Bike technology is changing at a dizzying pace. There’s a bike for everything, from road racing and time trialling to gravel grinding and bikepacking to heavyweight touring and every shade of mountain biking. And that’s not to mention electric assist bikes, cargo bikes and folding bikes.
There are new technologies like self adjusting, all weather hydraulic brakes, tubeless tyres that mend their own punctures, and gear shifting at the press of an electronic switch – to name but three.
But has all this whizzbangery come at a price? Are modern bikes soulless, disposable products with obsolescence built in?
To decide whether or not modern bikes are rubbish, Jack is joined by two experts in bike technlogy – Guy Andrews and Dave Arthur.
Guy a cycling journalist of longstanding. He was editor of Cycling Today way back in the 1990s, Road Cycling UK and was the founding editor of Rouleur Magazine. He now runs the boutique publishing house Blue Train Publishing.
Dave is a freelance bike journalist, previously an editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He’s part of the team at road.cc has is own his own YouTube channel Just Ride Bikes, which has had more than 5 million views.
Jack goes for a ride with Dr Ian Walker, an environmental psychologist from the University of Bath and long-distance bike racer. Ian found global fame about fifteen years ago with an experiment he did to measure how close he was passed by overtaking cars, depending on what he was wearing.
Ian is also an accomplished bike rider, specialising in ultra long distance racing. He was a high placed finisher in the Transcontinental Race, he won the North Cape 4000 and last year set a new world record for riding across Europe in a north south direction.
The ride takes Ian and Jack from Abergavenny up the Usk valley and after a a climb via Pengenffordd into the Wye valley, returning via Cockitt Hill.
With the recent reawakening of interest in the Hour Record, host Jack Thurston is joined by Michael Hutchinson (pictured, above), a professional bike racer who has dominated the UK time trialling scene for more than a decade, setting British national records for distances from 10 miles to 100 miles and winning 56 national time trial championships. He’s also an accomplished writer and his latest book Faster: The Obsession, Science and Luck Behind the World’s Fastest Cyclists documents with forensic detail and wry humour his career-long quest to ride his bicycle very, very fast. He looks back on the flurry of hour records over the past six months and sizes up the chance that Bradley Wiggins will put the record out of reach for a generation.
Jack and Michael also reveal a new hour record challenge for listeners to The Bike Show. For more details on The Listeners’ Hour, see the discussion section of The Bike Show’s Strava club page.
Electric bikes are a rapidly growing area of the bicycle industry, offering the promise of effortless two-wheeled travel. Professor Mark Miodownik of University College London tests a Smart E-bike (pictured, above) as part of an in-depth look at e-bike technologies, for both utility and recreational riding.
Plus Dr Rachel Aldred explains the Near Miss Project. As part of the project that’s a partnership with The Bike Show, we want your audio stories of near misses. You can record your audio account of a near miss using the free recording widget below – just click record and speak into your computer – or, using a smartphone with the free Audioboom phone app (remember to use the tag ‘nearmiss’). Those three questions again:
1. What happened?
2. How did it make you feel?
3. Were there any lasting consequences?
Hub gear manufacturer Sturmey Archer sits in the pantheon of iconic bicycle brands, most famous for its hugely popular three speed hub gears. Tony Hadland tells the intriguing story of the invention of the hub gear, a story of gifted young engineers, canny entrepreneurs in the high tech bicycle boom of the 1890s. Tony Hadland is the author of “Raleigh: Past and Presence of an Iconic Bicycle Brand” and “The Sturmey Archer Story”.
The spoked wheel is the unsung hero of the bicycle. Jack Thurston embarks on a journey of discovery, to understand how a bicycle wheel works with the help of engineer and materials scientist Professor Mark Miodownik, and then trying to learn how to build one, taking a class at London’s Cycle Systems Academy.
Nick Larsen is founder and creative director at Charge Bikes of Frome in the west of England. Charge is a fairly new company, remarkable for many things and not least the fact that all its products are named after something you would normally find in the kitchen. There’s the Juicer (a road bike), the Spoon (a saddle), the Bowl (a pair of handlebars) and of course The Plug, a simple single speed bicycle that launched the company into the big time a few years ago.
Nick talks candidly about the bike industry, his own motivations and inspirations, where future trends are coming from and the potential of the exciting new technology of ‘3D printing’.
This conversation was recorded live at last month’s Bike V Design night at the Design Museum.