This isn't a blog about charities so I'm not going to lecture you about this being a good cause (although it is). If you want to know about that I can't do better than the Krizevac Project have already done - its a great idea, well worth reading about.
This is a blog about cycling, and the typical post here is a little bit political and ridiculously sarcastic - thats all going to be on hold for the moment while I tell you about my new bike. This bike here:
Its an Elephant Bike, a not entirely informative name from a cycling perspective but brilliant for the charity. It wasn't made for elephants but it feels like it could have been - in my riding of it so far its the most ridiculously robust and rugged thing I've ridden. As you'd expect of a bike built to carry a heavy load and do hard work day in, day out.
These are bikes with a bit of history behind them. I'm sure many of you were as irrationally upset as I was to learn back in 2014 that the Royal Mail were phasing out the use of their Mailstar bikes for making deliveries - a sign of the times as posties struggle under the weight and ridiculous excess of packaging in the modern online ordering era. Manufactured by Pashley and sold as the Pronto, its not only hard to find one in a shop its also very (or 'reassuringly' as some maintain) expensive to buy one new. But the great thing about these critters is that with a bit of TLC they just don't need to be new - they're rugged as hell and built to survive judgement day.
And this is where the Elephant Bike comes in - for £250 (or £280 with the rack on the front and basket - why would you not?) you get a little bit of cycling history. An ex-posties bike refurbished to a high standard.
If I really go looking I can find the occasional spot where there's been some corrosion on the bars - but the frame is beautifully repainted and absolutely rock solid. The wheels, tyres, forks, racks and cables all seem immaculate. It took very little assembly (pedals screwing on, basket screwing on, saddle adjusted, handlebars straightened and I was ready to go), and I must say its one of the smoothest bikes I've ridden.
So, the positives - its gorgeous. Look at it, just look at it. Tell me it isn't gorgeous. And as I've said, its tough - after the holocaust there'll be nowt left but cockroaches getting around on Pashley bikes. Its built to take a hefty load, which makes it the ideal shopper or run around for the allotment. And its very low maintenance - hub brakes and hub gears that minimise work. This isn't a speedster, it was built for easy, mid-to-slow speed cycling with a load, and it is in my experience un-matched in that role. Especially at this price. And its the kind of bike that gets a following, there's already a wikia forming around the idea of using and maintaining these bikes.
The negatives - while I love the look of the wicker basket, I don't immediately get why its more useful than the black plastic ones that decked out the Royal Mail ones. If the choice of the wicker basket is just aesthetic, I get it, but I'd have rather had the plastic one too (even if I'd had to pay a little more for the 'original' box as well as the wicker one). I also loathe the saddle - I don't know whose derriere it was modelled on but its not the right shape for me, and I'll be replacing it imminently and trying to resist the temptation to go Brooks. I'm also not entirely convinced that the gear tension is right, but for it would be churlish indeed to grumble if that's all that's wrong with a bike coming through the post.
So good causes aside, if you've got the money and the space for a load-carrying bike, I really can't find much to fault this bike on. It really is a glorious bit of kit, other than maybe the choice of a wicker rather than tough plastic box on the front. 9 out of 10 - just shy of perfect.