Tuesday, 8 September 2009

New Bike...but when?

Well, getting back to work after the holiday I found my employer - despite trumpeting an environment friendly travel policy and being a huge national concern - doesn't actually take part in the cycle to work scheme! Speaking to the manager concerned I learnt it maybe happening by the end of September...maybe. If it is up and running they will partner with the cyclescheme company and so will provide up to £1000.00 in voucher form to use at participating dealers. Cycle Sense in Tadcaster does participate so that is some relief anyway as they are my local Koga dealers. There is a twist though...

I have been looking at various forums on the pros and cons of various touring bike set ups and the more I read the harder it becomes to make any final decisions. Also a second contender is now up for consideration - Santos bicycles - another custom builder in the Netherlands. (The website is in Dutch but they plan to have a English language version up "...by the end of the Summer...". Your guess is as good as mine!)

A couple are cycling the length of the Americas on a pair of Santos Travelmasters and documenting their travels on www.worldonabike.com. I must admit it was Mark Beaumont's record breaking round the world cycle that switched me onto the Koga and this trip has highlighted the Santos bike. Both Koga and Santos would no doubt provide more than the bike I need for commuting and what are likely to be shortish tours in Europe but I still want to choose the most appropriate bike for me and that means researching all I can (It's half the fun!).

Still, I need to confirm my potential job change this month and have a employer scheme to use before I will consider spending hundreds of pounds on a pushbike. I also have a perfectly acceptable bike set up for commuting in the Marin and my Pennine Cycleway isn't happening until July 2010 so I have time I can bide.

I have just ordered a Brooks B17 saddle from Wiggle though, so I can at least start to break that in!


  1. Mark Beaumont's record is about to be smashed by another Brit called James Bowthorpe and he's riding a Santos Travelmaster !

    Check his current position here:

    He's had widespread coverage, some links below:

    Santos have been doing the custom options for 11 years, Koga just like to copy. The view from Holland is that Koga are over engineered and over priced. Santos are the work horses of Dutch adventure touring scene.

    You could try http://jdcycles.co.uk/ in Ilkley for Santos, definately One of the better shops up North.

  2. Hi.

    Thanks for your comments and links about James Gawthorpe. I am just aware of him after searching for info re Santos and have just added his blog and "where in the world..." site to my blogs and sites lists.

    Oh, I have already been touch with JD Cycles in Ilkley and they only stock Tandems in the Santos range! Looks like a trip down south then!

    You seem to have a good handle on touring bikes. Would love to chat more. Who are you?

    Speak again?

  3. Hi Darrell,

    The name's John and I'm an Expat Brit working for Shell between the UK and Holland. Also have cloggy wife who's been into touring most of her life and got me interested.

    Santos are a good company and most of the Dutch touring cyclists really rate them highly. I ride out with a group in NL called the www.wereldfietser.nl (World Cyclists) and most of them use Santos Travelmasters so I got One myself. Given me many happy miles of trouble free service so far.

    I called Santos today and asked them about the English language website. They told me they hope to have it live soon but as their custom bikebuilder programme has over 3000 component option choices which have been translated its been a very long task. They're currently running tests on this before sending it live.

    They also mentioned that http://www.msgbikes.com/ were the UK dealer who looked after James Bowthorpe and are very knowledgeable on the Travelmaster. Also that Cass Gilbert, the Cycling Plus writer was riding a Travelmaster on his trip thru the Americas. Check out his blog here: http://whileoutriding.wordpress.com/
    - Great pictures.

    Any questions fire away and I'll try to respond.

    Best Wishes,

  4. John

    Thanks. Can you send me your email?


  5. Hi Darrell

    I definitely agree with you on the Cycle To Work scheme. Luckily I'm self-employed/Ltd Company, so was able to do it on my tax return and saved nearly half of the bike cost! I don't think it would cost your employer anything, they just set it against tax.

    Look forward to hear what you decide on the touring bike, I'm thinking about the same thing myself. Santos looking a good, if expensive, option...


  6. Matthew

    I might end up having a few days in Amsterdam as a short break later this year and checking out some local dealers for both Koga and Santos while I'm there. The wife has already mentioned a trip there so it would a chance to see the bikes and not a means to an end so to speak. Will I even manage to get a new steed this year? maybe not but I do intend to treat myself before the Pennine ride! (will not rush, will not rush).