Go bag a Bickerton

Check this 1983 TV advert for Bickerton folding bikes. Brompton wasn’t the only British folding bike maker of the time.

The advert was put together for Bickerton Rowlinson Ltd by Sharps advertising, who subsequently became Dorland (part of Saatchi and Saatchi). I don’t think the scriptwriter won any awards for this ad, but you got to love the idea of putting a nun on a bike.

The ad aired on national telly. It went out on the young Channel 4. Bickerton scored a great deal because there was an actor’s union strike at the time and few ads were able to beat the Equity blockade.

Mark Bickerton, son of the bike’s inventor, said:

“The name Bickerton is still synonymous with folding bikes, and it is amazing how many people still remember this advert 24 years on.”

“For years, I have been searching for a copy of this advert and the other day someone e-mailed me with a digital copy. It’s a little bit of history.”

Mark Bickerton has been the UK agent/importer of Dahon folding bikes since the mid-1980s.

INTERBIKE TV: Meet Ellen and Josh

Check out this video of an urban cycling chat show recorded in Interbike’s Media Center, powered by the broadcast boffins of Cycling.tv.:

The 30-minute video features Ellen Hall of Cateye.com and Josh Hon of Dahon. Ellen talked about Cateye’s social media networking site, Worldcommute.com. Josh talked about how Dahon has been in the business of urban commuting for 25 years. He said the market is still in its infancy and there’s a lot of growth ahead.

I hosted the show so it’s a BikeBiz.com, Quickrelease.tv and Bike to Work Book co-production. An audio-only podcast of the show is on iTunes or here’s an MP3 page.

With thanks to Rich Kelly, marketing manager of Interbike and editor of Interbike Times.

Design student produces $30 cardboard bike


Bikes are usually shipped in cardboard boxes but could they be made out of the material also? As part of Sheffield Hallam University’s Creative Sparks exhibition of student work, product design student Phil Bridge from Stockport is demonstrating just such a theory. His cardboard bike is likely to garner a lot of interest from cyclists, and would-be cyclists.

Bridge reckons his bike could be mass-produced for £15 a piece, with the Hexacomb cardboard frame recycled and the metal components re-used on the next bike on the production line.

A cardboard bike – even one made with exterior-quality Hexacomb – may not pass CEN testing standards. These new EU standards are designed to test bicycles made with standard frame-building materials.

Bridge said: “The lightweight quality of the cardboard, combined with its low cost, means it is possible to create a bargain-bike that is also less susceptible to thieves.” (Er, might they not set fire to it instead?)

Bike theft is a major disincentive to cycling. According to a French study, only 25 per cent of cyclists re-buy a new bike after a theft, and of these 10 per cent buy a cheaper bike than they had before (20 per cent cheaper on average). A further 23 per cent won’t return to cycling at all.


Bridge was interviewed on Radio Sheffield:

Will it go soggy in the rain?
“No it’s inherently waterproof at the point of manufacture and it’s been used in outdoors. In some instances it’s been used in housing and for advertising hoardings.”

Does it go fast?

“Not particularly, no. It was never designed to be a performance bike. It was designed for everyday use, so people riding it slowly to get from place to place – not the Tour de France!”

How long would one last?It depends on how much you use it. If you use it the way most people in England use bikes, it’ll probably last forever because it’ll be sat in your shed! Seriously, it’s designed to last for about six months of constant use.”

How do you see a cardboard bike being used?
“The idea was that it would be a sponsorship from a company who would produce these and get some advertising it. And once you’ve used it, you’d return it they’d give you another one.”


For what it’s worth I love the idea of a cardboard bike. I don’t think it would detract from sales of ‘real’ bikes. Mind you, talking about flimsy bikes, they are already exist. Wally-Mart bikes already ship with cardboard cranks, and cardboard rear stays, and paper-maché derailleurs. I know this because I have to try and fix them every week on the Go Ride cycle training course I deliver at a local primary school.

Kids turn up complaining they have difficulty braking and changing gear. This is no real wonder given the tat their parents have unwittingly bought them. Genuine cardboard bikes would likely be an improvement on the dross I try – and generally fail – to make rideable.

Even when bikes are reasonably OK, parents fail to maintain them. Last week I had a girl on my course with a defective front brake. The v-brake had failed so one of the girl’s parents decided it could be made road-worthy with a dash of Duct tape.

Folding bike race is back for Rapha’s Nocturne

But let’s hope it’s not as wet as last year, as seen in the video above.

The kick-off event in June last year suffered from a tropical downpour but still saw 40 suited competitors battle it out in front of 5000 cheering spectators around Smithfield Market in central London. The ‘Le Mans’ start meant riders had to run to their bikes, unfold them and then set off around the challenging Smithfield Nocturne course.

The 2008 Smithfield Nocturne – to be held on 7th June – will now feature qualification heats leading to a grand final.

The folding bike race will be just part of an action-packed race programme which will culminate in an elite criterium featuring top British cycling stars. There’s also a media crit on road bikes, and I’ve been invited. Should I take part? No, I’d get my legs ripped off by the likes of Matt Seaton. I’ll enter the folding bike event instead: it’s easier to fake a mechanical, I can just say I fitted the wrong kind of elastomer bungs…