Turf Bicycles

Over the past few weeks I’ve been looking at various additional forms of transport for turfing, including a Swifty folding kick scooter and a Brompton folding bicycle. Both have some merit as they can be carried on public transport but I’ve yet to make any firm decision on either. Today, I starting wondering if there were any other options I might consider? One that came to mind was inline skates but I quickly decided that was not one of my better ideas. Then my thoughts returned to bicycles.

My current bicycles, a Surly Ogre and a Surly Pugsley fat bike were both built over ten years ago and technology and trends have come a long way since them. Not only that, but I also have sufficient funds from pension lump sums available to purchase just about any bicycle I desired. Perhaps that long forgotten dream of owning a carbon fibre or titanium framed bicycle might just be on the cards. I haven’t mentioned aluminium as I once built a 9Zero7 fat bike and hated the harsh ride of the aluminium frame.

Both my current bicycles are relatively heavy, with the Ogre weighing in around 18 kg unloaded and the Pugsley topping that by a good margin and then some. This got me thinking that I might benefit from a lighter weight bicycle. The less weight I have to propel around the better and the less energy I’d need to expend. It may even benefit my often aching back. I’ve long been interested in the recent trend for so-called gravel or adventure bikes, bikes specifically designed for rough gravel roads, kind of like a road bike on steroids, but not the full-blown ruggedness, and extra weight, of a mountain bike.

There’s plenty to choose from, in fact, far too many, but one thing that does stand out is that for around £2500 you can get a pretty decent spec bike in either carbon fibre or titanium weighing in around 9 kg, about half that of the Surly Ogre. And if I can bring myself not to carry all the stuff I usually carry, and often never use, I can keep additional weight to a minimum. I did consider looking at road bikes, hybrid bikes and mountain bikes, but I feel that a gravel bike would be ideal for turfing, being able to manage both road use and off-road use with ease. Obviously still something of a compromise but I’m happy with that.

I found a few bikes I liked the look of, with models from Cairn, Canyon, Ribble, Specialized and Cannondale all looking very tempting but there was one problem with just about all of them and that was availability. So many bikes are shown as out of stock. One model I was keen on was the carbon fibre framed Ribble Gravel SL – Enthusiast, priced at £3199, but delivery would not be until March 2022. Okay it’s not that far away but I really want it right now, not in four months’ time. Yes, I suppose I could wait but you know how it is.

I also had a good look at electric bikes as well and was almost tempted with the Boardman ADV 8.9E costing £2800, available for home delivery in a few days from Halfords. Thought an electric bike would be good for reaching those towns further away from home, for example, Peebles, down in the Scottish Borders, a good 50-mile round trip even before including any turfing. But I just cannot find myself happy with using an electric bike for turfing, feels like cheating. Perhaps, as I get older and when I’m struggling to pedal a normal bike I’d be happy but not at the moment. There’s also the weight of electric bikes to consider. They seem to be generally about 50% heavier than standard bikes and there are often occasions during turfing when portage is required, at steps and very steep hills, for example.

No, I like the idea of a lighter weight bicycle, such as a gravel bike, ideally suited to my style of cycling, the different types of terrain I frequent, and of course turfing. At the moment I’m keeping an eye on the carbon fibre, 9 kg, £2500, Boardman ADV 9.4 2022, which should be available this month. I’ll need to add a set of mudguards, a small frame bag and a small handlebar bag that does not interfere with handlebar mounted lights. And I’ll also be watching out for some of the other bikes I came across that took my fancy.

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