Thanks for supporting our Good Black Friday

Thanks to everyone for supporting our Good Black Friday again last year. It was another successful campaign where we gave you 20% off and also donated 20% to charity Re~cycle. Re~cycle is a wonderful charity which collects unwanted bikes here in the UK, fixes them up and sends them out to Africa where they genuinely help change someone's life. 

Re~cycle charity thank you

Thanks to your support we donated enough money to send an impressive 18 bikes out to Africa where they go to help school children get to school, help doctors reach isolated communities, help mums and dads get to work and also helps boost employment by training mechanics to fix the bikes they send out. 

If you have an unwanted bike that needs a new adventure take a look at their website for more information on donating your bike. http://www.re-cycle.org/

Rip up that Resolution list!

Every year we do it - every year. We grab that bar napkin and we vow to make our life really hard by writing a long list of resolutions that even Indiana Jones couldn't achieve in a year. And it's a list which often resembles the same one we wrote the year before.

What if you just made one?

Make it Cycle to work.

leather pannier

Cycling to work saves time, saves money, cheers you up and keeps you fit in the process. Now if those four things weren't on your list already then we will personally ask Indiana Jones to pop round and show you his rolling hat grabbing trick.

Cycling to work also has the advantage of giving you time to practice some of your other goals for the year - singing, telling jokes, improve your public speaking, practicing french. You don't get as many weird looks speaking out loud on your bike as you do on public transport - trust us!

Hill-and-Ellis-10.8.15 739.jpg

There are also many more benefits to cycling to work and you can read them on our journal post here

We have a large variety of bags perfectly made for both work and the bike so they are your ideal chaperone for cycling to work. Shop our collection here.

Good Black Friday 2

All good things return - Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Boomerangs and our "Good Black Friday." After its great success last year we are bringing it back for the second year running to do more good in 2016. 

At Hill & Ellis we know that Christmas is all about giving and we wanted to extend it to Black Friday so we are offering you 20% off all purchases made on Friday 25th November and we will also give 20% directly to our chosen charity - Re~Cycle.

Re~Cycle is a wonderful charity that takes your donated, unwanted bikes, fixes them up and sends them out to communities in Africa where they completely transform peoples lives. So far this year alone they have shipped an impressive 12,013 bikes and since they launched they have shipped 85,138 bikes to people in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, the Gambia and Namibia. These bikes change lives - from helping transport vital water and food to rural communities, to enabling kids to get to school, helping people get to work, and allowing doctors to visit patients in remote villages. It costs £20 to get a bike "Africa ready" and shipped out to where it's needed most, so for every bag you buy on GoodBlackFriday you will get one bike out to Africa. A wonderful Christmas present for all involved - just use code GOODBLACKFRIDAY

We caught up with the team at Re~Cycle to hear the stories of some of the people they helped this year. Remember if you have a bike you don't need any more do have a look on the Re~Cycle website to find out how you can drop it off and send it onto another adventure to Africa. 

recycle 4

Rita Putebil lives in Laabissi, rural Ghana. She's 18 years old and now cycles to school saving her a 6km walk every day. Apart from getting a new bike, Rita now also knows how to fix her bike after she took part in a one-day bike maintenance workshop run by our partners the Village Bicycle Project.

Recycle Bike Charity

 

Re~Cycle’s bikes support bike enterprises in South Africa, not only getting bikes into remote and disadvantaged communities but creating employment for people such as Meshack Nchupetsang.  He has been running a bike enterprise since 2004 in a community where new bikes are beyond people’s financial means. He takes Re~Cycle’s bikes and sells them at modest prices – making them affordable.

recycle bike charity

Harriet is only 14 and still at school.  Although she doesn’t have far to go to school she does have to collect water every morning so that her family has water while she is gone for the day.  She's pictured here on route to the water stand pipe.

Each of those yellow water containers weighs 18kg when full. She can carry two on her bike whereas before she used to carry one by hand.

recycle charity bike

The Best of the Baiku's: Winners revealed

Thanks to everyone who entered our Baiku competition over the last few weeks. 

Inspired by Candlestick Press' adorable book "Ten Poems about Bikes" we asked you all to enter you favourite Baiku - a Haiku poem about bikes! The 10 winners will receive a a copy of this wonderful book for further inspiration. If you want to read our original post by writer and poet Philip Cowell you can click here. 

We had some amazing entries so thank you so much for entering. The winners are:

(Please get in touch with us via twitter/facebook or instagram or email us at hello@hillandellis.com to claim your prize!)

Baiku bike bag poetry 1
Baiku Chris Williams bike bag poetry
Baiku bike bag poetry ralph hayward
Baiku poetry competition Ruth Cook bike bag
Baiku phil cowell bike bag
Baiku Tim Bull Bike Bag poetry
Baiku Mike Humble bike bag competition
Baiku bike bag
Baiku bike bag poetry
Baiku-Em-Morley-Poetry-Image.jpg

 

 

Competition Time - Baiku & The Poetry of Bicycles

This is a guest blog by the eminent author Philip Cowell... 

The bicycle then – the bike: the freedom and the speed, the journey and the destination. No surprise these gears and wheels and valves and pumps have inspired such poets. And, thankfully, a publisher too – the wonderfully intimate Candlestick Press, who collected “Ten Poems about Bicycles” in one of their gorgeous slim tomes (it doubles up as a beautiful piece of post, envelope included). We’ve got copies to give away, competition lovers! Read to the end…

Bike poem competition

As the editor, Jenny Swann, writes: these poems are a testament to “the affection that bicycles have inspired in their riders, and the miraculous and sometimes poignant associations that have gathered around them in poetry”. All bike is here, of course, as is life – the cycles (and the bicycles) of life. It’s the kind of poetry that makes me want to jump back on my bike, that’s for sure.

The highlight for me has to be the Derek Mahon (it starts simply, “There was a bicycle”), with his singing memory of a bike wheel, “bright spokes glittering”. But these are all excellent poems, and we cycle through all kinds of poetic forms. I was very moved by Michael Donaghy’s Machines, which ends with the tightrope condition of all us cyclists: “Who only by moving can balance,/ Only by balancing move.”

Fancy a read?

We have 10 of these lovely books to give away. These books are a perfect gift for yourself or the cyclist in your life. Why not hold onto it until Christmas and sneak it in a Christmas stocking? 

To enter just tweet/facebook/Instagram or message us your Haiku about cycling - a Baiku if you will! A (b)Haiku is a Japanese poem of 17 syllables just like these effervescently eloquent examples:

On and on and on I go 

cycling through the sun

The evening opens

 

I am happiest

When I am at my saddlest

Cycling through the days

 

Falling off my bike

I see the sun, stars and moon

In a different light

by Philip Cowell. 

 

Why not give it a go and send us your 17 syllables? It will take less time than a level on Candy Crush and the best 10 will get a lovely copy of this book!

Byron bike bag

So what is an Indian Summer? It's not what you think!

 

 

The Met Office was right! We actually do have an Indian Summer. Come back Michael Fish all is forgiven.

Isn't it delightful? The sun is shining, it's punching towards 20dC and it's just the perfect weather for cycling around town.

But what exactly is an Indian Summer? Certainly at Hill & Ellis HQ we thought it relates to warm Septembers and Octobers that emulate the weather of India. WRONG! 

Earl bike bag for the Brompton C Frame enjoying the autumn sunshine. 

Earl bike bag for the Brompton C Frame enjoying the autumn sunshine. 

In fact, the most likely explanation for the phrase "Indian Summer" is that it refers to an unseasonably warm spell of weather that allowed the Native American Indians to continue hunting. Therefore coming from the West and not the East. 

The first recorded use of the phrase was in the US and appears in a letter written by a Frenchman called John de Crevecoeur dated 17 January 1778. In his description of the Mohawk country he wrote "Sometimes the rain is followed by an interval of calm and warm which is called the Indian summer." The term spread and was first used in the UK in the early 19th century and went on to gain widespread usage.

Where ever the name comes - we are loving it - glorious sunshine and still warm enough just to cycle in one layer. #cycleon 

Perfect. 

The Don satchel bike bag enjoying the Indian Summer in Primrose Hill. 

The Don satchel bike bag enjoying the Indian Summer in Primrose Hill. 

You literally HAVE to visit these top 10 bookshops.

It's Book Shop Day this Saturday and to celebrate we have literally put together this epic list of the most novel book shops in our cities. The word play is for free! 

There is nothing like that heady smell of paper, ink, leather and intelligence that oozes from bookshop doors so why not support the independent bookshops this weekend by grabbing your bike and pedalling down to peruse the prints.

Here are our top 10 bookshops in London, Oxford and Cambridge: 

LONDON

WATKINS BOOKSHOP

Nestled away on the edges of Covent Garden this book shop has the best description - "specialising in books on esoterica, metaphysics, spirituality, magic and the occult." Muggles are also allowed and they have in store tarot readings on Saturday. 

www.watkinsbooks.com

Watkins Book Shop in Soho

 ATLANTIS

Another bookshop selling a wide range of books on the Occult but we just had to mention it as WB Yeats is known to have shopped here. So if you want to ponder symbolism in his footsteps this is the place for you. 

49a Museum St, London WC1A 1LY
020 74052120
www.theatlantisbookshop.com

...We don't want to make a song and dance about the next one but it is on the theatrical side. 

CALDER BOOKSHOP

Calder focuses on performance, theatre, left politics and films and rather brilliantly also has a theatre out the back where they are not afraid to go straight for the big subjects, this October they will tell you how be rich and happy in their new play 'Tax Havens'. Unless of course, it's sarcastic. Joking aside, they have a great collection of talks, performances and film screenings... oh and books. 

http://calderbookshop.com/

Calder theatre bookshop

GAY'S THE WORD

Possibly here for the name alone but this book shop is worth a visit. According to Armistead Maupin it's the "Fountainhead of queer literature in Britain." It is also nestled near Coram Fields a perfect spot for reading what you've purchased. 

www.gaystheword.co.uk

CLAPHAM BOOKS

If you are south of the river, the lovely Clapham Books is the place to procrastinate over which title to purchase. They have a great selection of novels, children's and arts books as well as story time events regularly. 

http://www.claphambooks.com/

Clapham Bookshop

Need a coffee yet? Or something stronger?

...Where else is there than the discerning Society Club in Soho.

THE SOCIETY CLUB

Their tagline is "the best of all possible things." and they don't disappoint with their 'hedonistic' mix of books, coffee, cake and cocktails. 

They also have regular events and talks, including members backgammon evenings. 

http://www.thesocietyclub.com/

The Society Cafe Bookshop

The FRENCH BOOKSHOP

Looking for that Je ne sais quoi? The French bookshop is parfait. Standing chic and in the heart of Kensington this bookshop sells all things French. 

28 Bute Street, SW7 3EX, 020 7584 2840
www.frenchbookshop.com

Our black satchel bike bag - named Byron after the romantic, caddish and handsome poet. 

Our black satchel bike bag - named Byron after the romantic, caddish and handsome poet. 

It's Saturday. Why not head to Broadway Market and visit DONLON BOOKSHOP?

This charming bookshop sells a perfectly curated collection of art, music, counter culture and hard to find books. And the market is the ideal spot for a treat to sit down and read them with. 

75 Broadway Market, E8 4QJ
www.donlonbooks.co.uk

Whilst you're near the Canal you have to visit WORD ON THE WATER. A bookshop built on a canal barge. It currently resides near Kings Cross but it's advisable to tweet them to check they haven't travelled up stream. This bookshop has also just avoided closure from the council so do visit and support it not to mention that poetry slams and music on the 'roof deck'. @wordonthewater. 

http://www.canalbookshop.co.uk/

Canal book shop

Our last London bookshop is THE GLOBE

So the focus is definitely Shakespeare! But it is the perfect place to stop book up on the Bard and you get to cycle along the Southbank on route. Pick up a ticket and watch a performance at the same time! 

http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/

CAMBRIDGE

THE HAUNTED BOOK SHOP

Tucked down one of the beautiful Cambridge alleyways, Sarah Key's bookshop has occupied the Haunted bookshop in Cambridge since 1993. The bookshop is named after the local legend of the White Lady,  a ghostly woman swathed all in white and smelling of violets who is said to prowl the stairs. She has been sighted at least twice in the last fifteen years. And while you wait to see her you can also hunt out the shelves for some of the best childrens literature around. 

http://www.sarahkeybooks.co.uk/

Haunted bookshop img_1826.jpg

OXFORD

BEATNIK BOOKSHOP

Books, jazz, and cake - what's not to love? According to the Times this is "the best bookshop in Oxford". Buy a book, tea and some cake and ponder on it. 

http://www.albionbeatnik.co.uk/about/

Beatnik Bookshop

Enjoy #BookshopDay and if you're looking, our bike bags carry at least two proper novels along with your laptop, and other essentials so you can always have a book and everything you need to hand. 

Bicycle Film Festival - Our top 5 bike films.

It's the Bicycle Film Festival this weekend in Amsterdam so we have put together our list of Top 5 films about cycling. Only 5 I hear you cry? I know there are many others we wanted to put down but if it's a five seater, it's a five seater! 

Bicycle Film Festival

In at NUMBER 5:

BMX BANDITS by Brian Trenchard-Smith

Ok, we know there are better films with bikes but let us indulge just for a minute (or 92) in retro 80s BMXing. In the 1980s not only could your BMX show off the most cutting edge of stokey dokeys, but you could perform stunts, jumps and slides and it also helped you defeat criminals and save the day (spoiler alert)! Cooler than KIT and without the need for petrol - it's also one of the earliest films featuring Nicole Kidman. 

BMX Bandits Film

NUMBER 4

THE CYCLIST by Christopher Bryan

This 2014 short film has won a plethora of international awards and is available to view online. It's a tale of fear, death and a final bid for freedom - perfectly evoked by the protagonist's desperate (last) bicycle ride. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0zvQYS9g68

NUMBER 3

RISING FROM THE ASHES by T.C Johnstone. 

A feature length documentary about the first Rwandan national cycling team in their bid to make history and represent their country at the 2012 Olympics. Competing in a white man's sport, reserved for the privileged, a rag tag group of cyclists coached by the first American to ride in the Tour de France, are transformed into a powerful symbol of hope for a country recovering from one of the world's most devastating genocides. A wonderful, inspiring documentary that will make you get on your bike immediately. 

If this whets your whistle, The Bicycle Film Festival is showing a film called Baisikeli which follows the determination of one man to create and train the first Kenyan cycling team.  

http://www.bicyclefilmfestival.com/trailers/

Rising from Ashes - cycling film

NUMBER 2

THE CYCLIST by Morgan Kranz. 

This film will be played at the Bicycle Film Festival this weekend and is an endearing, quirky film about an awkward first date made all the worse by the theft of Hannah's bicycle. Together, they hunt for the culprit, finally warming up to each other in the process. But Harry soon realises that the thief is the last person he’d suspect in this love story. 

Watch the trailer here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CosqWuSaKtM

The Cyclist - the film

AND TOP OF THE LIST:

NUMBER 1

The truly delightful and captivating BELLEVILLE RENDEZVUE by Sylvain Chomet.

Belleville rendezvue cycling

This animated classic from 2003 tells the story of a boy named Champion who dreams of becoming a great Tour de France rider but on route gets caught up in the dark side of cycling - this time it's gangsters not doping. Expect to be taken on a magical adventure full of wit, charm and imagination. 

If you haven't seen it yet you must ... and what have you been doing?

Don't agree with our list - what do you think should have featured?

If you are heading to Amsterdam this weekend for the festival, enjoy. More information can be found at http://www.bicyclefilmfestival.com/

Number 1 in the Evening Standard

Have you heard? The London Evening Standard has just placed us Number 1 out of their Top 5 bike panniers. And Vogue is also a fan, hailing that "Hill & Ellis have reinvented the pannier."

Yellow Leather Bike bag

What makes our Bradley bag such a winner? Here are just some of the reasons: 

Crafted in striking "Tour de France" yellow leather with grey leather trim this bag is hand crafted in London by our highly skilled bag makers. The buckles are made from nickel coated brass and it is hand-stamped with our logo in silver embossing. 

This bag is perfect for the commute with it's smaller front pocket and larger main pocket which fits a 15 inch laptop. This bag also boasts an adjustable leather shoulder strap so it can be worn over the shoulder when off the bike.

All our bags also have spring loaded patented pannier clips which seamlessly attach to any pannier rack as well as an extra middle security catch to ensure no one can remove the bag from the back of your bike during your ride. Both discreetly hide away behind a poppered leather pouch for when you are off the bike so it is comfortable to carry and smart enough to walk straight into that meeting.

Don't just take our word for it. This is what some of our customers and stockists think:


"Thank you soooo much. Delivery came on Saturday. Many admiring glances, and many comments on my Facebook page, for the picture of my Bradley pannier aside my new Hoy bike! People are truly stunned by the bag. As am I. Thank you." 

Anthony, Owner of Bradley.


"This has got to be the best looking satchel known to mankind."

Victor & Liberty. On the Bradley.


"It's absolutely beautifully made and competitively priced."

Sarah, Bradley owner.

The uItimate bike guide to Oslo - the Top 5 places to visit on two wheels.

As the first of our World City guides to the very best places to stop by bike we venture over to the Norwegian capital Oslo. Nestled at the soft nuzzley neck of Norway, Oslo is a cultural centre and a perfect weekend destination. According to the Lonely Planet - Oslo "is home to world-class museums and galleries rivalling anywhere else on the European art trail. But even here Mother Nature has managed to make her mark, and Oslo is fringed with forests, hills and lakes awash with opportunities for hiking, cycling, skiing and boating."

Photo by Andris S. Visdal

Rumour has it that you are never more than 15 minutes away from a bush in the city, due to its plethora of parks and as it is sat at the head of a Fjord (Oslofjord no less) the city is also relatively flat making it a mecca for cyclists. Like London, Oslo has a bike hire scheme so you can hire a bike on your weekend away and cycle around the city.

Who better to ask where to visit by bike in this city than the authors of the rather beautiful bike guide book - Bikevibe. A story of cycling in Oslo, featuring some of the leading voices in bikes around the city illustrated with some stunning photography. The authors - Mari & Silje - have also given us one of their handsome Oslo guides to give away to one lucky winner.

To win the copy tweet, facebook or instagram us your favourite place to ride - at home or abroad. Remember to follow us so you find out if you are the winner. The competition closes on the 10th September.

Photo by Even Suseg

Photo by Even Suseg

So here are Bikevibe's top 5 places to visit by bike in Oslo: 

Oslovelo

The best coffee (and drinks), the best people and the best bicycle service in town. Oslovelo recently re-located and expanded their workshop with a daytime café/night time bar. 

Photo by Mari Oshaug

Photo by Mari Oshaug

Sørenga

Do as the Bikevibe-team so often does on hot summer night: take your bike down to Søregna for a swim. Bonus: you get to see the impressive Opera without all the tourists.

Swimming post cycling sorenga

Botanisk hage

Bike over to Tøyen and find yourself a bench inside one of the greenhouses at the Botanical gardens. Daydream while you take in the smell and the relaxing atmosphere (or just look at some seriously impressive plats).

Photo by Mari Oshaug

Photo by Mari Oshaug

Rouleur

Located on St.Hanshaugen, Rouleur is the perfect place for local beer or cup of coffee while out and about.  During winter there is even a fireplace!

Photo by Mari Oshaug

Photo by Mari Oshaug

Ensemble, Kaibosh, Dapper

Good things come in threes, at least in Nordre Gate 13-15 at Grunerløkka.  Here you’ll find our favourite brand of glasses and sunglasses (Kaibosh), lovely, lovely clothes (Ensemble) and beautiful bikes and other nice looking stuff (Dapper). Because looking good and biking goes hand in hand. 

Photo by Andris S. Visdal

And in the words of one of their featured cyclists Jonas Stromberg: "Let's just say if I don't get to ride, I'm not the easiest person to live with. I get cranky." Quite! 

Photo by Vi Duc Truong

Photo by Vi Duc Truong

Remember, to win a copy of the gorgeous book Bikevibe Oslo, tweet, facebook or instagram us your favourite place to ride - at home or abroad. Remember to follow us so you find out if you are the winner. This competition closes on the 10th September. 

Cycling in Oslo

How to save Money by cycling to work?

Looking to save a few pounds after the #Brexit result? Well cycling to work could just be the perfect way to do it. 

Commuting on the tube & rail is getting expensive, in London - a return trip just in zones 1-3 cost is £7.60 and in Manchester travel on the Tram system is £7 per day. An average of £5,928 over 3 years. Driving to work is more. At the moment the average local driving commute (25 minutes each way) could work out about £6 in petrol and £4-£20 in parking - that's £14,094 over 3 years. But then there's the insurance, MOT and servicing to take into account... 

Luckily there is the perfect answer to keep your Toy Fund well and truly stocked up post #Brexit: Biking to Work.

Cycling just needs you, your bike and your granola to get going. Taking into account the cost of a bike (approximately £550) and servicing over the course of 3 years the average cycling commute could cost around 89p a day, and that assumes you will buy a new bike after the 3 years. Of course the cost of the granola could possibly out do your good work so try not to choose the one hand moulded by artic penguins with nuts picked out by truffle pigs... but if it's your favourite... 

So granola choice aside, that's a saving at the very least of £5,178, an extra 1-2 holidays a year. 

If you want to work out how much exactly you will save by cycling to work here is a handy calculator: http://www.cycletoworkcalculator.com/

Then there is the fun of buying the new kit which is perfectly justified when you're still saving... Here's a few suggestions: www.hillandellis.com/shop

And remember we give you free delivery and £10 off when you sign up to our Member's Club

Beginners Guide to the Perfect Riding Position

Hooray Spring Cycling is here again & it's the perfect time to get out on your bike. It's cool, often sunny (hopefully) and the nights are getting lighter. As many of you are getting yourself ready to get back on the bike again, we thought we would give you the lowdown on perfecting the ideal riding position with our little Beginners Guide. 

Ultimately there are three things that you need to adjust: The saddle height, the handlebar height and the saddle position.

Saddle Height 

The right Saddle Height is very important as it allows you to get the optimum power from your legs, which makes the ride feel easier and it also ensures you don't put unnecessary pressure on your knees. If the height is too low your knees will be taking the strain and if it is too high your back will be over arching which could lead to injury. 

How to get the perfect height? Get on the saddle and put your heel on the pedal in its bottom position. Your leg should be straight but not over stretched. Loosen the allen key, adjust the saddle to this position and then tighten. (Remember LEFTY LOOSEY, RIGHTY TIGHTY! - It's right up there with S CLUB 7's  "Right up on the dance floor is where you've got to let it go" as useful mantra's to live by!)

Get on it to check you've nailed it first time (you probably have) and that's the saddle height, now for the the Saddle position. 

Saddle Position

The perfect saddle position will stop you straining your body and will also make sure you're as comfortable on the saddle as possible, if you get what we mean! The saddle can be moved forwards and backwards on the seat post with a bolt underneath the saddle itself. 

Your leg should be vertically below your seat when pushing down fully on the pedal. To adjust it, loosen the allen key (LEFTY LOOSEY.... ) and tighten at the perfect position for you. It is also worth riding to test it as you might feel like you want to move forward on the saddle or back. If so move it accordingly until it feels right. 

Handlebar position

Handlebars can be adjusted in different ways and the perfect height ultimately comes down to how you like to ride. Often experts tell you to have the handlebars at the same height as your saddle, but if you prefer a sit up and beg style ride you can higher the handlebars, and if you prefer a lower 'racing' riding position you can lower the height. As long as you can comfortably reach the brakes, the handlebar height is all about you! 

Now your bike is correctly positioned check your tyre pressure. 

Tyre Pressure

Without doubt the one thing that will improve your ride is the tyre pressure, it stops drag and makes the ride feel more effortless. The tyre pressure varies depending on your tyres but it is usually marked on the side of your wheel in the rubber so it is super easy to find out what pressure you need. Road tyres vary from 80-130psi, hybrids from 50-70psi and mountain bikes from 30-50psi. The right tyre pressure will also help prevent punctures so it is worth checking it's right. Your tyres will lose pressure with every ride so aim to re-pump your tyres every 5 days if not more often. 

The stand up floor pumps are brilliant and definitely worth the investment if you are riding regularly as it makes pumping up the tyres very easy but the hand pumps will get your biceps in 'pecing' order quickly so its not all bad.

 

Enjoy the lovely Spring weather and Happy Riding!

He needs to read our guide! 

Happy International Women's Day! Ladies, Get on your bike, everyone else is!

Happy International Women's Day! 

It seems fitting that International Women's Day falls in the same week that Laura Trott wins Gold in the Scratch at the Cycling World Championships and Lizzie Armitstead wins the Strade Bianche in Italy.  Unlike many other sports, women's success in cycling is equaling that of men and media coverage of female cycling events (with the exception of tennis) arguably exceeds that of any other sport. 

And it is not just the record breakers who are female cyclists. After a campaign launched by British Cycling in 2013 to get 1 million more women cycling by 2020 it seems that in the last year alone around 250,000 women have taken to the saddle for both recreational cycling and commuting. 

This upward curve is frankly brilliant, I love to see more people being being bitten by the cycling bug in whatever capacity they decide to adopt it. Despite this success, the main challenge is still getting women on a bike in the first place. Once you have experienced the extensive benefits of cycling - free exercise time, cheaper commute, freedom from sweaty packed trains or buses, that sense of adventure fuelled by two wheels, the extra flapjack you can sneak in at teatime and that endorphin hit from exercise it is hard not to get hooked. So if you are thinking of taking to the saddle but haven't enthusiastically swung your leg over the bars (so to speak) as yet, then how do you get involved?

Switch to the saddle this Spring - have a look at the Breeze Network, amongst other events, they support women who are a bit nervous about cycling to work. With an escort you can sign up to cycle to work together so you can learn the best routes and the safest way to cycle. They have even written their top tips for cycling to work on their website - click here to read it. 

One of which is to use a pannier bag to carry your clothes and work stuff. As luck would have it, you are already in the right place for that. We have a range of pannier specifically designed for women, which cunningly don't look like panniers - view our collections here. 

British Cycling is also a great source for support and routes for cycling and has all the information your need for bike events, competitions and races in case you get bitten big. 

Also have a look at Sustrans, they have mapped the best routes in the country for cycling on. Traffic free, scenic and quiet they offer the best for pottering with your pedal and speeding in the saddle (not actual speeding though, that would be dangerous.) 

Finally check out #thisgirlcan an initiative which started to stop the barriers women feel from starting up a new sport. If you don't have a sport at the moment this is a great place for inspiration - you'll be hill climbing in no time. 

Chris Boardman recently declared that aerodynamics is more important in cycling than strength so with smaller heads, smaller shoulders and a lighter frame, its possible women are better designed for the bike. Just to be clear the second part of that sentence has no scientific back up whatsoever but isn't it great to speculate? 

Whatever happens, give cycling a go this Spring. Who knows perhaps you will go from riding on the road to riding in Rio. Even Trott and Armitstead had to start somewhere! 

Happy International Women's Day! 

The Perfect Pair - Hill & Ellis meet Meame.

The search for the perfect jacket is as elusive as finding that ideal pair of jeans, add to the pre-requisites a style that fits your penchant for cycling and the search becomes like the proverbial Dodo looking lively. Luckily Meame have developed a stylish blazer designed for cyclists that have an eye for style. Crafted in a striking woollen fabric (made in Yorkshire) with hidden reflective thread woven within it, their jackets have the aesthetic of classic tailoring with a style adapted for cyclists. They have designed a bike blazer with more room around the shoulders so it's cycling friendly, used temperature regulating fabric to help you keep your cool on the ride and then of course there is a reflective thread which glows at night to make sure you get seen after dark.

They had us at "Bike Blazer"! And with love in the air all this week, Meame have Exclusively given Hill & Ellis' subscribers a 20% discount on their range until Valentines Day. Just use the code ELLISLOVE at check out to take advantage of this offer. 

The perfect gift for your sweetheart, or for yourself, this Valentines. 

We caught up with the founder Megan Aylott to find out more about their brand, how they developed their iconic jacket, and their secret London cycling hideaway that they want to keep to themselves. 

How did Meame start life?

Well the idea started to grow when Steven bought me a bike for my birthday a few years ago. I’d previously been really daunted by the prospect of cycling in a chaotic traffic ridden city, but I loved it and the freedom it gives you. So I started cycling a lot more around town, however I was still conscious of my safety and after getting drenched through a few too many times realised I needed some practical clothing. 

The search began, and after searching persistently it ended fruitless other than a few sporty styles, or derivatives of males sports clothing, it felt like women were an after thought in the design process which frustrated me. Women are far more conscious about how clothing makes them look and feel, and items that are stylish, functional and offered discreet safety features weren’t available when I was looking. There was a clear gap in the market especially as cycling popularity grows, so with my fashion experience and Steven’s love for cycling, we set out to solve the problem. 

Initially it set out to be a female only brand but during the development process, we began to get a lot of feedback from male friends, retailers, and male cycling enthusiasts that they wanted the same. With our smart styling, sleek aesthetics and technical features, we set ourselves a side from the market offering ‘Performance Fashion’ for active lifestyles.


With Valentines Day around the corner and love in the air, what romances you about cycling?

Cycling just has an air of romance! When your leisurely cruising and suddenly find a secret little haven in the city or an amazing sunset that’s romantic – the surprises that come out of a bike ride I personally find romantic. 

 

The fabrics you use at Meame have cunningly hidden reflective thread. How did you design and manufacturing the fabric?

 

When we were developing the fabric, one of the core objectives was to completely disguise the reflective thread, so it wasn’t visible during the day. That’s what makes our fabric really cool. Along with our Yorkshire Mill (shout out to Yorkshire – it’s not that far from my family home) we played with the way the fabric was put together to hide the reflective. It was a balancing game to get the right amount of reflective within the fabric and ensure that we hadn’t disguised it so much that it wasn’t reflective when headlights hit the fabric. The fabric is made from a luxury wool, this fibre is naturally temperature regulating, which helps perform for you when your active. We’ve also added a Teflon water repellent coating, so getting caught out in a shower won’t be a problem. I really enjoyed creating our fabric – I studied textile design and reflectives at university so it was in my roots. Developing a fabric from scratch did mean getting the brand to launch date took a lot longer than the normal process, but it was worth it. 


The Blazer feels so inherently British. What do you think is so special about this style of tailoring? And how have you adapted it for cycling?

The blazer is a wardrobe essential, the only problem with normal Blazer tailoring is you’ll usually find when you stretch your arm forwards for the handle bars for instance, it’ll be really tight in the bicep and uncomfortable. To solve this problem, we’ve taken the traditional shooting blazer as inspiration with the pleated back to allow for extra movement, and to make sure it doesn’t lose the slim fit we’ve added an internal elastic which will pull back the jacket pleats when upright to keep its sleek shape. For added benefits on your ride, we’ve included a number of features to help the rider, the key feature is our exclusive reflective fabric which helps increase visibility at night. Other features we adapted were to help regulate temperature so instead of fully lining the jacket we only used a half lining to give extra breathability in the back and have added underarm eyelets to increase air flow. It’s great for walking the dog at night too! 

 

What’s your best secret cycle hideaway in London? (It’ll just be between us, honest.)

It’s not really a secret, but I love Lee Valley. It’s a real sanctuary, I love the water, the cycle routes and the peace and quiet, you feel like you’ve been transported a million miles away from the busy city. We live right in the centre of London, so those quieter escapes are blissful.


What is next for Meame in 2016?

We’re getting ready for the urban cycle trade show SPIN in the Spring, which will be great to meet customers and avid cyclists to get their feedback on the range. We’re also planning our next range, looking to develop some more accessories and jersey layers that perform well for every day life.

 

Why do you think Hill & Ellis and Meame make the perfect pair?

Both Hill & Ellis and Meame have a clean and smart aesthetic which work effortlessly together. The colour combinations Hill & Ellis use for the bags are great fun and really set off the jackets. We adore the Yellow Bradley … but we are biased because it’s an accent colour in our branding.


For those out there still looking for love, what’s your best chat up line?

Oh wow – that’s awkward, chat up lines – umm avoid cheesy ones at all costs? Although a friend of mine said the best way, is just to ask where someone is from – everyone has a story and that’s a good way to get chatting.


Remember we have arranged a 20% discount for our customers with Meame. Just shop on their website http://www.meame.co.uk and use the code "ELLISLOVE" to claim before Valentines Day. 

New Year New You! Sound Familiar?

If you have committed to getting fitter and healthier this year by bike, cycling to work is a great, efficient way to factor in fitness to your life. Not only can it save you time and money (and get you out of that laborious commute) but there are many surprising reasons why cycling to work is one Resolution definitely worth sticking to. 

1. Cycling makes you happier.

Exercise releases endorphins the “feel good hormone” which also helps to relieve stress. Just 30 mins a week is enough to release these hormones. That’s the average time it takes to cycle to work just once. Cycle back and you’ll feel even better.

 2. It makes you even happier than that.

Exposure to light helps boost our mood, adjusts our circadian rhythms enabling us to sleep better, and increases our mental ability. The recommended office lighting is only about 300 lux, whereas the strength of the sun measures over 1000 lux even on overcast days. Full daylight (not directly in the sun) is 10,000-25,000 lux. To function at our best, we need at least 1000 lux so increasing your exposure to sunlight is the best way to achieve this. Cycling to work can only be done outside so that’s at least 30 minutes a day when you are guaranteed exposure to this valuable light.  

3. It helps you beat Illness.

Cycling regularly boosts your immune system as regular exercise makes immune cells more active so they are ready to fight infection. According to research from the University of North Carolina, people who cycle for 30 minutes, five days a week take about half as many sick days as couch potatoes so you could pull a “sickie” and be more likely to get away with it. 

4. It helps you look younger.

Increased circulation through exercise delivers more oxygen and nutrients to skin cells, flushes harmful toxins out and creates the ideal environment for the production of collagen. So cycling makes you look younger.

5. It improves your sex life.

Regular physical activity improves your vascular health, which in turn helps boost your sex drive. One study at Cornell University, found that male athletes had the sexual prowess of men 2-5 years younger, and physically fit females delayed menopause by the same amount of time. Men over 50 who cycled for 3 hours a week have a 30% lower risk of impotence than those that didn’t.

6. You can look after the planet.

20 bikes can be parked in the same space as one car, it takes 5% of the materials and energy to make a bike instead of a car, and the bike produces zero emissions.

7. It’s quicker by bike.

The London Cyclist put the bike versus tube to the test. They found that travelling by bike was on average 42% quicker than travelling on the tube. Add to that the time you save going to the gym and that’s many more minutes to your day. 

 

So with all these benefits cycling or committing to cycling to work daily is definitely one resolution worth sticking to. If you are looking for a suitable work bag to cycle with we have a range of handsome bags to suit your work style. See our range here

 

Cycle Revolution: A Q&A with the Team Behind the exhibition.

The Design Museum's latest exhibition "Cycle Revolution" is honouring the evolving beauty of bike design. Launched in November the exhibition is running through until the 30th June next year and showcases the best and most original designs in the cycling world. Amongst the picks are Paul Smith's stunning shirt designs for the Tour de France team, Sir Chris Hoy's winning 2012 Olympic track bike, the iconic 1969 Raleigh chopper from our childhood dreams, Eddie Merckx's 1972 winning Hour Record bike and the earliest Brompton bike prototype in existence.

The exhibition has already got rave reviews: 

"As an assembly of bicycle porn the Design Museum's new Cycle Revolution is absolutely filthy." The Times

"Design Museum's bike exhibition is a dream for all who love two wheels." The Guardian

"If you aren't already in love with the world of cycling, this exhibition will change that." ★★★★★ Londonist

"Fascinating." ★★★★ The Telegraph

 

We caught up with the design team that put the bike exhibition together to find out more about how it came about, what they were most excited about displaying and what it felt like to get their hands on Bradley Wiggins' bike from his Tour de France win. 

The Main Hall, photographed by James Harris

How did cycling become the subject of an exhibition at the Design Museum?

It was the museum’s trustee and founder Sir Terence Conran who first had the idea of creating an exhibition about bicycles. Cycling is gaining popularity in the UK at a rate not seen since WWII, so it felt very timely. The Design Museum always aims to give its visitors a picture of where the design industry is now, and where it may be headed, so we wanted to look particularly at contemporary cycling culture – from professional sportspeople to urban planning.

A few of the product designs at Cycle Revolution...photographed by James Harris

2. There are so many unique pieces in the exhibition, how did you go about deciding which items to feature?

The curation process was guided by a desire to look at innovation in bicycle design, and also at what cycling means to the people who love it. Our curator spoke to lots of people when deciding what pieces to include, from Sir Paul Smith to planners at TFL – cyclists love to talk about bikes so every conversation seemed to lead to at least four more!

The strikingly different Arvak Bike

The strikingly different Arvak Bike

3. Which item were you most excited about receiving?

With some many classic and beautiful bikes on display it’s very hard to pick afavourite, but we are very excited to be showing Eddy Merckx’s hour record bike from 1972 beside Sir Bradley Wiggins’ from earlier this year.


4. If you could cycle any of the bikes in the exhibition which one would it be? (And have you given them a go in the exhibition hall already?)

Tempting as it was, we didn’t have a go on any of the bikes! Maybe because it is so unusual looking, it would be interesting to do a circuit on Peter Georgallou’s Tall Bike.

The aptly named Tall Bike by Peter Georgallou, photographed by Ben Broomfield

5. What do you find most inspiring about bike design?

There is so much passion, and a desire to achieve the best ride possible, whatever that might mean to the individual - whether it’s a bike that allows your kids can travel with you in comfort, or one that helps you become King of the Mountains in the Tour de France.

The Main hall including a range of cargo bikes, photographed by James Harris

6. What is your favourite Hill & Ellis bag? 

The Bunbury has attracted lots of attention in our shop – style-conscious city cyclists love the size. 

The Giro, beautifully photographed by Emily Maye

The exhibition is running until June and is definitely worth a visit, just to be in a hare's breath of Sir Bradley Wiggin's and Eddie Merckx’s bikes. For more information have a look at the Design Museum's website.  

As a museum of impeccable taste and design, the Design Museum shop is also selling a range of Hill & Ellis bike bags including their favourite, the Bunbury.