“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realise that fishing is stupid and boring” – Desmond Tutu
15 May 2020
As part of its can-do plan to return as many people to as near normal as it can, as quickly and as fairly as it can, in a way that protects as many people as it can, safeguards as many livelihoods as it can, while continuing to protect the NHS as much as it can, the government has said you can now exercise outside for as long and as often as you can.
Now that you can, Candy Man, perhaps you’re considering a new e-gravel bike for the weekend or something a little more streamlined for your soon-to-be-two-wheeled commute. Thanks to our super-timely, super-handy, not-quite-definitive round-up of the most stylish super-bicycles currently available to buy – you can.
Specialized S-Works Venge
‘Aero is Everything’ runs the motto at Specialized, which has its own on-site wind tunnel to test its high-performance road bikes. It’s used the tunnel to prove that the new Venge is the most aerodynamic road bike you can currently buy (sure, you’ll need nearly ten grand to do so). It’s also equipped the bike with its S-Works power cranks (the lightest and most accurate in the world), a stem with a higher stiffness than anything the company has ever produced, and a frame that’s 460 grams lighter than the new Venge’s predecessor. The result is a bike that’s so light you can let the wind do most of the work.
Pinarello Nytro Gravel E-bike
Italian super-bike specialist Pinarello’s first foray into cycling niche segment ‘e-gravel’ – that’s go-anywhere, large-wheeled, drop-bar hybrid road bikes – was the Nytro, which it unveiled in 2017. New for 2020 is the Nytro Gravel, a spicy spin-off of the original e-road bike with the same lightweight Fazua motor-battery system but a wider tyre clearance. The new frameset will accept tyres up to 700x42mm (650bx2.1in) and comes with SRAM Force 1 components, Fulcrum alloy wheels and Pinarello own-brand finishing kit. The only drawback here is that deliveries won’t start until October – by which point a lockdown diet of crisps and custard creams may have left you the size of a house.
De Rosa SK Pininfarina
What happens when you combine studio Pininfarina – most famous for designing Ferraris – with an Italian bicycle company renowned for creating some of the most exotic bikes on the road? The De Rosa SK Pininfarina, that's what. Though France no doubt begs to differ, Italy is the spiritual home of cycling – at least for gear and nourishment: Campagnolo, Colnago, Coppi, coffee and pasta. Owning an Italian bicycle gives you instant braggadocio. Along with Colnago and Pinarello, De Rosa makes up the holy trilogy of Italian pro-cycling brands. If you’re looking to spend in the region of £7k on a bicycle, you could do a lot worse than the SK Pininfarina. Already something of an icon, it combines comfort, speed, rarity and looks that kill... much like Pininfarina's other famous client.
£7,500 (with Campagnolo Super Record), derosa.it
Adventure is in the DNA of Stanforth, a company that designs and builds custom expedition and touring bikes in the UK. Four models make up the collection, with each suited to different riding terrains. Unless you’re thinking of riding the length of Africa anytime soon – in which case the Kibo and Pamira models are what you want – opt for the Skyelander, a comfortable tourer for roads and towpaths. All of Stanforth’s frames are custom made, meaning that body measurements are taken into account to provide for that perfect ride. It’s not for nothing that a custom Skyelander won the 2018 Cycling UK Touring Bike Choice award at the Bespoked UK Handbuilt Bike Show.
£2,495 (including custom sizing), stanforthbikes.co.uk
Van Moof S3 and X3
Van Moof's Turbo Boost feature – accessible on the right grip – provides a near-instantaneous electric boost to this revolutionary hybrid bike, allowing you to ease up hills sweat-free. The bike comes with a handful of other neat features like an integrated Kick Lock and built-in alarm system that'll make any potential thief extremely self-conscious. Improving on the hugely popular S2 and X2 was no easy task, but Van Moof has made some noticeable improvements to performance, while actually bringing prices down. Incredibly, you can even test ride a Van Moof bike during lockdown as they'll deliver bikes to your home (so long as you live in or close to London).
both £1,798, vanmoof.com
Cinelli Vigorelli Shark Pistard
We’ve all spotted a fixed gear hipster before. The Lance Armstrong of courier riders, they’ll stop at nothing to go supersonic, ignoring red lights, their buttocks constantly hovering above the saddle, some even removing both brakes for added machismo (this is illegal in the UK). Cinelli, based in Milan, holds a special place in the fixie hipster’s heart along with an oat flat white. Undeniably pleasing to look at, the Vignorelli Shark is inspired by the velodrome and goes like stink. Pair it with carbon aero wheels and a brown Brooks saddle for the perfect Insta-worthy bike.
£769 (frame only), santafixie.co.uk
Ribble CGR 725 Shimano Tiagra
Gravel bikes have made a name for themselves as the most versatile bikes on the market – a commuter, road, off-road and cyclocross bike all rolled into one. Aesthetically similar to road bikes, gravel bikes are characterised by their increased tyre clearance, typically allowing for a width range of 45mm to 50mm, rather than 28mm to 32mm. The increased width improves grip when off-road and, because wider tyres run at lower pressures, improves comfort and vibration through dampening. The frame of Ribble’s retro-stylish CGR 725 Shimano Tiagra is designed to absorb vibrations, enabling it to tackle a range of terrain, from London’s supercycle highways to Lee Valley’s reservoir-lining gravelled pathways.
From £1,199, ribblecycles.co.uk
‘What’s a Santander hire bike doing on a list of the most stylish, high-performance feats of two-wheeled engineering?’ We hear you ask. Hear us out. Launched in July 2010, it’s taken just a decade for the ‘Boris Bike’ (the project actually got rolling during the tenure of BoJo’s predecessor, Ken Livingstone) to claim its place in the pantheon of iconic London vehicles, alongside the black Hackney Carriage and red double-decker bus. It also, for our money, offers one of the most comfortable rides of any bicycle out there – thanks to a tubby gel saddle – and provides the best bang for your buck when compared to London’s other means of public transport – time it right and you can traverse the city for 24 hours for only two quid. The bikes, built by Stratford-upon-Avon-based Pashley Cycles, were given an upgrade in 2017. Bigger mudguards and upgraded Shimano brakes were added, along with a lighter frame, puncture-proof tyres and better (automatic) front and backlights by London start-up Blaze. Santander cycles – stylish and sustainable.
£2 to hire a bike; free for the first 30 minutes and then £2 for every 30 minutes after, tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/santander-cycles