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Bye-bye Boris Bikes – hello Sadiq Cycles as next-generation hire bikes launched in London (+ videos)

New, lighter bikes are made by Pashley in Stratford-upon-Avon – take a behind-the-scenes look at how they are made

The second generation of London’s Santander Cycles public hire scheme bicycles have been officially unveiled in the heart of the capital this morning.

Made in Stratford-upon-Avon by iconic British bike manufacturer Pashley, the bikes are lighter than the original ones that they will gradually replace in the scheme’s fleet.

“It’s great news that the first of our brand-new cycle hire bikes have arrived on London’s streets,” said Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

“Tens of thousands of Londoners and tourists enjoy using the bikes to get around our city every single day, so by making them more comfortable and manoeuvrable we’re hoping they’ll be even more popular. That’s good for our health, our air quality and for tackling congestion.”

Today’s launch of the bikes has been accompanied by a video from Santander featuring brand ambassador and former Formula 1 world champion, Jenson Button.

Features of the new bikes, which incorporate a technology platform called CyTek designed by Blaze, which also supplies the lights including its award-winning projection of a laser image of a bicycle, include:

- Accelerometer and Bluetooth to reduce maintenance costs
- Brighter lights, even in the daytime, thanks to a new 180 degree system designed by Blaze
- A new rear light that gets brighter when you brake
- Smaller wheels for faster acceleration from a standing start – handy for city riding
- Puncture prevention with an Aramid belt and internal puncture protection layer
- Lower bottom bracket and easier step-through height makes for a more comfortable ride for smaller cyclists
- Tougher mudguards that provide better protection in the rain
- A comfier gel saddle
- One handed seat clamp so it’s easier to adjust the saddle height
- Upgraded Shimano brakes for better stopping performance.

Speaking at the launch this morning at Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner, London’s Cycling & Walking Commissioner Will Norman said: "The bikes have been designed and built by England's longest established cycle manufacturer, Pashley Cycles, as part of an all British industrial team assembled by Serco.

“The bikes feature technological capabilities such as Bluetooth and the capacity for GPS technology, which will allow Serco to track the performance of the bikes."

Adrian Williams, CEO of Pashley, said: “I am immensely proud of our team’s achievement in successfully developing a completely new bicycle for London.

“It is a bicycle of exceptional quality, designed with the rider’s safety and enjoyment in mind, whilst ensuring that maintenance and operating costs are kept to a minimum. It has been produced and delivered within a very challenging timescale."

Cycling author and BikeBiz executive editor Carlton Reid was among the first to try out the new bike when he visited Pashley in Warwickshire recently.

Here’s a video with his initial impressions, plus a gallery of pictures taken by Reid during his factory tour.

According to Reid, writing on BikeBiz, the new bike – called the Pashley Prospect – “is a big improvement on previous models. It is quicker, slicker and features 24-inch wheels instead of the existing 26-inch wheels – this improves the bike's acceleration from a standing start.

“The bike is assembled in Stratford-upon-Avon by Pashley. The bike's aluminium frames are shipped in from Asia, and some are given a polyester coating and top lacquer in the Pashley paint-shop.

“Pashley is patenting the bike's headstock (existing ‘Boris bikes’ suffer from wobbly front-ends because of problems with the current headstock.

“The new lighting system is better positioned, brighter and more effective, says Pashley. 

“The new design provides increased comfort and safety for smaller riders, with a lower bottom bracket and frame step-through height.

“The new mudguards have lower ‘tails’ and more of the rear wheel is covered, providing better protection for the rider in the wet. The wheels are shod with new-style lower-profile tyres with an Aramid belt and a 4mm internal puncture protection layer.

“The new bike has a signature new ‘sound’ because of the new wheels and the slimmer tyres. 

"Saddle adjustment is now much simpler with a new one-handed seat clamp.”

Reid has also devoted an episode of the Spokesmen podcast to the factory tour, which you can find here.

Serco, which has operated the scheme since its launch, will continue to manage it including servicing the bikes, which have been designed to be easier to maintain than their predecessors, meaning less downtime and more bikes being available to hire.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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