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Monthly Archives: July 2015

  • Secure Green Bike Parking

    Part of the Design Museum's permanent collection Part of the Design Museum's permanent collection

     

    In a world where domestic and civic design all too often delivers little more than idle affectation, the Front Yard Company’s PlantLock is a joy.

    A mind-bogglingly under-complicated invention, it simultaneously safeguards your bike, provides greenery and declutters the house. Moreover, it encourages the use of that great British waste of space known as the front garden. If embraced by urban planners, as it must surely be, the double whammy of parking and perking up the locale can only encourage more people to ditch the infernal combustion engine.

    Security, biodiversity, community and total Feng Shui rolled into one, who knew boron steel could be so brilliant? Charlie Waterhouse did.

    The thinking behind PlantLock was to produce something robust that doesn’t need to be concreted into the ground. When you fill up the planter with gravel and compost it weighs 75kg-125kg. With a bike locked to either side, it’s nigh on impossible to move. The bars that you lock the bike to are boron steel. It is manufactured in this country as the components are so heavy; it wouldn’t make sense to import from the Far East.

     

    Most PlantLocks are bought by cyclists for use at home, but those for use in public places are spread far and wide. The National Trust, London Borough Kensington & Chelsea, Camden Brewery, Earl of Essex, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, Cambridgeshire Mencap in the Community, Altrincham Primary School, London Borough of Hackney, Swansea University, Red Lion Square Estate, Camden Teacher Tenants’ Co-operative, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Jorvik Hotel, Battersea Flower Station, Dovecote Nurseries Ltd, Velorution, Lambeth Palace, The King’s Arms, St Giles Mission, Sustrans… are just some on the list.

  • All About Eva

    neue Kollektion der Designerin Eva Blut

    Founded in 1998, Vienna-based accessory label Eva Blut stands for innovative and conceptual fashion and accessory design.

    The label embodies effortless chic by combining clever design solutions with high-end manufacturing techniques for the urban user of today.

    BB3_VELO_Brown_Front 2 Frame bag

    Its mastermind and founder Eva Buchleitner has been exploring the interaction between fashion and product design for the past 12 years in numerous collections and collaborations. Her unique approach has been successfully showcased in international festivals, exhibitions and workshops in the fields of fashion, art, design and architecture.

    braunHandy_2048x2048

    In 2008, Eva Blut shifted her focus back to accessory design and launched a new line of conceptual purses. The attention to detail paired with its cutting-edge design guarantee a sophisticated functionality that is sure to make Eva Blut’s designs one of the classics of tomorrow.

    The full range of Eva’s leather briefcase panniers and frame bag collection are available exclusively at Velorution.

    BB5amRad Briefcase Pannier
  • The FABIKE frame set

    FAB_logo_tint

    We caught up with Fabio Putzolu, founder and chief designer of FABIKE

    Tell us something about the design of your frame set?
    We wanted to create something different. We started with a road bike logic and stripped away any unnecessary frills from the shape and details of the frame, all the way down to branding and colour selection. We really wanted to focus on a clean, minimal look: instantly recognisable, but subtle.

    What about the technical side?
    The main technical innovation is the patented rear dropout system. The FABIKE frameset is the only one on the market that can be customised into many different cycling configurations: urban/fixed, road, gravel and anything in between. There’s a lot of flexibility and freedom for the end user.

    5Colours

    Why did you decide to design components as well?
    We thought there were some holes in the component market - simple things that we thought were missing or could be improved, and we wanted to offer our customers clever solutions to these previously unaddressed issues. Our reinvented flip-flop hub is an example of this.

    Who do you think your main target market is?
    Our customers appreciate clean design; cycling enthusiasts with exacting demands who are looking for a unique, super-lightweight product that is both modern and technically capable.

    You’re still a young brand. How do you see your brand developing in the coming years?
    The most important task for us at the beginning was to enter the market and start presenting our vision. With a year and a half already behind us, we’re now working on expanding our flexibility philosophy into other developmental advances and new designs. Our core principles will always remain flexibility, performance, innovation and design, and we want to push these concepts further.

    You believe that the future of cycling is flexibility. Can you expand on that?
    We feel that more cyclists are looking for flexibility and personalisation; a unique personal expression of their own style and needs. We wanted to embrace this trend and apply it in our own way to the cycling industry as a whole.

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  • Three Wheels Good. Four Wheels Bad.

    Tricycle_VéloSolex_-_Mons_161112 Vélo Solex

     

    EU data has proven that if only 10% of car drivers cycled instead, then traffic congestion could be reduced by up to 40% for all road users in general. Another figure has mentioned that if that 10% could rise to 25% then congestion would become a thing of the past altogether. This in turn would free up roads for dedicated cycle lanes and improved safety. A vehicle that addresses the total ‘user experience’ would gain acceptance, not just from existing commuter cyclists, but the lapsed, cautious and uninitiated too. And this could benefit other road users too.

    The classic double-triangle diamond bicycle frame has been with us since James Starley invented it in 1877. Apart from some notable exceptions – such as Alex Moulton’s pioneering 1962 F-frame bicycle with suspension and tough little wheels – there has been little significant change to the basic layout, but plenty of incremental innovation in fabrication methods, materials and fittings. Even the three-speed Sturmey-Archer epicyclical gear hub has changed little over the last 80 years. Although beautiful to some eyes, bicycles today can look like a mismatched assortment of components bolted together, rather than a cohesive piece of integrated modern design.

    Most aspects of the user experience of riding a bicycle haven’t changed much either: weather, safety and theft are still major issues, they need frequent maintenance and can’t take much in the way of baggage. On the plus side, you can accurately estimate your journey time, they are relatively inexpensive to run, environmentally sustainable and they give us the exercise that modern lifestyles seem to deprive us from.

    GYROX_02 Honda Gyro

    Maybe, though, some people want the convenience of cycling, but also a safer, easy, everyday user experience rather than setting out to becoming a hardcore cycling enthusiast. Cycling in cities is particularly troublesome due to the hazards of dense traffic, its stop-start nature and seemingly rampant theft.

    Like many I started my student days on a moped; this was a classic French petrol motor-assist front-wheel drive Velox Solex, and front wheel drive bikes are lethal in the wet. You would need to pedal away from lights to start, up hills and cruise with the engine, which is rather the reverse of how a modern electric-assist bike works where you use the additional electric power to get up to speed and up hills, and cruise with human pedal power.

    Now that technology is better able to deliver us lightweight long-lasting batteries, electric-assist bicycles are becoming more interesting. Admittedly, until I tried the superb Gocycle for a while, I didn’t entirely see the point of them, as I felt the exercise of cycling to be something positive. However, my summer commute of 14 miles from North Kensington to Tower Bridge and back was much improved, especially the last half mile up the Ladbroke Grove hills. However, I resorted to my cosy Vespa with granny-skirt for those dark, cold dark winter journeys.

    Sebb Moulton Sebb Moulton

    Tricycles have been with us for almost as long as the bicycle, but the extra-effort in dragging around the third wheel, cumbersome cornering and their physical size has always relegated them to second-class cyclists who could not cope with two wheels, or used for carting goods around large factories.

    The case for a handlebar-wide narrow-gauge tricycle was first made with the 1960s Ariel 3 moped, which had a frame that tilted while cornering and some weather protection; and the more refined Honda Gyro, which used similar technology in 1980s Japan. They were both petrol driven, which increased weight, used up luggage space and needed a driving licence.

    The last person of note to try this commercially was Clive Sinclair with his very innovative, but under-engineered and much derided, C5 tricycle design of 30 years ago. Crucially, he had tried to overcome the inherent cornering issue with a low centre of gravity, which put the recumbent cyclist at exhaust height, hidden from the sight of other motorists with little view of the road ahead in traffic.

    Maybe this was an idea too soon, like the similarly doomed Apple Newton of the same era. But what if we were now to address many of the issues of the C5 with modern materials, iPad battery technology and a more sensible eye height? Shall we one day see the C5 as the precursor of something new and ground-breaking in vehicle design? It would need to be practical and look desirable, maybe something completely new and aspirational. A very well thought out, visually clean and integrated piece of design that is versatile and easy to live with in most conditions. A vehicle that addresses the total user experience would gain acceptance, not just from existing commuter cyclists, but the lapsed, the cautious and the uninitiated too.

    Valentin Volev's Vienna bike Valentin Volev's Vienna bike

    Security
    • Integrated electronic locking system
    with battery drive electronics
    • Easily removable compact battery
    that can be charged indoors
    • Traceability with in-built GPS – ‘find my bike’
    • Frame on each bike has number embossed in,
    like number plates

    Convenience
    • No wider than handlebars, 50cm overall,
    and can be stored in a hallway
    • Bike can charge a smartphone while riding
    • Step-through frame
    • Lightweight, so that it can be taken indoors
    and achieve good efficiency
    • Clean enclosed drive – oily chains quickly
    get very dirty in cities and soil clothes
    • Easy-to-clean, integrated cables, handlebar
    controls and lighting
    • Integrated weather protection; windshield option
    • Low maintenance with puncture-proof tyres
    and self-adjusting hidden brakes
    • Self-charging electronic circuit
    • Integrated weather-proof luggage area between rear wheels – big enough for family shopping, briefcase, helmet and clothes
    • Tilting frame for better stability
    • Lighting integrated into body and handlebars

    Safety
    • Integrated lights, horn and bar-end indicators – modern LEDs use 10 percent of the power of tungsten lights
    • Highly visible with LED lights at extremities
    • Self-adjusting brakes that work well in wet
    and not prone to fade
    • Reflective bodywork

    Effort
    • Part of riding a bicycle is getting exercise, however distance, hills and luggage present a challenge, especially to the old and less fit
    • Electrical power assistance from standstill up hills and with large loads
    • ‘Automatic’ adaptive gearbox
    • Lightweight easily removed battery
    • Can be ridden when uncharged

    Vienna_Bike_27

    As congested traffic fumes tends to pollute more than moving vehicles, if the EU research and analysis are correct and a significant number of four wheelers can be lured on to two or three, then the consequential effect on both road safety and air quality might turn out to be quite significant.

    By Sebastian Conran

    signature without line

  • That Little Bit of Momentum

    Model riding Upstart 3

    Momentum Electric is brand born out of both passion and practicality, creating electric bikes that adhere to its five core values: simple, efficient, value, improve and joy.

    We passionately believe that the electric bicycle is a practical way of getting around and should be as accessible as possible,” says Momentum Electric’s Andreas Törpsch, who is the driving force behind the brand alongside Ying-Tsao Tan. Working with the motto ‘moving everybody’, the team strive to create inclusive products with universal appeal: “It may seem ambitious from the outside for a small company to choose such a motto, but it reflects the way we think about our products. We design with everybody in mind in an inclusive manner, and aim to make our products as accessible as possible.”

    The company is still relatively young. Andreas is a former triathlete and sporting enthusiast. He has a background in sports engineering and also draws from his experience as a previous Head of Testing at ExtraEnergy. Ying-Tsao Tan’s background is in consumer products, and in both engineering and product design. He is more of a commuter cyclist with a passion for products and product design. Together they founded the electric bike company: “The name came from the idea that everybody needs just that little bit of momentum to get going and in an electrical form, hence, Momentum Electric.”

    The brand is well placed in London, where the cycling culture continues to grow. “We have seen the uptake of it over the years,” agrees Andreas. “There seems to have been a boom since 2008, and we reckon that several factors can be attributed to this including positive policies, the economic climate, Team GB’s sporting success and, most importantly, the image and awareness of cycling as a form of transport and exercise.”

    Along with this renewed interest in cycling comes a shift in the perception of the electric bike, as it becomes a more mainstream product. So, what should a potential buyer be looking for? “In general, the consumer should try a range of electric bikes within their budget to make the right choice, and we would push ours as good-value electric bikes that ride well,” says Ying-Tsao. “Our bikes are simple and pleasing to the eye, but the main identifying feature of a Momentum Electric bike is not visual. The main reason many of our customers love our bikes is the way our bikes ride. Our proprietary AUTORQ™ system creates a riding sensation that is best described as intuitive, automatic and fun.”

    UP2 Eurobike 2014 20 Aug 2014 YT Upstart

    It’s important to the brand that it strikes the right balance between features and price. Momentum Electric doesn’t sit at the high end of the market, so features are chosen based on what provides the best value for money for the largest majority of users. When it comes to looks, user research plays a large part, as Ying-Tsao explains: “We discovered it was important that the bikes did not draw too much unwanted attention, yet were still pleasing to the eye. This came from a combination of the desire of users for it not to be noticed that the bike is electric, and good looking enough for the user to be proud to use on a daily basis.

    Both Ying-Tsao and Andreas have their personal favourites in the range. For Ying-Tsao it is the Model T - “ It is laid back and leisurely mostly, but keeps up easily with traffic when necessary” – whereas Andreas prefers the Upstart, which is fast off at traffic lights in a more streamlined position.

    Looking to the future, they say that there is a lot to look forward to: “We are concentrating on refining our range of products (yes, both models!). We are also working to expand our network in Europe.”

     

  • The Perfect Blend

    mm2

    Interview with Micki Kozuschek, founder and owner of Lezyne.

    I'm a crazy German guy who has no college education or any engineering experience, and I was never a sales person. I have learned everything by being hands on.

    Who are you, and how did you get started in the bicycle business?
    I’m 47 years old, born in Poland, then raised and educated in Germany. When I was young my mum bought me all sorts of do-it-yourself bicycle books and I read up on every bit of bicycle history. I was always fascinated with components, so I pulled my bikes apart and put them back together. I started doing the same to my buddies’ bikes; back then there was no suspension, no hydraulics, everything was extremely mechanical. I was always very hands on and analytical.
    When I was 12 I became a road cyclist, and at 15 became a triathlete, which initially brought me to the States. At the age of 18 I travelled to the US to train and race in Davis, California, where I met my wife of 23 years, Susan. I went to business school for two weeks and didn’t like it, so I decided to start my first company at the age of 21. I imported clothing and triathlon goods out of the US into Germany. After two years I decided to make bicycles, so I flew to Taiwan. During that time I started to design a lot of products like hubs, brakes, levers, cranks… all sorts of goodies.
    I emigrated to the US when I was 28, but I’m still a German citizen. I started the company Truvativ, producing millions of components for the bike market. Seven years later, in 2005, SRAM purchased Truvativ, providing SRAM with a line of cranks, bottom brackets, handlebars, stems, pedals, seat posts and chain retention systems.

    1-LED-14R-V104-V1-R0

    Now you had a lot of money and no job, how did you fill your time?
    I took on a large project redesigning our house in California, which took a year. Eighteen months after I sold Truvativ, I was starting to get restless and I even considered producing an independent movie (though I didn’t!). I was unhappy and didn’t know what to do. Susan and I were sitting on the plane returning from our winter holiday with the kids and she said, ‘Why don’t you start your own company again?’ I started talking to one of my marketing guys from Truvativ, Dillon, and we agreed to start a new brand.
    Because of my non-compete contract with SRAM, I chose to create a range of accessories. I went to the store and bought $2,000 of accessories, everything I could get my hands on. Most of it didn’t work; it was all plastic and none of it held its promise.
    If you have a flat tyre in the mountains and you can’t pump it up, you’re walking. I just laid it all out on the table and thought, ‘This is easy for me’. We established a new market of accessories that behaved like components. I got a new computer and started designing parts with Dillon; Dillon was designing saddlebags and hydration bags, and I was focused on mechanical products.
    I flew over to Taichung, rented a shell unit, then later designed and built a new factory that is now over 4500 sq. meters. The first two years were really tough. We have a house there because Lezyne staff from the US go over very frequently.

    1-LED-12R-V106-V1-R0

    And the business went on to become a success?
    After the Eurobike Trade Show in 2007, we had a world full of distributors. Now we have almost 200 people. In the US I have 25 people: electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, designers, programmers, web and marketing people. The company is set up with fibre optics between the US and Taiwan, and both factory interiors look identical – the same furniture, even the same coffee machine.
    The resources that we have allow us to work around the clock. At 5.30pm in the US there will be at least ten Skype conversations in parallel in all the different offices between countries. We have projects so big now that we have combined teams in Taiwan and America working on the same projects. We are very much one international company and we maintain very tight control on our operations.

    The exquisite design and intelligently engineered products reflect your German origins, do you agree?
    Although I have lived in the States for many years, a big part of me is still German. I think in that way, very linear, which is the way we were educated back then. We analysed everything in great detail and that set the pace for me. Having said that, going to the States at such a young age allowed me to have entrepreneurial freedom.

    1-LED-12F-V104-KTV-FRONT-Black-V1-R0

    How are the territories split?
    Europe is the largest market for us; it’s very diversified and split into so many different countries. Each distributor works within its own territory, which makes it a lot simpler.
    This accounts for 50 percent of our business.
    In the US we have many distributors competing in the same space. All markets are growing, including Asia Pacific, which is now over 20 percent of our business, and we are making some real headway in China.

    Which products do you like the most?
    I love the original products that I personally built; they mean a lot to me because they address some of the inherent issues. I love our pumps as they blow a lot of air; they are minimal in size and work really well. I also love our tyre levers because they don’t break. We produce over half a million alloy, pressure and road drives a year. I really like our Mini, Power and Super lights. They are completely machined out of aluminium, run for a very long time and give off infinite light.

    baletd_B5A3107

    What’s new?
    I am very excited about the GPS computers we are working on; there are going to be some very cool and sensible solutions. We have our core mechanical products, like pumps and that’s where my heart is, but there are so many electronic products that don’t keep their promise. As much as we continue our core mechanical development, we now have electronic development. Whether I like it or not, the world is becoming more electronic, but there are still a lot of mechanical aspects to these products. Next year will see the GPS products that really challenge us as a company and we are investing into our business to ensure we keep moving us
    forward with the times.

  • Jean Genius

    Print

    Levi’s Commuter jeans are designed to take the urban worker from their morning ride, through the workday and into evening. Levi’s Account Specialist Phil Brown talks us through the cut of his cloth, and what makes Levi’s a perfect fit for the cyclist…

    Performance, functionality and safety – three words you might normally see applied to the latest innovative bike. But here they’re being used to describe a pair of jeans from probably the world’s most famous purveyor of denim: Levi’s.

    “Commuter is one of our most successful innovations and is the perfect example of how functionality, performance and style go hand in hand,” says Phil Brown, Levi’s very own jean genie. Phil describes himself as an old hand, having worked for Levi’s Red Tab division and at Levi’s European headquarters in Brussels. He was also a key player when the Commuter range Spring/Summer 2012 was launched in Europe. So who better to fill us in on how the commuting cyclist should be dressing.

    (c) gretel ensignia, gretel_ensignia@hotmail.com, 07783620234 Phil Brown of Levi 16.07.2014

    “Cycling has always been my hobby and passion so this job is the perfect fit for me, if you’ll forgive the pun,” Phil says. The new collection sees advancements in fabric, seasonal colours and utility. For example, Levi’s Commuter jeans feature a reinforced seat, pockets and belt loops and, very usefully, are water and dirt repellant. They’ve also been manufactured using performance stretch twill for comfort and mobility, plus antimicrobial technology for protection against odours. In terms of safety, the garments feature reflective tape on side seams, while the tops offer stand-up collars with a hood, which folds into a zipper compartment.

    511 5 pocket Insignia Blue 511 5 pocket Insignia Blue

    “We originally launched our Commuter range for men because we knew this was the biggest opportunity,” Phil reveals. “Many cyclists were already wearing Levi’s jeans, in particular our popular 511 slim fit, so it was about offering them something more that was bespoke to their unique set of needs. Adding in the performance element to the product is what makes the Commuter line very special. We use 3M reflectivity stitching, which is stitched on the outer seem and other parts of the jeans. Brighter than a million candles, this appears on all our trousers and some of our tops and shirts.”

    As Phil notes, a degree of stretch in the denim is very important so cyclists can move freely. To achieve this they have used an elastic polyurethane material used for close-fitting clothing, blended into the product. “From my experience the first area to wear thin on your trousers will be the crotch area. We originally had the padded seat area in our Commuter jeans to give the rider extra comfort. The great thing about the Commuter collection is that it’s designed, worn and sold by cyclists.”

    The jean bottoms are also slightly higher at the back to conceal the backside of the rider when cycling. They reveal a reflective hem when the jeans are rolled up, along with a D-lock holder on the back waistband that allows the cyclist to attach their lock at the back rather than use pockets.

    Cargo - Olive Jungle Cargo - Olive Jungle

    From jeans to jackets, Levi’s has it covered
    The brand’s iconic Trucker jacket for commuters again has the 3M reflectivity plus snapper buttons. So, if you need to open the jacket while riding, the advantage is that it snaps open quickly with one hand. Additionally, the Trucker has a concealed waterproof hood that is very thin, which allows cyclists to wear it underneath their helmet. The jacket is longer at the back to conceal the backside when reaching forward, and the cuffs are structured the same way to prevent the sleeve rising.

    Packable Shell Jacket Packable Shell Jacket

    Phil notes that all of Levi’s tops have an effective fibre-based moisture-management system – used quite a lot in the sports industry and particularly on cycling jerseys. “We are not a cycling brand, but what Levi’s Commuter range offers is a great cycling performance product. Most importantly we have also stayed true to our roots; the consumer can relate to Levi’s iconic brand.”

    H214_MENS_16219_0000_lg Mid Layer Graphite

    Expect to pay around £80 for a pair of 511s, 504s or 508s, of which the slim fit 511 is said to be the most popular and so is carried through each season. The 504 suits cyclists who have a larger frame because they cycle a lot, and have bigger thighs and bottoms with slimmer waists.

    H214_MENS_15494_0000_lg Hooded Trucker - Indigo Denim

    The Chino slim fit (£80) will be part of Levi’s City collection, which is aimed at cyclists who commute less, or use the London bike hire scheme and want to wear a slim functional jean with a nice jacket to the office. Trucker jackets are priced at around £170, with the non-denim Trucker at £155.

    Not just for the male commuter…
    Levi’s also launched a women’s Commuter range recently.
    Also new from Levi’s are rucksacks and messenger bags. In short, it appears that the modern Levi’s is about more than trousers – whoever is wearing them.

  • L'année du Pannier

    (c) gretel ensignia, gretel_ensignia@hotmail.com, 07783620234 Catherine Ellis 04.07.14

    A Q&A with Hill & Ellis founder Catherine Ellis, who discusses the inspiration behind her beautiful leather pannier bags, aimed at cyclists seeking stylishness and practicality…

    Interview GAVIN STOKER

    Hill & Ellis launched in 2012 amid London Olympics’ fever, when the public’s recognition of cycling as an exciting sport – not just a means of commuting – was highest.

    “The cycling successes of Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, Lizzie Armitstead and Laura Trott created a wave of excitement, and many people hit their bikes that summer because of it,” Catherine Ellis recalls. “Though 2012 wasn’t the reason I set up the business, as I had already been bitten by the cycling bug and had realised that stylish bags were lacking, maybe subconsciously there was a connection.”

    You dreamed up Hill & Ellis because you couldn’t find a stylish pannier bag to carry a laptop, notebook and heels together. How compatible are biking and busy lives?
    They’re wonderfully compatible. Cycling saves me a lot of time and money, and it’s so reliable. When I leave home I know exactly what time I will arrive at my destination, give or take a couple of red lights. It also allows me to exercise in what would otherwise be wasted time, and it’s a great way to relax as I often start my journey full of stress.

    Hill & Ellis BIRKDALE SIDE BACK

    Which products have proved your most popular?
    The Bradley, the first of my British-crafted bike bags, in bold yellow leather with grey detailing, is extremely popular. It’s been featured in the Evening Standard, ShortList, Urban Cyclist and even OK! Magazine. I fell in love with it when I saw the finished product, so it’s very exciting my customers have fallen in love with it too.

    Where do you take inspiration from when it comes to the design?
    My recent collection was inspired by my favourite colours: a bold canary yellow, an Oxford Blue, a minty Cambridge Blue, plus a bright pillar box red. My next range is inspired by nature and uses natural fibre fabrics for an ‘earthier’ look and feel. The practicalities of the bag come from my experience as a cyclist; I developed reversible reflective material as I knew it was crucial for the bag to have high visibility without cheapening the look. The waterproof jacket felt necessary for those rainy rides, and the hook systems were developed as a marriage of discretion and function.

    Hill-and-Ellis059

    What is Hill & Ellis’ unique selling point?
    The products are designed to look and work as stylishly crafted bags; they just happen to attach to your bike. So many panniers work beautifully on the bike but not as bags for anything else, so my panniers are designed to fix that.

    How important is it to be seen as a British brand?
    I want Hill & Ellis to be a great British brand. All the bags are designed in the UK and I have just launched a new range, which is all made in Britain. Ideally I want my production to stay in the UK now, and I love the idea of the bags having the smallest carbon footprint possible.

    Hill-and-Ellis059

    Is there a clear division between the types of pannier bags men and women go for?
    I thought there would be, but I’m finding that both sexes are equally attracted to most of the range. I think women like a traditionally ‘masculine’ geometric style and men have bought all the bags in the range, with the exception of the Dorothy. I do listen to what customers ask for, and try and incorporate requests into new designs to make sure I am catering for everyone.

    What have been the biggest highlights so far for Hill & Ellis, and where are your goals taking you next?
    Having Jon Snow from Channel 4 News fall in love with one of my favourite bags: the Duke. I saw it on the news the other night when he got off his bike to go into the BBC for an interview. As far as where goals are taking me… obviously New York, Milan and Paris!

  • Down in the Hood

    BikeMsngr_2

    US made rain capes for people in liveable cities.

    Where did the idea for Cleverhood come from?
    Founder Susan Mocarski was inspired during a family trip to Copenhagen. They were planning to use bikes, but the weather didn’t cooperate. Many people were using umbrellas on their bikes, but the Mocarski family opted for plastic covers. Back in Providence, Rhode Island, there was more rain and three dogs to walk. Handling an umbrella with three dogs on leads is as a difficult as riding a bike with one. With a background in art and design, Susan decided to come up with her own cape idea and Cleverhood was born.

    Ramsay de Give for Cleverhood Ramsay de Give for Cleverhood

    Why did the company decide to create the Cleverhood for bikers?
    The beauty of the Cleverhood is that it’s not specifically for bikers. The Cleverhood is designed as a smart fashion alternative for people in cities who use a bike to get around.

    TagZipperL

    What elements does the Cleverhood have that specifically benefits bikers?
    The Cleverhood forms a cover over your body when you’re riding a bike. It has elastic thumb loops that keep it secure in the front and Velcro trim tabs for the sides. All Cleverhoods have reflective properties. The hood is designed to fit under a bike helmet, and to optimise peripheral vision. There are magnet clasps on the armholes that snap shut automatically. Cleverhoods are designed for both style and performance.
    They have to work in tough weather for people on bikes without looking like bike apparel.
    We carefully select fabrics that are waterproof and stylishly distinctive and through a lot of research we’ve been able to find wonderfully skilled workers to make the Hoods.

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    What kind of response have you received from the biking community?
    A tremendously positive one. Forbes listed Cleverhood in its ‘Best Holiday Gifts for Cyclists’ list in December. Our news coverage includes Der Spiegel, The Guardian, Vice and Vogue. We’ve been reviewed by some of the best bloggers from all over the world.

  • Foffa

    Dani02 Dani Foffa

    This is the ‘One’.

    Dani Foffa, supplier of classic style single speed and geared bikes, shares his passion for his products and describes their perfect suitability for the urban environment…

     

    FoffaLogoV2

     

    Pursuing our passions is something each of us craves, and Dani Foffa’s story is more inspirational than most. In 2007 he swapped a job in the city for one restoring classic bikes in his bedroom, graduating to opening a shop in 2009.

    His classic-styled, entry-level, single-speed cycles are currently flying out of Velorution’s doors, priced at a very affordable £359.99. Weighing 10.9kgs, the bikes are constructed from a lightweight steel frame set and feature a gear set that allows for low effort cruising around town, as well as the ability to get up gradual hills without any problem.

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    “We switched to our own-brand bikes because it was getting harder to get hold of vintage bikes to restore,” Dani recalls. “And it made sense for us to order containers of our frames from Taiwan and the Far East.

    For five years we had the shop where we used to do custom builds, and the bikes started at £550. But after building nearly 5,000 bikes we had a rough idea of what people wanted, and we wanted to make our bikes a bit more affordable, so we decided to close down the shop and launch a range of pre-built bikes based on the aesthetic designs that we used to do so well
    in the past.”

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    Since this February 2014, the business model has changed completely from running a workshop and serving customers to being reliant on re-sellers such as Velorution. “They’re long-time supporters of ours, and have been fans ever since we used to do the custom builds,” Dani says. Foffa Bikes now operates from a distribution centre outside of London. “Our overheads are a lot less, while the quality of our bikes has remained the same. We’ve been able to pass on the savings to our customers and offer our bikes at more affordable prices. That has led to a massive amount of interest, so that’s why it feels like a completely new business to us.”

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    At the same time Dani says his typical customer hasn’t changed, usually men aged 18 to 40, “who want a nice lightweight commuter option made of decent components. What we’ve found quite interesting is that people are choosing our bikes as very much an extension of their personality. They might even choose different bikes for different stages of their life. I used to ride a bright yellow one and now I’ve changed to two black ones. My bikes these days are very ‘boring’ yet very practical and very comfortable – and I guess that sums me up really.”

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    Dani adds that racing green, pale light blue and black single-speed bikes have proven to be the most popular with customers. “We don’t go for the candy colours, because I grew up in Italy and I’m very picky about what I think is a good design. The bikes are again based on the custom builds that we did in the past. I think single speed brings a lot of purity into cycling, and it’s ideal for commuting in a place that doesn’t have too many hills. It’s a pleasurable bike to ride. You don’t have to think about whether to change gears, or if the gears are too high or too low; there are less things to go wrong and it’s just lighter as well, so it makes sense. For us it really is about giving our customers good-quality bikes at affordable prices.”

  • Moulton

    Alex_mini_stowawy_1963-4 Alex Moulton with Scala the dog

    Words by DAN FARRELL.

    When Alex Moulton launched his revolutionary small-wheeled, full-suspension bicycle at the Earls Court Cycle And Motor Cycle Show in 1962, he was very excited by the reaction of the public to his creation. David Duffield, then Moulton’s marketing manager, later commented that “we had to beat them off with sticks, such was the level of interest. We were completely overwhelmed”.

    What Alex can’t have imagined was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Moulton bicycle. After all, he was 42 at the time of its launch, and he wouldn’t have foreseen the roaring success of the early models that soon lifted Moulton bicycles into second place (behind the great Raleigh Industries) among cycle manufacturers in Great Britain. Who would have predicted Raleigh’s response to the Moulton, the RSW 16, and the plethora of other small-wheeled cycles, such as Dawes Kingpin, Raleigh Twenty, etc, were all derived from the Moulton design?

    Less than five years after the launch, Moulton Bicycles Limited was sold to Raleigh, who continued manufacture for another seven years. Following the cessation of manufacture of the Moulton Mk III in 1974, it looked like the story of the Moulton bicycle was over. This proved to be premature, but it was to be another nine years before they were again available for the general public to purchase.

    Dubbed ‘the advanced engineering bicycle’, these new models – initially the AM7 and AM2 – were of radically different design to their forebears. They shared the same genealogy – small wheels, full-suspension - but the architecture was that of a three-dimensional space-frame girder. Diamond frame bicycles are triangulated vertically and are hence poor in lateral stiffness and harsh in ride. Moulton solved the problem of triangulating a bicycle frame in three dimensions, yet still being able to make it fit between the rider’s legs. The new Moulton bicycle was designed for high-performance and to be “a pleasure to own and use”, as Alex himself put it. It quickly won acclaim from cyclists and others – designers, engineers, architects. Today, an AM2 is on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Moulton bicycle is regarded as one of the greatest works of British design.

    The first AM Jubilee bicycle was launched in 1987, and to mark this Silver anniversary, the Ferrari red frames were finished with silver coachlines. This bike shared many attributes of the AM14 and introduced the Moulton Wishbone adjustable handlebar stem. Original Jubilee and Jubilee L models (the ‘L’ indicating ‘light’ – these models having the lighter frame based on the AM-SPEED Race Across America project) remain in high demand in the collectors’ market and it is always pleasing to see a Jubilee still being used as the designer intended – for journeys long or short, on good roads or bad.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Jubilee

    Jubilee

    With the Golden Jubilee in 2012, it seemed appropriate to return to the tenets of ‘the advanced engineering bicycle’ and ‘a pleasure to own and use’. The Moulton Jubilee introduced greater versatility in possible specification, together with detail improvements to improve durability and rigidity without increasing weight. Of more significance was a return to geometrical aesthetic that existed in early F-Frame Moulton bicycles and had fallen away over the years. Alex often maintained that aesthetics had no place in his work – admittedly, there are times when they did not – but he did admit that on ‘visible’ artefacts he was always concerned of how pleasing something was to the eye, and always sensitive to the emotional response of the user.

    With the Jubilee, the last project he had input into, it is fitting that this aesthetic returned, and appropriate that the limited-edition versions were painted in his favourite colour: Bugatti blue. Somewhat of a departure from the steely grey, so beloved of engineering designers, that adorned the original AM7 series.

    Of course, longevity is a Moulton characteristic. Most of the early AM7 bicycles are still in use – and nominally worth much more than they were 30 years ago. Moulton suspension systems are intrinsically designed to be durable, and are largely field-maintainable should the need arise, be it in London or Lagos. Such is its commitment to its products, The Moulton Bicycle Company is proud to be able to supply just about every spare part, or offer a suitable alternative for
    all Moultons manufactured since 1983.

     

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    Small wheels, big performance

    Small wheels yet a big performance… that’s just a part of the appeal behind the Mouton TSR range of bikes, each a hymn to urban dreams.

    Engineered for over 50 years and handcrafted in Britain, the Moulton bike is the original full suspension, separable, small-wheeled high performance machine… world revered for its efficiency, durability, comfort and speed.

    TSR2 TSR 2

    TSR 2
    This bike revels in the beauty of simplicity. Its beating heart is a Sturmey-Archer ‘kick shift’ two-speed gear with an integrated back pedal brake plus belt drive. Two well-spaced ratios will keep you weaving between commuters on this feisty collectable.

    TSR 8 TSR 8

    TSR 8
    Versatility is the name of the game here. This classic machine is at ease both on countryside lanes and the mean streets of the city. The secret weapons here are wide ratio gears and all-purpose tyres, while Sturmey-Archer gears provide easy shifting, even when stationary. The TSR 8 also boasts a wider gear range than the TSR 9.

    TSR 9 TSR 9

    TSR 9
    Sharing its gene pool with the TSR 27, the TSR 9 is, in fact, a lighter but equally versatile machine that will have heads and wheels spinning thanks to its adoption of all the defining Moulton features. Delicate of frame yet strong, here is one bike that can handle
    all but the steepest of trails.

    TSR 30 TSR 30

    TSR 30
    If fast road commuting, touring or day rides are your sort of thing, then the TSR 30 is your sort of bike. Ride hell for leather through the urban environment, or load up and head wherever the trail takes you.

    TSR 27 TSR 27


    TSR 27
    At times you might want to leave the concrete jungle behind and experience a variety of terrains. The Moulton TSR 27 is one bike that gives you that option – and in comfort too.
    So say ‘tah, tah’ to the tarmac and enjoy this true go-anywhere bicycle that combines
    grace with gumption.

  • Retro Cool

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    German bike manufacturer Retrovelo specialises in one-of-a-kind commuter and leisure bikes that combine quality with beauty, and a return to true ‘retro’ values…

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    “We would be very happy if you were to love your Retrovelo cycle.”

    As a small manufacturer based in Leipzig, Germany, Retrovelo says that it’s not looking to pander to the mass market but rather to carve out its own specialist niche. Its design aesthetics hark back to the days when quality and beauty transcended the latest hype – hence the ‘retro’ of its company name. That said, these are not museum pieces but rather fun, everyday bikes, to be ridden day in, day out. As Retrovelo’s Matthias Mehlert and Frank Patitz tell us: “We love to ride these bicycles every day. Retrovelo was born out of our passions, but also German practicality.”

    The pair reveal that Leipzig very much has its own cycling culture and that, for them, ‘retro’ is not about jumping on a hipster bandwagon that hails everything from days gone by as automatically the coolest, but rather denotes a return to simply appreciating a beautiful bike construction and design. In other words, something that in itself could be hailed as ‘classic’. The duo declare that they do not slavishly follow ‘mass style’, but instead look to provide a specialist product, designed and constructed in Leipzig, parallel to, but not a part of, the large-scale industry there.

    “We would be very happy if you were to love your Retrovelo cycle so much that you would never want to give it away,” they say. “Our philosophy since the beginning was to produce bicycles that would provide you with as much fun during your daily commute as they did in your leisure time. At the same time they had to possess both a sense of style and an understanding of function.”

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    To this end, Retrovelo hopes that its bikes, split between Classic and Modern series for both men and women, are as individual as their eventual owners – or, as it calls them, ‘bike pilots’. “Out of this individualism, pleasure can be derived,” they say. “We continue to ride our own bikes daily and test their performance, both on the road and in specialist facilities. We’re continually refining them to ensure that, both stylistically and practically, in our bikes we have a companion we can view with the utmost confidence.”

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    Interestingly, the manufacturer notes that its bicycles for women are proving the most popular in the range, and puts their success down to the realisation that “women have a different riding culture to men. We also build the bikes to order according to the customer’s personal wishes”. Cream and black are the most popular colours. Customer feedback is described as essential in the development of the brand, because, as they reason, “without the customers there would be no Retrovelo”.

    As for where the bike brand is heading in the future, the duo recommend you check out its Facebook page for updates and events.

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