I’ve always prided myself as running London Cyclist as a blog for the casual cyclist. However, when a friend of mine recently asked me for advice on buying a new bike, I was worried I may be turning in to a bit of a bike snob.
He picked out a hybrid bike for around £200. The bike would be used for short trips around London and the rare longer trip out in to the outskirts of London. I strongly advised him to spend more. We’ve all heard stories of “Bike Shaped Objects” and I feared that the cheap bike would put him off cycling with too many issues.
In the end I relented – any bike is better than no bike. I should know – my unhealthy bike addiction started with a truly horrible mountain bike. Heavy and cumbersome I used to ride, at the time in Greece, to my friends house. We would race along the road and fall over way too often. I’ve not improved much on the balance front since, but my bikes have certainly got a little better.
My current ride, an old Raleigh Ti frame kitted out with fairly standard components feels a lot faster. Comparatively to “back in the old days” I feel as though I’m gliding across the road. Perhaps having this new experience and realising the joy a better bike provides it has become harder to utter the sentence “cycling is great with any bike”.
Whilst my bike has improved my kit has largely remained the same. A standard pair of shoes combined with jeans and a t-shirt. Hardly the Lycra warrior image that some newspapers paint.
I’ll just need to keep reminding myself that it’s not about the bike you ride, but the enjoyment and freedoms any bike can provide. During my current trip to Guatemala I’m sure I’ll be humbled once more, when my feet start pedalling a rusty old bike and I’m exploring the country in my favourite way.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.