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Four evenings in London in January - Santander bikes?

daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 10,150
edited January 2019 in Commuting chat
Greetings (festive if you like) commuter bods,

I am on a 5 day course near Tower Bridge mid Jan, and wanting to make the most of my time there.

I won't be taking a bike alas, and my hotel won't have a gym.

So far I plan to visit the Denis Severs museum as part of one evening, probably go for a run a couple of times, and as I used to work in Londinium (Strand\Covent Garden\Holborn\Chancery Lane etc) had a plan to do some Santander bike riding.
As I read it, it appears to be devilishly easy - use your credit or debit card, pay £2 for the day, and then you only get charged for a journey in excess of 30 minutes, so would plan to keep costs down by re-docking within 30 minutes, which should be ample time to whizz around most of my favourite haunts, reminiscing, and maybe stopping somewhere for a coffee etc.

Good plan?

Are the lights sufficient, or should I take some thing a bit more heavy duty of my own?
Thinking reear rather than front - having said that I have my Lumos helmet in lime green, so I could just take that and kill two birds with one stone.

Will take some shoes designed to work with flat pedals, or probably just use my off road running shoes for dual purpose to cut down on gear carted about.

Are the bikes 'ok' to ride, or should I just avoid them?
I appreciate that is very subjective, but presumably as just a way to see the sights as it were, they should be up to the job?

Appreciate it will be cold, and clearly no daylight will be around, as the course runs until 5pm each day, but anywhere I should specifically look to go to, or visit in your collective opinions?
Dinner is included, so I'll either bolt that down early evening, or more likely something like 8\9pm so I can get out and about a bit more first.

Cheers

Dan
Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
Scott CR1 SL 12
Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
Scott Foil 18

Posts

  • mtb-idlemtb-idle Posts: 2,179
    Hi Dan,

    yes i think they really are that easy to hire and use. The only issue i have had is not realising that the unlock code to get the bike out of the docking station is displayed very quickly on the smallish screen and so missing it when it comes up and not being able to release the bike.

    Lights are a bit feeble but generally okay provided you are staying in central London/west end. everywhere is very good at being cycle aware now.

    Can I also add the Morpeth Arms opposite Vauxhall Bridge, north side/Mi5/Mi6 to your itinerary for a commuter pint?
    FCN = 4
  • mtb-idlemtb-idle Posts: 2,179
    edited December 2018
    I have never heard of Denis Severs but a quick Google identifies the location is very near to both Shoreditch & Brick Lane so one should also partake of a few beers in hipster central followed by a curry.

    A mate of mine is part owner of the bike shed and that is also a good place to eat if you like your bicycles to be of the motor variety.
    FCN = 4
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 10,150
    Thanks MTBI :-)

    I saw a documentary on the house on the bbci archive iplayer, and have wanted to visit every since - an easy way to while away an hour or so, and has good reviews - like a bit of history me, and seems a bit out of the ordinary.

    Did not realise the legendary Morpeth was that close, will likely take a look if I have time.

    Nice tip on the smallish screen - did see on their website there was an app on your phone you could use which sends it to that instead, so may see if I can do that instead, as I would likely need four or so codes per evening.

    Will look up the bike shed later!
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • asprillaasprilla Posts: 8,440
    Erm, don't the santander bike booths print the access code for you? They have done when I've had to use them.

    Generally I used the phone app to book bike as it tells you where your nearest rack is and how many bikes / spaces there are. Frequently you'll find a rack empty / full when you need the opposite but there is usually another within 1 minute ride.
    Mud - Genesis Vapour CCX
    Race - Fuji Norcom Straight
    Sun - Cervelo R3
    Winter / Commute - Dolan ADX
  • redveeredvee Posts: 11,921
    Asprilla wrote:
    Erm, don't the santander bike booths print the access code for you? They have done when I've had to use them.

    My experience too. Beware, the clock starts ticking from the moment the release code is printed IIRC. Don't expect to be able to match the speeds you can attain on your own bike, The gearing is terrible and it doesn't help matters when you change gear the wrong way, going from 2nd into 1st when you want 3rd, not that I've done that sort of thing :oops: Once you get the gearchanges right it's best to roll upto the lights and change into 2nd then accelerate away and drop into 3rd and pass all the commuters on their own bikes. As well as not going fast very well they don't stop too quickly either though last summer I did find one with decent brakes and left a few tyre marks down the mall. The rack upfront serves two purposes, one is to carry your bag and the other is for the aero tuck :lol:

    20213895_239793083207014_4922516641339670528_n.jpg?_nc_ht=scontent-lhr3-1.cdninstagram.com
    I've added a signature to prove it is still possible.
  • thistle_thistle_ Posts: 6,173
    We tried them in MK which I believe has similar bikes, but we used the phone app - don't recall seeing kiosks with receipt printers?
    We had to ditch 2 bikes mid route and swap them at docking stations because brakes weren't working (exciting coming down the bridge ramps...) and the mudguards were catching on the tyres.
    On the first swap the bike wouldn't come out of the docking station and we had to take another. We were going to be charged for the day's hire of the bike we couldn't take, although a call to the helpline sorted this out quickly.

    So, check your bike is OK when you get it out of the docking station and if it's ropey put it back and get a better one.
  • Overall they're a great scheme. I think the bikes are well maintained and are all over the place. The one problem I've had is that finding an empty docking station is a challenge - by definition, more people ride to the popular locations and so there is a lot of availability, but not much space to dock. The app is helpful for that.
  • mtb-idlemtb-idle Posts: 2,179
    Asprilla wrote:
    Erm, don't the santander bike booths print the access code for you? They have done when I've had to use them.

    you may well be right but this wasn't the case for the last one I used albeit circa 12 months ago outside Waterloo station
    FCN = 4
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    I love the hire bikes. Very easy to use. A bit heavy and undergeared maybe but that's not too much of a problem.

    I'd not bother with extra lights - you'd only forget to remove them and they're not needed. There's thousands of bikes around with those lights on and I've not seen any issues.

    I just ride in whatever I'm wearing. Shoes, or trainers. All work.

    Do bring gloves if it's cold. I don't bother with a helmet - I'm not going fast and they're cumbersome when you're not riding.
  • The access point takes card and prints the code.

    The app is not great as it has a slow refresh but is useable
  • mtb-idlemtb-idle Posts: 2,179
    I was reminded of this thread while listening to my headphones on the way in this morning (don't worry, i never use them on the bike, only while riding the train of shame).

    So, depending on your age (or your musical taste) a good, off the beaten track kinda place to go would be to Trader Vic's for a Pina Colada.

    Unfortunately Lee Ho Fook's has now closed so you can't make it a double-header.
    FCN = 4
  • So would that make you the ‘Hairy-handed gent, who ran amok in Kent’? :wink:
  • mtb-idlemtb-idle Posts: 2,179
    ha-ha, possibly...
    FCN = 4
  • CiBCiB Posts: 6,098
    Was in London in the summer and tried the bike hire; it works seamlessly - enter card details, follow the prompts to get the receipt with the code on it then unlock and away. Easy.

    The bikes are designed to be robust and sturdy; speed and ergonomics wasn't a priority in the design judging by how they ride. But they're more than good enough to get around town at a reasonable pace and as everyone just accepts them as part of the scenery it feels quite safe.
  • mtb-idlemtb-idle Posts: 2,179
    So would that make you the ‘Hairy-handed gent, who ran amok in Kent’? :wink:

    That's actually funny because even though i am born and bred in Surrey a lot of people think I'm from Kent.

    I know that because whenever i walk into a room I can hear people whispering "Kent, Kent".







    That's my favourite Bob Monkhouse joke, right there
    FCN = 4
  • I used a Bozza for the first time in ages yesterday and again today, yesterday I took a trip over to Condor Bikes to pick up a freewheel for the SS I'm building up (hopefully ready for its maiden voyage on Monday), and on the way back picked up fish and chips from the shop on Theobalds Rd and expressed it back to the office in the front rack. Ace! So much for the diet.

    Enthused by this fun jaunt, I got off the train at E&C this morning and Borised to the office from there, and back again in the evening. Quicker and I think cheaper than staying on to Blackfriars and getting the tube across. New routine devised for days that I'm train wankering.

    I find them pretty fun to ride, you can put on a decent burst if you don't mind getting spinny but generally it's just fun to cruise around in a bit more of a chilled manner than usual.
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 10,150
    Thanks for all the replies :-)

    Have been reading the thread, and taking stuff onboard, just neglected to reply.

    Looks like it is going to be a fairly brisk week in London next week, gloves are packed :-)
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
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