Friday, May 26, 2017

Cleaning your bike

I worked for many years for an engineering society that organised the world's largest chemical engineering exhibition. I worked on the society's stand at the triennial exhibitions and I noticed, in addition to the guests who wandered from stand to stand collecting information, there were always guests carrying a briefcase packed with brochures who wished us to be interested in their ideas. During the bicycle parade after the recent 5. Nationaler Radverkehrskongress (5th National Cycling Conference) in Mannheim, I cycled next to another delegate who had a bag full of brochures and we discussed automatic bike washing. It turns out he has connections to a small company that has developed a bike wash.
The bike is put in a box 2.3m x 0.8m x 1.3m which is equipped with rollers to take the bicycle. The bike wash needs a source of mains electrical power and water. During the wash cycle dirt is loosened by ultrasound. A wash takes about 0.1L of water. The wash cycle takes three minutes. This would suggest it would take about five minutes to wash a bicycle. The bike wash comes on four wheels and can be easily moved. I have no idea how much the device costs either to buy or to rent. One needs to contact the manufacturer to find this out, but assuming it is reasonably priced it strikes me it would a capital wheeze if say

  • an event organiser for MTB, cycle cross, bike parade or even road race events, 
  • a political party such as the Greens, 
  • a bigger bike shop
  • a national bike club such as Cycling UK
  • or a city council 

could lease or buy a bike wash they could trot out on various occasions. In the case of a bike shop it could be an added plus that each and every bike would be washed before inspection or repair.
The manufacturer's website is It is a German company, but the website is in English and German.
At work during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the first trip by a two-wheeled vehicle

Friday, May 19, 2017

Winter Cycling

We visited the 5. Nationaler Radverkehrskongress (5th National Cycling Conference) in Mannheim recently and both of us went to the forum on Cycle Tourism. Three of the four lectures were discussing fairly conventional aspects of e-bike touring and MTB activities by representatives of tourist information offices. One lecture was interesting though we could not work out beforehand what it was about: "Saisonverlängerung durch Winterfahrradtourismus" ("Lengthening the season through winter cycling.") It turned out there is a winter biking scene which is based in places where one gets snowy, frosty winters rather than the wet, dark, soggy seasons we in the Rhineland experience between December and February. Typical places are Minneapolis (MN), Montreal (PQ), St. Petersburg and Oulu (Finland). Our speaker, Pekka Tahkola came from the latter city. The activity is divided into two main areas:
  • Utility Cycling: Check for more information. This group is more interested in keeping roads cleared and getting to work than exciting days out on the fells. 
Winter Urban Cycling © Pekka Tahkola

  • Nature and Open Spaces: Most of the trails are made by grooming the trails by snow mobiles pulling a groomer. Thus most of these groomed trails are rideable for people of all ages. They are enjoyable to ride at slower speeds while enjoying nature, and are easy to ride for people with absolutely no experience of mountain biking. Of course it depends to a certain extent on weather conditions. Snow biking is often easier and safer than walking and is a great way to see the national park. Pekka has guided many people over 70 years old on the trails and there's definitely no danger of face plants. Then again, if one wishes to have more exciting and snow-diving experiences, there are trails for the young at heart too.

    Getting close to wildlife ©Pekka Tahkola

    Feeding a Siberian Jay © Pekka Tahkola

    By March the days are long and sunny © Pekka Tahkola

    Check out , and for a bicycle hotel in Syöte National Park, or

    Pekka as a cycling coordinator  is a good man to contact if you fancy trying this activity: pekka(dot)tahkola(at)navico(dot)fi. Unfortunately the parent Navico website appears to be written only in Finnish, which is not an easy language to read, but an email to him will get you sufficient information.

Friday, May 12, 2017

E-Bike and Special Needs Bicycle Hire in the Danube Valley

The range of bicycles and tricycles available to rent in Germany is growing year by year. We were interested to come across the e-bike-verleih-bogen at a recent bicycle touring fair in Frankfurt recently. Bogen is a small settlement near Straubing on the Danube, north east of Munich. The company offers not only good quality e-bikes, but also a range of vehicles for people who have difficulty with bicycles due to physical impairments. This range includes    

  • Electrically assisted Hand Bike with wheelchair seating (ProActiv NJ1)
  • The VeloPlus wheelchair transport bike designed to transport people, who remain seated in their own wheelchair, by cycle.
  • E-Trike therapy cycle for adults
  • Tandem
  • E-transport bike for children or of course for large dogs.

The company offers both bicycle/tricycle hire and touring holidays based in a hotel in Straubing with wheelchair access. The websites are in German: (Hire) and (Holiday) but offer photographs of the various bikes/trikes on offer. There is always Google Translator, of course. If you are interested in hiring a bike or two and don't speak or write German just send the company an email in English. In our experience German companies always have somebody on their staff who understands English. 


Friday, May 05, 2017

SPEZI Gemersheim 2017

This year we went to SPEZI much later than in previous years. I formerly argued that  the time to go was early on Saturday morning as most other people would be out shopping. It turns out that the busiest times at the ticket offices were early on Saturday, when visitors could wait up to an hour to get in. Visitors then hit the halls to see what was new or chat to the companies who had sold them the trike, the trailer or the folding bike to find out how to save an ounce or two, to buy mechanical or electrical or electronic components to build the dream e-power sociable or maybe to sell their idea to someone with some money. It's that kind of show. Enthusiasts and freaks talk to the enthusiasts manning the stands. The halls were full and getting to the most popular stands was like trying to weave one's way through the crowd to get a beer in a stadium at half time when Bayern München plays Real Madrid.

This year we could only get to the exhibition by Sunday afternoon at 14:00 (2pm). There were plenty of visitors as we made our way through the street around the halls. This area is blocked off to motorised traffic and so is used as an informal test track and exhibition area by the stands on the external exhibition area. It was a sunny day and the ice cream and dutch frites stand were doing great business judging by the queues.

A sunny day

Hall 3 was full of visitors but it is a small hall with some big stands and so there was not much space for the humankind in the aisles. We chatted to the editor of "Fahrradzukunft - Bicycle Future" a German language e-magazine which can also be obtained in print form. We are looking for an author or publisher competent in English to take over some or all of Bergstrasse Bike Books, our cyclist touring guides.

We returned to the informal test track outside and dodged the test pilots some of whom had more enthusiasm than caution to go to Halls 1 and 2 which is where most of the major players in the recumbent trike and e-bike business hang out. These halls had fair number of visitors but did not resemble a rugby scrum. To sum up our impressions fat tyred trikes are definitely in coming, cargo bikes, especially with e-power are now viewed as a serious possibility for deliveries in city centres to reduce air pollution and e-powered bikes and trikes are now mainstream. Carla Cargo build braked trailers with or without electrical power that convert to hand trailers for "last mile" deliveries through a pedestrian zone.  AZUB the Czech trike manufacturer, HP and ICE now offer fat tyre trikes.

A Carla Cargo powered trailer for inner city use.


Unfortunately common sense says we cannot buy a recumbent trike or bike as our bike garage is small and will just take two touring bikes and lawn mower. However when I am in day dreaming mode I think a Flevo GreenMachine would a great addition to our bike collective and in slightly more sensible mood a Anthrotech semi-recumbent trike would be easy to get on and off. I think it would be fun to ride as well. Anthrotech appear to no longer have a British agent, so if you want to buy one you will need to arrange transport.

We were interested to find a hat to fit over a cycle helmet on the EVARIA on top stand. They are stylish and manufactured in disabled workshops. You can look cool and help others. A great idea!

We found Monkey Mirrors on the HPV parts stand. These clip on the helmet, are stylish and can be swopped over when one crosses the English Channel. It's an interesting idea, but I already have a mirror and will stick by my present mirror which attaches to the arm of my glasses. A head mirror is a capital wheeze. It could save your life, especially in heavy traffic. They are light. You know what's happening on the road behind you.

In Hall 2 we were pleased to meet Juliane Neuß who runs Junik, a human powered bicycle manufacturer. She is an expert in the ergonomics of cycling, a book and magazine author and runs an interesting bike shop. Years ago she developed a kit to convert a Brompton folding bike to a recumbent. Junik HPV can modify a steel framed Brompton to take a Shimano 8 speed Nexus hub gear, offers proper touring and commuter bicycles for people of small stature and has developed the Sauseschritt and Sausi-Kid, a scooter with a seat for adults and children.

All of the occupants of the various stands (booths) listed above and our fellow Lancastrians on the  Advanced Vehicle Design stand that we visited seemed to have a good show and intended to come back next year.

If you can organise it it is worthwhile planning to get to SPEZI a little later, but even if you have to queue at 10:00 a visit to SPEZI is still worthwhile.

Blog Archive