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I had never even considered trying a mountain bike. For a start, the hunky male image didn't inspire; moreover the pregnant frog position characteristically adopted by the mountain biker (on account of the wide handlebars and high bottom bracket) was not how I wanted to be seen. No thanks. I‘m quite happy swishing past on my boy racer while the hunky men, legs whirring like propellor blades, force their chunks of metal up a slight incline, lthought. Butthen Central Cycle Hire offered me a shottie, as we used to say in Aberdeen. Free.
Once aloft on the mean machine, my immediate instinct was to find some mud. Rain had turned the Meadows into a mountain-bikers‘ paradise of dank puddles and slippy grass, but it was a little on the flat side. I decided to go for some really testing terrain: the High Street. It may be derisory to calla mountain bike a grown-up BMX, but bumping through holes in the road and charging down cobbles without a care
like a welcome return to childhood cychng.
The fun aspect of mountain biking, combined with its advantages on the road (improved visibility, comfort and excellent brakes) have made itthe fastest growing sector of the bike market. Over half the sales at the Edinburgh Bike Co-op are now
mountain bikes and practically every bike shop in Glasgow and Edinburgh now offers a range. They are mainly bought by men, and have acquired a bit of a bronzed, blond, wind-surfing image, but are really, behind the gloss, sensible all-purpose bikes for anyone cycling on Britain’s disintegrating roads. ‘The bikes are most obviously suited to somebody like a joiner who uses his bike to transport heavy materials, orto a mum with a child-seat on her bike,’ said Jed of the Bike Co-op.
Price aside,(you won‘t get much change out of £300 for a decent mountain bike) I have only one complaint: speed. Maybe ittakes practice or maybe that upright position just makes you feel you're going slower, but I sometimes felt I’d be quicker getting off and walking. The mountain bike may be ideal for a weekend scramble, but when it comes to beating a C5 down Princes Street, give me a boy racer anytime.
I Bilsland Billy 176 Saltmarkel . 552 08-41. Mon—Sat. 0am—530pm. Nice little shop selling the Raleigh range from the cheapest to the top quality racers. Repairs.
I Clarkston Cycle Centre 681 (‘larkston Road. 633 1152. Mon—Sat.(him—5.30pm. Mountain bike specialists (Muddy Fox. Falcon. Peugeot) also stocking family and commuter cycles. New clothing and accessory department opening soon. Repairs (24 hours for basic repairs).
I Cycle Logic 366 Great Western Road. 339 4933. Mon—Sat . 9.30am—5.30pm. Commuter and leisure cycling specialists (Peugeot. Emmelle. Raleigh) also selling mountain bikes and children's cycles. Strong on cycle clothing and repairs (booking necessary).
I Dales 150 Dobbies Loan. 33?. 2705. Mon—Sat (closed Tues). 9am—6pm. 6000 sq ft of bicycle shop with a huge stock from exercise bikes to tandems. with the emphasis on good quality touring. racing and mountain bikes. Repair service for own bikes (booking necessary).
I Bob Finnie Cycles 1018 Maryhill Road. 945 1112. Mon—Sat (closed Tues). 9am—5.30pm. [Ex-racing cyclist and mechanic specialising in all things cycling: custom-built racers. wheel-building and a wide range of accessories. but also ‘ordinary' bikes. Repairs (phone first).
I Alan Hewitt Cycles 47 Garscadden Road. 94-1 3745 (moving shortly to 501 Dumbarton Road). Mon—Sat. 9am ( 10am Mon)—5.30pm (4pm Sat). (‘ougar and Ottadini lightweight racing frames. good mountain bikes (Muddy Fox. Cannondale) and good quality cycle clothing of all kinds. Also the Townsend range of more down-to-earth bikes. Repairs.
I Tor-Toys 181 (‘larkston Road. 637 2439. Mon—Fri. 9. 15am—5.30pm (closed 1.15—2pm) Sat 9am—5.45pm. Full range of Raleigh bikes from children's to racers and mountain bikes. Also reconditioned bikes from£19 to£1 10. Repairs.
I Jocky Allan Cycles 115 Lcith Walk.554
6698. Mon—Sun. 9.30am—6pm. Probably the best stock of washers and widgets in town. Small and friendly repair experts. Sells Peugeot. limmelle. MBK.
I City Cycles 30 Rodney Street. 557 2801.
Mon—Sun. 9am—5pm. Vast stock of racing.
touring and mountain bikes (Falcon. (‘laud Butler). Likely to have the model you want in the size you want. Repairs.
I Claymore Cycles Newhaven Main Street.
551 283‘). Sun—l‘ri. 4pm--‘)pm. Sat 10am—7pm. Full range of touring. racing and mountain bike components at competitive prices. Local frame-building service and high quality custom‘madc bikes.
I Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op Alvanley Terrace. 238 1368. Tue—Sun. 10am—6pm. Classy. right-on cycle-shop with components for the gourmet and accessories for the serious cyclist and the poseur. Repairs (book in advance). Wide range of mid to expensive bikes: Peugeot.
Dawes. Falcon. their own brand. and lots of mountain bikes.
I Freewheelin 87 Slateford Road. 337 2351. Mon—Sat. 9.30am—Spm. (till 6pm
Mon—Thurs). Small shop selling Emmelle.
Townsend. MBK and Diamond mountain bikes. Same day repair service.
I Sandy Gilchrist Cycles I (.‘adzow Place. Abbeyhill. 653 1760. Mon—Sauclosed Wed) ‘)arn—5.3()pm. 7pm Thurs. [ix time-trial cyclist selling specialist racing bikes and a range of tourers and mountain bikes. including limmelle. Peugeot and Dawes. Repairs.
I MacDonald Cycles 26 Morrison Street. 229 8-173. Mon—Sat 9am—5.30pm. Family firm established in 1937 sellingthe all-encompassing Raleigh range. Large. bright shop with a large number ofbikes and a variety of accessories on display. Repairs.
IThomas Piper-ll Morningside Road. 4-17 1040 and 23 South Clerk Street. 667 7777.
RICHARD’S STILL RIDING
‘It's been pretty good to me,’ says Richard Ballantine with a chuckle that becomes a guffaw.
Ballantine, much better known simply as Richard of ‘Richard’s Bicycle Book‘ has become a legend amongst bikers the world over. It‘s a book that he has good reason to feel grateful to. Now, after numerous reprints, it is in its fifth edition and together with a special enlarged version published for the American market, it must certainly have helped keep the wheels spinning on Ballantine's numerous cycling projects.
I met up with him at the launch of City' Cycles, Edinburgh‘s only shop dedicated to the hire of bikes, where he was happily test-riding one of the shop’s brand new mountain bikes. Ballantine is refreshingly undogmatic about bikes and sees the mountain bike as unreservedly a good thing — if only because it gives more people the chance to share in his passion of cycHng.
Ballantine has been a vocal campaigner for cycle paths, exploiting, in particular, disused railway lines. But there is hardly an area of cycling that he hasn’t been asked to comment on. He spoke to me about the need for manufacturers to wake up to the possibilities of cheaper mass production bikes, which overcame the fussy mechanics that he admits many aficionados love, and told me how he had been forced to make his views known on the still controversial subject ofwearing helmets. ‘However incovenient it just has to be madness not to wear one. And I decided that I
had a responsibility to saythat.’ (Nigel Billen).
LOOKING FOR THE BEST IN MOUNTAIN
Look no further than Williamson the cycle specialists.
We have one of the largest ranges of bikes in stock:— Diamond Back, Giant, Specialized, Saracen, Muddy Fox, Cannondale. Fisher, and more, plus a massive selection of parts and accessories.
If you cannot make it to our shop then place your order by writing to our Freepost address or phoning our order Hotline. You’ll get lots of friendly advice and good service along with the best selection of top quality components.
Send £2 and Williamson water bottle stuffed with our latest ' M0untain Bike catalogue or send your name and address for the catalogue only.
ORDER HOTLINE 031 -225 3268
CD/k.1._-___ WI L LIAM S O N we. were SPLCIALISTS F REEPOST 26 Hamilton Place, Edinburgh EH3 OEU
The List I()- 23 June 1988 53