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  • Cooper Bikes

    Decades of engineering expertise and a passion for stylish, urban design – this is what the COOPER brand stands for. In 1946 Charles Cooper together with his son John founded the Cooper Car Company.

    Cooper History 004 The passionate thinkers had one major goal: they wanted to produce pure bred, no-frills racing cars. After their glorious Formula 1 World Championship titles in 1959 and 1960 the stylish Brits made a name for themselves in the royal league of motorsport. Then, the Cooper Car Company was considered the world’s greatest racing car manufacturer. In 1961 the first Mini Cooper, and with it a further legend, was born.

    The Mini combined Cooper’s tuning expertise with an innovative, urban look and grew into a much sought-after cult car. With COOPER BIKES the traditional British manufacturer once more presents a seminal highlight of modern savoir-vivre – this time with two wheels. With the puristic, timeless COOPER BIKES, the Cooper Car Company enters a new era in the successful history of the brand.

    By garnering outstanding awards like the “Wallpaper* Design Awards 2010”, the “Editors Choice of Cycling Plus Magazine 2010” and the “GQ – Best Brand Extension 2010” and numerous reports in trade press and lifestyle magazines, the unique and elegant bicycles have made a splash not only in the UK but also in the rest of the world.

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    Click here to see the FULL range of Cooper bike available at Velorution

    61d0ebc2-6893-49df-bddf-b708179b105dAt £699 The Sebring single speed is aggressive in its geometry making it perfect for city riding. The new Cooper bullhorns now have aero brakes making it perfect for cutting through town. The Cooper Pearl paint job is unique and stands out in a crowd. The Sebring can be used for both single speed freewheel and fixed gear riding.
    As with the whole Cooper Range the Sebring uses the very best components for the price. The Steel Reynolds 520 frame (double butted for all your steel lovers out there) is stiff and light. The compact geometry is perfect for urban riding. The smooth ride is provided by the Alex Race 24 rims (in a dazzling polished finish) along with the ultra responsive Continental Tyres. As for stopping power the Tektro brakes wont let you down. Once again Brooks gives this bike the beautiful Brooks Swallow saddle and the frame’s exceptional finish is topped of with the intricate Cooper headbadge.

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    Starting at £799 the new Cooper Zandvoort 3 & 7 speeds in gun metal grey, blue or in black are the perfect choice for local commutes or longer journeys with seven speeds at your finger tips. Every journey will be a true adventure. With all weather mudguards, even on rainy days you will wonder at the bikes true agility.

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    The Prescott at £799 is the urban commuter bike with overdrive. Around town single speeds often rule. One gear means less weight, less hassle and cleaner lines. But there are times you need one more gear. The Prescott maintains the clean lines of the Sebring and offers you that extra oomph. The Sram Automatix 2 speed hub is fun to use and eliminates the need for fiddling with extra shifters.
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    The Oporto 7 speed perfectly combines this modern Technology and Engineering with classic style and elegance. The beautiful lugged and brazed frame uses Reynolds 520 Cr Mo butted steel tube to ensure lightweight strength and durability.

     

  • Klaxon and Zehus - Hub Motors of the Future

    We first saw the Zehus hub at Eurobike this year and were blown away by the technology. A brushless motor, battery, electronics and sensors, all contained within the hub. With a capacity of 160Wh and a weight of just 3kg, it really is an impressive unit.

    Bluetooth connectivity allows you to connect your smartphone (iOS and Android supported) to your BIKE+ all in one to select your favourite power mode, manage your trip data and even lock the bike. Your smartphone acts also as a gateway through the Zehus community, allowing you to access services such as online diagnosis, bike-oriented navigation, mobility stats and other social functions (e.g. find a stolen bike).

    BIKE+ technology represents the 3rd generation of e-bikes.

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    Bike+ all-in-one is the first product released by Italian company Zehus. An innovative cycling solution that, using a sophisticated and “smart” power pack, reduces the cyclist’s fatigue by managing energy efficiently. A bicycle equipped with Bike+ all in one is a brand new type of vehicle that:

    SLIDEISPO-01_0003_Layer-41• is used exactly like a normal bicycle
    • switches on/off automatically
    • supports the cyclist during the most strenuous actions (starts, accelerations, uphill)
    • recovers the energy when it would be otherwise lost (decelerations, higher constant speed, downhill)
    • never needs to be recharged from the grid!

    Bike+ all in one is able to assist the cyclist when he needs more help without discharging completely the system by capitalising on the efficiency gaps of the human body, as well as the recovered energy, for example during braking or slope. Above all the system decreases the human effort by an optimal use of the energy of the whole system (human and bike together). How is this possible? Thanks to a fine calibration of the control system and to the metabolic studies conducted on the human body. After many years of research, a new concept of powertrain was born.

    All the necessary components have been positioned in a very compact hub mounted on the rear wheel of the bicycle, without needing cables or other extra parts for assembly. All the necessary components in this light and compact design such as motor, batteries and sensors are integrated into the hub.

    Every thing in Bike+ all in one is automated; however, a quick customisation is possible via a smartphone App, which allows to set up different parameters such as intensity of motor assistance, intensity of regeneration and so on. The smartphone App is also suitable for implementing many other features, like locking from localisation for fleet management to localisation options through the social networks.

    Bike+ is a 100% Italian product, the flagship of the Italian style and design culture through the centuries.

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    To test ride an a bike with the Bike+ all in one installed, visit our shop to see the Klaxon Chat Zehus - a fantastic bike with all the features listed above, as well as wooden mudguards and a Gates Carbon Belt Drive.

  • Electric Bike Review - Biomega NYC Di2

    This is not an electric bike. So what’s it doing here? Well, the Biomega NYC 8 speed incorporates a feature that is rarely seen on electric bikes - electronic gearing. We thought we’d take a look... (there is another reason for looking at the Biomega, but you’ll have to read on til the end to find out why...)

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    Electronic gearing has been increasingly common on race bikes over the last decade. Advantages include having all gear-shifting contained on one side and requiring minimal effort with a touch of your thumb. If the battery runs out though, you’ll find yourself stuck in the same gear. This is unlikely however, as the charge should last many days, so you’d have to be a bit careless for it to happen (Shimano state the Di2 battery lasts from between 600 to 1,500 miles between charges, with 1,000 miles an average).

    Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.49.44Biomega is a premium urban bicycle brand, founded in 1998 and dis- tributing their products to more than twenty countries, from their base in Denmark. Their original design ethic was driven by a desire to not use existing bike designers, with every attempt made to avoid convention. The Biomega NYC’s key visual cue is a hydro-formed down tube, thus integrating the front mudguard function into the bike as a stylish characteristic. Another key style point are the Nightglow effect front forks, although it’s fair to say they’re not going to let you get away with not having a light.

    The smooth, quiet carbon fibre belt drive is a perfect partner to the Shimano Alfine Di2 internal electronic shifting system. Launched a couple of years ago, the 8-speed set-up is sharp, smooth, and fast. Seeing as the Di2 was designed for city bikes, it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to see the potential for touring electric bikes. One more wire placed down the tube won’t be a problem, and many e-bikes now feature carbon fibre drives.

    Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.49.59The battery is in the bottom of the seatpost, with the display on the handlebars functions as a soft- ware controller, display and gear shifter, sending the signal to the hub. If you don’t know where the charge-point is, you might find it hard to locate - I spent ages searching for it, and it’s the tiniest cover underneath the display. It seems to charge from low to full within a few hours.

    The gentlest tap on the trigger is followed by an electronic buzz and the hub moves quickly from gear to gear. With no front derailleur, shift- ing is a simple one-finger affair. Other than the Biomega frame, forks, handlebars, stem and sad- dle, there are Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, 26x1,25 tyres with re- flective strips, and it comes in 45cm, 50cm and 55cm.

    The Biomega NYC 8-speed is a light, nippy bike that is perfect for city-riding (it’s stylish looks would be an attraction in an office, rather than something to hide under the stairs), and it can handle bumpy sections of road surprisingly well. Danish collaborators KiBiSi de- signed the New York / NYC shown here, as well as the Tokyo / OKO, which is currently being re- designed as an electric bike for a late 2015 release. The current OKO design concept is pictured below. Now I wonder where the battery might go on that slender frame? Perhaps between the seat tube and rear mudguard, above the pedals? Or could it be hidden in the frame somewhere? We’ll find out within the next six months when we review the Biomega electric bike...

    The Biomega NYC 8 speed costs £1,595 and is available from Velorution, 75-77 Great Portland St, London W1 (www.velorution.com • 0207 148 5572)

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  • Bern Unlimited

    ‘Our goal is to make it cool to wear a helmet’

    You don’t have to sacrifice style when you wear one, says Dennis Leedom, of helmet maker Bern Unlimited

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    Where did it all begin?

    I began working in the early nineties with a brand called Boeri from Italy. A friend I worked with wore a Boeri helmet as a kid in the 60’s. Together we had an idea to create recreational helmets.

    What’s unique about the Bern concept?

    The whole idea of Bern was to create some differences that the market had never seen, like making head protection specific to women; no one has ever really done that, from a style standpoint, from a fit standpoint and from a profile standpoint.

    What is Zip Mold technology?

    It’s a liquid injected foam that provides a thinner, lower-profile helmet, that simply looks better when worn, and is engineered from a style standpoint.

    Has your mission changed?

    In the beginning it was one lid for all action sports. Now we are becoming more specific to each sport, like the Allston, our new helmet that’s doing great. It has a lot more vents in it for the biker, this helmet is our first specific all season bike helmet.

    What do you think about the cycling revolution in London?
    It’s huge. I think London is arguably the biggest bike city in the world. You guys have to make biking safe and inviting. I was riding in London yesterday and it was insane how many bikers there were, competing with the cars and the buses to get a piece of the road.

    Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 12.20Why wear a helmet?

    It lets you protect your brain, the only part of your body you can’t fix. I heard a lady say ‘I don’t wear a helmet, I don’t go fast, I’m always on the pavement’. But it’s not about you, it’s about the other guy out there.

    What are you working on in the UK?

    Our mission is to raise awareness about the value of head protection. Almost half the cyclists in London don’t wear head protection. Our goal is to make it cool; the safety is common sense.

    What’s new for the girls?

    The new Berkeley, Bern’s most popular women’s bike helmet, provides superior protection, and is made from a new material. The Berkley is also stylish, great fitting, and comfortable.

    What makes Bern stand out?

    I think a lot of the success with Bern comes from the fact that we are super-passionate about action sports. We are not doing it just for a job or the money, we are doing it because we are experts at protection, and to accomplish our mission, which is to make head protection cool and something that all action sports athletes want to use. We are 100 per cent focused on protection for non-motorised sports.

    What does cycling mean to you?

    I’m a skateboarder, a snowboarder, and I ski with my family, and now I’m way into biking. I cycle 12K to work, and I’ve just bought a new bike in New York; it’s an urban commuter bike and I love it! Since I have being riding my bike to work, I have this psychology where I don’t want to get in
    my car and drive anymore. If I have lots of samples and paperwork I think, ‘Oh man, do I have to drive my car to work today?’ Once you start biking to work, you never want to go back, and that’s what’s happening in cities across the world. It’s a cultural phenomenon. Cities are smart to support this revolution – and it’s so exciting to be part of it.

  • Modern Legends

    The Moulton Bicycle was a real innovation when it was first launched in the Sixties. Compact, speedy and with a style all its own, it’s still a hit 50 years on

    Words Gretta Cole, Main photographs Joanna Dudderidge

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    Joanna and I had the opportunity to visit Moulton HQ, so we jumped in the car with our camera and sped down the M4. Tucked away in rural Bradford on Avon, a town in west Wiltshire with a population of 9,500, Moulton is one of the last remaining British bicycle manufacturers, its products are still hand-built and exported around the world.

    Sir Alex Moulton had passed away in December 2012 aged 96, so we were too late to meet the legend himself. The Moulton residence is called The Hall, a towering Jacobean stately home built in 1620, which has been the home of the Moulton family since 1846 and was the site of the original Moulton factory in 1962.

    We ambled towards reception, taking in the picturesque scenery and the warm honey colour of the Bath Stone buildings, looking down on the courtyard is a frieze of Britain’s most successful professional cyclists Tom Simpson racing his Speed.

    After our meet and greet, Dan Farrell , Group Technical Director, led us through a blue door where the Moulton team were busy at work engineering their quota of impressive Moulton bicycles. Tim Bigwood started at Moulton in 1962 as the tool and jig maker and has worked on every Moulton bicycle. And to this day, the Moulton factory sits in the former stable on the same property where it all began.

    The History

    Stephen Moulton came to Bradford on Avon In 1848. Steven was a friend of American Charles Goodyear, who invented the vulcanization of rubber, making it much more durable, and leading to new uses for the material such as rain capes for British soldiers fighting the Crimean War. When Stephen Moulton bought The Hall, formerly known as ‘Kingston House’, he set up a large rubber manufacturing works in the old woollen mills, and supplied springs and hoses to railways around the world. The Company ‘George Spencer Moulton & Co’ became a large stock quoted firm and later sold to the Avon Rubber Company in 1956.

    Sir Alex Moulton wanted to develop something for the automotive industry focusing on the design and development of rubber suspension for vehicles such as cars and trailers. He met British automobile designer Sir Alec Issigonis who created the Mini and the Morris Minor, this culminated in the development of his acclaimed suspension systems for the Mini, as well as the Austin Allegro, Princess, Metro and Ambassadors.

    The suspension technology still exists today on Moulton bicycles.

    Sir Alex unveiled the Moulton Bicycle at the Earls court bicycle show in 1962 and was overwhelmed by the reaction it received. Within a year Moulton Bicycles was the second largest bicycle manufacturer in the UK and its models were produced at a rate of 1200-1500 bicycles a week by 1963. Not only was the design revolutionary, the construction was also made much more like a car than with a traditional braised and lugged cycle. You would have to wait another 20 years to see other bicycles made in the same way.

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    Unique Design

    The Moulton Bicycle is the original full-suspension, separable, small- wheeled, high performance bicycle, world renowned for speed, efficiency, durability and comfort. Expertly engineered for over 50 years and handcrafted in England, these bicycles are the world’s most efficient form of transport – designed for universal use, real performance and comfort. Moulton bikes have won time trials, track events and road races and hold the unassisted land speed record of over 50mph.

    Thank you to Dan Farrell, GroupTechnical Director at Moulton Bicycles.Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 12.03

  • Sport, Commute, Explore & Fold

    The Joey adapts to various terrains. Whether you’re riding city streets or country trails, it’s a pleasure to ride – and it folds down into a dedicated traveller case

    Photography Joanna Dudderidge

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    Airnimal was founded on the desire to be able to easily transport a first-class bike anywhere you might want to use it. Whether that means flying somewhere exotic, getting into the countryside by train, coach or car, or simply commuting. With an Airnimal folding bike, your best bike travels with you.

    Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 11.08Modern materials and the use of slightly smaller (but equally high performance) 24” or 20” wheel sizes allowed us to design a bike that rides and handles at least as well as conventional designs, but that can also be dramatically reduced in size for different transportation requirements.

    The Joey is the complete all rounder: whether you’re a sports rider, commuter, tourist or a trail rider, the Joey can do it all. Unusually, it works well with two wheel sizes – fat profile for the city or trail, or narrow, high pressure for ultimate speed.

    The Joey has two levels of fold. The first fold takes about 30 seconds and, with the addition of the Commuter kit (except for some bar configurations), will leave you with a contained package that can either be picked up with one hand, or wheeled. There is also a Joey bag designed to fit this fold. The second level of fold takes a few minutes, depending on the accessories you have fitted, and gets the bike small enough to fit into our dedicated traveller case.

  • Helios Tandems

    A tandem is a great choice if you want to share your ride with your family. The Helios adapts to you whatever your shape and size, and it’s easily transportable

    Photography Joanna Dudderidge

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    With the Helios, we wanted to design a bike that would handle and perform at the highest level, easily fit a range of people of different sizes, yet be compact for easy storage and transportation. This was a challenging design brief – and we also wanted the Helios to transport families and their luggage or shopping.

    By using the commonly available ISO 406 (20”) wheelsize we were able to design a compact, light, yet stiff and strong frame with exceptionally low step over height – it is low enough at the back for even a very small child. But it also has a telescoping seat post, variable size geometry and an adjustable rear handlebar, which can accommodate a 6ft adult. The front end is also designed to accommodate people of all shapes and sizes – with riders from 4’10” up to 6’5” have ‘captained’ the Helios.

    To make storage and transportation easier, we have used a detachable steerer extender/handlebar and recommend detachable pedals, which in combination with the exceptionally compact frame, mean that the Helios can be transported in medium size hatchback cars and stored in compact, narrow spaces. To complete our design brief, ‘transporting families and luggage’, the Helios has a dedicated rack that replaces the rear seat and can take two child seats or multiple bags. It can also take conventional racks and panniers and has a fitting at the front for attaching various different head tube-mounted luggage systems.”

    Truly a ‘bike for all reasons’, the Helios is a remarkably versatile bicycle. Whether doing the school run, a fast sportif, touring in far-flung places – or just doing the weekly shop, the Helios is the answer.

  • Twist & Fold

    Velorution meets the man behind the Strida, the smart folding bike for the discernible commuter, and discovers Mark Sanders is a visionary engineer who ignored career advice to design toasters...

    Interview Jack Cuthbert & Joanna Dudderidge, Portrait Joanna Dudderidge

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    A folding bicycle is a fantastic solution for a commuter who takes the train to work, and the Strida was specifically designed with this is mind. Unlike the traditional chains on most bikes, it’s fitted with a greaseless Kevlar belt drive, so you don’t have to worry about getting bike grease on your clothes, and isn’t messy when you fold it. The ‘A’shape frame is light weight, but can carry up to 110 kilos, and with it’s long ‘buggy-like’ collapsible design, the Strida fits into narrow overhead storage compartments, and can be wheeled along even when folded. Originally designed in 1984, the Strida has evolved over the years and is now available in three models, the LT, SX and Evo, and is available in a huge range of colours. However the revolutionary concepts behind it’s design are what makes Strida the great folding bike it remains today. Mark Sanders, engineer, industrial designer and the man behind the Strida, popped into Velorution for a chat.

    Velorution: In 1984 you had the idea to create a folding bike. Where did the initial idea for the Strida come from?

    Mark: Well, the weird thing is I was going through my petrolhead phase. I used a bike a little bit for work, but mainly I was into restoring cars. I gave up a well-paid job as a design engineer to return to college, and had to travel from Windsor to London every day. It became a real challenge to find the fastest, most economically sensible route. I tried to drive, but that was useless with nowhere to park, plus the traffic jams.

    Trains were fine, apart from the extra mile at each end. At that time, folding bikes were in their infancy. You could get a Bickerton or a Brompton, and that was it. I wondered, could there be something simpler than them? All you’re trying to do is connect the house and the station – you do the big journey on the train, and a little journey at either end. So why not design a bike specifically simplified to do that?

    As it happened I needed to have a project that combined engineering and design, except my tutor said, “No, no, no! Bicycles were designed a hundred years ago. What can you bring to the party? Choose something simpler, like a toaster.”
    I think there was once a famous American patent worker who at the turn of the century said, “You don’t need patents anymore, because everything useful has already been designed.” Think of what has happened since then!

    Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 17.52.28This may surprise a lot of people but wasn’t the design based on a pushchair?

    Mark: Yes, exactly. A pushchair is going to spend, by its nature, 50% of the time folded and being pushed along, so the baby buggy was the obvious thing to relate to, as it’s long and thin, like an umbrella or walking stick, with it’s own little wheels on the end. I figured, well, you’ve got a free pair of wheels on a bicycle, so why not use them?

    Were you a cycling enthusiast when you decided to design the Strida? What does cycling mean to you?

    I always rode bicycles as a kid, but for me it was more of a getaway vehicle. When you’re 11 years old you can escape – ‘Just going for a bike ride Mum!’ The fact you can get miles away, going to new, weird places that you’re not really allowed to go, but who cares... Fantastic! Plus that feeling of freedom. I didn’t really get the thing about going particularly fast.

    Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 17.52.39Where did the name ‘Strida’ actually come from?

    After designing the Strida, as part of my graduate studies on the Masters of Industrial design course at the rCA in 1984, I met a marketing guy who wanted to build the company and raise capital investment.
    So he put together the business plan, along with his board of directors, who then employed a professional marketing company to come up with a name. They used one of the top Pr companies at the time. They obviously spent a fortune, and came up with so many names, their favourite was ‘The Blake’. They were just about to go for it, when the director’s nine year old boy, who was sitting at the table with ‘the big people’, overheard this conversation and asked, “daddy, why don’t you call it the ‘Strida’?” The dad asked why, “Well, you sort of sit astride it, and you kind of stride with it...” The penny dropped. The director had spent all this money, and the kid came up with a brilliant name.” I think the company gave him around £150... That’s a lot of money at that age!

    What do you think of Boris Johnson’s plans for cycling in London?

    Having spent some time in Amsterdam, anything that makes London more like Holland would be great, but I think they just have such a long culture of cycling in Holland that cycling is classless. They grow up cycling bikes to school, granny rides a bike, dad rides a bike; it’s a sociable thing. They breathe in the air, they say hello to each other. It’s so inclusive, it’s wonderful.

    Do you think the surge in the urban cycling market comes from the top down – i.e. via government-initiated schemes – or bottom up through sport, music, fashion and popular culture?

    I think it has to be bottom up and top down. I think, going back to the purist thing, a bicycle is this human amplifier; a thing that takes you three times the distance in three times the speed, with the same energy as walking. That’s my favourite little stat that I like to tell people. In the city, a bike just makes so much sense.

    Belt-drive systems seem to be all the rage at the moment. What are your opinions on them?

    It’s really great to see some lovely examples of belt driven bicycles in Velorution, because many years ago I was questioned by many respectable bike designers about using a belt drive on the Strida. “They are OK on packing machinery, but you’ll never get them on a bike!”

    So when you designed the Strida, was it a surprise for people that it had a belt drive?

    It always had a belt drive, and a lot of people just said it wouldn’t work. They looked at it without even riding it, classic armchair critics – “Triangle? It should be a diamond frame”; “Belt drive? Should be a chain.” But when I asked them, “Have you actually ridden one?” they said “No.”

    Well, it’s been tried and tested. The Strida has been around for more than 20 years now, and has been bought by thousands. Do you think it’s safe to say you proved them wrong?

    Well... When Apple made a glass phone, not many people thought that would work either!Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 17.57.01

  • Colourful, Cool and Comfortable

    Brooks is full of bright ideas. And as well as its famous range of leather goods, it has a new saddle that promises maximum comfort and performance straight out of the box – with no wearing-in period. Meet the Cambium...

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    It’s reputed to be the oldest existing bicycle-related The Brooks Cambium range is made from vulcanised natural manufacturing company in the world. According to legend, in 1865 a young John Boultbee Brooks, harness-maker and general leather worker, bought a Michaux ‘Velocipede’ to replace his deceased horse so that he could travel to his father’s works in Birmingham. Bruised by the unyielding wooden saddle, he looked at his horse- riding saddle, had an idea, and the first Brooks leather saddle was born. Within a year he had opened the Criterion Works in Great Charles Street, where Brooks was to remain for almost 100 years.

    The comfort of Brooks leather saddles is legendary, however there is a ‘breaking-in’ period, usually of around 500 miles or so. Not anymore – the latest addition to Brooks range is the Cambium Saddle that “works like a hammock, delivering immediate comfort while absorbing road vibration and shock.”

    Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 16.40.37The Brooks Cambium range is made from vulcanised natural rubber and organic cotton canvas, enhanced by a thin layer of structural textile for added resilience and legendary Brooks longevity. The flexible, waterproof top is designed to follow the rider’s movements to deliver immediate comfort and ease of use. The construction absorbs vibration and shock, delivering performance traditionally only found with natural leather saddles. The Cambium owes its natural look and feel to the woven organic cotton textile, which fits the rubber top like a soft skin. The cotton surface is treated with Brooks Numac to completely protect the saddle against the elements. Cambium Saddles are designed to be ready for use out of the box – they don’t require any initial care or ongoing maintenance. And the saddle is assembled from replaceable parts and requires no special tools for servicing.

    To the eye, the C17 may appear quite racy, which indeed it is. Yet its dimensions are based closely on that of Brooks’ most recognisable model, the B17, ensuring the same timeless comfort mile after mile, for men and women. Men’s: Tubular stainless steel • L283 x W162 x H52 mm • 415g Ladies: Tubular stainless steel • L265 x W162 x H52 mm • 405g

  • Made in Britain

    Pashley is a British institution, based in Stratford-upon-avon, producing bikes using the skills of local workers and resisting the rush to outsource production to the far east. Velorution visits the factory to find out how the company has stayed true to its roots

    Words & Photography JOANNA DUDDERIDGE

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    On arrival at the Pashley factory, a modest building, sunbathing in the middle of a quiet residential Stratford-upon-Avon street, we take a quick tour of the offices before heading through an unassuming door, like an engineer’s Narnia, into a suddenly very noisy, industrious workshop with high ceilings, separated into workstations by various obscure pieces of heavy machinery. Leading the way is Lee Pillinger, sales director at Pashley, who cheerily calls out above the continuous hiss, buzz and clunk of activity, “Let’s take a look around!”

    Aside from the ‘health and safety’ enforced thick red plastic curtains that separate the welding areas from the rest of the factory, you get the feeling that it’s looked like this for years. Traditional methods, used by the same local people, generation after generation.

    “So, if you imagine we’re pretty much manufacturing this side, and assembly and dispatch this side [indicating the areas of the factory], that’s how it works. What we haven’t got as much of any more is heavy machinery. Where we would have had the hot press, where we do all the bending and stretching of material, quite a lot of it is now done off site, still using a lot of our machines, and still done locally, or as locally as possible, within Warwickshire.”

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    Do you think it’s more economical to do it here?

    “We should move, really, but this is where we are. We need to increase production levels but still keep control of manufacture. It’s a very tricky balance of what we do in-house. We produce around 10,000 units a year. At the moment we’re not making any more bikes for Royal Mail, although the absence of that gives us more scope to make more of our traditional bikes.

    “Pret a Manger is a good example of one of the delivery services; they replaced some of their vans and motorbikes with the delivery bikes when they found after a survey how much more economical using a bicycle is. And not just in fuel – you don’t get parking tickets.”

    We move on to a row of cubicles, concealed behind thick red, plastic curtains, where young men with welding masks are deeply engrossed in their work, while Lee continues to guide us through the ‘birth’ of a Pashley bike. Despite the order and routine, you sense there is a lot of spirit in the room. One man I spoke to proudly told me, “I’ve been working here in the factory since I was 18 years old.” He looks about 35. “I’m 55,” he adds.

    Later, I meet ‘Pete the Painter’, (you’ve guessed his job), who is happily whistling ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ while spraying a bike frame green. I notice on the side of his booth a handmade cardboard sign with a countdown of days left until Christmas, and I make a note to self – if anyone would appreciate a Christmas card this year it would be Pete. (It’s currently May).

    Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 15.13.25

    It was after a ‘lightbulb moment’ while stuck in gridlocked traffic on his way to the Paris Air Show in 1990 that Adrian Williams, whose previous work had been in helicopter engineering, decided that he was going to explore the technology behind electric bikes. This is where his career in the cycling industry began, which later led to him becoming the main shareholder and managing director of Pashley Bicycles.

    “You’ve got to push doors open”, Adrian explains. “You’ve got to be heading in a direction and know what you want to do, and be ready to push the doors open when the opportunity presents.” So when Pashley phoned up in 1992 to talk about applying electric- assisted technology to their bikes, he decided this would be a good opportunity to learn more about the bike industry, and took up a position there, initially as a four day a week contract, leaving the other day to concentrate on his own business.

    “What I saw quite rapidly was that this business needed quite a lot of work, and I saw that the bank were not at all interested in it because everybody was off- shoring manufacture, which is something that Pashley wasn’t prepared to do. I just thought, ‘This is ridiculous. This company can work. It can survive. The phones are still ringing, so people do want to buy the product.’

    “In the time we’ve been here there have been many Pashley equivalents that have just gone by the wayside, and that many people coming out of engineering is just ridiculous. So for me it wasn’t really a money thing, it was an intellectual thing – I wanted to show that I could take this thing and make it work. Fortunately, I’ve got a reasonably supportive wife!

    “So we did a management buyout, in December 1994. It’s been hard work since then,” he laughs, “but it’s also been a pleasure, too. It’s been a journey of survival, but once you’ve dealt with that, it’s about getting the infrastructure in place for growth, too.”

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    Do you think companies that off-shored their manufacturing envy Pashley’s ‘British Made’ branding?

    “Basically they’re all just box shifters now. This is why it’s a bit of a misery to go around somewhere like the Eurobike convention – it’s just so depressing. Where is the originality? Where is the soul of some of these products? It’s difficult to find.

    “What we have at Pashley are real people, as you’ve seen, who have real families. We buy from as many companies as we can: 95 suppliers in the UK with 85 service sector people supplying into us. The whole aspect is of community, and actually putting something back into the local community, as well as making our product, which is what manufacturing is all about really; trying to inspire people, but also serving the community.” But manufacturing in the UK is expensive.

    “It’s true, and I’m not blaming the likes of Raleigh. It became incredibly difficult for them to compete with the Far Eastern suppliers. So I’m not blaming them for doing what they’re doing because it was difficult. I think if it wasn’t about money they would have kept the Special products division in the UK and offshored other things.”

    Over the past four years Pashley’s percentage of export sales has grown from 15 per cent to about 45 per cent. Is that because the demand is for ‘Made in Britain’ products?

    “It is that; I think it’s also people wanting individuality. If we were 90 per cent export, I think I’d be a lot more keen to lift our prices. We’ve only put our prices up a little bit, and from what I can see the market can stand that.”

    In Holland 40-50 per cent of journeys under three miles are made by bicycle, compared to roughly 2 per cent here. What do you think we need to do in Britain to change that?

    “I think it’s a combination of things. The whole cultural environment has to change – and this has started to happen. Ten years ago, when people asked what I did and I told them ‘bike making’, it was a bit of an off subject, whereas now people listen. A cultural change is happening in London; you have the incredible ‘Boris Bikes’, as they’ve been dubbed, which are really changing people’s perception. And what’s interesting is to see the American take on it, where their whole infrastructure is so car-orientated. It’s picking up now. They’re lagging behind us, but it is happening.”

    Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 15.13.42

    Do you think your typical customer is changing?

    “Yes, I do. We sell predominantly to women, and also the typical age group is coming down. Also, other people coming into cycling are slightly more mature, but do have disposable income, and while we don’t do racing bikes, there are those who are looking for something a bit distinctive, different and with style.”

    How do you think your product and design team will change to accommodate this new customer?

    “I think doing classic bikes to a certain extent is fine, but I think it’s good that we now look at the more contemporary sort of product with a classic feel to it. The thing about Pashley is that what is important for the future is design and innovation, but obviously paying respect to where we’ve come from.”

    And given your background, would you ever consider making any electric-assisted Pashleys?

    “We’ll look at doing a few electric things. We’ve got a couple of items that I’d like to see come into use, but we can wait on that. We did do a bit of work with electric assist in the last year, and I was rather shocked to see that the technology is still pretty rubbish in certain areas. After all this time people haven’t developed it. So I’m being cautious on the electric side, as far as Pashley is concerned. There are some potential applications, but remember we are a company that does consumer bicycles too. We’ve also got tricycles and work bikes in there, so we’ve got other areas that we can apply technology to. We’re a reasonably small team, so we’ve got to focus on one area, then the next, then the next.”

    Are you on the design team yourself?

    “I like to have a say. I listen to what people want, and the way that works out is Lee will say, for example, ‘We really need a red bike,’ and that red bike will turn into a range called the Britannia, offering red, white and blue. There is a rationale behind these concepts.”

    So there is a meaning behind the names of the bikes? Am I right in thinking that the Guv’nor is you? 

    “Well yes, that came about because I needed another bike to ride to work, and because we moved just three miles up the canal from here. I really liked the idea of a simple bike, and so set about creating it with the team. Then people saw it, and liked it, and it sort of took off by itself. I loved the whole creative process with it. It’s not just the creation of the product, it’s everything else that goes with it; how is it going to be presented to the market place? So the imagery that went with it.

    “The name came about because we were sitting in the office bouncing ideas around, and it was John who said, ‘What about the Guv’nor? You’re the Guv’nor!’ Each name has a reason behind it. This is the sort of ‘soul’ that goes into our product.

    “With the Poppy, that was different in that Pashley had just turned 80 and at an exhibition we displayed a tongue-in-cheek ‘birthday cake bike’, which had pink in it. I was surprised how many people liked it, as it’s not the sort of bike I’d think of selling. We were very traditional – mostly black at that stage. But three years later people still remembered the pink bike. So I found a pink and a blue that worked together. I could appreciate that this appealed to a younger audience. This also came around the time of the credit crunch in the UK, so we decided, as a kind of counterintuitive sort of thing, let’s get this into the market place at a lower price point, and actually lighten up things a bit. Let’s say, ‘Don’t worry’. It’s a statement. It just felt right.”

    Having spent the day at the factory, practically hugging our new friends goodbye, I thought to myself, ‘I really will send a Christmas card to Pete the Painter, and I really must buy myself a Pashley.’ It’s not just bikes they’re selling, but a real piece of history, tradition and heritage. A bike that will not only stand the test of time, but says, ‘This is England’.

  • The Head Turner

    black_black_riflessoRizoma’s Metropolitan 77|011 boasts breathtaking Italian style that will stop you in your tracks

    At Velorution we pride ourselves on the amazing range of bicycles we source from all around the globe. We aim to stock the very best of the market, and the Italian-made Rizoma Metropolitan 77|011 is no exception. Its intriguing design – a seamless carbon fibre monocoque frame with an absent seat post – has grabbed the attention of many of our customers, who quite literally do a double take when they first see this beautiful bike.

    Rizoma, the internationally renowned brand for all things cycling, presents the innovative Metropolitan Bike 77|011, dedicated to those who love style and technology. A unique commodity, ideal for navigating urban environments with style, the Metropolitan Bike 77|011 has changed the rules and the concept of motion, adapting it for contemporary culture. Technically advanced and durable, the most compelling feature of this Rizoma is its multi-functionality. The rear wheel comes with the possibility to choose between two single speed capabilities; a traditional free wheel, as will as fixed-gear, using a threaded sprocket, a growing trend among urban cyclists who prefer the greater control by using the pedals for braking.

    Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 14.50.07

    The 77|011 also comes with mounts for the optional brakes included on the base model. Rizoma’s interpretation of the ‘Made in Italy’ style and philosophy are clearly seen in the simplicity of the design and in its plug and play functionality, all in a single frame size (thanks to the adjustable seat 92>96 cm), removing the complication of choosing a best-fitting model.

    The Metropolitan Bike 77|011 by Rizoma is the fusion of a cutting-edge concept with an exclusive design. The sleek carbon fibre structural skin frame and the simplicity of the belt-drive contribute to a decidedly modern look. Aluminium elements, machined from a solid piece, make the 77|011 distinctive and a mere 8kg, so it’s easy to carry on your shoulder when climbing stairs or going into the subway.

    Rizoma’s iconic bike is available in shiny carbon with fluorescent orange rims, and matte white with fluorescent orange rims, and are all made of carbon fibre. Some say that the Metropolitan Bike 77|11 is a work of art, and we agree. We feel incredibly lucky to be the exclusive UK stockists of this extraordinary bike.

  • 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.

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