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Milk Bikes kick off with a belt-driven commuter

Milk Bikes, an Essex-based bike brand, has recently launched its first bike specifically designed with low-maintenance commuting in mind.

Milk Bikes was founded in 2010 by long-time cyclist and commuter Mark Meadows who grew increasingly frustrated with the amount of time spent cleaning and maintaining his bikes. Mark, who grew up on a dairy farm – hence the Milk name – and holds a Sports Technology degree from Loughborough University, aims to produce low-maintenance high-performance bikes.

“I feel that bike maintenance is seen as a necessary evil of owning and riding a bike. With the technology available today we shouldn’t have to spend Sunday afternoons with a can of degreaser and a bucket of water,” said Meadows.

The first bike available from Milk is a commuter that has been dubbed the RDA – as in recommended daily allowance. It features a 4130 double-butted chromoly frame that is able to run Gates’ carbon belt drive transmission. This system requires no greasing and, when coupled with Shimano’s Alfine internal hub gears, needs virtually no maintenance. Other low-maintenance features of the bike include disc brakes, puncture-proof tyres, front and rear lights powered by a hub-dynamo, full mudguards and the full range of rack bosses.

Two RDA prototypes have been built to test the design and components. They were ridden almost daily over the winter. Only a few minor revisions to the design were needed before the bike could be put into production.

Production framesets are currently being manufactured in Taiwan. It will be possible to pre-order framesets in early April directly from the Milk Bikes website, with stock arriving in the UK in the middle of May.

“Framesets will be priced quite competitively at around £400 – final pricing is yet to be decided,” said Meadows. “Complete bikes will also be available from Milk as custom builds according the individual rider’s requirements and preferences.”

The company currently has a handful of other bicycles at various stages of development, all of which make use of the carbon belt drive system developed by Gates in the USA. Some of these prototypes will be shown at the inaugural Bespoked Bristol: UK Handmade and Boutique Bicycle Show to be held 10–12 June.

 

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

14 comments

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t1mmyb [87 posts] 5 years ago
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To misquote Crocodile Dundee: "Call that a reliable everyday bike? *This* is a reliable everyday bike"
-- http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2009/01/anatomy-of-reliable-everyday-bicycle...

EDIT:

OK: lights - good. Hub gears - good. Belt drive - good. Mudguards - good.

No kickstand though, and can you still catch your trousers in a belt drive?

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Fishy [45 posts] 5 years ago
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"I feel that bike maintenance is seen as a necessary evil of owning and riding a bike. With the technology available today we shouldn’t have to spend Sunday afternoons with a can of degreaser and a bucket of water,” said Meadows."

And so he designs a bike in white.

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vorsprung [282 posts] 5 years ago
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It's like a Cotic Roadrat, except it does Gates drive and is £400 instead of £300

Gates drive frames have to be special because you can't "break" and join a Gates belt. So the frame has to have a way of threading the belt onto the wheel

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Tony Farrelly [2871 posts] 5 years ago
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I think I'd rather have the Milk Bike as my reliable everyday bike if it' all the same t1mmyb. The deal here is surely that one man's reliable everyday bike is another's wouldn't touch that with a 10 ft barge pole. Not that I've got anything against Dutch style roadsters I just wouldn't want to ride one every day… also got to say saw plenty of pretty knacked looking ones when I was in Rotterdam last summer too.

Not sure about it being white though, but the RDA certainly looks interesting.

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Geoffroid [17 posts] 5 years ago
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In a country where we throw some pretty vicious salt on the roads for the best part of six months, I am yet to be conviced that disc brakes are low maintenance. As an extreme example, KTM recommend their motorcycle brakes are washed with cold water after every winter ride, and then dried with an air hose.

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Oh heck... [47 posts] 5 years ago
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Is maintainence much of an issue anyway?

My cheap-ish hybrid had been through the last 3 winters with not much more that the basics in terms of maintainence.

The chain has had the (very) odd clean and lube, plus I squirt the odd bit of oil around now and then, but that's about it.

The only un-original bits on it are the brake blocks and one cable which snapped, and that's after several thousand miles!

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bristoltraffic [14 posts] 5 years ago
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Disk brake pads do last for ages and don't need much work on hydraulic systems, but when you do need to work on them its hard. It's also hard to see when the pads are worn unless you remember to check. They're great in the wet though, and eliminate rim wear, which is more an MTB problem than something for commuters.

Chain? clean? once every six months.

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jimc101 [72 posts] 5 years ago
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Oh so close to being the perfect communter, but no kickstand, no point, when you can get so many others which tick almost all the other boxes; a kick stand may not sound like much, but it is extremely useful when commuting, and would have been so easy to have had the mount fitted when building.

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STATO [513 posts] 5 years ago
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bristoltraffic wrote:

Disk brake pads do last for ages and don't need much work on hydraulic systems, but when you do need to work on them its hard.

Its not so much the pads, but the pistons and seal getting destroyed by road grime and salt. A mate has ruined 2 sets this winter, simply because the bike just gets used more than its cleaned. The pistons started to corrode due to salt and now wont retract/push-out evenly so you get a spongy lever feel and they drag/rub a lot.

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t1mmyb [87 posts] 5 years ago
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tony_farrelly wrote:

I think I'd rather have the Milk Bike as my reliable everyday bike if it' all the same t1mmyb. The deal here is surely that one man's reliable everyday bike is another's wouldn't touch that with a 10 ft barge pole. Not that I've got anything against Dutch style roadsters I just wouldn't want to ride one every day… also got to say saw plenty of pretty knacked looking ones when I was in Rotterdam last summer too.

Not sure about it being white though, but the RDA certainly looks interesting.

Tony, you're right, and I had to edit and re-edit my comment as more of the features of the Milk Bike became apparent.

My link to David Hembrow's post wasn't so much about the style of bike - I've got a Gazelle, and it doesn't really go up hills very well despite the 7-speed Nexus hub - but more about the features that an everyday (rather than sport) bike should have. The RDA has covered lots of these bases (hub gears, belt drive, rack, lights) but missed a couple off (belt/chain guard, kickstand) that would be seen as essential standard kit on a bike in the Netherlands.

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vorsprung [282 posts] 5 years ago
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Oh heck... wrote:

Is maintainence much of an issue anyway?

My cheap-ish hybrid had been through the last 3 winters with not much more that the basics in terms of maintainence.

The chain has had the (very) odd clean and lube, plus I squirt the odd bit of oil around now and then, but that's about it.

The only un-original bits on it are the brake blocks and one cable which snapped, and that's after several thousand miles!

I've had my Cotic Roadrat + Alfine 8 speed since last Jan and it has done approx 10,000 miles. Mostly filthy commuting

It is on it's 3rd set of blocks and 3rd 1/8" chain. The chain gets cleaned most weekends.

I've had the Alfine open and dipped it in oil once

All this is a bit more maintenance than your experience. Maybe I have a slightly more dirty commute than you and I have ridden the bike a tiny bit further? Probably your milage/experience is more typical than mine.

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nowasps [485 posts] 5 years ago
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Those brakes look like BB7s to me. No hydraulics to worry about.

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bazzargh [152 posts] 5 years ago
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I'm sure the whiteness problem will be fixed in their next model...the Chocolate Milk.

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Michael5 [121 posts] 5 years ago
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What's all this 'cleaning' and 'maintenance' stuff? Doesn't anyone else employ 'a man' to get the bike ready.

Seriously though, the extra weight of the muck and grime not being washed off will affect its performance. Or is the belt made of a material that repels dirt?...