Monday, June 27th, 2022

My first ride using London’s new Barclay’s Cyclehire scheme


Last friday I was probably one of the first to enthusiastically order my Cyclehire annual key (£45) that allows me to have the first half hour of every ride I take for free for the whole year.

I downloaded an iPhone app called London Hire which tells you where the stations are and how many bays they have, but sadly can’t tell you how many bays are free. It is helpful, though, and I highly recommend you use it. It also gives you an idea of how vast they’ve made the network to start off with.

This morning, I went to the bike bay closest to where I live and crossed my fingers that all the bikes wouldn’t be taken. Thankfully they weren’t. I grabbed the closest one and tried unlocking it and the unlock succeeded, but I couldn’t take it out of the bay. What I later realized is that you actually have to lift it up a bit.. as its weight makes you feel that you can’t pull it out.

I got on the bike and started off. From the second I took off, the looks started.. I got looks from people crossing the street, kids, men in white vans, women, etc.. I actually got stopped by a few women at cross walks and at a stop light to ask me about how the bike was.. Curiosity factor is definetively high right now.

When arriving at the docking station near work, I did find that I got quite lucky as there was only one spot left. I could see where there may be, in the future when more people are doing this, that parking will become a problem when everyone is coming in to work and parking the bikes when you go home.

The ride itself isn’t so bad. The bike is a bit lethargic in its ride, but comfortable. The saddle they’ve chosen is designed to fit most people, so my race-saddle accustomed posterior was actually uncomfortable on the saddle. I had to shift around quite a bit (perhaps the nose was slightly not level). You can adjust seat height though, but no fore/aft, so I felt like was constantly trying to push myself back (I’m 5’9″). The brakes work well, and the ride quality is nice and plush. Definitevly a great short ride bike.

All in all, It was a fun experience and one that I will continue to use on an ad-hoc basis. It’s a great alternative to the other forms of transport and allows you to take quick rides to meet you friends and the pub, but not be worried about HAVING to cycle back after a few pints. Always consult your doctor before trying anything new and also don’t forget to use a helmet: mine has saved my life twice.

Accessories to consider:

1) A nice helmet that fits you well and not like a top hat.

2) Cycle insurance:

3) A Road ID bracelet:

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