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    The fun, safe and easy way to cycle with kids in town.

    The fun, safe and easy way to cycle with kids in town.

    Imagine a world where we could cycle with our kids every day happily and confidently. We realise that while Holland and many other European countries are already living in this cycling utopia, we in the UK still have some way to go. This shouldn't put us off though - whether we're cycling to school, the farm or going to the supermarket, it is possible to cycle with our kids in the UK and enjoy it, it just takes a little more planning.

    If you are thinking of taking to the saddle with your little ones then we've put together a check list of essentials to get you going. Yep - we have pretty much exclusively looked to the Dutch for inspiration, but then they are the Kings and Queens of cycling with kids.

    1. The right bike.

    However many children you are planning on carrying you need a bike that is stable, can balance weight evenly and has plenty of room. The Gazelle Bloom fits the bill.

     

    gazelle bloom cycling with kids

    The Gazelle Bloom is a roomy bike so it's perfect for carrying a front mounting child seat. Even the longest of limbed riders won't find their knees knocking the seat. The oversized frame also means extra stability so it can carry both a front and a rear seat with ease.

    The Gazelle Bloom has a low step through cross bar so there are no wobbly moments when swinging your leg over (tricky when you've got an extra passenger on the back!) We love that the Bloom comes in a whole range of sizes so that it's suitable for both mums and dads.

    The Gazelle Cabby

    gazelle cabby

    If you'd prefer to have everyone riding upfront then the Gazelle Cabby is the way to go. The Cabby can carry up to three children with room to spare. It's light, extremely stable and a comfy ride for everyone on board. We also like that it comes with the option of a rain tent so it can be cosy in there all year round.

    gazelle cabby cargo bike for kids uk

    2. The right child seat.

    We are excited to see the new range of child bike seats from Bobike which seem to cover every age of child and type of cycling. Again Bobike are a Dutch company who have an intuitive sense of what we need from a bike seat. You can add a windscreen - which is worth every penny if you live like us on the windy south coast. There's also the option of an extra mounting bracket so you can quickly transfer the seat from one bike to another.

    bobike exclusive front child seat

     

     

    This is the BoBike Exclusive Mini which in it's short life has already won an IF Design Award and has been awarded Best Tested and Best Buy from the Dutch Consumer Organsiation. 

    We are really impressed with the new Bobike Exclusive mini. Bobike have poured all their knowledge of child safety, style and comfort into this seat, and then some. We love the unique contoured belts that are adjustable with one hand and will keep your baby upright, even when it falls asleep. Plus, the Click & Go mounting system not only allows for speedy installation, you are also able to quickly and easily switch the seat between bicycles.

    Bobike have been thinking about big kids too and have created the Classic Junior which is aimed at kids from 5 - 10.

    bobike classic junior rear bike seat

    The Bobike Classic Junior seat is ideal for when kids are past having to be strapped into a large rear bike seat but you still want them on board with you. It can take up to 35 kilograms and even doubles up as a pannier rack when folded down.

    bobike classic child seat.

    The Actor Mark Gruffalo using the Bobike Classic Junior.

    3. The right helmet.

    Assuming you already have a helmet, we'll focus on the little ones. Sticking with Bobike they have just launched a range of safe, simple and stylish kids helmets called the Bobike One helmet. We love the soft colour choices with minimal graphics.

     

    bobike one bike helmet for kids

    bobike one bike helmet for kids

    4. The right route.

    When cycling with kids finding the right route is essential to creating a smooth, peaceful ride that avoids main roads. Apps like maps.me allow you to do this easily by plotting your route and then tailoring it to cyclists and to avoid main roads. It's suprising how easy it is to get across town along canal paths, through parks and along quieter back streets.

    We the Bell's team cycle with kids regularly so we know the joys and the potential pit falls. If you are thinking of doing the same then we are always happy to talk through our experiences and discuss your possible concerns. Just get in touch!

     

    Bike hire in Hastings - a locals guide to a lazy day.

    Bike hire in Hastings - a locals guide to a lazy day.

     

    bike hire in hastings bells bicycles

    So the sun is shining and we have a free day. There aren't that many free sunny days and the wish list is long so the obvious choice is to do it by bike.

    There are perks to running Bell's and one is that we get to grab a couple of hire bikes every time we fancy a day out. We have bikes of our own but these are guaranteed to be clean, serviced, pumped up and if we get there early then we have the pick of the fleet.

    how to find bike hire in Hastings

    If you're thinking of visiting hastings then there is no better way to view the town than on two wheels. On this day we slowly made our way from the most eastern part of the Old Town and followed the sea west where we finally cut up into St Leonards for a bit of in land exploration.

    This isn't a tourist guide as such and it certainly won't cover all the sites of Hastings (we had a baby and we kept getting hungry) but it gives you a flavour of what ending up being a great day just pottering around the streets of Hastings on our hire bikes.

    bike hire hastings

    We started at the east of town early. If you are thinking of hiring bikes in Hastings I'd certainly recommend this as before 11am it's paradise, the beaches are empty and there are no cars. From around 1pm it can start to get conjested by which time you can have moved onto less visited parts of the town. This is Rockanore where the fishing fleet is launched and the cliffs loom over the beach.

    bike hire Hastings

     Staying with the Old Town in the early light we cycled past the beautiful black fishing huts which now stand alongside the architechurally beautiful Jerwood gallery.

    where to hire bikes in Hastings

     Leaving the Old Town behind (not before grabbing a pastry or two from Judges bakery on the High street) We made our way towards the pier and the elegant architecture that sits in the streets behind it. I'd definitely recommend stopping off at Dyke and Dean which is one of the most beautiful shop exteriors in Hastings.

    bike hire in Hastings

    I chose to hire one of our speedy Tokyobikes which is light and perfect for stop/start kind of ride. Andy was carrying Ella in a front child seat so went for the more sedate Bobbin Metropole which is great for carrying kids, luggage, picnics.

    bike rental hastings

     Definitely squeeze in a look along Norman Rd in St Leonards. It's mix of independent shops is incredible and you are bound to come away with a gem or two.

    Trenting bikes in hastings east sussex

    TTime for a pit stop and where better to than in St Leonards gardens which was designed bby James Burton in 1826 and makes up the heart of the Burton "village". You can lay in on the grass which is dropped into a valley and look up at the villas surrounding it.

    Bike rental in east sussex visit hastings

    Keeping Ella happy with a contstant supply of snacks.

    bike hire in hastings old town

    We continued our trip around St Leonards up through the gardens and into Maze hill where there are breath taking mansion blocks such as Highland Gardens. It was a steep climb though so a rest was needed before heading for a quick shandy on the way home.

    There are a whole load of different routes to take in Hastings and St Leonards. You can cycle along the coastal path to Bexhill and take in an exhibition at the De La Warr Pavillion. You can scale the east hill and off road it over to the fire hills taking in the spectacular secret beaches. Or you can just see the town as we did on a sunny lazy Sunday.

    If you'd like to hire a bike from us there is more info on rates here.

     

    How to Assemble your Bobbin Gingersnap

    How to Assemble your Bobbin Gingersnap

    Hurrah! Your Bobbin Gingersnap has arrived and all that's left to do before the cycling adventure begins is to get it road worthy. So, in what right now may be a head scratching time we thought we would share with you our step by step method to assembling your Bobbin Gingersnap.

    The Bobbin Gingersnap featured in this tutorial is the 16" but it can also be applied to the whole of the Bobbin kids range.

    So, let's crack on. First assemble your tools. To easily put together your Gingersnap you'll need the following:

    • An adjustable spanner
    • A 5mm alan/hex key
    • A cross head screw driver
    • A pedal spanner (not essential if you don't have one)

    Once you've got your Bobbin Gingersnap out of the big cardboard box it arrived in, it should look a little something like this:

    how to assemble a Bobbin Gingersnap

    1. Handlebars

    Stand your Gingersnap so that it is balancing on the rear wheel and the front forks. Pick up the handlebars and slot them into the headset.

    Assemble your gingersnapSometimes a bit of wiggling is required to get them in but once there remove the black plastic cap that sits in the center of the handlebars.

    Then make sure the handlebars are straight and in the correct position for riding and tighten the central hex bolt that sits under the plastic cap. This is the only thing that prevents your handlebars from popping out so ensure it is done up really tight. 

    How to assemble a Bobbin gingersnap

    You can adjust the angle of the handlebars by loosening the hex bolt on the stem clamp.

    how to assemble a bobbin gingersnap

    2. Front wheel

    Once your handlebars are in place, move onto the front wheel. Slot the front wheel into the two vertical drop outs of the front forks.

    how to assemble a bobbin gingersnap

    Before you tighten anything make sure the two safety washers are sitting in the correct position - between the wheel nuts and the drop outs and positioned in the holes provided. 

    Like so,

    How to assemble a bobbin gingersnap

    Then tighten your wheel nuts with your adjustable spanner, again really tight! A tip for tightening your front wheel is the wind in each side equally as you go. Tighten your wheel nut one rotation on one side and then move to the other, and then back again and so forth. Don't just tighten one side all the way and then the other as your wheel will be out of line. 

    3. Front mudguard

    Have a look at the back of your front forks and you'll see a nut on the rear side of your brake. Take it off and you'll be left with the end of your brake rod poking through the center of your forks.

     

     

    how to assemble a bobbin gingersnap

    Grab your mudguard and slot the brake rod through the tab.

    how to assemble a bobbin gingersnap

    Then replace the nut and tighten. A tip for tightening your Bobbin brakes, hold the calipers roughly central as you tighten to avoid them slipping over to one side and resting on the wheel rim. You can over tighten your brakes and cause this is happen. If you do then loosen the nut, realign them centrally and start again.

    4. Mudguard stays

    You'll notice on your mudguard that there are two mudguard stays/supports. They screw into the two holes provide in the base of the front forks. 

    how to put together a bobbin gingersnap

    how to put together a bobbin gingersnap

    5. Pedals

    Take your pedals and you'll notice they have left (L) and right (R) embossed on the inside of the spindle. Wind each pedal on the correct side of the crank arm by hand and when it is hand tight give it a last squeeze with your spanner. Tip! Remember, you always rotate right when screwing anything onto a bike thread.

    how to put together a Bobbin gingersnap

    how to put together a bobbin gingersnap

    6. Saddle

    Insert the end of the seat post into the main down tube.

    how to assemble a bobbin kids bike

    When it is at the height you need, tighten the seat bolt clamp at the top of the down tube.

    how to assemble a bobbin kids bike

    7. Stabilisers

    Remove the rear wheel nut and mudguard stay from the rear axle and insert the axle through the hole in the stabiliser. Then screw the wheel nut back onto the spindle making sure it is tight.

    how to assemble a bobbin gingersnap

    how to assemble a bobbin gingersnap

    Once the stabilisers are in place check that the bike wheel has good contact with the ground and that there is a little tilt from side to side.

    8. Basket

    You'll find two screws already attached to your wicker basket. Insert these screws into the holes on the basket support. how to put together a bobbin gingersnap

    And tighten using a spanner on the nut whilst holding the hex head in place with a hex key

    how to assemble a bobbin gingersnap

    And you're done. Here's to a life time of cycling adventures!

    Bobbin gingersnap mint green

    Which Pashley? A women's guide to choosing a Pashley Bicycle.

    Which Pashley? A women's guide to choosing a Pashley Bicycle.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of Pashley cycling! Much of the Pashley women's range is designed around a single iconic Pashley loop frame with slight differences depending on the model. The differences usually take the form of colour, gears, handlebar shape and optional extras such as locks, lights and pannier racks. Although the Pashley website is beautifully set out it can be difficult to get a grasp of the differences these subtle changes can make to your riding experience.

    Before we go into detail about the specific models it's important to emphasise that certain characteristics are present throughout the range:

    Ground surface - all the Pashley bikes that we'll be discussing (except the Penny) are suited to leisure and commuting cycling, ideally on a smooth hard surface - a road or a cycle path. The tyres and the bikes themselves are certainly tough enough to withstand bumpy tracks or loose gravel but the riding position is pretty loose and doesn't offer great control on unpredictable ground.

    Weight - weight does vary throughout the range but Pashley bikes are not considered light. The lightest Pashley we'll be discussing is the Poppy which weighs approx 17kg. Whilst it makes owning one in a flat a little tricky it does mean you have an amazingly smooth ride that flies along very happily at speed.

    Posture - Once again with exception of the Penny, all the Pashley models are upright and can be adjusted to suit your posture. The aim is for all your weight to travel through your bottom onto the bouncy Brooks saddle and for there to be no tension in your arms, back or wrists. Fantastic for anyone who experiences any problems in those areas.

    Maintenance -  Gears and brakes are safely tucked away into the hubs on the front and rear wheel. This means that the parts are protected against the elements and very unlikely to ever go wrong. Everything else from the tyres to the chain is carefully chosen to be of the highest quality and unlikely to perish.

    OK, let's get started!

    The Pashley Princess Classic/Sovereign

    The Princess is the infamous Pashley model that has changed very little in appearance since the 1950's. The Princess uses the one frame design and is painted in black or British racing green. It's available in three different levels:

    pashley princess classic vintage womens bike

    Level 1. The Princess Classic £595 18kg - this is the most basic, stripped back version with a simple three speed Sturmey Archer hub (gears), pump and basket. 

    pashley princess sovereign classic womens vintage bike review

    Pashley princess sovereign new vintage womens bike

    Level 2. The Princess Sovereign (5 speed) £695 20kg

    The Princess Sovereign has been kitted out with extras such as a wheel lock, pannier rack, dynamo lights and 5 speed hub. These two extra gears do make a difference when going faster along flat ground but not hugely when attempting a hill. This is because while you're gaining two extra gears you are also gaining two extra kg in weight due to the lock and pannier rack. So it's worth bearing in mind when comparing the Princess Classic and Sovereign that while you gain a lot of add ons with the Sovereign it is a heavy bike and will not work if you need to carry it up any steps, lift it into a car or live in a hilly area. 

    pashley princess sovereign classic womens vintage bike review

     

    pashley princess sovereign 8 speed classic vintage womens bike

    Level 3. The Princess Sovereign (8 speed) £775 20kg

    The extra gears on this are now really making a difference and although the weight is still the same as the Sovereign 5 speed, getting up hills is noticeably easier and you can pick up plenty of speed on the flat. If you live in a hilly area and can stretch to the higher price tag we would certainly recommend going for this over the 5 speed. 

    The Pashley Sonnet Pure £575 18kg

    pashley sonnet pure classic womens vintage bike review

    pashley sonnet pure classic vintage womens bike review

    This is identical to the Princess Classic but uses different colour ways.

    The Pashley Sonnet Bliss £675 20kg

    pashley sonnet pure classic womens vintage bike review

    Again the same as the Princess Sovereign, just using different colour ways.

    The Pashley Britannia £675 - £755

    pashley britannia classic womens vintage bike pashley  review

    pashley britannia classic womens vintage bike review

    This has been a favourite at Bell's for some time. Again it features the same classic Pashley loop frame but they have managed to add some amazing extras whilst keeping the weight to a minimum. It has 5 gears, an integrated dynamo hub which produces a strong light and the softest leather hand grips which are handmade locally to Stratford on Avon. It's still by no means a light bike but at 18kg it you can happily manage medium hills and lift it up a few steps if you had to. While the tyres can handle rough tracks pretty well the Pashley Britannia is at it's best on more stable surfaces due to the steering position.

    It is also available with an 8 speed hub which suddenly takes this bike to the next level. It's now a versatile bike that can manage most hills with relative ease and is great for longer distances too.

    The Pashley Poppy £495 17 kg

    pashley poppy classic womens vintage bike review

    The Poppy is the lightest in the range and with exception to the Penny the most sporty. It has straighter handlebars which allow for a stronger more responsive reaction and the frame has been stripped back of any extras to allow for an unencumbered nippy ride.

    pashley poppy classic womens vintage bike review

    pashley poppy classic vintage womens bike review

    This would be a great option if you wanted to commute on a Pashley as it would be able to navigate traffic well, you could carry it up a few steps if you needed to. It's also more affordable than some of the other models so perhaps less precious for everyday riding. It has three gears only so it wouldn't be great for hill dwellers but perfect otherwise.

    The Pashley Penny £575 17kg

    pashley penny classic vintage womens bike review

    pashley penny classic vintage womens bike review

    Suddenly we see a breakaway from the Classic Pashley frame. While using many of the same parts we now how a really versatile hybrid which can handle your daily commute but also pretty rough ground. The position is less upright and the handlebars are straighter which result in a stronger position.

    pashley penny classic vintage womens bike review

    It has five gears so it can handle hills pretty well and is a fantastic alternative to a dull hybrid. The only down side again is that at 18kg this isn't an ideal bike if you want a light weight city bike.

    And there we have it. Although we are big Pashley fans I hope we've been able to give you an impartial honest starting point when looking for a Pashley. We are always happy to go into more detail if you have any questions. Just give us a call on 01424 716 541 or send us an email to hello@bellsbicycles.co.uk

    Also considering a Bobbin? You may find this helpful:

    https://bellsbicycles.co.uk/blogs/news/35964417-which-bobbin

     

     

     

     

     

    The rebirth of the Raleigh All Steel - vintage bike restoration at Bell's

    The rebirth of the Raleigh All Steel - vintage bike restoration at Bell's

    Classic bike restoration is a big part of what we do at Bell's and it has grown organically since we opened our doors in 2008. We find the process of taking a bike destined for the scrap heap and returning it to "new" pretty extraordinary and the results still amaze us every time. 
    So, we thought it was time we should share one of our restoration stories and give you an insight into how the process is achieved.
    This is the story of a 1957 Raleigh All Steel which was brought into us in the Autumn of 2016 and is just being finished now in February 2017 (it's not a particularly fast process) The bike had been stored in a shed for the last twenty years unused and rusting away, but it belonged to the late father of our customer so when it was discovered he chose to restore it back to shop floor condition. That's where we come into the story.
    http://bellsbicycles.co.uk/collections/luggage/products/brooks-lands-end-rear-pannier 
    The bike was in Southampton and we are in Hastings so we arranged for the bike to be collected by our specialist couriers and brought to our workshop. When the bike arrived it was quickly evident that to return it to "new" would require the full works. Quite often parts can be cleaned and polished back to their original condition but this was not the case in the restoration of the Raleigh All Steel. Here is a rough break down of everything that was required:
    Chrome parts - all needed to be stripped, nickle plated and re chromed. This applied to everything except for the rear wheel rim which had disintegrated beyond repair and needed to be replaced with "new" old stock. 
    vintage bike restoration at bells bicycles
    Mudguards - were beyond repair too so we used a new pair of Pashley mudguards that were a perfect match.
    vintage bike restoration at bells bicycles
    Frame and forks - were sent to a local powder coating company  to be stripped and then repainted.  
    vintage bike restoration at bells bicycles
    Lights - The front light was chromed and then hand painted. The lens and internals all had to be replaced. There was no rear light so we supplied one from the right period and hand painted it. 
    vintage raleigh bike restoration bells bicycles
    Wheels - Both wheels had to be stripped and then rebuilt using new spokes around the Sturmey Archer hub and rim.
    vintage bike restoration at bells bicycles
    Rod brakes - some rods were rusted through and beyond repair. We replaced certain sections and kept as much for the original set up as possible. We supplied new rod brake blocks.
    vintage raleigh bike restoration bells bicycles
    Decals - We replicated all original signage and lettering. Some were hand painted, others were decals, all depending on what was there originally. We then hand painted the red coach lines onto the mudguard and frame.
    vintage bike restoration at bells bicycles
    We undertake every level of restoration at Bell's from a thorough clean, polish and service to a complete A1 restoration as seen here with the Raleigh All Steel. Typically we restore 20th century vintage and classic bikes but we also work with museums to preserve antique 19th bicycles, penny farthings and tandems. 
    If you have a similar project in mind then we'd love to hear from you. We'll happily talk through the process in more detail and if you provide us with some detailed photos of your bike then we'll get you an estimate.