New Bike!

Posted on Wednesday, 12th October 2011

I started a new job earlier this year and, due to my office’s location, commuting by car is no longer the cheapest or most convenient method. So, with my new employer being a member of Cyclescheme — a scheme where you effectively get a tax-free, cheaper, bike by paying for it out of your salary before tax deductions — I decided to start commuting by bicycle.

The other option (which I have been using for the last three months), is public transport: Manchester’s (in)famous Metrolink. The Metrolink is both (very) expensive (£3.20 £3.50 a day!) and unreliable. I suspect my cycle commute will also be faster.

For some strange reason, my employer only opens Cyclescheme applications (and applications for other benefits) every three months. Then, they don’t issue the vouchers for six weeks. So after getting a quote, reserving my bike, and putting in my application at the start of September,

I finally received my voucher yesterday and picked up my new steed tonight from Harry Hall Cycles of Manchester.

My new bike, a Specialized Hardrock Pro Disc

It’s a rather snazzy Specialized Hardrock Pro Disc. Although it’s not that snazzy: I went for the boring black and grey scheme as Specialized’s usual white and red was just a little too snazzy for my tastes. I quite like the red spoke nipples set against the black wheel rims — a nice little detail.

Red spoke nipples set against a black rim

I went for a Mountain Bike for a few reasons:

  • I was used to riding them in the past.
  • I think I’ll prefer the higher riding position in traffic (especially as a novice cycle commuter, effectively).
  • I quite fancy revisiting my teenage years and taking it down to the woods and hooning about!

On that last note, apart from a brief stint in Center Parcs in 2003, I don’t think I’ve ridden a bike since I was about 17 years old. I’d say I feel a tiny hint of trepidation as I embark upon joining the ranks of vulnerable fleshbags dicing with large aluminium objects that are desperately trying to get somewhere. I imagine I’ll get a new perspective of what morons some motorists can be. Don’t get me wrong: as both a motorist and a pedestrian I already have a good appreciation of how idiotic some people can behave when they are behind the wheel. Conversely, as a motorist (and a pedestrian, for that matter), I’ve also witnessed a fair amount of stupidity exhibited by some cyclists too. I hope not to be one of those annoying cyclists (yes, I will be stopping at red lights), just like I try to be a considerate motorist (especially when it comes to dealing with cyclists).

(Regarding the above: I don’t want to start a flame war between cyclists and motorists. I wont approve any comments I feel might do so. I’m neutral to the topic. There are some morons in cars; there are some morons on bikes. Get over it.)

Back to the bike. So, I rode it home for the first time tonight, with my spare knobbly tyres slung over my shoulder. Which, with a rucksack packed-full, was a little awkward, to be honest. Not ideal for my first ride in years. I enjoyed it though, and chose some back-streets to give it a good shakedown, arriving home more tired than I expected to!

Unfortunately, on the ride home, a problem surfaced: the front reflector fell off! I guess the technician in the shop hadn’t remembered to tighten it up! I pocketed it and its screw, but the retaining nut was long gone. When I arrived home, I noticed problem number two: the front tyre was on back-to-front! I’ll call the store tomorrow to explain the issues and hopefully pop in and have them sorted out.

Update (13/10/2011):

I called by the bike shop tonight and they fitted a new reflector and sorted out the tyre. So now I’m a happy bunny. I had a few bits and pieces fitted in the shop:

  • Some lights (obviously, part of the not-being-an-idiot-cyclist thing). Some Lunar 10s
  • Some cheapo mudguards
  • Some road tyres: Specialized Nimbus Armadillos
  • A Kryptonite D-Lock. So my colleagues can’t nick it from our bike shed.
  • Oh, and a helmet. Yes, I’ll look like a nerd, but it’s silly to not wear one when you are no longer an indestructible a reckless teenager.

The helpful assistant, Simon, had basically advised me to get the same stuff he uses, which was generally the cheapest stuff. He was honest, knowledgable, and didn’t try to up-sell me on anything.

Another nice touch is the user manual that comes with the bike. The care that goes into product design and packaging has obviously come on a long way since I got my last bike as a teenager. The “manual” for that was a photocopied sheet of A4. This bike came with a detailed manual and DVD, in their own posh little package.

Poshly packaged user manual

Anyway, tomorrow I shall embark upon my first cycle commute. Hopefully I wont end up under a bus!


1 comment on New Bike!

  • Gizmo says:

    My lad has the red and white version of this very bike, he loves it! He does seem to get a lot of punctures with the factory fitted off-road tyres – but then again, with the impetuousness of youth he does like to go over all the worst terrain when we are out..