Friday, May 30, 2014

Aldi to sell special offer cycling gear just before le Tour hits Yorkshire

According to the editor of "Cycle" the CTC bimonthly magazine, Aldi UK is having a sale of cycling gear on 29 June. British cyclists should get ready to to get queueing.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bicycle Rental in Luxembourg City

Vélo en Ville Asbl
8 Bisserweg 1238 Luxembourg
T: +352 47 96 23 83
Bicycles, mopeds, motorbikes and trikes rental service
(Whether the trikes are HPV or converted motor bikes is not clear.)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cycling in the Netherlands

If you would like to read a description of one of our typical research trips to prepare a new cycle guide, then check out

Friday, May 23, 2014

Bicycle Hire in Dordrecht, Netherlands

The bike shop at the bike parking facility at the NS railway station in Dordrecht hires bikes. Single gear bikes cost 7.50 Euros a day. Three gear bikes 9.50 Euros a day. E-bikes cost 20 Euros a day. More details on the website. The hire information is in English.
Bike Totaal Zwaan, Stationsplein 6,  T: 078 635 6830,

Maia Ligfietspunt
Stevensweg 79a
3319 AJ Dordrecht
T: 078 - 616 63 02,  06 – 209 28 962
This company offers a wide range of recumbents, recumbent trikes, tandems, bakfiets cargo bikes and even conventional bikes for hire. The website is in Dutch. Look for "verhuur".

The VVV Zuid-Holland Zuid Tourist Information has e-bikes for hire. Spuiboulevard 99, T: 078-632 2422,

Monday, May 19, 2014

Carrying rucksacks, panniers and cardboard boxes on bicycles

I am amused/horrified by cyclists who need to carry heavy loads. A favourite is on their backs, rather than letting the bicycle frame carry the load. Another approach is to pop a rucksack or briefcase in a basket on the rear of the bike (better!) but then hold it down with one hand.
Some riders have to wear their load as they use road bikes to tour and commute. Road bikes are useless for anything except as a way of going fast and getting fit. They do not normally come with lugs to attach a carrier.  Others do not have any convenient way of attaching a bag to the bike rack. The standard way to attach a bag is to buy a couple of cheap and cheerful bungees.  These give me the willies. When I stretch them I have a vision  of a skewered eyeball when the hook slips. I have just come across a set of straps with a safer design: ROK Commuter Straps ( You loop the strap onto the bike rack, click the buckles together and  tighten the strap around the bag.
As soon as we can find a dealer they will be bought.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Roadside emergency services for cyclists

We found an article in the Denver Post (Denver, Colorado, USA) recently: 

"Cyclists, rejoice: AAA Colorado has expanded its roadside assistance program to cover bicycles, which means members whose bikes break down during a ride can now call for help.
Under the expanded program, AAA will retrieve members and transport them and their bikes to the destination of their choice for no extra charge , AAA Colorado spokeswoman Wave Dreher said. "*

I think it is a capital wheeze, but whether it is applicable to Europe I don't know. Whether the AA, the RAC, the ADAC, ACE, etc. have the extra capacity to supply more services is debatable, although some of them do charge serious sums of money for their services, for their insurance. 
The Dutch motor club, ANWB does offers a bike roadside assistance insurance scheme (translated from Dutch): 
Bicycle Breakdown 
Roadside Bicycle Service is roadside assistance for your (electric) bike, road bike or cargobike. 
24/7 roadside assistance in the Netherlands. 
If the bike cannot be repaired on the spot. The ANWB will bring you to your destination or to a bicycle shop. 
The service costs 24 Euros annually. There are discounts. There is more information on the ANWB website: in Dutch only, but it translates well with Google Translator.
If your bike  breaks down, there is also a chance that a passing cyclist will offer to help you. It does happen, but not always as our experience in Mainz shows (

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Monday, May 12, 2014

It makes my heart beat faster.

Das Museum der Arbeit (The Museum of Work) in Hamburg has an exhibition "THE BICYCLE, Culture, technology, mobility " until 1 March 2015. The 600 sqm exhibition has over a hundred iconic historic bicycles of the past 200 years. It details the technological development, the design, the diverse bicycle scene, and mobility aspects of present and future - from the "hobby horse" to the Hamburg "StadtRAD" and the penny farthing of dandies to today's cargo bike bicycle couriers. We will try to spend an afternoon there on our way to Denmark later in the summer.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bicycles in ICEs?

The "Mannheimer Morgen" reported today that the next generation of ICEs will have provision for full sized bicycles. It might be a week or two though, before you can pop your bike on an ICE in Hamburg to go to Basel. The first eight train sets are due to be delivered in 2017.

Friday, May 09, 2014

World Klapprad Races in Berlin

The Giro starts today in Northern Ireland and the Tour de France starts on 5 July in Yorkshire, but both events pale beside the one on 17 May (next week) when the World Klapp Race Series takes place away from its Ludwigshafen home in Berlin for the first time.  The Merkel Loop, the 1.8km long circular course along the Straße der 17. Juni past the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and Platz der Republik offers excellent viewing for the expected 20 000 visitors, including Chancellor Merkel from her office window. Brits should imagine a bike race from the Houses of Parliament, up Whitehall around Trafalgar Square and along the Mall to Buckingham Palace and return. In total 32 teams of four riders all of whom must wear moustaches*, will complete three circuits of the course riding Klapprads with carefully defined characteristics:
  • The Klapprad must be at least 30 years old. Folding bikes like Birdies or Bromptons are not allowed.
  • The Klapprad shall not possess gears or a duomatic gear. A suitable gear for Berlin can be mounted.
  • Racing or time trial handlebars are absolutely excluded - use the original handlebars, or similar.
  • Klapprad tandems are not allowed
  • The use of click pedals is recommended
  • Ideally, the Klapprad has mudguards, foxtail and a functioning lighting system
The time of the third fastest member of the team will determine the winners.  The winners will receive the Berlin Bear Trophy, with its cool shades and, of course, a moustache.

*In spite of this, ten of those taking part are female. 

Vennbahn: Cyclist-friendly accommodation in East Belgium

If you wish to cycle along the Vennbahn from Aachen, Germany to Trois Vierges, Luxembourg, then it will be good news that Tourist Authority of East Belgium in cooperation with the LVI, the Luxembourg Cycling Club and Velosophie tourism consultants in Luxembourg has organised a Bed and Bike guide similar to the German ADFC Bett und Bike Guide and the Luxembourg LVI Bed and Bike Guide. The guide will lead cyclists to cyclist-friendly accommodation along the 850km of cycle routes in German speaking Belgium. The easiest way of accessing the guide for non-German speakers is to log onto the English version of the German by clicking on the Union Flag upper right. Belgium can be found under Countries. We have yet to find anything similar for the UK, pity really.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Cycling in Europe Guide updated

We have rewritten the "Cycling in Europe" collection of helpful hints and suggestions for touring cyclists. It is available from Amazon (search "Cycling" "Forsyth" in the Kindle Shop) and from Smashwords ( now. There is a lot more information about where to cycle in Europe: The latest information on the instant fines levied by German policemen; downloading GPS tracks; a photograph of the best guarded bike rack in the world; putting bikes on trains and busses in Europe and how to save money by not buying mineral water.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

SPEZi Special Bicycle Show Germersheim 2014

HG Wells is quoted as saying: "Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race." If he'd have been in Germersheim at SPEZI, the Special Bicycle Show, over the last weekend in April he would have been giggling with joy. Perhaps I have the wrong idea but I have the impression that the big bicycle shows like Eurobike, Taipei International  or Interbike are where the suits meet to talk business to create "comprehensive trade platforms" or "manufacturers, retailers, media & more conduct the business of cycling". SPEZI is where the real freaks come.  I read a comment by a representative of HP that SPEZI is "back to the roots". It is where the companies get to meet people who are prepared to dig deep and want decent answers. People with disabled family members who still want to cycle together or who want them to learn to cycle. People whose vision of towns and cities is without motor cars and diesel powered delivery trucks.  It is where the garage-based inventors come to show off new ideas or rejuvenate old ones.  Fans check out bicycles or tricycles that cost more than newish secondhand family saloons. In a word, it is wonderful. 
The two day exhibition covers three halls, an outdoor area and three test tracks (children's bikes and trikes, adult bikes and trikes, electrobikes and trikes). These are our impressions of the show. We did not see everything. We could only visit the show on one day this year.


Recently we wrote about assembling a pair of gloves that could be used as direction indicators at night. If knitting a pair of gloves and assembling the electronic bits and pieces is too much work, then check out GTC Germany Ltd who offer gloves with a built in lighting feature. ( OK, it's a gimmick, but it could well be a gimmick that saves your life on a dark night in city traffic. Anything that makes you more conspicuous is a good thing.
Two other possible life savers are a Hubbub helmet mirror sold by Junik (
and a mirror to fit a glasses arm sold by Pedalkraft (

Cargo Bikes
In addition to the trike pickup models, long john etc. , we noticed a well designed trailer from This was so popular with visitors that we could not take a photograph as we couldn't get near enough.
The outdoor exhibition area had a number of cargo bikes on show:
Bernds has a steel frame 20” wheel Trike Pick-up. It has a load capacity of up to 140kg, and with its Pick-up holdall, it will handle a weekly shop. A low frame design, suspension rear, and balloon tyres make it an ideal vehicle for anyone  including people with physical limitations.
Maderna.MCS Trucks (
Radkutsche Rapid cargo bike as a transporter for children
A Radkutsche Muskatiere as a mobile home (
  • Race This replaced the Saturday afternoon trike race that stopped two years ago. Participants had to move a number of car tyres and empty beer barrels across a short course.  It sounds like it is good fun and we will try to be there next year on Saturday afternoon to watch it.

Integrating people with disabilities

It is heartening to see the efforts to integrate disabled people into the cycling world with the Hase Pino as a good example. There are a growing number of companies offering human powered and electrically assisted bikes, trikes and vehicles for the ever growing number of older people who want exercise but not take part in the Tour de France.   


Although over the years SPEZI has lost some of its home made bike builders, there are still thankfully courageous pioneers who want to offer a different approach to cycling. We had a long talk to Christoph Lenz on the Maynooth Bike stand ( He has designed and constructed a semi-recumbent bicycle where rather than turning the drive wheel the rider pumps the pedals up and down. It looks like a lot of fun and should make an effective comfortable, city and shopping bike. It would also be helpful for amongst others people who have not cycled for some years, as one can put one's feet down quickly. The problem we see is that not only are engineers and cyclists very conservative, but also the conventional bicycle has over one hundred years development behind it. It will take a lot of effort on Christoph's part to persuade the cycling community to change its ways. We wish him well in his efforts. 
The Maynooth Bike

A foot braked Maynooth Bike for a customer who has difficulty using their hands. 

A velomobile built out of wood, carbon fibre and a plastic or fabric skin to very strict design rules by two Frenchmen in London and Valence (
A electro velomobile design based on the post second world war Messerschmitt Kabinroller ( These are on sale for about five or six thousand Euro.


There seemed to be more interest in fitness bikes this year:
Elliptigo showed its stand up bicycles which use a cross country skiing motion to propel the bike at a rate of knots. It is probably very invigorating.
Both the Ruder-Rad and Varibike let the cyclist use their hands in addition to their legs to power the bike. This gives you a whole body workout. You need to move the Rudi-Rad handlebars backward and forward in a rowing action. ( The company builds recumbents, city bikes and tandems with and without electrical assistance.
A rowing and pedalling recumbent from Ruder-Rad
On the Varibike cyclists pedal with both hands and feet. How difficult both bikes are to steer when using the hands to propel the bike is not easy to say. I suppose you can stop using your arms to propel the bike and just use your feet if you need to concentrate on steering.


On the ICE stand we saw the trike that Maria Leijerstam cycled from the edge of the Antarctic to the South Pole in 2013.
An amazing effort

We were interested to hear on the HP stand that one of their trikes is now offered with 8cm higher seats, as OAPs like ourselves have difficulties getting up from near the ground. We noticed too that most manufacturers now offer an upright pole as an accessory to aid owners of rheumaticky limbs in getting up.  This has been a feature on Anthrotech trikes for many years.
 Anthrotech trike seats are high above the ground anyway. 
There is a definite trend towards building folding bikes and trikes. This is not so much to make the bike or trike small enough to carry on a train when commuting, but more to load it in to a car or store it easily at home. Both HP and AZUB had folding trikes on offer. Gobiidae Trikes from Barcelona, a new company for us has three models, one of which is a folding model (
PedalPower one of the growing number of bike fabricators in Berlin had a folding tandem on its stand.
PedlPower folding tandem.


In the outdoor area one could try a Quattrocycle, a Dutch built four wheeled four passenger human powered and/or electrically assisted rig that would be ideal to bowl along a promenade on a sunny day. (  Although all four passengers can pedal in whatever gear they wish or not pedal at all, only one steers and brakes. It appears to be a somewhat complex matter, though from the serious discussions between family and hire company taking place:

Osborne's Delight

The British government is trying to encourage manufacturing rather than high finance and so we were pleased to see Union Flags on Airnimal, Bromptons,  Circe TandemsICE trikes, KMX trikes and (virtually) AVD's Windcheetah trikes. We would be even more pleased if Her Majesty's Government would invest more than fine words to cut down cyclists' accident rates,  in cycle paths, e.g. and worked out a way of encouraging more folk to invest in industry rather than bricks and mortar. It is apparent from the experience of both Berlin and Copenhagen that investment in cycle ways spurs development of a bicycle building industry.
We were somewhat surprised on the AVD stand to be accused of being from Yorkshire as we are both Lancastrians, but the next time we are in Bolton we will try to nip up to Darwin to observe production there.  
We are always pleased to visit SPEZI, because Voss, the German Brompton importer, sells spare parts that are difficult to find elsewhere without paying p&p for mail order. Both our Bromptons are pushing 20 years old and it is not surprising that the elastic cords on the baggage rack for example, have given up the ghost.

Test Areas
  • Children
  • Adults
  • e-Bikes I am afraid our tea addiction drove us home at this point.
    • Travel 
      • There are airports in Frankfurt, Hahn, Strasbourg, Baden and Stuttgart, if you must fly.
      • Good high speed train connections from London to Strasbourg via Paris and Mannheim via  Paris or Brussels. 
      • Good regional train services from Karlsruhe and Mannheim. Connections from Strasbourg via Lauterbourg and Wörth.
      • There is plenty of free car parking space available, but you might have to walk for ten minutes.
    • Tickets
      • Tickets can be ordered in advance about two to three weeks beforehand with payment using SEPA and picked up on the door. Getting in is less of a problem than it used to be. Then are now four ticket sales points at the main entrance, one at the back of Hall 2 and one in Hall 3.
    • Accommodation.
      • Lots available locally. Talk to the town's tourist office.
    • Catering
      • Excellent. If you don't fancy the three course menu for €12.50 in the restaurant, there's a cheaper self service area downstairs or you can walk into town to eat in a pub there.
PS The next SPEZI will be held on 25-26 April 2015.  


Germersheim is a town set in the remains of  19C fortifications. It is an interesting little place. It is set in Rhineland Palatinate whose southern portion was part of Bavaria from 1814 to 1946. Germersheim's Bavarian rulers started to build a fortress in 1831. It was completed in 1855, although excavations for underground passages continued until 1861. By this time, however, the fortress was outdated, as artillery had improved greatly in the thirty years since work began. The fortress was destroyed in 1921/22 under the Treaty of Versailles. Some parts still exist. As you approach SPEZI you pass a number of 19C buildings that were part of the fort. The town is home to the University of Mainz Institute of Translation.
Fine parks
A memorial to to some of the Bavarian units that were stationed in Germersheim.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Cycle route planning in Germany with GPS download

Germany is a federal republic and cycle routes are the responsibility of the provinces, so formerly you had to check a number of sites if you wished to plan a cross country route. However those provinces that have online official route planners have got together under the VeRa website: Although it is in German it is easy to use. When you open the website there is a map showing the various provinces. Those that are brightly coloured offer route planners that cover the province and a few kilometres over their borders. Click on the map to use its cycling information systems. These programs also offer the possibility of planning routes into other provinces. Using the Baden Württemberg planner, for example, you can work out a route from Basel, Switzerland to Cologne through four different provinces.  
At the time of writing the following provinces offer route planning with GPS download: 
  • Baden-Württemberg: German only, iPad Android App available.
  • Bavaria: German only.
  • Hesse: English available iPad Android App available.
  • North Rhine Westphalia: English available.
  • Rhineland Palatinate: English available.
  • Schleswig-Holstein: English available.
  • Thuringia: English available.

Bremen can be accessed via VeRa. The website is in German only with no GPS. It is a very small area.
Berlin also has a route planning program available, but not via VeRa: The website offers a German language route planner with the option of Android and iPhone apps

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