Abici Amante Donna

I reviewed this bike sometime ago, and it is now for sale. If interested please contact me.

I have had the good fortune to test ride this gorgeous bike for a few days, and, like all things Italian, it is blessed with wonderfully good looks and style. It was purchased by my daughter recently, second hand, but in almost new condition and apart from a couple of paint chips it looks like new. Abici is a relatively new company, having been formed in 2006, but dedicating itself to making classically styled bikes. The pale grey colour is understated and classy, blending well with the white wall tyres, and the frame is free of any decals except for the two round understated black ones you can see on the chain guard – Abici’s trademark cross and name. The Italian loopframe offers all of the benefits of a low step through with a distinctive classic look.

Riding this bike is an experience, it is an easy ride, the single speed and easily manipulated brake levers add to the ease of the ride …note how the brake levers are so beautifully integrated into the handlebars and their positioning directly beneath the handgrips makes them perfectly intuitive to use. The handgrips and brake lever grips are made from a hard, grey marble-look plastic which looks great with the rest of the bike but is a little hard to the touch when compared to most handgrip materials. 

The lighting is state of the art in appearance, with the headlight being dynamo hub powered and the rear light being battery powered. Perhaps the rear light needs to be a tad brighter.The chromed rod brakes add a sense of neatness and style that is not possible with cables, a feature I like. The flat pedals are neat, sturdy, stylish and functional. 

My daughter riding it (with baby in the pouch.)

Riding the Abici I found to be a special experience, looking at the lustrous and straight chromed handlebars gives it a luxurious touch and it handles quite differently from other bikes I have ridden, it wants to go in a straight line and to stay very upright and thus feels very stable, though I did not have any trouble with cornering. When I was riding it I was running late so was rushing and, not having extra gears to use, was able to stand to get the amount of acceleration I needed. This is something I can also easily do on my Speedwell, but I do not think it would be possible on the Gazelle I rode recently, which was just too upright to allow a standing  position. The seating position felt just right in the upper body, my hand position was excellent, but the seat felt as if it could be higher to give more pedal reach, though that would no doubt compromise the upper body positioning somewhat. The black leather Brooks is perfect for it and looks the part too. I found, unexpectedly, that there is no “skirt rideup” which is an added bonus for me, as it is for any women’s city bike, as I mostly wear skirts on the bike and did not need to make any adjustments as I rode along.

The brakes work well but when heavily applied they shudder, a flaw that could no doubt be corrected with adjustment, and they work fine. The 26″ wheels are a new thing for me and I was certainly aware of it, I prefer larger diameter wheels, they just feel as if they roll better, though not necessarily faster. It also has a few rattles which I am sure could be adjusted away and perhaps the additions of leather or rubber washers at mounting points for the fenders would help with this. The fully enclosed chainguard and extra wide fenders make for a solid, but not heavy, appearance, and give protection from any sort of bikey stains.

But, I hear you ask, what is the carrying capability of this bike, there are no racks or baskets? If you look closely at the photos you will see a sprung newspaper rack on the handlebars – a unique and perhaps somewhat useless feature, though it can carry a waterbottle. Perhaps this is the bike you need to use with a leather designer handbag slung over your shoulder or from the handlebars so it is shown to full advantage.

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Tweed Ride 2016 memories

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Photo credit Peter McNaughton

 

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Tweed Ride this Sunday, a few ideas ….

Facebook page


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This coming Sunday is the fourth Newcastle Vintage Tweed Ride, we will meet at Islington Park at around 9.30am for a day of entertainment and riding.

If you haven’t decided what to wear yet, there’s a vintage shop at 876 Hunter Street which has some outstanding items for sale which are highly suited to tweed riding. They’ll even give you a discount if you mention that you’re a tweed rider!

PS. anyone can come to the ride, there is no need to have a special bike or outfit. In the past we even had a fellow in his Lycra join us after a training ride! We are asking for a small donation this year as we did not secure council funding and have land rental costs to cover. There will be food and coffee for sale and other entertainments. The Facebook page has all details, see the link at the top of this post. See you there!

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NSW Cycling Laws

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Overview of the recent NSW bike law changes can be found here.
The stated aims of the laws were to protect cyclists, yet the targets of those changes were mostly cyclists themselves. Very few cyclist deaths are caused by cyclists hitting each other or killing themselves by falling off or crashing into things; most cyclist deaths are caused by car drivers making errors.

The recent changes in NSW were largely fine increases for cyclists so did not have to be enacted in parliament, they were simply a change to the regulations, increasing fines for existing offences. This meant that they did not have to undergo parliamentary scrutiny.

The trade off for increase in fines for cyclists was that the metre passing law, which has proven very difficult to enforce in other states, was implemented, and has had very few fines recorded against it in NSW (just 4 in the first 3 months of being in force).

Proportionality in the law means that the punishment must fit the crime. The increased fines for cyclists do not reflect the danger that the targeted offences present to the community. Laws should be evidence based, ie they should be based on statistics which demonstrate that they are required to protect certain groups or individuals.

Laws are supposed to be a reflection of the society they are created for and to keep its citizens safe. Cyclists very rarely kill or injure others, yet every single day we have people killed and injured on the road. Just not by cyclists.

While a society can pass a law to reflect its opinions and beliefs, those laws can also affect the society in return. There can be unintended consequences of law changes, eg mandatory helmet law (MHL) reduced overall cycling numbers in the early 1990s, see the RMS website for cycling research articles written for the first few years after MHL was enacted acknowledging this. These research articles state that cyclist numbers went down and it was expected that they would soon go up again. That did not happen and the ongoing evaluation of the MHL ceased after 4 years.
But the new 2016 fine changes appear to be aimed at deliberately reducing numbers of cyclists, perhaps even in the knowledge that the prior MHL laws did just that a few decades earlier.

NSW Cycling Safety Action Plan 2014-2016
The aim of this Plan is to reduce cyclist deaths to zero, and while it states that separated cycle paths are desirable and will be built to that end, nowhere does it explicitly aim to increase numbers of cyclists.

Why increase cyclist numbers anyway?
• Cities are becoming more traffic congested as they grow
• Pollution: Asian and European cities are implementing drastic measures on high pollution days to keep cars off roads. Don’t want to reach this point because no one wants to walk or ride in high levels of air pollution. City leaders ie mayors have to take these responsibilities to protect their citizens in times of emergency. The NSW laws are a state level decision that city mayors will be left to deal with the consequences of. (Mainly the City of Sydney mayor as that is where pollution levels are the highest in NSW and probably Australia.)
• Greenhouse gas emissions targets to be met under international agreements: bikes largely overlooked but they can be a significant part of the solution as a significant amount is from car emissions.
• Tackling obesity. Whenever we see a story on the benefits of cycling for this we see lots of comments about weight loss from cycling to work.

The main problem with the NSW cycling law changes is the lack of alignment between damage certain offences can cause and the penalties incurred. As well as their lack of alignment with policy at federal and local government levels.

It appears that the law changes have been intended to be punitive to cyclists and to discourage cycling. If those are the intended effects they have been successful. Thousands of dollars worth of fines have been issued to cyclists in the first three months and there are many anecdotal stories of cyclists ceasing to cycle because of the risk of fines. They felt that they needed to break certain laws to stay safe eg footpath riding for short distances as part of their commute, and did not want to risk huge fines.

There is no doubt that the new laws sent a shockwave through the NSW cycling community and caused ripples even overseas regarding NSW being considered the most cycling unfriendly place in the world. It has also affected public opinion of cyclists – possibly one of the most damaging effects as it ramped up the online bike rego debates in the press.

Ironically the NSW minister for roads is so concerned for the safety of cyclists that he has overlooked the safety of the majority of road users and loss of life on NSW roads has increased since March 2016.

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Tweed Ride 2016

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This event promises to be lots and lots of fun for friends and family of all ages.
Entry by donation and please bring your helmet. Muster at Islington Park near the paper bark grove 9.30AM for a safe easy chaperoned ride along NEWCASTLE’S shared pathways led by special guest host Matt McFarlane.
A lazy Picnic by the sea with special TEAS AND COFFEES by your friends at THE COMMONS will include loads of PRIZES sponsored by generous local businesses: Black Bird Corner, Ali Jane, Betta Shoe Repairs, the very versatile METROCYCLES and more!
From here you are invited to take your own independent commute to Newcastle Museum
for 12NOON Sanjex Seratti’s PENNY FARTHING demonstration and rides!
For the fancy and famished!! 1.30PM set lunch includes: COFFEE! GOULASH! BAGUETTE! MULLED WINE AND SWEETS!

Book your tickets now to join for a meal at BANK CORNER CAFE, meal tickets available at eventbrite

For more info: newcastle.tweed.ride@gmail.com

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Is it better to have a cycling strategy or a transport strategy?

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The last Newcastle Cycling Strategy and Action Plan released by the City of Newcastle was in March 2012. It set as its targets:
“in accordance with the NSW BikePlan target, increase mode share to cycling to 5% for trips less than 10km, by 2016 … in accordance with the NSW BikePlan target, double the mode share to cycling for the journey to work of Newcastle LGA residents between 2006 and 2016.” (Page vii)
These targets have not been met as there has been no significant increase in cycling in the past 6 years, according to bike counts carried out. Data collected from the Australian Bureau of Statistics is quoted in the Strategy:
“The use of bikes as a mode of transport for all trips is very low, at approximately 1.6% of trips for the Newcastle LGA and 1% for the Newcastle SSD” (page 4)

(Note that on page 6 of the introduction, it is stated that 16% of cyclists are women)

It is also noted that:
“Cycling in New South Wales: What the data tells us (Parsons Brinckerhoff Australia Pty Limited, 2008) indicates that Newcastle at 2.04% has a higher than average rate of cycling than the rest of NSW for the journey to work. Bicycle-only trips accounted for less than 0.8% of NSW journey to work trips on census day in August 2006 (p. 19). LGAs with the highest level of cycling to work in NSW are in inner Sydney and Newcastle (Parsons Brinckerhoff Australia Pty Limited, 2008, p. 20).”(page 9)

While this comparison with Sydney may have been favourable in 2008, that is no longer the case. In Sydney in 2014, a survey showed that 17% of people rode last week. Slightly over half (56%) of those trips were for transport and 59% for recreation (obviously and predictably there is an overlap in these two forms of cycling). This means that approximately 9% of people in Sydney rode for transport at that time in 2014. This increase is not surprising given that Sydney has invested large amounts of money into building an impressive, by Australian standards, cycleways network in its inner suburban areas. Newcastle’s 2% cycling participation does not compare.

The Newcastle Strategy is lengthy with many statistical tables, projected and current works and research underpinning its objectives. It is 145 pages in length including appendices with not a great deal of images and those images are photos of current infrastructure or diagrams of potential infrastructure. It provides detailed information on cycling events and tourism, parking, education, maintenance and hazard reporting and infrastructure standards, among other things. It is noted that the encouragement of council staff to cycle to work is a priority, but also states on page 45 that:
“Council undertook a trial of use of bicycles for corporate business. Two bikes were made available to all interested staff for use on local journeys. Some difficulties were noted with the scheme and it is not currently operating.”
The current document that appears to have replaced this Strategy is Connecting Newcastle – Our Urban Renewal Vision. It is a mere 32 pages and is substantially computer generated images, maps and diagrams. Cycling is just one part of the vision for inner Newcastle transport.

Which one of these documents is better?
This is immaterial, what really matters is the ability to deliver actual cycleways and an increase in cycling participation. Now the 2012 Newcastle Cycling Strategy has expired without achieving its stated aims. Meanwhile, in Sydney, under the driving force of a very determined mayor who has had to face considerable obstacles, cycling has grown substantially.
There has been substantial progress  made in Newcastle in terms of infrastructure improvements and additions, but nowhere near the same overall network development as seen in Sydney.

Newcastle Council has broadened its objectives, now viewing cycling as a part of a bigger picture. Let’s hope that the outcomes are going to be better.

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More research into the benefits of cycling?

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There has been much research into the benefits of cycling to underpin cycling strategies adopted by government at various levels. It is carried out by government, advocacy groups and health professionals as well as others. This research variously shows that cycling has many economic benefits, is good for our health, will reduce congestion on the roads, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase agreed upon emissions targets, will save people money and so on. Yet, every time the possibility of spending significant amounts of money on new infrastructure projects is mooted, another study is promised or actually carried out. Interestingly, the findings of such studies do not change, the outcome are always there that cycling improves individual health and the liveability of cities.
The research is already out there: the benefits to society are many and they are real and if the government would commit to spending some dollars on cycle paths instead of more roads, they would go a long way to solving the above problems and save money at the same time. So why is it not happening?
Petrol sales, car rego and the entire automotive retail and repair industry are all areas which generate large revenues for the government. If cars lost their dominance, or even part of their dominance, this would have severe economic consequences for the government coffers. It is more economically feasible to carry out another research project which will find a way to enable cycling but not encourage it to the point where cars lose traction. New roads and highways are constructed all the time without the agonising over the many more millions or even billions that they will cost. Stupendous amounts compared to the cost of a cycling path.

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A black spot in Newcastle’s cycling network

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Google image of intersection of Glebe Road and Park Avenue

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Fernleigh Track

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Fernleigh track is Newcastle’s greatest cycling asset. It is long, (15k), entirely off-road, fairly flat and meanders through beautiful and varied bushland. The tunnel provides a dramatic moment and the remaining pieces of rail infrastructure provide interest. It also connects … Continue reading

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Gazelle Innergy XT Review

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While ebikes are much derided in some cycling circles, they are not without their place in the cycling commuter’s stable. So, when my husband decided he wanted to commute by bike to work, along the Fernleigh Track at night, an ebike was called for. We chose the  Gazelle Innergy XT, a new but superseded model that we got a good deal on and which was, for us, a significant investment in a bike.

The ride is powered by both the pedals and the motor, with the motor matching the effort from the pedals. This makes riding easy but still requires some effort. With the motor cutting out at 25kph, a legal requirement, the bike doesn’t allow for speedy riders terrorising pedestrians and slower riders on shared paths, but does make passing others on uphills an easy feat, something my husband finds to be one of the highlights of his trip home in the mornings. I have had my only experience of needing to brake on an uphill on this bike.
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The appearance is typical of the modern style Gazelle ranges with a futuristic look about it, with its flattened tubing, silver powdercoated finish and geometric decals.
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The battery is integrated with the rear light, under the rear rack, making it unobtrusive. The front light is beautifully integrated into the front mudguard. The additional weight of the battery and motor makes the total weight of the bike 26 kg approximately. While this seems excessive, the bike rides very well when not using the motor and the additional weight is unnoticeable to me.

Gearing is via an internal Shimano 7 Speed Nexus hub, also adding weight to the rear wheel. This has worked flawlessly.

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The upright seating position is easily adjusted to suit any rider with the innovative and easy to use handlebar adjusting system.
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But is an ebike worth the extra money? And why not just toughen up and ride? Petrol savings alone mean that this bike will have paid for itself in two years maximum. Where the ebike comes into its own is when you have a ride that is long or hilly or both. So that meeting on the other side of town suddenly doesn’t seem so far away and a 35 minute trip becomes a 25 minute one, arriving sweat free and energised, but not enervated, by the trip.

So far, after 13 months of ownership, he has ridden around seven thousand kilometres on this bike and is more than happy with it. He recharges the battery after nearly every commute as one charge would not quite do two commutes. The cost of electricity has not been noticeable on our electricity bills.

So far, there have been a few  problems, mostly fixed under warranty. Additional to those mechanical problems there has also been a worn out back tyre which needed to be replaced, brake pads and brake cable and three broken spokes. The total cost of these repairs has been around $200.

The problems that occurred as warranty issues have been the motor failing (the whole wheel was replaced), problems with water in the electricals and the lights stopping working.

The water problem occurred earlier this year in January when we had very heavy rain causing local flooding, and he insisted on riding to work. Riding through moderately heavy rain has not proven to be a problem however.

The complexity of the front wheel where the motor is housed makes a change of tyre very challenging, something that requires a trip to the bike shop. Servicing of the motor is also done by computer at the bike shop.

Gazelle FT

He did find that, on Fernleigh Track, riding at night, the lights were not adequate in the total darkness there and we purchased an additional much brighter light. The standard lights are quite acceptable for use in street light conditions, however. Hazards on the track at night are mainly wildlife and striking a rabbit or wallaby at night could cause a crash, miles from nowhere. Thankfully, the only brushes he has had with wildlife have been twice with small owls, and have caused no problems other than large frights!

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Many thanks to Metro Cycles for their excellent service and the great deal on this bike.

I know it has been a long time since I’ve blogged here, due to my parents going into aged care, but I now have a Facebook page which is quite active, so please join in the discussion there. The link is on the sidebar.

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