Pashley Cycles, which has been making bikes in Stratford-upon-Avon for 90 years, has won the contract to make the next generation of London’s Santander Cycles hire bikes.
The news is accompanied by confirmation that Serco, which has operated the scheme since it went live in July 2010, will continue to do so up until at least the end of 2022 under a new £79.7 million contract.
It is hoped that the new bikes, which are slightly smaller and 10 per cent lighter than the existing ones, and also have smaller wheels and a new gear hub, will encourage more people to hire them due to their increased manoeuvrability.
Currently, there are around 11,500 bikes in the Santander Cycles fleet, each covering an average of 5,694 kilometres in the year to February 2016. In another tie-up with a British firm, some are equipped with the award-winning Blaze Laserlight.
The new bikes, which will be assembled at Pashley’s factory in Stratford-upon-Avon, will be introduced gradually to the scheme from 2018, with around 500 replacing the existing models each year.
The company’s general manager, Steven Bell, said: “We are delighted to be working on such a prestigious and important scheme.
“Although we are still in the product development stage, our Research and Development team’s design has been selected by TfL as one that meets its requirements.
“We will now work hard to turn that design into a production ready bike to bring to London’s streets.”
Pashley, of course, is no stranger to mass-producing bikes that need to be able to withstand the rigours of heavy use, having supplied the bikes used by Royal Mail delivery workers from the 1970s until the use of bicycles was discontinued a few years ago.
The final bike produced for the Royal Mail, the Mailstar, was based on the Pashley Pronto, which is widely used by a number of companies and other organisations – couriers at Oxford and Cambridge universities use them, as does the recently-announced grocery delivery service pilot from Sainsbury’s.
Serco’s contract, which runs for five years three months from next August, will have an option to be extended for up to a further five years, with the company continuing to maintain and service bikes from workshops in Islington and Camden – they have a combined capacity to service 220 bikes a day – as well as managing the stock of bikes at the capital’s 785 docking stations.
Serco Group chief executive Rupert Soames commented: “As a regular user of Santander Cycles I am really pleased that we are going to continue to provide this iconic service for London’s residents, commuters and visitors for at least another five years.
“Since the Scheme started in 2010, Serco has worked hard with TfL to improve and grow the service.
Recently we have started to bring in Laserlights to improve rider visibility and in 2018 we will start introducing new lighter bikes and we are delighted to be working with Blaze and Pashley Cycles, two great British companies, to bring in these exciting innovations.
We aim to build on the past six successful years and deliver an even better service for TfL and everyone in London.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan commented: “I’m delighted to be able to announce the next generation of bikes for our popular cycle hire scheme.
“It’s already known across the world as a convenient way to get around our city, so it’s great news that these lighter British-made bikes will make it even easier for everyone.
“Cycling is good for our health, air quality and congestion, and that’s exactly why I’m working so hard to make it safer and easier for all Londoners,” he added.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.