and cost £30 new then there's no amount you could spend on a lock that would ensure it was still there an hour later...

(+1 for cyclecraft)

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: New London cycle commuter

Postby [XAP]Bob » 21 Apr 2013, 11:12pm

At £2k there is a part of me that says you could buy two commute equipped bikes for that money...

Hub gears (with a roller/coaster brake), hub dynamo (with brake if possible) and lights, rack, lights, decent saddle.

If you get that on a robust frame then you'll likely need little in the way of maintenance, but with a pair you will have a spare bike for any time you need to do a major service...
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Re: New London cycle commuter

Postby eileithyia » 22 Apr 2013, 9:16am

Security; is this a new work place for you and have you had chance to scout the premises, find somewhere safe to keep your bike, basement area? under a stairwell? boiler room? security office? In your own office?
All depends on type of premises I guess...
Certainly left on the pavement side at the same railings day in day out is not a good idea as it is seen regularly, they know between what hours it is there and how long it is left for.....

Is there a local bike shop that has some sort of lock up / garage scheme for bikes?
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

Geriatrix
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Re: New London cycle commuter

Postby Geriatrix » 22 Apr 2013, 10:30am

One thing you must do is record the bike's frame number on immobilise.com and/or bikeregister.com. This won't protect the bike against theft but if you bike is stolen then you can flag it as stolen on the website.

When the police recover stolen bikes they use these websites to search for the owners so you have a better chance of recovery.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled - Richard Feynman

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Re: New London cycle commuter

Postby Vantage » 22 Apr 2013, 10:49am

For 2 grand, you could buy 3 decent quality bikes, an MTB, a road bike and a tourer with change for a few "ok" locks or one damn good lock. Don't forget to get'em insured.
The more you spend on the bike, the more it will appeal to a scum-sucking thief so bear (bare?) that in mind.
You'll also want change for lights, wet weather gear, helmet (debatable) spare tubes, pump and other tools. Other stuff too that I've probably forgotten.
Bill


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Big T
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Re: New London cycle commuter

Postby Big T » 22 Apr 2013, 12:12pm

Providing you've got somewhere secure to leave it, then i'd go for a quality touring bike, something like a Ridgeback Panorama or a Dawes Super or Ultra Galaxy. I have 3 bikes, but my Panorama is my preferred choice on my commute.

It's got good load carrying capacity, soaks up potholes due to the wide 37mm tyres, gives a more sure-footed feel than either of my other bikes (both lightweight road cycling bikes with narrow tyres) and a more upright riding position, though you can still get down on the dropped handlebars if you are riding into a stiff wind.

Twinned with a set of panniers, or a saddlebag or rackpack, I find the tourer to be the ideal commuter. You can also do some shopping on the way home and use it for weekend leisure rides
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Dynamite_funk
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Re: New London cycle commuter

Postby Dynamite_funk » 22 Apr 2013, 4:47pm

Big T wrote:Providing you've got somewhere secure to leave it, then i'd go for a quality touring bike, something like a Ridgeback Panorama or a Dawes Super or Ultra Galaxy. I have 3 bikes, but my Panorama is my preferred choice on my commute.

It's got good load carrying capacity, soaks up potholes due to the wide 37mm tyres, gives a more sure-footed feel than either of my other bikes (both lightweight road cycling bikes with narrow tyres) and a more upright riding position, though you can still get down on the dropped handlebars if you are riding into a stiff wind.

Twinned with a set of panniers, or a saddlebag or rackpack, I find the tourer to be the ideal commuter. You can also do some shopping on the way home and use it for weekend leisure rides


Agree with everything other than I'd swap for 28 or 32mm tyres, bit less drag and therefore a bit quicker :D

LondonBikeCommuter
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Re: New London cycle commuter

Postby LondonBikeCommuter » 22 Apr 2013, 7:07pm

Big T wrote:Providing you've got somewhere secure to leave it, then i'd go for a quality touring bike, something like a Ridgeback Panorama or a Dawes Super or Ultra Galaxy. I have 3 bikes, but my Panorama is my preferred choice on my commute.

Have replied to Big T but will reply to others here as well.

The reason I mentioned my budget was that I wanted to be sure that people understood that bike security would be an absolute top priority. Theres good security at work with CCTV and key fob access. Was more concerned about the stopping off on the way home to do a bit of shopping at Sainsbury.
My current shortlist of 4 bikes range from £1450 to £1720. Will need to budget for pedals etc. I will only be getting 1 bike! As part of the relocation package I got it allows me to spend an amount on getting to work. They've agreed that I can put part of this towards a bike.

I've not asked anywhere about any specific models as I'm not sure that forums are the best place to get the best answer. This move have been on the cards of about 12 months so I've had plenty of time to wander around bike shops asking questions and having the odd test ride here and there.

I'll be 100% up front and say that a tourer was the first bike I looked at, it was also the first that got rejected. Too big and too heavy. For the opposite reasons the out and out racer also got rejected as its too fragile for day in day out commuting. Mountain bike wasn't considered at all. Spent a long time looking for the perfect Hybrid but pretty much failed almost certainly because I'd prefer drop handle bars. The more I looked and talked to people the more that a Cyclocross bike seemed to be the answer. For my price point I'd be looking at a weight penalty of about 1kg for the cyclocross over the racer but for that I'd get a much more solid durable bike. Seems the best compromise to me. Also to my mind disc brakes are for city commuting essential.

I was being a bit flippant about the near death experiences but was trying to get a feel for what commuting is like in London at rush hour. I've got Google Maps to show me its cycle route and it seems OK but do those that commute in London feel that its fairly stress free?

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Re: New London cycle commuter

Postby Big T » 22 Apr 2013, 7:42pm

Tourers are faster than you think. I had a race with a guy on a Cube Agree road bike on the way home tonight. He ramped it up to 26mph, but I was still there, sat on his wheel. The only time the weight comes in to play is if it's hilly and London is mostly flat.

My son rides in London and is currently commuting on a Focus Izalco Pro, but he keeps his clothes at work and gets them laundered. He rides an alu audax bike in winter, as he doesn't like to get a wet behind.
Last edited by Big T on 22 Apr 2013, 7:50pm, edited 1 time in total.
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kwackers
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Re: New London cycle commuter

Postby kwackers » 22 Apr 2013, 7:50pm

Big T wrote:Tourers are faster than you think. I had a race with a guy on a Cube Agree road bike on the way home tonight. He ramped it up to 26mph, but I was still there, sat on his wheel. The only time the weight comes in to play is if it's hilly and London is mostly flat.

At one point I had a CF racer and my Ridgeback tourer.
The CF racer felt faster but took pretty much the same amount of time to do my 14 mile commute. The racer was harsh and I found myself searching continually for smooth bits of tarmac. On the other hand the Ridgeback just rolled and rode so nicely it made the trip a pleasure. I didn't bother stripping it for weight either, if anything it weighs a ton often carrying two panniers with laptop(s), misc computer gear, general cycling nonsense and food along with two sets of lights, mirror, hub dynamo, front pannier frames etc etc.
I could average near 20mph with all that crap (and the lights on)...

If possible I'd ride them all before I picked one. IMO a steel framed tourer is as good a ride as it gets. (Bespoke stuff aside)

LuckyLuke
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Re: New London cycle commuter

Postby LuckyLuke » 22 Apr 2013, 8:01pm

LondonBikeCommuter wrote:Do any London cycle commuters here have any advice on bike security? have seen the Youtube vids of industrial strength locks being broken in seconds. Are there any obvious city do's and don't around security?

WB


Hi,
I've commuted in London for the last 8 yrs, plus used bike for general transport; shopping, errands, nights out etc. (haven't got a car or travelcard.)
Sometimes I've had access to secure parking, sometimes it's been on street parking. So far no bikes stolen. I've used the following bikes, in order of appearance:
Brompton 3speed. (Was never left locked up, always stored indoors.)
Old Raleigh rigid Mountain bike, with a 3 speed hub.
On One Pompino.
Surly Long Haul Trucker.

My current runaround is an early 90s 531 Raleigh frame with dynamo lights, guards, a rack, but low end gears and finishing kit (The original front mech and exage 300 chainset, a second hand shimano SLX rear mech, and drops with bar-end shifters.)

The frame was a freebie and overall it looks a bit shabby, which hopefully reduces its appeal. I once read a magazine feature or online thread on preventing bike theft, and it advised not using a new bike or an expensive-looking bike in the first place. IIRC there were sentences along the lines of "ride a sh1t-looking bike, and park it next to an expensive looking one". Plus "If they really want your bike they'll be able to nick it, the trick is to minimise its appeal."
IMHO this means an older and shabbier bike.

Sometimes in London you'll see that someone has covered up logos on a newish or decent frame with electrical tape / inner tubes to disguise it a little. I don't think this is too effective TBH, you can still see all the logos on all the other components to get an idea of the overall value.

Cyclist's are often advised to leave their bikes in a well lit, public place, I assume so would-be thieves can be spotted. Unfortunately I doubt very much anyone in London would actually intervene or even bother to phone the police. Public places would have CCTV, but bike theft is a low police priority and very few are reunited with stolen bikes.

Re locks, I've always used a top of the line Abus D-lock, through frame, front wheel or rear wheel, and whatever solid object I'm locking to, to minimise jack access to lock.
I use or have used pitlock skewers on wheels, seatpost, headset and dynamo (light mount and fork crown mount).

So, If I were in your shoes, I would look for a second hand tourer, or a second hand frame and build it up with second hand, functional, not flashy parts sourced from Retrobike / CTC classifieds. I would still use the best lock and pitlock devices I could afford, to further minimise appeal. It can still be a nice ride, it won't be too attractive to thieves and if it is ever stolen you're not too out of pocket.

PS: London cycling is so stop-start that you don't really benefit so much from a fast bike, IMHO. (Some days I've ridden my best bike to work when I've known I can keep it secure in the office.)

PPS: Fat tyres (32mm+), full length mudguards, a rack and dynamo lights are my preference for a year-round commuter / shopper / urban transporter. YMMV.