Having previously explored the behaviours of cyclists that annoy/anger Car Drivers this blog aims to explore some the behaviours of car/vehicles drivers that cyclists find annoying.

Cyclists are extremely vulnerable users of any road. Due to the weight, materials and speed of motorbikes, cars, vans, lorries and buses when there is an accident the cyclist will always be the worst off.

I believe that the characteristic of car drivers that are annoying to riders can all be summed up into one general category – intimidatory driving.  Whether this is intimidatory driving from the rear or overtaking both could have the same consequences.

INTIMIDATORY DRIVING

I have been subject to intimidatory driving on numerous occasions from drivers and each occasion it was because they were unable to overtake; not that I was riding in a manner to prevent them overtaking; but that the road and traffic prevented them from doing so.

The 2 most dangerous incidents I will describe below:

On one occasion I was riding through Farley Mount, towards Crabb Wood, where the road is only just wide enough for a single vehicle. While I was cycling along the road a Land Rover drove up behind me. While I was to the left-hand side of the road there was still insufficient space for the car to overtake, due to the width of the road and there were no lay-bys for me to pull into. Although this did not prevent the driver from making 3 or 4 attempts to overtake me. Each attempt only just avoided running me off the road.

In the end, for my own safety, I made the decision to ride in the middle of the road preventing the driver from attempting another dangerous manoeuvre.

I will admit that this was a selfish and road hogging position to take. But, the choice was to either block the very narrow road, annoy the driver and to not have them undertaking a dangerous overtake. Or, have them risk running me off the road on a very narrow country lane.

The second occasion was along Hocombe Road on my commute to work.

Many larger vehicles use this winding road as a rat-run and thereby avoiding the traffic lights and congestion along Bournemouth/Winchester Road, through Chandler’s Ford.

While the road has two lanes and cars can overtake with ease between pinch points and bends in the road. Lorries find this a lot more difficult as they accelerate slower and need a long stretch of road that is completely clear to complete to overtake safely.

On this occasion there was a Pantechnicon sized horse transporter behind me that I could sense was becoming increasingly frustrated at not being able to overtake. I could hear the driver revving their engine and feel them getting closer to my rear wheel.

At one pinch point we all had to stop at a set of temporary traffic lights. At the green light I wasn’t slow in pulling away but that didn’t prevent the driver in trying to overtake and if I hadn’t have banged on their cab I would have been run off the road.

Why do some drivers believe that they must be allowed to get to their destination, at the safety of cyclists and other road users?

Would the vehicle drivers have attempted such dangerous manoeuvres had they been overtaking another vehicle?

 

STYLES OF OVERTAKING A CYCLIST

When overtaking a cyclist there are 5 different styles of overtaking:

1 – The most dangerous over takers are those that appear to try their best to get as close as possible (does not respect cyclists).

2 – Those drivers that move out slightly and give you a bit of room, but to quote a school report “there is room for improvement” (they respect cyclists).

3 – The give more room than those that respect cyclists, but not quite as much as moving into the opposite/2nd lane (they are a friend to cyclists).

4 – The drivers who pull completely into the other lane (they are a cyclist).

5 – The weirdest ones are the drivers who overtake very close to the cyclist, but pull out further into the road once they have overtaken.

Again, I must ask myself why some car drivers think that passing within a few inches of an unprotected cyclist, to get to their destination a few seconds quicker, is acceptable?

From my own experience the number of vehicles overtaking, very closely, increases dramatically at night; why is this?

What makes overtaking a cyclist less dangerous in the dark?

From my own experience there is also an increase in close overtaking when on a specific section of Otterbourne Road. The section from Tilden Lane and Shepherds Lane, when travelling north, and from Compton to Shepherds Lane, when travelling south, has a white line to the left-hand side I have come to name the ‘Magic White Line’.

This line is not marking out a specific cycle lane and would appear to just be s slightly wider edge to the road/gutter area. However, cycle within this white line, or even on it, and it would appear to bestow magical powers to every cyclist.

Before this white line the vast majority of vehicle drivers will pull out and give you either half a lane or a full lanes width when overtaking.

Cycle in this area and suddenly the vast majority of vehicle drivers are passing without moving away from the white line at all.

Why does the appearance of a white line provide a reason to overtake a cyclist closer than without?

CYCLE PATHS

From my own experience many drivers do get annoyed when cyclists aren’t permanently using the cycle lanes.

The Highway Code states:

Rule 61

Cycle Routes and Other Facilities. Use cycle routes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings unless at the time it is unsafe to do so. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.

Should a very experienced cyclist, who may quite easily cycle at 15-18mph on a normal road, ride on the shared surface pavement/cycle lane where they could be a danger to pedestrians.  Many people may make the point that cyclists should then slow down so that they do not pose a danger to the pedestrians.

But again, an inconvenience to the dedicated cycling commuter/cyclist solely to remove the cyclist from the road.

While cycle paths have been provided to separate cyclists from vehicles they are not always in the most practical locations. Often shared surfaces with pedestrians; crossing junctions; up and down kerbs, etc. It appears that they have been installed at to reduce any possible delay to vehicles rather than at the safety and convenience of cyclists

Does a cyclist on a road, where there is an adjacent cycle path, justify the abuse from some vehicle drivers?

GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS

Within an article published on the BBC News website on Thursday 22nd November 2018, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46294511, the government has appointed a Cycling and Walking ‘Champion’ to ensure that the Department of Transports policies meet the needs of all road users.

The government also suggests that Motorists should be offered cheaper car insurance if they attend a course making them more aware of cyclists on the road.

Other proposals include encouraging all Local Authorities to spend 15% local infrastructure funding on cycling and walking.

Plus, a dedicated Police Unit to look at the dash cam/Go Pro footage, from cyclists, of dangerous behaviour from drivers.

Our Chief Mechanic has put together some advice and his opinions about the current technology, some brands you may want to look for and some possible extensions if the budget allows for an E-bike/pedelec.

Electric bikes do come in all forms, most commonly, hybrid, MTB, road and even wonderful cargo bikes; of which there are a few around Winchester. The hybrid is likely to be the most suitable for the terrain around Winchester.

The oldest and more common pedelec is the Hub drive.

With a hub drive the motor is located within the wheel, either front or rear, and drive power is thrown into the drive like a turbo, everything or nothing.

These are the cheapest option that can either ordered in from China direct or purchased through a local bike shop. The rims and spokes are usually proprietary parts, a branded item only available from the manufacturer, and from experience the heavy motor hub and short spokes on smaller wheels do seem to fail. If you are considering the purchase of a hub drive pedelec it is worth looking for the larger diameter, 700c, wheel.

Freego in Southampton design and develop cheaper hub drive bikes and some fall into the sub £1,000 CycleScheme ceiling. They have a good warranty and spare parts available for quick turnaround and are sold through Portswood Cycles.

There are other brands such as Whisper and Oxygen.

Portswood Cycles

The newer and far superior form of e-bike has the motor set in the pedal area and power is applied through a torque sensor; providing assistance related to the effort applied by the rider.

The Crank drive motors are a little more expensive, often the upper side of £1,500.

We have two of crank drive motor type of bike at the bike hub, which are available for hire, should you wish to try one. These often have very good range because of the smart use of power and gearing and the wheels are just standard wheels that can be repaired with off the shelf parts.

The frame itself is specially designed to accommodate the motor and often the battery for a streamline look. Common motor brands are Bosch (premium) and Bafang (budget)

Having experienced both types of pedelec my personal recommendation is for a crank drive in a 700c wheel hybrid version that will accept fenders (mudguards), racks and other accessories for everyday riding with luggage.

Forme is a brand we can supply, with the Peak Trail version being light but tough enough to be ridden on some of the less technical parts of the South Downs Way.

The Cromford is more the kind of town bike I would expect to stay on the road.

Both include all accessories to make carrying loads easier.
https://www.formebikes.co.uk

Most of the big bike brands out there supply assisted versions now. Many are moving over to the crank drive because of their superiority and reliability.

Hargroves and Peter Hansford sell both hub and crank drive assisted bikes from Cube, Specialized & Giant.

There are other options available that consist of conversion kits for non-assisted bikes. I have built some of these for people recently and am very impressed with the quality of the finished kits. It’s a little cheaper than buying a factory bike some examples I have experienced are:

A Kickstarter project that supplies a battery pack that attaches to the bars and a pre-built wheel of the correct size.

Home

Bafang BBS01
A crank drive set that bolts underneath the Bottom Bracket and most bikes are suitable for conversion. These drive set are sold in the UK by Woosh (one of our customers has bought a few to fit on a few old post bikes) and are easy to fit too.
http://www.wooshbikes.co.uk/?cdkit

The kits supplied by Cytronex are similar though they fit the proprietary parts themselves.

I also work with The Hub Cycleworks in Southampton where alternative transport solutions are especially in favour; hence being permitted time there away from Bespoke Biking.

I mention them because they keep a great selection of electric bikes, cargo bikes, electric conversions kits etc on show and for loan demonstration. If you are near Southampton and get a chance, pop in and have a look.
They sell assisted bikes by Trek, Forme and Electra along with some innovative kits.

Check out the very accessible easy boarding bike called the Biria that has a low frame for people with limited lower leg range.
https://www.biria.com/series/easy-boarding

I am a great fan of Cargo bikes, especially electrically assisted versions that will happily pull 150-200 kgs happily up St James Lane, maybe something else to ponder for people needing to move larger things around, human powered.

I would like to initially state that the views contained within this Blog Post are my own from years of road riding.

There are numerous activities from both car drivers and cyclists that create a negative perception of what every cyclist and car driver is like.

I do not expect this simple blog post to solve the problems. But, as a car driver too (as with most cyclists) I can understand the viewpoint from either side.

In this first part I am going to explore what some cyclists do that create a negative impression on car/vehicle drivers?

NO LIGHTS DARK CLOTHING!

Why do some cyclists consider being seen at night is not a higher priority?

What is the legal position?

The requirement/standard of lighting on a bike is set out in the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989; although this has been updated many times and most recently in 2017.
The requirements for bikes are simple:
Front lights – Centrally located and facing forwards.
– Only emit a white light
– Be no more than 150cm above ground level
– If the light can only emit a flashing light it must emit at least 4 candelas; approximately 48 lumens.
– If the light is only capable of emitting a flashing light it must flash between 60 and 240 times a minute (1-4Hz)
– It would therefore be illegal to have your sole front, white, light on your helmet. This is due to the height of the light being above 150cm and not facing forwards all the time.
Rear Lights – Centrally located
– Only emit a red light
– Be located between 35cm and 150cm above ground level
– If the light can only emit a flashing light it must emit at least 4 candelas; approximately 48 lumens.
The regulations also require that all bikes have front and rear reflectors, wheel reflectors and pedal reflectors.

Surely any cyclist would want to be seen when cycling in the dark and these lighting requirements can be supplemented with additional lighting; one steady light and one flashing; reflective clothing or, at least something a bit more visible than black; and, reflective back pack/pannier bags.

I, personally, cannot understand the thought process of someone who rides in the dark without lights.

Vehicles travelling at 30mph are travelling 13 meters every second and are having to look out for all hazards; pedestrians, oncoming traffic, junctions, traffic behind them and other road users.

From experience of driving at night cyclists with rear light(s) are highly visible to enable you judge how fast they are going; when you might catch up with them; to slow down accordingly and to safely overtake.

Without lights a cyclist is virtually invisible, even with street lighting, until only a relatively short distance away and, quick, avoiding action by the car driver must be taken; at risk to the cyclist, the car driver (and passengers) and other road users.

 

CYCLING THROUGH RED LIGHTS

While it is a small minority of cyclists that appear to do this. It is a behaviour that all cyclists are tainted with.
What makes a cyclist believe that road traffic laws and red lights don’t apply to them?

Traffic lights are in place to ensure that there is a smooth flow of traffic, from all the relevant junctions. When they are obeyed they ensure the safety of everyone using the traffic lighted junctions; cars, lorries, buses, motorbikes, pedestrians and cyclists.

Some cyclists obviously see them as an inconvenience or an exercise in delaying their journey and continue straight through the junction; or, dodging the traffic to get to the junction they want. Not only at their own personal risk but that of other road users too.

Red lights are there for everyone and every cyclist should stop.

Not signalling

Every vehicle is provided with indicators so that they can signal when they will be turning left or right; or, if they are changing lanes. The flashing lights mean that other road users know what the driver is doing and react accordingly, and the manoeuvre can be performed safely.

Cyclists aren’t usually provided with indicator lights on their bikes, although some systems are available to purchase. But as I was taught we have our arms we can use, we can look behind/over our shoulders, raise the appropriate arm to signal left and right, and ensure that the manoeuvre is safe.

But so many cyclists don’t perform these simple tasks and pull straight across lanes and junctions with many drivers, including myself, having to undertake emergency braking to avoid hitting them.

As with any other vehicle, if there is no signal it is safe to assume that the vehicle/cyclist will not be turning and continuing along the road.

Too often though a cyclist will veer right across a vehicle’s path, without looking behind or knowing how close the car is, resulting in avoiding action having to be taken by the driver.
Not only is this a danger to the cyclist but also other road users.

RIDING 2-ABREAST

Rule 66 of The Highway Code (rule for cyclists) (updated 27 June 2018) states:

“You should never ride more than 2 abreast, and ride single file on narrow or busy roads or when riding round bends.”

Riding 2 abreast increases the safety of the group of cyclists by making themselves more visible to other road users, from the front and rear. By riding 2 abreast it ensures that any vehicle drivers must give enough space to the cyclists when over taking. Where cyclists do ride single file vehicle drivers will often try and squeeze past within the same lane; at considerable risk to the cyclists.

In addition to being safer for the cyclists riding 2 abreast halves the distance that any vehicles need to travel to overtake the group of cyclists. Consider a line of 12 cyclists riding single file. Allowing for space between each rider this line of cyclists would extend for approximately 25 metres.

Whereas, riding 2 abreast would shorten this distance to approximately 12 metres making it easier for vehicles to find a gap to overtake safely.

What would be more considerate to cyclists is on narrow roads riding single file and in smaller groups.

This blog post does not intend to be an exhaustive list but should be considered by some cyclists as to why vehicle drivers have the opinion that they do. But, also giving reasons as to why cyclists do some things that drivers find annoying but is for their own safety.

I do not consider that this short blog post covers every behaviour that vehicle drivers may find annoying. I will be exploring what cyclists find annoying/dangerous about vehicle drivers in a later blog post; which, will also include use of cycle paths.

At Bespoke Biking we offer a range of cycling training including how to ride within traffic. Should you wish to learn how to be a safer cyclist in light/heavy traffic please enquire about booking a lesson.

Have you found the perfect bike frame?
Do you enjoy riding it?
But is there something not quite right and you are considering buying a new bike?
You don’t necessarily need to buy a new bike.

This is my experience.

I bought my Giant TCR2 in 2012 and it was the perfect bike when I first got it. But, over the years and the hundreds of miles of riding it there were a growing number niggles I had about it. These included:
• The gear shifting was slow;
• when pedalling I felt cramped;
• the gear ratios didn’t always have a comfortable setting, either the cadence was too high, or too slow; etc, etc.

The question was, what to do?

The original Groupset on my bike was the Shimano Tiagra; with 34-50 teeth chain set on the front and 9-speed cassette to the rear, 11-36 teeth.

The next step up in Groupset would be the Shimano 105; with 36-52 teeth on the chain set and an 11-speed cassette to the rear, 11-30 teeth. This would also include new cranks and reducing their length from 175mm to 172.5mm, new shifters and brake callipers too. But whilst I was upgrading all of these pieces I decided that I might as well upgrade the hubs on my wheels to DT-Swiss 350’s.

You might consider that this was a lot of expense and how does this compare the cost of a new bike?

While you may have paid £1000+ for your bike when it was new, if you have ridden it regularly and had it a few years it’s 2nd hand value is a fraction of its original price. Therefore, any money gained from selling it will only make a relatively small contribution towards the cost of the new bike.

In my case, the Giant TCR2 from 2012 would only be worth £200, approximately. Whereas the newest Giant bike with a Shimano 105 Groupset is the Giant TCR Advanced 2 – at £1,495. I would still need to find over £1,200 to fund the purchase of a new bike.

However, what about upgrading an existing bike to the Shimano 105 Groupset?

From searching numerous online Cycling retailers, you can generally purchase complete Groupsets rather than having search for individual items within their websites.

Within the Groupset bundles you can then customise your choices to suit each bike; Shimano/Campagnolo cassette and free hubs; chain set sizes; cassette sizes; crank length; the type of fitting for brake callipers and derailleurs; etc, etc.

The cost of all of this is probably not as much as you’d think. By searching around you can find Groupsets for between £360 and £460. Which is a saving of over £1,000 when compared to the cost of a new bike.

Once you’ve replaced all the Groupset the only original items left would be:
• The frame
• The Headset
• Handlebars
• Seat post
• Seat
• Wheels
• Hubs

It is like riding a new bike.

From my experience the new Groupset and hubs have completely changed my bike.

The gearing is so much nicer. It’s so quick and responsive when changing gears. As soon as you start to move the shifters the derailleurs are moving, and the gear has changed.

With the additional two gears, on the cassette, the difference between each gear is a smooth progression and it is now so simple to find the correct gearing for a comfortable and manageable cadence.

Whether it is an affect of the shorter cranks or the whole Groupset but my average speed, especially on the flats and gentle inclines, has increased by approximately 2mph; without any noticeable increase in effort.

Over time though you can keep upgrading parts on your bike:• wheel rims, deep set aero rims, carbon or alloy?
• Calliper or Disc brakes?
• New hubs?
• Handlebars
• Seat

 

 

All of which can be changed and give you a new bike feel while retaining a frame that suits your riding style and still at a cheaper cost than a whole new bike.

 

Should you want to look into the costs and work involved with upgrading your bike please do not hesitate to visit us in the Lower Parking Level of the Brooks Centre to speak to one of our very knowledgeable mechanics.

What’s it like commuting on an e-bike? Our front-of-house guy Tom finds out.

To set the background I am a keen cyclist and own a Giant TCR2 road bike with handmade wheels. I ride this bike every day to work and back and on varying length rides at weekends; between 10 miles and 60 ish miles.

I have been working at Bespoke Biking for 4 weeks; this last week I used one of our Cube electric bikes for my commute from work to home and then back into work the following morning.

This short piece aims to put forward my personal experience between the 2 bikes.

GIANT TCR2

I have owned this bike for 7 years and the only modifications I have made to it are handmade wheels and cleat pedals.

I have ridden this bike in all weather and conditions across the New Forest, Farley Mount, to Frome, between London and Southampton, on all road types – city roads, country lanes, the A36 to Salisbury, up hill and down dale.

This is a light road bike, responsive steering, great gearing and on the commute to work I have found it an easy bike to ride on the clear roads, but also in the congestion easy to stop and, more importantly, to get moving again without holding up the traffic.

While it is only a relatively short commute, between Chandler’s Ford and Winchester, at 6.6 miles, it includes a number of short steep hills, longer hills and flats giving a mix of riding styles.

As with any ‘manual’ bike it doesn’t matter how short the ride is, or how cool it is, you will inevitably arrive at your destination having perspired a bit and therefore requiring a clean shirt, deodorant and sometimes a wash/shower. Although this will be proportional to the amount of effort put into the cycling.

I find that cycling is a great stress reliever and clears the mind during the ride. Riding gives a sense of achievement and through the development of Strava you can easily keep track of the total ride and specific segment times/efforts.

The commute on my road bike takes, on average, 29 minutes averaging 13.5mph.

CUBE E-BIKE

With the E-bikes that we have a Bespoke Biking the electric motor does not replace the need for pedalling. What the motor does is assist any pedalling to provide additional power/speed.

The range of the bikes, within the lowest setting – eco is approximately 70 miles. However, this setting provides the least assistance to the rider and their cycling.

The three higher settings reduce the overall range of the bike, while providing greater assistance and higher average speed while cycling.

Approximate range on the different settings (this is affected by how much you use the motor and the number of hills):

Tour – 44 miles
Sport – 34 miles
Turbo – 29 miles

In addition to the 4 motor settings there are also 9 gears.

When riding the e-bikes I wanted to see for myself how it would compare with the usual commute on my Giant with regards to speed, ease of use, comfort and rideability.

During the ride I used a variety of the motor settings and the digital display shows how much ‘assistance’ is being giving on top of your actual pedalling.

What I found on the ride was that between the Sport and Turbo settings with minimal pedalling effort I was able to maintain 15-16 mph easily, which compared well to my lighter road bike.

The brakes on the bike are disc brakes and have a lot better stopping power than the caliper brakes on the Giant.

At junctions and traffic lights there is the added benefit of the motor providing the starting assistance required to make an immediate start, doubled with not having to clip in any cleats on the pedals.

By finding the right combination of gearing and motor settings it is a smooth ride up and incline no matter how steep.

On the downside when travelling downhill the motor almost acts like a brake. Even when you are pedalling it is almost as if there is an in built top speed for the bike.

I found that over 15mph the front wheel, and as a consequence the steering, became jittery. While this was not to the extent that it became dangerous it was a little unnerving; the bike has been checked over and there is nothing amiss with the wheel, tyre pressure, hub or stem/handlebars.

In comparing the recorded times on Strava, for the hill climbs through Otterbourne I was over a minute quicker on each hill. In comparing the whole commute, in both directions, the ride was actually 2 minutes slower.

With regards to the range of the bike I found that by changing between settings that the practical range was approximately 17 miles. I did not charge the bike overnight and upon arriving at work the range indicator was down to 4 miles.

So while I wasn’t as sweaty upon arriving at my destination, due to the riding being easier, there are distinct disadvantages to riding the e-bike when compared to my road bike.

From my experience I believe that the e-bike would be perfectly suited to someone relatively inexperienced at cycling who wants to have a relaxed slower ride. When wanting to use it as a serious commuting bike to get to work as quickly as a road bike I don’t think it compares to riding my Giant.

Free apples!

Bespoke Biking customer Delphine Granger sets out on a 300-mile charity challenge

Last month, I was proud to complete 300 miles on my trusted Brompton bicycle, ‘Maggie’, to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Having just moved to Winchester in the summer from London, I was keen to get out there and discover the area.

I’m sure I must have looked like a bit of a tourist perched on my set of mini-wheels, compared to some of the racers I passed along the way – but I took pride in that. I was/am a tourist!

Inspired by a few routes Bespoke Biking posted on their Strava account, I set off on those early journeys towards Alresford along the B3047 delighting in the Itchen Abbas descent and crying on the way back. I – quite selfishly – named the bench outside St Mary’s Church in Itchen Stoke “My Bench” as I stopped there many times for a break.

I then ventured a bit further, sourcing out lunch destinations such as the Northbrook Arms in East Stratton, the National Trust Hinton Ampner and Mottisfont tea shops, the Bugle Inn in Twyford and the Coach & Horses in Sutton Scotney.

I discovered with delight the thatched cottages in Stoke Charity, Micheldever, Crawley and Easton. But not so much of a delight were the Romsey and the Stockbridge A-roads.

Google Maps led me off road a few too many times for my liking. Chillandham Lane becomes a stony track along the M3 to Main Road; there is an unnervingly secluded 4km narrow dirt path between Sparsholt and Up Somborne and a shorter (but just as narrow) path between Chilland Corner and Northington Down.

This challenge got me hooked and wanting to discover more of the area with ‘Maggie’ . That’s why I’ve created an Instagram account where I will post short day and half-day routes compatible with the school runs. See Bromptoning with Maggie – #bromptoningwithmaggie