Former players of London’s five Barclays Premier League football clubs have teamed up to showcase one-off Barclays Cycle Hire bikes painted in team colours to help encourage Londoners to use them to get around the city as spring arrives.
Arsenal legend Martin Keown was joined by former Spurs player Darren Anderton, Fulham’s Rufus Brevett, Chelsea’s Marcel Desailly and one-time QPR player Ray Wilkins at Regent’s Park to give the bikes a spin.
We can’t help wondering whether the handling characteristics of the bikes reflect the stories of the clubs involved so far this season, but if so, the Arsenal version, while always elegant, is bound to delight and frustrate in equal measure.
The Chelsea bike, meanwhile, will almost certainly be liable to sudden changes of steering, while the one in Fulham colours will help you bimble along quite happily, ideally in a riverside setting.
With the QPR bike, you’re likely to encounter a lot of red lights, not to mention jobsworth officials, while the Spurs bike – well, you may have a dream ride to begin with, but you just know you’re going to get a slow puncture before the journey’s over. And if that forces you to switch to the tube for the rest of your journey, best make sure you 'Mind the Gap.'
Keown, a member of the Arsenal Double-winning teams of 1997/98 and 2001/02, said: “Having spent so much of my career in London it’s great to see these special Barclays Cycle Hire bikes.
“Football and cycling keep you fit and they also help bring people closer to their communities, and with the summer approaching, I would encourage Londoners and visitors to get on a bike to see some of the great things this city has to offer.”
The bikes themselves won’t be available for the public to ride – you’d imagine it wouldn’t be too long before they attracted the attention of fans of rival clubs.
However, some are on display for a limited time at Barclays branches at 403 Holloway Road, N7, 549 High Road, N17, 20 Fulham Broadway, SW6 and 74 Shepherds Bush Green, W12. It’s not too difficult to guess which bikes will be at each branch.
Sadly for Hammers fans, there’s no bike in the claret and blue of West Ham – more to do with the club being down in the Championship than the fact the Eastern extension of the scheme hasn’t quite made it that far out yet.
Ashok Vaswani, CEO Barclays UK Retail and Business Banking, commented: “This initiative successfully combines two of our key sponsorships and allows us to give something back to both football fans and cyclists in their local communities.
“We are dedicated to improving how people get around London and this is the perfect way to celebrate our continued support for both football and cycling in the capital.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.