The bicycle I choose for riding around London

Bicycle overload

With two bikes clogging my room and one clogging the hallway, it’s easy to think this house belongs to some kind of fanatical cycling blogger. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The house doesn’t belong to me, I rent.

However, as one reader recently asked me via email, which one do I use to ride around London on a daily basis?

My Voodoo mountain bike

I can see why people ride mountain bikes around London. I truly can. I sympathise that they are reliable and cheap. Often they’ve been a Christmas gift that has been in the family for many years.

However, that doesn’t stop me thinking that riding a mountain bike around central London is an exercise in futility.

Before someone throws a mountain bike at me – here’s why:

  1. Dual suspension: Slows you down.
  2. Thick tyres: Slows you down.
  3. Ultra wide handlebars: Slows you down
  4. Heavy frame: Slows you down.

Riding around London is by no means a race. I for one love cutting back on my speed on occasion and just enjoying a leisurely ride home. (Often because I’m totally exhausted from the ride there!). However, on a mountain bike, after riding a short distance to the train station I feel I’ve just competed in some kind of cross country marathon.

The mountain bike therefore, rarely sees any action.

My Marin hybrid bike

My hybrid bike was my go to bicycle for a couple of years of riding in London. It was the bicycle that caused me to fall in love with cycling and indeed London itself. Fairly fast, reliable, incredibly easy to ride and doesn’t really look worth stealing.

Through rain, snow and sunshine the bike has performed it’s duty both in the UK and in Europe. I couldn’t really fault it, until one day things changed for ever.

My Raleigh single speed

The day things changed, was the day I first laid eyes on a beautiful red, slim and sexy Raleigh frame in the Cloud 9 Cycles shop. I knew things would never be the same.

Suddenly my old Marin bike was a little slow, lacking in a more comfortable drop bar riding position and especially lacking in a certain charm that I found in the old Raleigh frame. I’d fallen in love with cycling all over again.

For short rides around London I believe it is perfect. Simple, reliable, light and fast. Also, I’m hoping it doesn’t attract too much attention from bike thieves, courtesy of the slightly worn look complete with tape coming off the handlebars. Although, this can be just as much down to the dual locking system I use.

Your bike of choice around London

Some people will have read this article nodding along and others will completely disagree with me. That’s one of the beautiful things about cycling. Whichever bike you choose – from a full suspension mountain bike to a simple single speed, you’ll quickly find yourself inseparable from it. There’s a reason many people give their bike a name. They quickly become a part of who you are – it’s why a theft really sets you back beyond the pure monetary loss.

What bikes have you ridden around London or elsewhere over the years?

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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