Presteigne 2008 is on!

Great news from the Welsh borders – the highlight of the annual electric cycling calendar will be taking place this year on 17th and 18th May in the charming town of Presteigne.

50cycles’ electric bikes made a great showing at the glorious 2006 and rather wetter 2007 events, taking all the top places and winning the hill climb. This year will be a chance to display all the latest good stuff from Kalkhoff, notable the Agattu, Pro Connect & new Tasman pedelec electric bikes and a good chance to meet the team. Here the notification we received from Pete Mustill, the event originator and organizer:

Dear All

It looked like there was to be no Tour this year as I was so terminally depressed after last years washed out debacle that I just couldn’t face it. However the cavalry, in the shape of The Presteigne Eco Weekend and Bishops Castle ‘Green Wheels’, have ridden over the hill at the last possible moment and persuaded me to get back on my horse. In fact this year will be bigger better but hopefully not wetter!

Tour de Presteigne, Eco Weekend and Green Wheels are going to gang up and provide you with a fun packed weekend. Their will be stalls, a 70ft geodesic dome full of electric bikes, novelty electric bike races, electric country rambles, a hillclimb, discussions for the industry and the public, eco cars, scooters, puppet shows, a live music gig in the dome, and of course the fantastic ‘Tour de Presteigne’ one hour endurance rally around the streets of Presteigne as it was in 2006.

I know its very short notice but I hope you can all come on the Sat 17th and Sun 18th of May and please tell anyone you know who may be interested – be they manufacturers, suppliers or just interested bodies. Otherwise give me their details and I will send them information.

Will e mail more information, a schedule and accommodation details as soon as I have a programme sorted and will post details on the town web site .
Any questions just contact me

Regards Pete Mustill

There’s quality and then there’s Kalkhoff quality

Kalkhoff’s electric bicycles are produced at the Derby Cycle plant in Cloppenburg, to the west of Bremen in Germany. This truly state-of-the-art plant factory more than 2,500 bicycles of all types every day, making Derby the largest cycle manufacturer in Europe. Every bike that leaves the plant is a result of the the latest computer aided design, testing, manufacturing and quality assurance techniques. We had an opportunity to tour the plant in February 2008 and we were most impressed by the scale and quality of the operation. There are a number of techniques that really set these bikes apart from many others on the market, notably their strict testing regime and paint finishing techniques. Every bike produced in Europe has to meet certain quality and testing requirements and there are higher specific requirements in Germany (DIN certification). Kalkhoff bikes meet Derby’s own super-strict DCW standard. For example, this means twice the number of hours on their testing simulators than is required. This level of quality and attention to detail is simply not available to any other bicycle manufacturer, electric or otherwise. The scale and efficiency of their operation means we can offer great value. Owning a Kalkhoff bike means buying into one of the most impressive manufacturing operations anywhere.

£500m for London Cycling Superhighways

Best news for London cyclists yet: Mayor Ken Livingstone has today announced a half-billion pound plan to help cyclists and pedestrians make their way around the capital. Highlights will be the building of a simple, safe network of cycle routes between inner and outer London, a major bicycle hire scheme and funding of cycling in the same way as the public transport network for the first time.

The hope is to cut London’s carbon emissions by 1.6 million tonnes, but the benefits for the health of Londoners, both through increased exercise and exhilaration as well as improved air quality are incalculable.

We’re still digesting the implications of this – any push to transform London towards the cycling Nirvanas you find everywhere in Europe, to the benefit of everyone, is very, very welcome.

And of course, what better way to get around this sprawling and surprisingly hilly city than on a smart electric cycle like this?

Electric bike sales go double Dutch

The latest survey reports that as many as 100,000 electric bikes were sold in the Netherlands in 2007, more than double the number in 2006. A total of 18 million bikes are in use across the country, with many more kept in storage. Considering the population is a little over 16 million, it’s fair to say the Dutch are a cycling nation like no other.

These figures were announced at the FietsVak 2008 trade fair which closes today in Rosmalen.

How to survive the coming financial collapse? Buy an electric bike

We receive daily bulletins of news about electric bikes and vehicles thanks to Google’s alert service. I was surprised to see that one of today’s recommended articles was concerned with how to survive the ‘coming financial collapse’ of the US. Here’s a summary of Mike Adams top seven tips:

1) Own your car. Don’t borrow money to drive a car. It’s better to own a beater than to make payments on something you can’t really afford.

2) Own your home. Instead of moving to a larger home when you qualify for loans, work to pay off your existing home mortgage and own your home outright.

3) Stop spending money on stupid overpriced things like Starbucks coffee, soda, brand-name laundry detergent, diamond jewelry and processed foods. Stretch your money by buying low-cost, bulk food ingredients like lentils, brown rice and quinoa.

4) Protect your health! If you’re waiting around for a health care system to make you healthy, you’re on a fool’s errand. Take charge of your health right now…

5) Own some productive land. Can you actually grow at least 10% of your own food?

6) Own a good bicycle (and know how to repair it). There’s no form of transportation that’s more affordable. Too out of shape to peddle? No worries: Get yourself an Electric Bike. Electric bikes cost almost nothing to operate (far less than a penny per mile) and still give you a bit of exercise.

7) Don’t save all your money in one bank!

So there you go – if you’re determined to survive and flourish in a harsh economic climate, an electric bike is one investment you should seriously consider.

Electric aviation takes off

A French pilot has become the first to fly a conventional aeroplane with an electric motor. The Elektra, based on Souricette kit aircraft, flew for 30 miles in 48 minutes in the southern Alps on 23rd December, reports the Times.

Powered by a 25 horsepower motor and 48kg of lithium polymer batteries, the Elektra flew at a fuel cost of €1 per hour. Compare that to €60 per hour required by a petrol-driven equivalent. However, the cost of the motor and batteries is €10,000 to €15,000, about twice the cost of a petrol motor for the same plane. The developer looks at this another way: it’s like buying all your fuel up front, and with less chance of a fiery end to an otherwise survivable crash.

Human-powered flight has been tried in the past, reaching its peak so far with the Channel crossing by the pedal-powered Gossamer Albatross in 1979. It completed the flight at an average of 25mph, five feet above the surface. Close enough to wet the pilot’s plimsolls.

The Gossamer Albatross required around 300W of power (that’s vigorous cycling) in still air, rather more in turbulence. I’d be grateful for some battery back-up when fly-cycling over choppy water, with no weight allowance for a life jacket.

Avis Car Rental go green on our Quando electric bikes

Avis London gets on its (electric) bike
18 December 2007

Avis Quando Electric Bike

Committed to reducing its carbon footprint in London, Avis now uses a fleet of Quando folding electric bikes from 50cycles for its deliveries and collections around the city. The bikes are provided and operated by Avis’ supplier Vehicle Enhancement Services (VES).

VES had previously worked with Avis for just over three years, before tendering to become the service provider for vehicle preparation, delivery and collection, and site transfer. As part of its tender, VES proposed that Avis became the first rental company to substitute petrol-driven bikes with electric-powered vehicles in London, to minimise pollution.

VES invested in buying additional batteries and charging equipment to minimise downtime and ensure optimum use of the electric bikes. As with the existing 2-stroke petrol Hopper Bikes on the VES fleet, used for delivery and collection around London, the new electric versions are easily collapsible for stowage in the boot of a car. They are equally robust and reliable.

The electric bikes are ideal for use within the M25 radius, with an optimum range of 20 miles before requiring recharging. Currently 40% of Avis’ London deliveries, operating out of Park Royal, Euston, Mayfair, Earls Court, Waterloo, Tower Bridge, London City Airport and Croydon, are fulfilled using the electric bikes and this is set to increase next year.

Steve Davidson, City Manager, London, Avis says: “When VES suggested the service we were all for it, as we are committed to reducing pollution and improving our carbon footprint wherever possible throughout the company. The electric bikes have been even more reliable than anticipated and the service is working extremely well.”

Avis has been working with The CarbonNeutral® Company for the last eight years and was the first European car rental company to become carbon neutral, offsetting 94,500 tonnes of CO2 since 2000. Avis customers can offset their car rental emissions online at for just £1 – last year 23% more customers chose to do so.

Earlier this year Avis added 20 Prius vehicles to its UK fleet, following in the footsteps of Avis Germany’s introduction of natural gas VW Tourans. In 2005 Avis Portugal reduced its CO2 emissions by over 50 tonnes, thanks in part to the introduction of 50 hybrids. Scandinavia also offers its customers the option of renting one of over 400 ethanol-powered vehicles

Descend Hamsterley: Down ‘n’ Out Winter Series

Round 1 15th/16th December

Lloyd and Tom (i.e. workshop grease monkeys) are both avid mountain bikers.

We headed up to Hamsterley to race Downhill. The idea was to try and gain enough points to race the National Downhill Mountain bike series in 2008. Neither of us have done much riding lately and were a bit scared of what might happen.

Saturday was an early start heading from Nottingham. The team comprising of Lloyd, Tom and Dan (fellow downhill nut). It was bitterly cold as we did the first walkthrough of the course to have a good look before trying to ride it. So cold in fact that the ground was frozen solid in quite a few places! The top looked fine but there were a few sections down the bottom that had us arguing over lines and the best way to ride it. Not to be deterred we headed back up and got out the bikes and started doing some practice runs.

All went well as none of us fell off to badly, however the same could not be said for others. Traffic jams were starting to form on the lower section of the course where the harder riding was causing lots of people to crash heavily. We heard someone had broken their arm at one point but as communication was by word of mouth only I can’t really confirm or deny. Practice shut around 3pm and then it was time to have some fun.

We had cobbled together a selection of Electric bikes to buzz around the pits on during the weekend. Two Fortes and a Quando. The urge was too strong for us to resist and we ended up going down the downhill course on the rigid electric bikes! GREAT FUN! The little electric bikes eat up everything the top section of the course could throw at them .. jumps, drops and roots! It was MUCH harder on bikes with no suspension and slick tires and eventually the course won out when Dan and I crashed quite heavily and it was decided to give it up for the evening.

We headed into the nearest local town for a meal at a pub where Dan came out with the comment of the trip …”They have a lots of Beer here!” Not really that surprising for a PUB!

Back to the forest for overnight camping and temperatures overnight were down to around minus 5! It made getting up for the next days racing a bit of a struggle! Brrrrrrrrrrr!

Anyway one last practice before the racing got underway and they had made some changes to the course. A lot of people had been crashing the day before so the decision was made to try and make it a little easier. People were still crashing in this last practice session so after airlifting someone off the hill they changed the course again! Extra practice was given on the new changes and the race reduced from two runs to the single chance at glory!

During this extra practice we all had our first major crashes of the weekend, I went over the bars twice breaking my front brake lever (nothing some zip ties and some gaffer tape can’t fix!). Dan and Lloyd both parting company with their bikes at least once but no injuries sustained.

However the race was upon us and Dan led off looking good last time I saw him and he did very well coming 10th Junior.

I had a poor race run coming to a complete stop twice finding some extra changes to the course after last practice. I ended up 15th in the Masters.

Lloyd had a disappointing race run and finished 14th in the Seniors.

Final results:

10 Dan Coggan Junior 2:06.558

15 Tom Gilfedder Masters 2:26.628

14 Lloyd Clarkson Senior 2: 07.573

Dan secured 5 British Cycling points (enough for entry into next years National Points Series)
Lloyd 2 points
Tom 1 point (Taking my total to 4 for the year, only 1 more to get!)

Not bad for a first hit out on an unfamiliar course in the cold. Hopes are high for a better performance next time!


Descend Hamsterley site
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