London Cyclist exists to make your every day cycle that bit more enjoyable. Through the site you’ll discover the best cycling gear, you’ll hear about great cycling routes and stay informed on developments for cyclists. The site is there to connect cyclists by sharing tips, ideas and stories.
All good things must come to an end. Sadly, today is the end for the London Cyclist Blog. I created the blog back in 2007 because I was frustrated at the lack of information online for everyday cyclists like myself. To my surprise, the blog grew to over 136,000 visitors a month.
I found myself blogging up to 5 times a week, reviewing the latest bike gear, speaking to TfL and politicians and getting to meet the London cycling community. I got the chance to lend my voice to important issues such as the call for safe infrastructure for cyclists in London.
To sustain the site and support myself, I worked on really fun projects including the London Cyclist eShop, the bike maintenance course and London Cyclist apps. It was weird introducing myself as a full time “blogger” and my mum kept asking when I’d get a real job.
My fondest memories are from working on the London Cycle Routes eBook. I would wake up, grab my bike and camera and set out to explore a new part of London. Exhausted in the evening I’d write up my notes and then do the same again the next day. At the time the eBook was published, there hadn’t been a new London cycle routes guidebook in years. It went on to sell over 2,500 copies. I want others to experience that amazing feeling, so today I’m making the eBook available for free.
When my app company Nibble Apps started demanding more of my time, I sought out talented writers with a passion for cycling to keep London Cyclist running. Emily joined for a year and contributed hundreds of posts. This was followed by a number of part time writers, who each added their unique voice to London Cyclist.
Nowadays in the world of influencers, YouTubers and podcasts, London Cyclist Blog feels quite quaint. While the internet can at times feel like a big, nasty place, I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of this little corner of it, which is filled with friendly people, united by a common love for the bike.
I’m hugely grateful to everyone who read, commented, shared and supported the blog over the past 12 years. I’ll be keeping the door open to reviving London Cyclist in future, but for now I won’t be posting any more updates.
LondonCyclist.co.uk will stay online and the blog posts continue to be accessible.
The London Cyclist eBook is now available for free. Please share it around with any friends who would enjoy it.
In the UK, we love to go away for the summer. And naturally for cyclists, our favourite travel companions are on two wheels.
One of the main perks of cycle touring is that it’s cheaper than your standard getaway. It’s also a great way to meet new people (cyclists or not) while discovering lesser-known sights and making impromptu pub stops – all rather spontaneous.
However, be careful not to rely too heavily on your future self. A lack of planning (trust me, I’m well versed in this area) can lead to stress, dead bike light batteries in the dead of night and in many cases, wasting your money.
Sort the core details out before you set off and your trip will run as smoothly as some freshly-serviced brakes. Try these tips to save some cash while you’re at it.
Use the Warm Showers website
The first place to shave your costs is accommodation, and with Warm Showers, you can stay with a fellow cycle enthusiast for free.
Warm Showers is essentially Couchsurfing for cycle tourists. Just create an account which says a little more about yourself and your adventures and search for people to stay with on your next trip.
The idea is that you would host them and other cyclists in the future. I can’t host as I live in private shared accommodation, so I give my hosts wine or chocolate instead.
Oh, and mention dietary requirements on your profile too – you don’t want to get there starving and be given something that you can’t eat.
Some areas are a little sparsely populated when it comes to hosts so in those cases you can either try finding a place to stay through Couchsurfing or by heading down a more traditional camping/hotel/hostel route.
Do your research
Being clued-up ahead of the tour will save you time as well as money.
Look up route essentials like nearby rest and food shops, bike shops and diversions. Have Plan B routes and accommodation in mind should your journey take longer than expected.
You could miss out on must-see sights like historic buildings, markets or viaducts if you don’t do your research first.
And if the book you’re eyeing up is a behemoth, you can rip out the pages you need and take them on the road with you.
Pack food and drink before you go
It’ll soon become apparent how important food is to your journey and you may not always be in a town or village with food shops.
But when you need to eat, you need to eat – otherwise you’re going to bonk. Expect to chow down by the roadside with drivers thinking you’re rather peculiar.
Bars and gels are good when you’re on the road, but they’re also very expensive. Instead, go for small, calorie-dense food like malt loaf, banana bread or peanut butter sandwiches. Of course, take plenty of water. Just don’t try anything new on your trip just in case it doesn’t agree with you.
Share the load
If you’re heading out with someone else, divvy up the budget to split the costs.
Sit down with them when you’re planning your trip and sort out who’s covering what.
Find discounts where you can
It could be yellow sticker items in the supermarket or a pre-trip sale on bike essentials.
You might even find a last-minute offer on accommodation if it’s piddling down and you don’t fancy another night in the tent. Getting to know the locals helps too as they might know cheaper places that aren’t so tourist-y.
Check your bike is in good nick before you go
It sounds financially counter-intuitive, but depending on the length of your trip, it’s worth taking your bike in for a tune-up or a full service before you go.
If something happens when you’re on a trail, there probably won’t not be a bike shop available to see to it. Even if it doesn’t cost you money in damages (or possible injury), it could cost you precious time which means that you might miss out on the accommodation that you were going to stay at (time for that Plan B!).
So, if there are any persistent squeaks, rattles or clinks coming from your steed, take it to the mechanic!
The Hexlox is a tiny little magnetic attachment that sits inside your existing seat post bolt, headset bolts and wheels skewer bolts. With it in place, it makes it a lot harder for a thief to steal your bicycle components.
It’s a brilliantly simple idea and the brainchild of Marcus Tonndorf, a Swedish serial entrepreneur and Ian Berrell an Australian Product Designer.
The Hexlox is sold and shipped from Germany and comes in a number of different packages:
As the name suggests, the Hexlox sits inside your existing hex bolts (also known as Allen bolts). These are commonly used to secure your saddle, seat post, wheels and headset.
If all your components are secured with hex (allen) bolts then all you need to know is what size are those bolts. You can find out by using an allen or a hex key. Once you know the size, order off the Hexlox website and you can get it installed in about 60 seconds.
The Hexlox will only secure your bike if your bolts are magnetic. Which they are if they are made from steel. Other materials, such as titanium and aluminium are not magnetic enough to keep the bolt in place. For this situation, Hexlox sell a metallic insert, which you fit before adding the Hexlox.
If your bike has quick release skewers, then these will need to be replaced. Hexlox sell their own set of skewers, which are sold as a package with the Hexlox for a total of €55.99. Alternatively, you can of course buy your own skewers from a bike shop or online. The skewers sold by Hexlox come in two different sizes – shorter ones for road bikes and longer ones for mountain bikes, touring bikes etc. Again it’s worth checking the length of the skewers on your bike that you are replacing.
Hexlox also sell solutions for solid axle wheels.
Installation and removal
In your order, you get a key and then a tiny little magnetic attachment which is called a Hexlox. Each key comes with a unique identifier that allows you to order additional Hexlox.
Obviously, the danger here is that you lose your key and/or your unique identifier. Make sure you make a note of your unique identifier and keep your key somewhere safe. As I recently dropped my keys on a bike ride home, I’ll probably order a backup key, which costs €10 or €5 as part of the total security package.
Installation is quick and easy. On my bike I had the additional step of replacing the skewers as they are quick release. However, even with this additional step, I was done in under 5 minutes. Hexlox provide some handy videos on their YouTube channel showing you how it’s done.
Removal is just as easy. You simply insert the key and pull out the Hexlox.
How to lock your saddle in 3 Secs. - YouTube
The Hexlox is held securely in its place with a magnet, which attaches it firmly to the top of the hex socket. This combined with the tight fit make it very hard to remove without the key. If a thief tries to steal your wheels, headset or saddle, they won’t be able to insert an allen key.
But couldn’t someone simply remove it with another magnet?
The magnet is built in to the back of the Hexlox shielding it from the outside. According to the manufacturer, this protects it from being removed with another magnet.
What about attacking it with a tiny knife or pliers or a toothpick?
This seems hard to do and of course I did try because it looked vulnerable to attack, but I didn’t get anywhere after a few minutes.
What if someone has another Hexlox key?
Each Hexlox has three different variables to make it unique. The first is the size of the hole that the key fits into. The second is the shape of the cone and the third is something that the Hexlox team are not sharing publicly.
No security system is unbreakable given enough time and resources. However, it is highly unlikely that somebody will go to the trouble of stealing your bike components, when there are so many other easy targets out there.
The Hexlox is incredibly convenient. It’s a security system that adds nearly no weight to your ride and once you’ve installed it you can forget it. Of course, should you need to replace a saddle or repair a puncture, you’ll need to use your key.
There are other somewhat similar systems out there. For protecting your wheels, the Kryptonite WheelNutz (£25) and Kryptonite Wheelboltz (£35) are convenient, as they don’t require a key to unlock. You simply lift the bike upside down.
For around £60 the Pinhead system will secure your front and rear wheel, seatpost, saddle and headset (Although it no longer seems to be stocked by Wiggle, CRC or Amazon).
Overall, we are very impressed with the Hexlox system and happy to recommend it to London Cyclist readers. Installation is quick and easy, they weigh next to nothing and they provide a good level of security without any additional hassle. I feel much happier knowing my bike components are secured by the Hexlox. As a bonus, the Hexlox design reminds me of the red eye of the terminator.
At €71.99 for the total security package, the Hexlox costs a lot less than replacing your stolen components.
Taking your bike on the coach or train isn’t always the easiest of feats.
But you might need to use public transport for a number of reasons: you want to do a bike trip that’s too far to cycle to, you have a puncture, you don’t feel well or you’ve finished a tour/sportive/race and your legs are just too zonked to even entertain the idea of riding home.
Luckily, our national networks can help you get at least some of the way to your destination.
So, whether you want to get your bike around London or the rest of the UK, here’s a round-up of how to do it using different modes of transport.
Taking your bike on public transport in London
Generally speaking, if you’ve got a folding bike, you can take it anywhere at any time. Just be careful when you’re taking the bus as these bikes are only allowed on at the driver’s discretion.
As for non-folded bicycles, it gets a little more complicated. They’re allowed on the Docklands Light Railway off-peak Monday-Friday. That means they’re allowed on until 07:30, between 09:30 and 16:00 and after 19:00. They’re also allowed on all day at the weekends and bank holidays.
Though bank holidays are allowed, Bank station is not – you can’t take your bike there for safety reasons.
Watch out for Prudential Ride London and the like; TfL recommends that you avoid the DLR during big events.
It’s much the same story for non-folded bikes on London Overground.
There are a couple of important caveats:
You can take it between 07:30 and 09:30 if you’re leaving Liverpool Street Station to go to Chingford, Enfield Town or Cheshunt or going the other way between 16:00 and 19:00.
As for TfL Rail, non-folded bikes can’t be taken on a train arriving at Stratford or Liverpool Street between 07:45 and 09:45 and leaving Liverpool St or Stratford between 16:30 and 18:30 Monday-Friday, except bank holidays.
If you’re riding the Thames instead, most riverboat services accept bikes on board – just let the boat operator know in advance. For those who prefer to go up and over, bikes are OK to be taken on the Emirates Air Line at any time of day.
And sorry Croydon-based cyclists, you can’t take non-folded bike on the tram.
Bike transport in the rest of the UK
Allowances vary a little here, so let’s take it by mode of transport:
Megabus says that normal adult bikes are unlikely to meet their luggage requirements and cannot be carried on coaches.
As for folded bikes, they are allowed on but they must meet luggage requirements (no heavier than 20kg and no bigger than a ‘large’ suitcase) and they must be kept in a standard bag or box in the hold. It counts as part of your luggage allowance and just because it made the journey there, doesn’t mean it’ll be allowed on the journey back.
Megabus can carry folded bikes in the hold
Bikes which aren’t folded, dismantled or wrapped are explicitly forbidden from National Express services.
If you want to take a folded bike, you’ll have to pay for extra luggage in advance. Taking it on a single journey will cost you £8 and on a return journey it’ll be £12.
As a general rule, you can’t take your bike on trains during peak hours and you’re advised to book as far in advance as possible as there are often only a couple of cycle spaces per train.
Reserve your spaces when you book online, at the train station (at least 24 hours before you go) or on CrossCountry services you can reserve via Twitter and Facebook Messenger.
For more info, check the site of the service you’re travelling with or have a look at the train operators website.
Some GWR trains have a carriage which carries a handful of bikes (and stragglers like me if we’re not careful!)
On British Airways you can take a bike up to 190cm as long as it’s in a protective case, the pedals are removed or fixed upwards, handlebars are fixed sideways and the tyres are deflated.
As expected with Ryanair, there’s a fee – £60 for a bike up to 30kg if you book online or £75 if add it on post-booking or at the airport. And that’s only one-way.
EasyJet are somewhat kinder, allowing bikes up to 32kg for £42 one-way if you book online and £52 if you wait until you get to the airport. You can’t sneak other items in the bike box/bag like clothing though. Again, handlebars must be turned inwards and pedals must be removed or flush with the frame.
Flybe take bikes on a stand-by basis only i.e. there’s enough space in the hold.
If you want to take an e-bike, you’ll need to chat to cargo agent Air Logistics Ltd for guidance on 01332 819204 or by emailing email@example.com. If approved, the bike will need to be packed, labelled, marked, documented and consigned as ‘dangerous goods’.
It’ll set you back £30 if you book your bike on at the contact centre or at the airport.
In a lot of instances, folded-up bikes can be taken on trams and non-folded ones can’t.
That’s the case with Manchester Metrolink, Midland Metro, Nottingham Express Trams and Sheffield Supertram.
However, Edinburgh trams allow two bicycles on board at the ticket conductor’s discretion. As well as peak times, there are restrictions during the Edinburgh International Festival in August and during pre-publicised events.
Tyne and Wear Metro are holding a trial which allows cycles outside of peak times:
Cycles are now allowed on trains between Callerton Parkway and Jesmond (in either direction):
Monday to Friday 10.00am – 3.00pm
Monday to Friday 7.00pm until end of service
All day at weekends
Each Metro carriage allows one bike and each Metrocar is made up of two carriages. These areas are also used for wheelchairs and pushchairs and priority must always be given to them.
Are there any that we missed? How do you cart your bike around when you’re not riding it? Let us know in the comments below.
In Mountain High, author Daniel Friebe tells us why each mountain pass is worth the ride, looking at the amazing scenery and tales of previous cyclists who have braved these hills. And if you’re not convinced, 250 photographs by professional photographer, Pete Goding, might encourage you to get in the saddle (or out, if that’s how you prefer to climb).
These astronomical ascents include Tour de France icons such as Alpe d’Huez, Col du Galibier, Mont Ventoux, Col de l’Izoard and Col du Tourmalet; summits from the Giro d’Italia; Spain’s Alto de l’Angliru; and Austria’s Grossglockner.
Sections feature practical route info and advice on tackling each climb.
The duo has since released a follow-up, Mountain Higher (also £25), which features the Ötztal Glacier Road in Austria, the ‘secret’ side of the legendary Alpe d’Huez and more.