CycleLove Celebrating the best of bike culture Thu, 18 Aug 2016 19:35:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Bikes, travel and other good things at Hotel Cycle in Japan Thu, 18 Aug 2016 19:27:39 +0000 The last time I stayed at a hotel with a bicycle, it was unceremoniously ditched in a boiler room whilst I slept in more comfortable surroundings upstairs.

Being British I’m used to my bike being treated as a third-class citizen, but it did sting a little because I’d been reading about a bicycle hotel just the week previously.

If you’re visiting the city of Onomichi in Japan any time soon, be sure to make tracks for Hotel Cycle.

Not only can you check in from the comfort of your bike and then wall-mount it in your room, they also have a “cycle-thru” counter in the Yard Cafe downstairs.

Based in a converted warehouse which dates from the 1940s, building was repurposed by Suppose Design Studio as a combination of hotel, restaurant, café, bar and shops. Once you’ve worked up an appetite — perhaps just from cycling around the hotel — there are pizzas made from local ingredients and fresh seafood available on the menu.

There’s also a Giant bike store in the complex, plus cycle hire and transport available if a supported tour around the surrounding area and nearby 70km bike trails appeals.

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Photography: Toshiyuki Yano

5 urban bikes which are as smart as they are good-looking Tue, 16 Aug 2016 14:23:34 +0000 If you have modernist-leanings when it comes to cycling, there’s never been a better time to ditch that greasy chain, messy cabling and those mis-matched accessories for a sleeker, sexier city bike.

Smart doesn’t have to mean electronically so either — it might be a case of integrating components into the bike frame, or using new and lighter materials to engineer something that used to be a physical impossibility.

Of course there’s point where an urban bike becomes so laden with features that it becomes closer to a personal vehicle than a bicycle, so we’re drawing a line in the sand.

CycleLove’s favourite urban bikes.

We think urban bikes need to have an elegant simplicity to be successful — and they shouldn’t try to act like a car either.

So that means a firm “No thank you” to electronic-everything, drinks holders, and a sat-nav which tells you the wrong way to go.

Which bicycle would you like to take for a spin?

VanMoof SmartBike

VanMoof go big with a claim that this is the world’s smartest smart bike. With a keyless lock, a dedicated smartphone app (including weather notifications) and anti-theft tracking all included, we’re inclined to agree. The SmartBike comes in a choice of 3 and 8 speed models in grey or black, and disk-brakes as standard. And if the worst does happen, their team will spend two weeks tracking down your bike, with a promise to replace it if they can’t find it.

Canyon Commuter Brooks 150

Canyon first caught my eye with the sharp graphics on their road bikes, but this machine is aimed squarely at the upper end of the commuter market. It’s thoughtfully kitted out with accessories like Brooks’ new Cambium C15 saddle, dynamo lights and a belt drive. And if you like green, you’ll love the paintwork too.

tokyobike Electric!


A more understated approach from tokyobike that makes use of a FlyKly smart wheel to boost your pedalling power. With a top speed of 25km/h and a range of 40km/h, it’ll have you climbing hills and tackling longer city rides without overheating. The FlyKly setup comprises a motor and batteries which is linked to your smartphone, and activated simply by pedalling. It all fit inside the rear wheel, which leaves the clean lines of the tokyobike itself unadulterated.

Hummingbird Bike


Folding bikes are brilliant for multi-modal city journeys via buses, trains and subways, but they’re often clunky and hard work to carry around. The Hummingbird is made from carbon fibre, and weighs in around 3kg lighter than most other folding bikes. (Which also makes it lighter than 2 average-sized cats, as their video helpfully points out). After a successful Kickstarter campaign, it’s being made here in the UK in both single-speed and 3 speed models.

Budnitz No.5


I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the Budnitz range of cruisers. They’re constructed from aerospace grade titanium with a unique twin-tube frame, and have always opted for belt drives over traditional chains. (Not only are carbon belts lighter, they’re also much quieter). The gears are hidden in the rear hub, and you can add a more traditional twist by choosing to add wooden fenders or a Brooks saddle. One for leisurely weekend rides around the neighbourhood I think?

In photos: Cycling the Scottish Highlands from Oban to Skye Thu, 11 Aug 2016 14:00:08 +0000 For years I’ve been on summer adventures with my Scottish friends to remote corners of the Highlands, exploring wild parts of the west coast from the Knoydart Peninsula all the way up to Cape Wrath.

Along the way, and after a whisky or five, they told me yarns from the early days of their trips and their youth, when they tried to take bicycles up hills that shouldn’t be cycled, and other such non-sensible things.

So perhaps it’s no wonder that I hadn’t cycled much in Scotland until recently.

The last time I went on a long ride with my pal Graham we rode from London to Paris in a manner that he had dreamt up, so this time it was my turn to plan the trip.

I’d already booked a cottage on Skye, and was wondering the best way to get there on public transport from Glasgow.

A combination of trains, ferries and multiple buses didn’t sound too appealing, so I started looking into cycle routes.

What I hadn’t appreciated was the lack of roads in the Scottish Highlands. Once you head north or west beyond the cities, the number of routes dwindles fast, which means that main roads are often decidedly unfriendly for people on bikes. This had me stumped until I discovered The Caledonia Way, which is route 78 of the National Cycle Network and runs from Campbeltown to Inverness, along a dedicated cycle way for much of the route.

I’d already planned to rent a touring bike in Glasgow, and Graham had persuaded a friend to lend him a bike, so we were all set to go. Forgetting that Graham likes to do things differently, I hadn’t counted on him turning up with an old mountain bike and enormous saddle bag. Perhaps not the most efficient way to take a cycle tour… but he seemed happy enough, and was soon affectionately calling it his ‘caravan’.

The ride was set to be three days long, the weather forecast was a standard Scottish summer of  “all the kinds of weather mixed together”, and the train was booked.

Day 1 — Oban to Clovullin
40 miles

(Trains are always a good place to meet new friends, like Wilhelm who was visiting Scotland from Switzerland)

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Day 2 — Clovullin to Roshven
43 miles

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Day 3 — Roshven to Camastianvaig, Skye
65 wet and windy miles

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This is the point at which Graham began questioning my sanity, as we battled headwinds and driving rain to get from the south of Skye to where we were staying.

“Did you check an elevation for the ride?” was a fair question, but because there was only one road we could take, I had chosen not too. I remember thinking to myself that it couldn’t be that bad…

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Day 4 and beyond — Exploring Skye

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If you’re wondering how we got back… we managed to get our bikes on the bus to the ferry. I was sure we’d manage the 40 odd miles, but the possibility of doing it for a second time in the rain lead us to seek out an easier option.

What Bill Cunningham taught me about life, love and photography Thu, 11 Aug 2016 12:43:05 +0000 Picture a man on a bicycle, wearing a blue workers jacket, and with a Pentax camera (or two) around his neck.

Who are you thinking of?

For me it could be only be Bill Cunningham, who documented New York’s street fashion — in all its madcap wonder — from his bike.

He was more than just a fashion photographer though.

Since the 1970s, Bill worked tirelessly as a cultural anthropologist for the New York Times, capturing anything and everything that caught his eye.

“I started photographing people on the street during World War II. I used a little box Brownie. Nothing too expensive. The problem is I’m not a good photographer. To be perfectly honest, I’m too shy. Not aggressive enough. Well, I’m not aggressive at all. I just loved to see wonderfully dressed women, and I still do. That’s all there is to it.

To explain why Bill’s work means so much to me, we have to rewind my life a little too.

Back at the start of 2012, I was about to enter a painful but transformational phase, where I was questioning everything about my life, and what I did for a living. In short I was feeling lost, and Bill Cunningham turned up out of nowhere, and showed me the way forward.

Somehow I heard about a documentary called “Bill Cunningham New York”, and managed to get hold of a copy. The story which unfolded on the screen over the next hour and a half changed my life.

Here was an 80-something year-old man, cycling around downtown New York to shoot street fashion.

And not in the way you might expect of someone his age.

Bill Cunningham was vivacious, prowling up and down the streets of Manhattan to capture New York’s best dressed people.

As a result, he became an integral part of the fashion circuit. Being shot by Bill was a badge of honour, even for fashion’s superstars:

He’s been documenting me since I was a kid, it can be one snaps, two snaps, or he ignores you…which is death.”
—Anna Wintour, Vogue

Photography was everything to Bill. He lived in a tiny apartment, surrounded by filing cabinet upon filing cabinet of his negatives. There wasn’t even space for a kitchen, so he’d eat at takeaway food joints. It’s a real shock to the system when you first see this in the film.

Bill Cunningham lived, in the true sense of the word, to take photographs.

And the documentary about Bill was exactly what I needed.

When I was a teenager I shot a lot of black and white photography, and developed it myself in a darkroom at school. Now, 15 years later, I was thinking about getting back into photography again, but wasn’t sure how. To be truthful, I was a bit scared too.

But… if an octogenarian could cycling around taking photos of strangers, why couldn’t I?

I realised I didn’t have any excuse not to.

A few days after watching the film, I dusted off my SLR camera and went cycling around Hackney on the lookout for interesting people. Taking the first portrait was nerve-wracking, and I let my subject get several blocks away before I got myself together and started chasing after him. But after that I didn’t look back, and as my interest in taking photos grew, CycleLove grew with it.

And it was all thanks to Bill.

We’ve lost a lot of good people this year.

As I’m in awe of what they accomplished, I didn’t cry when David Bowie or Prince or Muhammad Ali passed away.

But I cried my eyes out when I heard that Bill Cunningham had gone.

I’ve never mourned the loss of someone I haven’t met before. Why did it hit me so hard?

I think it’s because Bill changed the direction of my life.

More than that, he became a part of my internal compass, a guiding voice when I got stuck and wondered “What would Bill do?”

And I’m sure that thousands of other people feel the same way too.

What Bill Cunningham taught me about life, love and photography

Bill Cunningham didn’t just teach me about photography, he taught me about life, and the importance of doing the things that matter to you.

Without him, I’m not sure if I’d be doing what I do today.

1) Don’t wait for what you want to come to you. Go after it.

If you sit on the same corner, waiting for something to happen, you might get lucky. Or you might not. But you can’t engineer a great photo out of nothing, if you’re not in the right place, with the right mindset, you’ll never get anything.

2) Have one thing in your life that you don’t do for money

This is Bill Cunningham’s most quoted soundbite, and it’s not hard to see why…

If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do, that’s the key to the whole thing

I don’t think you don’t have to quit your job and “follow your passion” to make this happen. Actually I think this is terrible advice for most people, as it suggests that everyone is born with just one all-important-thing they must somehow discover to be happy. I’d rather believe in multi-potentiality, the possibility of many different paths to fulfillment.

But everyone can benefit from having something they do primarily for themselves.

It could be a hobby, a side project, or just a thing they do from time to time. For me it’s actually playing the guitar. I don’t play for anyone else, but I don’t need to, and I can’t imagine a time where anyone would pay me to play. (If they did, it would be a nice bonus of course, but I’m under no illusion that one-day I’ll be on stage at Glastonbury.)

Do something because you enjoy the process of doing it, not for the end result.

3) Telling a good story is more important than painting a beautiful picture

What matters more, capturing a “perfect” image, or capturing a moment?

Bill was pretty clear on this:

He taught me how to tell a story with pictures and that it didn’t always involve the best image. I’d say to him, “But isn’t this a better photo?” And he’d say, “Yes, child, but this photo tells the story better.” For him, it wasn’t about the aesthetics of photography. It was about storytelling.
—Lesley Vinson

So if your photo isn’t technically perfect, don’t get hung up about it. And equally, don’t get hung up on having the “perfect” camera either…

4) You don’t need an amazing camera to take amazing photographs

Bill famously waited for as long as possible to make the switch from analogue to digital photography. (Which probably made life harder than it needed to be for him and his assistant). Even then, he had a Nikon FM2 and a 35 prime lens. Nothing fancy, just a solid workhorse of a camera.

Don’t use not having the “right” equipment as an excuse for not going out and taking photos.

You can still practice your technique. You can still train your eye. And you can still take photos which capture the essence of a moment.

5) It’s not who you are, it’s what you do that counts

Bill didn’t care if you were famous, he just cared how you wore your clothes

I’m not interested in the celebrities with their free dresses. Look at the clothes. It’s the clothes, not the celebrities, and not the spectacle.

Which meant that anyone on the street was worthy of being photographed — if they had their own sense of style.

We’re in the age of the cookie-cutter sameness. There are few that are rarities, someone who doesn’t look like 10 million others.

6) You can cycle anywhere, and you don’t need a fancy bike to do it

Of course, it wasn’t just Bill Cunningham’s photography that resonated with me. There was something else that made him magnetic…

His preferred mode of transport was a bicycle.

The story goes that Bill owned a series of 28 or so bicycles which were also being stolen… all of them fairly basic machines to get him from A to B.

If Bill could cycle the streets of Manhattan in his eighties, you can probably cycle where you are.


Further reading:
Bill Cunningham on Bill Cunningham
Bill Cunningham Obituary

Made It Here — a Style Selection by Borough’s Graham McLoughlin Thu, 11 Aug 2016 08:20:42 +0000 Style Selection #27 | Compiled by Graham McLoughlin.

Riding my bike dictates little what I wear on the bicycle. As I get older, I care less and less about fashion and more about timeless quality and simple style that’s practical for all seasons. Often the items are manufactured or made here in the UK, a reflection of my interest in local manufacturing and the stories and people behind each product.

Through the lens of the masters on the world’s most beautiful sport with Magnum Cycling Wed, 10 Aug 2016 14:23:13 +0000 Magnum Photos was founded by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David Seymour in the aftermath of the Second World War, quickly becoming the world’s most prestigious photographic agency.

The photographs they shot are iconic: Cartier-Bresson’s perfectly timed capture of a man jumping a puddle, Capa’s brutally raw images of D-Day, McCurry’s portrait of a young Afghan girl hiding her face.

When Magnum’s photographers turned their lenses to cycling, a sport which is visually stunning like no other, the results were equally enduring.

Photography is so often about capturing the moment. And cycling is all about moments: the anticipation, the team cars, the police, the journalists and the whole multicoloured circus before the race has even arrived. And when it does, it’s through and gone in a heartbeat.

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All kinds of cycling are included in Magnum Cycling, from the Tour de France, to 30s track racing in Madison Square Garden, to winter training rides.

It’s not just the on-bike action that is documented, but landscapes and crowds too; the whole of the vivid visual assembly that makes cycling such a thrilling sport to watch.

“Cycling provides the perfect subject for reportage, social documentary and street photography, happening, as it does, in real time and out on the streets” reads the press release. “Cycling and photography share interesting parallels, culturally and historically, and the Magnum archive contains work that is exceptional on both points.”magnum_cycling_5

Magnum Cycling is published as a 256 page hardcover book by Thames & Hudson and available on Amazon.

Further reading:
A History of Magnum in 10 Photographs
The Incredible True History of Magnum Photos

Hold onto your caps, because CycleLove is back! Wed, 10 Aug 2016 07:03:36 +0000 This is an article that I never expected to write.

About 18 months ago I put CycleLove on hold. I was struggling to keep it going whilst making a living as a graphic designer and running my personal blog. And I couldn’t see a way to do all three of these things at once.

But a couple of months ago I had a thought-bomb…

You know one of those moments of clarity when suddenly you realise “Ha! What was I thinking?” and know exactly what to do next.

(Needless to say I was riding my bike when this happened).

So today I’m sitting here, looking at my cursor blinking at the top of an empty article, and it feels good.

Sometimes you have to stop doing something to realise how much it matters to you.

CycleLove’s mission remains the same.

We’re still all about people on bikes, and the magical things that riding a bicycle enables. And we’ll still be sharing the best cycling products, stories, photographs and videos with you (The best way to stay updated is by subscribing to the CycleLove weekly).

CycleLove is also dedicated to helping as many people as possible enjoy cycling. So later this year we’ll also be creating a set of “How To” guides on everyday topics like cycling to work, training for longer rides, or going on adventures by bike.

And we are building a partnership with the cycling clothing brand Vulpine, whose founder Nick Hussey I interviewed back in the early days of this blog.

Why Vulpine? Well, like CycleLove, they’re based in London and launched in 2012. We share some more important things though — a similar philosophy about the magic of cycling, and the importance of design:

Anyone who’s worked with me knows that I’ve raved about CycleLove as the blog I most enjoy and connect with. James interviewed me in 2012 and we’ve stayed close, helping each other. I was gutted when he parked CycleLove. But now he’s back we kind of HAD to work together. Friends with a shared vision of urban cycling without snobbery, on each rider’s own terms. We both love design and therefore stylish bike riding. The ideas and stories that have and will appear on CycleLove are part of Vulpine’s DNA too.
— Nick Hussey

Riding a bike is a life-changing experience, and CycleLove is here to share that feeling, and spread it as far and wide as possible.

And if you’re new to CycleLove, welcome!

Thank for joining me (again) for the ride,


This was going to be my last post on CycleLove… Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:51:08 +0000

It’s been a tough decision, one that I’ve chewed over for months.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still head over heels about cycling. And I’ll still be riding to work every day, unless it’s pouring with rain or I haven’t gotten round to fixing my latest puncture yet.

But something finally clicked this weekend: as much as I love bicycles, I realised that I don’t want to be just “the bike guy” any more.

Meeting creative people and finding out what makes them tick — whether it’s starting companies, making art, or pushing themselves to their physical limits — has been one of my favourite things about CycleLove.

From now on I’ll be covering similar topics, but over a wider range of disciplines, on my personal blog at

I’ve written about all kinds of things: from my experience of depression to fighting procrastination and making writing a daily habit. In short, if you’re working on a project of your own, I’m here to help you make stuff happen.

With the Tour de Cycle Hire photos on show at Look Mum No Hands! (where I launched CycleLove in the spring of 2012), it felt like a good a time as there could be to stop.

To all the people that have read this blog, submitted articles or come to events — thank you for being a part of my journey.

Ride safe, stay awesome, and keep on spreading the cycle love.


PS. This doesn’t have to be a goodbye! Here are a few ways to stay in touch:

1. Join my mailing list
2. Follow me (@jgreig) on Twitter
3. Email james[at]greig[dot]cc

PPS. Did you think I’d just leave you hanging like that? I’m not quite done yet… here’s a final look back at how CycleLove started, and some of my favourite moments from the past three years…


People riding bikes, not ‘cyclists’

It all started with a man — in his eighties — riding a bicycle around New York and taking photographs.

His name was Bill Cunningham, and he changed my life.

It’s a bold claim I know, but discovering his work was the spark from which this blog grew.

Bill Cunningham New York.

I watched Bill Cunningham New York back in January 2012, and was inspired to go out with a camera and take pictures again. Something I hadn’t really done since I was a teenager.

Not sharing Bill’s interest in fashion, I needed subject matter, and bicycles seemed like a logical choice.

Before long I found myself wandering the streets of Hackney, trying to find the courage to stop people and take their photos. After several hours in the cold, I saw a guy with something odd strapped to his bike, and chased after him to take this shot. (It turned out to be a didgeridoo, if you’re wondering…)


After taking more portraits of people with their bikes around London, and realising I was actually enjoy the process, I decided I needed a home for them.

‘Cycle London’ seemed like it would be a good name for the project, so I began sketching out some logo ideas with a ‘C’ and ‘L’ forming the wheels of a bike:


After a slight tweak to the name so it wasn’t location specific, I  built a simple blog to show my photos, and CycleLove was born.

Naively and with no kind of real plan, my output grew to include interviews, photo essays and even popup shops.


Some highlights from three years of CycleLove

I’ve covered the first and second years of CycleLove in more detail before, but here’s a complete look back at my favourite bits from the past three years.

launch 2

↑ Putting on a screening of Bill Cunningham New York at Look Mum No Hands! I wasn’t sure if anyone would come. But we ended up having to turn people away at the door. Possibly the best £200 that I’ve ever spent. And testament to the magnetic pull of Mr. Cunningham. (If anyone reading this knows him, please say hello from me).


↑ Two friends cycling along Broadway Market in London. Probably the closest I’ve gotten to expressed the CycleLove ethos of ‘people riding bikes’ in a photo.

The route: South London to Peterborough

↑ Cycling 100 miles to deliver a t-shirt to my first customer in Peterborough. On my own, without cycling-specific clothing or any training, in winter. Perhaps not the smartest way to do it, but I wanted to make a point. And it worked, I think.


↑ The limited-edition Just Ride poster that I designed for the first CycleLove shop, meticulously screen-printed by Daniel Mather. I still haven’t gotten my copy of it framed. Time to fix that…


↑ That time Rapha took my photo. (Well, George Marshall to be precise). Note the carefully co-ordinated sock/tshirt combo.


↑ Watching Matthew at Saffron Frameworks building the beautiful CycleLove bike.


↑ My second CycleLove poster, originally called Tour de Kraftwerk but later renamed to Le Kraftwerk after being warned the name might land it in hot water with the world’s most famous bike race. Yes, that one. If you’re reading Fiona, thanks for all your hard work with CycleLux, it couldn’t have happened without you!


↑ Photographing the winner of the “Best Bike” competition, as judged at the inaugural Vulpine Cyclogames. (A beauty of a biketvi, hand built by Japanese framebuilder Yoshiaki Nagasawa for professional Keirin rider Narihiro Inamura).

Tour de Cycle Hire

Riding TFL cycle hire bikes from London to Paris on the Tour de Cycle Hire with Borough. As with my “100 mile bike courier” ride, we did zero training, went lycra-free, and didn’t regret a moment of it.

I didn’t set out with any goals for CycleLove. There was never a business plan, and I’ve never figured out how to make money from this site. (Which is, or course, part of the reason I’m stopping).

So long as a few people have read this blog and been inspired to go out and ride, I can consider my work done.

So, this is it.

The end of the road.

If you’ve thought about writing a blog, I’d urge you to go for it. Writing in public is like thinking in public. You’ll hone your writing skills, make new friends on and offline, and find things to talk about you never knew you had to say. Write from your heart. Put things online that you’re not sure about sharing. And let me know how you get on. (Also see my list of lessons I’ve learnt about blogging for more tips)

Hopefully I’ll see you on my blog, but if not, I bid you adieu from CycleLove.

It’s been fun, and I’m going to miss hanging out with you here.

]]> 25 In photos: a Tour de Cycle Hire adventure from London to Paris Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:43:32 +0000 Thee friends. Three gears. Three hundred kilometres of road.

It looked good on paper, but we had no idea how it would translate in reality.

We’d thought that the first day would be the toughest — sixty odd miles from London to Brighton on our 3 geared bikes — and the rest would be half days of cycling interspersed with copious amounts of wine, cheese and other French delicacies.

It turned out that we spent almost 5 days straight in the saddle before we got to Paris.

With no training and only minimal route planning on Google Maps, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Our route took us through fields and forest, along muddy trails and puddle-strewn paths.

But our bikes took it in their stride, and thanks to our Vulpine clothing, we like to think we retained a little panache even when bathed in mud and sweat.

Keep scrolling to see how the trip panned out… (and then watch the Tour de Cycle Hire film).

A huge thank you to our supporters: James, Graham and James rode TFL cycle hire bikes, wore Vulpine clothing, had an Airbnb roof over their heads each night, and returned home with tickets from Eurostar. Tour de Cycle Hire was a collaboration between CycleLove and Borough.

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Photography by Graham McLoughlin, James Greig and Chris Lawson

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For the everyday — a style selection by NOMOI’s Rob Burr Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:01:37 +0000 Style Selection #27 | Compiled by Rob Burr

With one foot on the pedal, I’ve made a selection of things that are designed beautifully and perfect for everyday use.

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