Creating a zero carbon transport system

Would you like to be able to walk and cycle more easily and safely? To breathe clean air and enjoy a reliable, affordable public transport system?

Transforming our transport system from one that is highly polluting and heavily reliant on fossil fuels into one that is clean, green, reliable and affordable is a challenge, but it can be done. Here is a selection of ideas on how we can create a better transport system that’s not only healthier for us all, but is compatible with a zero carbon future.
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The Heathrow 13: Airport expansion or a taming of the few?

On 24 February 13 protesters against airport expansion, already convicted of ‘aggravated trespass’, will be sentenced.

The Plane Stupid protesters, who occupied Heathrow’s north runway for 6 hours in July last year, are likely to be jailed for 3 months for protesting against airport expansion and its impact on climate change.

Photo credit: David Leiser

Regardless of the outcome of this case, expanding Heathrow is thought to be at odds with meeting the UK Government’s legally binding targets under the Climate Change Act. The Government in 2009 set a target to get aviation emissions to 2005 levels by 2050 (37.5Mt CO2). The Climate Change Committee looked at options for this target and considered it achievable with various technical measures together with an overall 60% increase in passenger demand by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.

However we are not on course to meet even these generous targets. Carbon dioxide emissions from out-bound aviation have doubled since 1990 due to increased passenger demand, and are forecast to increase further due to a projected doubling in passenger numbers by 2050. As other sectors decarbonise, aviation is set to become a quarter of total UK greenhouse gas emissions.

While the Airports Commission have suggested that expanding Heathrow is compatible with meeting the Government’s climate target in 2050,  the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, who took evidence on this in 2015, showed this depended on a number of theoretical policies and there were serious doubts about whether this could be achieved in practice. The Committee recommended the government set out its strategy to deliver on its aviation emission target no later than Autumn this year.

As part of CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain: Making it Happen project we are looking at aviation emissions and how to overcome the barriers to reducing them. There are so many reasons why this relentless growth in flying is so difficult to stop. Studies show we place a strong value on holidays and the freedom of choice that flying offers. Frequent and distant travel provides social status. The weekend travel supplements are full of exotic or must-see destinations, skiing holidays and Caribbean beach resorts. People are funnelled into air travel through a combination of cost and convenience, reinforced by practices within the tourism industry, which makes slow travel less appealing. Other research has shown that individuals who are environmentally conscious in other areas justify flying as a trade-off for their behaviour at home.

Yet this growing demand for flights is surprisingly disproportionate. We were very struck by the research commissioned by the campaign group A Free Ride that reveals that a staggering 70% of flights in the UK are taken by 15% of the population, while over half of the population took no flights at all in 2014. The majority of UK flights are not business flights or family holidays but leisure trips taken by a small group of wealthy frequent flyers. Other studies verify that the bulk of aviation emissions are generated by a small minority of people and it is thus suggested by researchers Christian Brand and Brenda Boardman that we need a taming of the few. There are even suggestions that ‘binge flying‘  is a new form of addictive behaviour. The research for A Free Ride also reveals that per capita emissions from air travel are higher in the UK than any other country, and twice those of the USA!

So how to get the political and economic elites who are contributing most to carbon emissions from flying, to change their travel habits?

A Free Ride has come up with a solution in the form of a frequent flyer tax to replace Air Passenger Duty, which helps address the disproportionate impact of a relatively small proportion of wealthy individuals. Under this proposal a levy is set at zero for the first outbound flight and then increased progressively for each subsequent flight (eg £20 for the second flight, £60 for the third reaching £420 by the ninth flight). This is estimated to prevent passenger demand from increasing by more than 60% in 2050 in line with the Committee on Climate Change recommendation, and will obviate the need for airport expansion.

Simple, ingenious and fair.

Elsewhere in Europe groups such as Taming Aviation are lobbying to remove the tax exemptions currently given to the aviation industry which mean that we are all subsidising cheap flights whether we like it or not. The aviation industry is receiving tax exemptions in fuel duty and VAT (for plane tickets) estimated to be around £10 billion in 2014, which dwarfs the revenue from Passenger Air Duty of £3 billion/year.

Climate change is the world’s biggest threat and growth in passenger air travel is outstripping any reductions in carbon emissions from aviation due to technological improvements. We cannot build our way out of this problem by expanding airports; instead we need to suppress demand for air travel through financial disincentives and by making it socially unacceptable to be a frequent flyer. In particular we need to change the habits of a disproportionate few who we are subsidising at the expense of the planet.

Lisa Hopkinson

 

 

Machynlleth: Sustainable Capital of the UK


CAT is based in the buzzing Dyfi Valley awash with active environmental and sustainability  projects- according to a Guardian article:  “if any place in Britain could be called its sustainable capital, it’s Mach.” We have counted up the projects and gathered them here under relevant subheadings below – although many themes are interlinked.  We don’t have everything so if you think you should be on the list, write to us and tell us 

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Community:

Ecodyfi is a regeneration organisation that supports local projects including; Mentro Allan (Venture Out); Dyfi Footprint Project; Dyfi Biosphere; Communities First and Lifelong learning amongst others about Sustainability; Transport; Tourism; Energy; Waste and Fair Trade:

The Dyfi Footprint Project aims to estimate, monitor and reduce the carbon impact of the Dyfi Valley.

Communities First (Welsh Assembly Government programme) provides local people with opportunities to play an active role in their community.

Community Action Machynlleth and District Local Volunteer Bureau, (CAMAD) is a scheme to connect people wanting to volunteer with sustainable organisations in the Dyfi Valley.

Transport:

Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth Rail Passengers Association (SARPA) is a local rail users group campaigning for enhanced and improved rail services in Mid Wales.

Sustrans, is a sustainable transport charity developing the National Cycle Network, Safe Routes to Schools and other projects to encourage walking and cycling in the UK. It also includes trails in the local area.

Recycling:

Swap Shop, Machynlleth is an online community that enables you to swap unwanted items for items that you need for free.

CRAFT (Ceredigion Recycling And Furniture Team) collects and accepts donations of unwanted goods and furniture to sell or recycle in Aberystwyth.

Food:

Dyfi Vally Seed Savers is a not-for-profit organisation based in Machynlleth that promotes saving and swapping seeds with the aim of preserving old or unusual vegetables; nurturing local knowledge and plant heritage; and promoting sustainable gardening. Current Seed Saver Projects Include; The Welsh vegetable Project; The Powys Orchard project; and The Apple Mach Register.

The Mid Wales Food & Land Trust
has recently launched an associated website for all local food and drink producers, retailers and restaurateurs in providing online promotion and exposure, whilst also acting as a comprehensive business database available to the public and the media.

Cwm Harry Land Trust are a social enterprise picking up food waste around Newtown, Llani and now Welshpool, and processing it into compost. They also work with socially disadvantaged and children’s groups on their allotment, and are working with local small-scale growers with a veggie bag scheme.

This is Rubbish is a food waste campaign that set up in Machynlleth to raise awareness and tackle concerns about food waste within the UK supply chain.

The Dyfi Valley was also awarded with Fair Trade Valley status in 2004 by achieving over one thousand signatures during the Fair Trade Fortnight that year.

Dyfi Land Share is working to match up people who want to grow food with available land in the Dyfi Valley, they work to promote local food production and better enable people to grow food in the Dyfi Valley.

Woodlands and Biodiversity:

Dyfi Biosphere is a global network where knowledge and experience of local heritage, culture and economy can co-exist in the natural environment.

Aberystwyth Forest Education Initiative
educate School groups in Mid Wales about woodlands and woodland crafts.

Coed Lleol provides information and contacts in Wales whether a woodland manager, forest school tutors or individual nature enthusiast.

Coed Cymru, based in Newtown, is an all Wales initiative to promote the management of broadleaf woodlands and the use of locally grown hardwood timber.

Wales Wild Land Foundation (WWLF) is a group that has just set up to create an area of native woodland near Machynlleth. As part of the same group: The Cambrian Wild Woods Project, are planning for a beaver enclosure near the Artists Valley.

Energy:

Bro Dyfi Community Renewables is a community energy co-operative for community-owned renewable energy projects including two community wind turbines near Machynlleth.

Mid Wales Car Share  is an online networking site and has a function to allow you to search by specific journeys in Mid Wales.

Anemos Renewables a Machynellth based wind energy company offering consultancy, design and installation services for small to medium sized wind energy schemes.

Dulas Engineering are a renewable energy company based in Machynlleth that provide expertise and consultancy in biomass, wind, solar, and hydro power.

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John Cantor Heat Pumps is a website of useful basic information about heating-only applications with heat pumps. It covers environmental issues, and supports the appropriate use of this technology in high-efficiency eco-friendly applications.

Mid Wales Community Energy Trust links income from renewable energy with rural regeneration through sustainable energy projects in Mid Wales.

Llanidloes Energy Solutions, a voluntary community group based in Llanidloes.

Open Energy Monitor  is a project to develop open-source energy monitoring tools to help us relate to our use of energy, our energy systems and the challenge of sustainable energy.

Clear Solar solar PV and heat pump systems


Architecture 

Dyfi Architecture  is a registered, award winning architectural practice based in the Dyfi Valley, they aim to bring added value to the built environment through designs that can be constructed and operated sustainably and have the potential to be adapted to suit future needs.

Furniture 

Free range designs uses recycled and sustainable sourced wood to create bespoke pieces of outstanding furniture, from story telling chairs to enchanted beds.

Green Holidays

Green Holidays Wales  Comprehensive website with links to green accommodation providers and activities in Mid-Wales

Communication:

PIRC (Public Interest Research Centre), based in Machynlleth, is an independent charity that integrates technical research on climate change, energy and economics, and translates this into a range of social mediums and materials.

Eco Centre Wales provides sustainable energy education for West Wales run mainly by volunteers.

Cyberium is a design and content company that specialises in working with ethical, socially constructive and environmentally positive clients or projects.

Housing

Mach housing co-op

If you are involved in a local project related to Sustainability and the Environment, or know about something we should include here, please send a web link or brief description to the CAT Media department; kim.bryan@cat.org.uk , or include in the blog comments.

Whose Larder?

Building on the land-use and diets part of Zero Carbon Britain, Laura Blake, a food and diets researcher at CAT, has embarked upon an exciting new project, tentatively titled ‘Laura’s Larder’. In the first of a new series of blog posts, she explains the importance of thinking holistically about our food.

“Whilst working here at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), I have been doing some research into the environmental and health implications of our diets. This work was primarily conducted as part of CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain project, but more recently I have been developing something new (more details to follow!)

My interest in food has been ongoing for many years now. I became vegetarian at a young age and, with the help of my Mum, learnt how to get all the nutrients I require from non-meat sources. This was the beginning of my interest in nutrition, which I eventually went on to study for my undergraduate degree. I then went on to do a Masters in Food Nutrition, which, combined with membership of a fair-trade society, meant I became more aware of the inequalities of our current supply system.

There are many different issues surrounding the foods we choose to eat – from the effects of the greenhouse gases (GHG) released in their production, processing and transport; to the inequality in the profits of large companies who benefit from paying producers (often overseas) next to nothing. Recently commissioned research into shoppers’ buying habits noted that sales of Fairtrade products increased by 18% last year, despite people generally spending less on their shopping. It appears that we care about issues relating to the food we eat, and when we are provided with trusted information we can make good choices that have benefits on a global level – choosing to buy fair-trade, for example, really does make a difference to people’s lives.

As I continued my work in food issues I began to realise that the effects of climate change (droughts and soaring temperatures, floods and other extreme weather events) have already begun to affect our ability to grow food. My Masters helped me understand that farmers who are already lacking access to clean water, medical supplies and facilities – as well as struggling to make enough money to buy food for themselves – may find it even harder in the future to grow their crops, making life even more difficult. But climate change will not just be a problem in other parts of the world: the effects may hit poorer farmers hardest but they will also affect our growing abilities here in the UK.

As climate change results from high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, this makes reducing our food-related greenhouse gas emissions another important consideration when buying sustainable products – the story goes full circle.

Through my work on the Zero Carbon Britain project I was able to carry out some in-depth research into the greenhouse gas emissions associated with different types of foods that we commonly consume in the UK today. This was one of the two main focuses of research that went towards the recent publication of Zero Carbon Britain: Rethinking the Future here at CAT. It turns out that the best way we have currently of cutting emissions related to our food and agriculture is simply to choose to buy and eat different things that are lower in carbon. By looking at the greenhouse gas emissions associated with different types of foods that we commonly consume in the UK, I could come up with a diet that both met all of our nutritional requirements and significantly lowered our greenhouse gas emissions.

Throughout my time working on the ZCB project I was often asked questions such as “how much cheese could I eat if I didn’t eat beef?” or “how much chicken could I eat if I gave up lamb”. These questions reflect the fact that we clearly care very much about making good choices with respect to our food, but we don’t currently have enough information. We all have different tastes, and foods that we would potentially prefer to swap over others in order to reduce our emissions. All of these thoughts have formed the backbone of my new project, something I will tell you about in more detail in my next post!”

ZCBlog: Tobi and the Twizy

Tobi Kellner was Energy Modeller during the research phase for the latest Zero Carbon Britain report. As one of CAT’s renewable energy consultants, his work takes him to unique locations that often require unique transport options.

A few days ago I had a chance to get a first-hand experience of what rural transport in a Zero Carbon Britain future might look like. An invitation to do a talk about renewable energy options for a group of Welsh hill farmers in the Brecon Beacons brought a bit of a dilemma for me: The event was to be held at a very eco-conscious remote hill farm and B&B with working biomass boilers, hydro turbine and solar panels – a great place, but almost impossible to reach by public transport! This is the all-too-familiar dilemma for the environmentalist working in a rural area: can you justify using a car to promote a fossil fuel free future? Fortunately, in this case there was a better option: a combination of train and electric car!

Tobi preparing for his journey.

The Eco Travel Network offers visitors to the Brecon Beacon area the opportunity to rent one of six funky little Renault Twizy electric cars to get around. So I decided to give it a try, booked a train ticket to Abergavenny and arranged to pick up the Twizy from a local hotel there (for a charge of £45). It has to be said that if the aim of the scheme is to convince people that electric cars can be ‘just as good’ as petrol guzzlers then the Twizy is probably not the best choice of vehicle. Described as an “urban compact two-seater” without windows to protect you from the Welsh rain (zip-on windows are available as extras), this is not a ‘grown up’ electric vehicle. But at around £7,000 (plus £45/month battery rental and road side assistance), this is a (relatively) cheap and cheerful transport option, and it’s great fun to use!

On the way to the talk.

The 6kWh of lithium ion batteries store less energy than a single litre of petrol, but due to the efficiency of electric motors that gives you around a 50 mile range (though maybe a bit less in the steep hills of the Brecon Beacons), and it very rapidly accelerates up to 50mph, great fun overtaking tractors! What’s more, whereas normal cars ‘destroy’ energy when you break, this one actually puts the power back into the batteries, so you recharge when you’re going downhill. At the end of your journey you just plug the vehicle into any normal three pin plug (no special charging points required for the Twizy) and it recharges in a few hours.

Charging the Twizy.

As the vast majority of all daily journeys are less than 50 miles the battery range shouldn’t be much of a problem. But if you need to go a bit further then you can always do what I did: pull in at a local pub, get them to throw an electric extension cord out the window so you can plug in, have yourself a nice cup of tea while both you and your vehicle re-energize. Electric cars charged with renewable electricity are a great zero-carbon transport option for remote rural where public transport isn’t available, and I definitely enjoyed my glimpse of the future or rural transport!

ZCBlog: What would banning petrol cars actually look like?

The Liberal Democrats have recently been targeted for a statement in their latest policy paper Green Growth Green Jobs  – Transition to a Zero Carbon Britain that “by 2040, only ultra-low carbon vehicles will be permitted on UK roads for non-freight purposes.” Media backlash seems to suggest that this is either “unrealistic” or that setting an “arbitrary deadline” such as this would mean condemning cars to the scrapheap before their time.

Given that the average lifetime of a car in the UK is 13.5 years, it could be argued that the last point is moot. As always, if we know whats coming well in advance, then we can all act accordingly. This could be an indication towards more long-term policy planning that would provide a clear and simple message to industry of what is to come, and can allow it to turn around production and move in a different – more environmentally friendly – direction. We also argue, here at the Centre for Alternative Technology, under our Zero Carbon Britain scenario, that 2040 is not soon enough, and welcome the addition that “if technology permitted, we [the Liberal Democrats] would bring forward this date.” (We might also let the Liberal Democrats know that we already have the technology!)

But one thing we would like to add, that is currently missing from the media sphere – is that the Liberal Democrats, as in our Zero Carbon Britain scenario, are also actively supporting other methods of transport. We should encourage policy proposals, like those suggested by the Liberal Democrats, that would:

  • “Introduce a statutory requirement that cyclists’ and pedestrians’ needs are considered as part of any new transport and infrastructure development projects”
  • “Support re-opening and expanding rail lines and stations.”
  • “Provide more support to bus operators and local authorities for improving and expanding bus services.”
Suggestions for an healthier, low-carbon future

Providing viable alternative methods of transportation (to cars) is key to reducing transport emissions in the UK, and in our new report we suggest that changing the ways we travel will be an important part of reducing emissions associated with transport (see above). According to Richard Hebditch from the Campaign for Better Transport, in his discussion paper ZCB and Drivers featured in the new report, “people do need realistic [transport] choices.”

Interestingly, Hebditch also states that “where public transport is good and there are local shops and services (otherwise known as London) car use is falling fast” and that “less than one in five is a ‘die hard motorist’” suggesting that media backlash to this policy proposal is actually representing a minority viewpoint.

As noted by the Liberal Democrats, transport “is responsible for 24% of the UK’s carbon emissions, and is the only one where energy intensity has increased since 1970.” (Note: increased energy intensity means transport in the UK is becoming less energy efficient). By changing the fuel type our vehicles run on, we could reverse this trend dramatically. Electric cars and buses are around three times as efficient as cars and buses that run on petrol and diesel – and they could be up to six or seven times as efficient as the average vehicle on the roads today (see the Transport section of  ZCB for more information on this).

A Tesla electric car taking advantage of the free electric charging point at CAT

Hebditch states that “even more than with other sectors, there is a dangerous complacency amongst policymakers about reducing carbon emissions from transport.” There are, of course, many other parts of our transportation system that need addressing, but its great to see one party at least start to get to grips with changes that are closer to the level of ambition required in UK government.

Read more about the Centre for Alternative Technology’s report here: http://www.zerocarbonbritain.org/

Bridging the Gap Between Today and the Zero Carbon Britain of the Future

Next week, on the 16th July, the Centre for Alternative Technology will be launching its third Zero Carbon Britain (ZCB) report. Since the last ZCB report was published in 2010, the economic situation has worsened, international negotiations on climate change have stalled, and yet the evidence from the climate science is more pressing than ever.

The new report – Zero Carbon Britain: Rethinking the Future, gives us the detailed research needed to fully answer some of the key questions that arose in response to the previous 2010 report. What ZCB proposes is a major transformation of the UK’s energy and land systems; after a year’s dedicated research it has been shown that by integrating a smart approach to food production, diet, buildings, transport, energy and land-use, the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced to net zero; using only currently available technology and without significant impacts on quality of life.

One of the issues ZCB addresses is the ‘physics-politics gap’. The report notes that “physical problems have physical solutions […] However, if we analyse these physical requirements and work out a physically credible plan based on our scientific knowledge of the situation, we find it does not fit comfortably into the frame of normal politics and economics. On the other hand, if we work out a plan that does fit the politics, we find it does not meet the physical requirements. In fact, a huge gulf between what is physically demanded by science and what is seen as politically possible is revealed.

Zero Carbon Britain […] sets out a physically realistic scenario – laying foundations on the ‘right’ side of the physics-politics gap.”

The Physics-Politics Gap

The report will be launched on the 16th July. It will be available to buy through the CAT shop and it will also be free to download from the ZCB site. For more updates follow us on Twitter or find us on Facebook.

Photo: A biofueled bus from Brighton!

Engineers Without Borders UK (EWB-UK) are no strangers to CAT, with five groups visiting us this year to learn about sustainable technologies. This week a group traveled from Brighton on a Big Lemon coach that runs on biodiesel from recycled cooking oil!

EWB-UK is a national student-led charity aimed at removing barriers to development through engineering and have a summer placement programme, which is now taking applications.

Bike blog: The many benefits of cycling

We all know that cycling is a great way to get around but the benefits to your health are even more numerous than you may think!

I’m not going to start preaching about the environmental benefits of cycling. We all know that the carbon footprint of your average bicycle is going to be a tad less than your average ford mustang! But it is important to highlight the health benefits of getting on a bike because these benefits to your well-being can be just as rewarding.

While the thought of dragging yourself out of the house this late in the year might not fill you with joy, it can help banish those winter blues. Pick a cold, crisp morning and a brisk ide through your neighbourhood will make you feel great! Here’s why:

1. It’s a great family activity that can bring all ages together. You can even share a tandem if you’re feeling brave! Kids love cycling as there are not many experiences that are comparable. Just let them go for it and you can follow at your own pace. But be ready with the ear-defenders if there are any scrapes or falls…

2. Cycling is good for the body. A half hour’s cycling to and from work can burn eight calories a minute, which is equivalent to 11kg of fat in a year. As well as burning calories, riding a bike can do wonders for muscles and toning bums! Your heart will be exercised as well, growing stronger as a result.

3. It can also reduce the likelihood of certain cancers. Women who walk or use a bike for half an hour everyday have a lower chance of breast cancer. Don’t worry blokes, there are benefits for men as well.

4. Being on a bike improves your balance and co-ordination. Bicycling is the perfect practice because you have to move both legs, while steering and keeping your bodyweight balanced.

5. You go places! Okay, this might be obvious but you cannot travel anywhere if you are stuck in the gym exercising. You’ll run on a treadmill for hours but never go anywhere and will be forced to listen to relentless dance music whilst you do it. This is not the case when you are cycling. Unless you like that sort of thing, in which case feel free to listen to your favourite tunes while you peddle yourself fitter. It’s also been proven that you will exercise for longer when outdoors.

6. Independence. Well-being is all about feeling like you can do what you want to when you want to do it. By cycling, you don’t have to rely on the family car or public transport. This also means getting away from others because if you get the kids on a bike, you can get rid of them for a couple of hours!

7. Commuting to work on a bike will make you more relaxed and lower your stress levels. More so than driving to work!

8. It’s a low impact exercise. The regular circular movements you make when cycling are incredibly calming. Breathing is regulated but your joints won’t suffer as much because the impact pressures are much lower. Unless you hit something…

Which brings me to my last point – always wear a helmet. Riding a bike is not nearly as dangerous as many critics would have you believe. Infact, the health benefits of cycling have been shown to outweigh the safety risks twenty to one but as the days get shorter, it’s becoming more important to make sure you are protected and visible!

 

 

 

 

Bike blog: make it fit

Hello and welcome back to another bike blog!

Given that throughout my cycling life I’ve relied on sets of wheels I either got for free or a fairly negligible sum of money, the question of how well the bike actually fits me – or even whether it’s the right size – has never really arisen. Having a bike which fits has seemed to me like an untenable luxury, the exclusive reserve of people who buy bikes new, or compete, or at least certainly incompatible with my style of cost-cutting cycling.

However, one beautiful vintage racing bike later – one with a frame a little too high for my little legs – and I’m more alive to the need to make sure the bike fits. Dismounting was difficult, and occasionally injurious, but despite that, I commuted with it for a year – even taking it on a summer jaunt to France. Eventually, I realised that it just wasn’t safe, and needlessly difficult. While it pains me greatly to have to move on, it’ll be best for both of us. And when I find a proper replacement, I’ll make sure it’s the right size.

So far, I’ve been conflating size with fit. Those in the know about these kinds of things will be aware that the size of the bike refers to the frame, and how it is ‘out of the box’, whereas the fit encompasses everything you can adjust (from the seat post height to the angling of the handlebars) to make the bike optimally fit your body and cycling needs.

 

Some ideas for choosing the right size

  • the size of frame you’re after will depend on what type of frame you’re looking for – road bike, mountain bike, touring bike, comfort bike…? Different frame styles support different types of riding, so will fit very differently.
  • once you’ve ascertained what kind of frame you’re looking for, have a look at a frame size calculator or a frame size chart.
  • bike manufacturers will often provide resources to help you pick the right size.
  • there’s no substitute for giving it a go, however – while a bike might seem the right size on ‘paper’ various factors, from the size of the wheels to the peculiarities of different manufacturers, might make it uncomfortable to ride.

 

Some ideas for improving the fit

  • you can get this professionally done. Many bike stores will offer a bike fitting service, or you could turn to the expertise of a freelancer; either way, it’s likely to not be terribly cheap. This kind of fine tuning seems to be primarily aimed at “serious” cyclists looking to shave a few seconds of their time trial, but heavy use of a bike – whether to win races or get to work – can result in injury or discomfort if not fitted right. If you do decide to go with a professional bike fitting, make sure you make the most of it by requesting a copy of all the measurements and notes on all the alterations made, and be wary of the opportunity for up sell.
  • however, you can learn to make these changes yourself – and anything you change can get altered back again. Like anything bike-related, there’s dozens of resources available online to help. For starters, check out Peter White’s fairly comprehensive article.
  • the main considerations will probably be the height of the seat, the positioning of the handlebars, and the angling of the seat. You’ll find lots of advice online for figuring out how to adjust each of these.
  • adjusting your bike will involve compromising, so it’s worth having a clear idea of what you want to use your bike for. Do you want to ride super-fast and efficiently, or do you want to enjoy the scenery? Either way, you’ll need to make some trade-offs.
  • if you do get out the tool box for a few tinkers, keep in mind that there’s no one right way of finding the right fit. It’s about how it feels, not about how it adheres to some formula, so keep on testing and trying until you find what works.
  • check out this troubleshooting chart to diagnose problems with your fit.
  • a good fit will never be permanent, as your body and cycling priorities change. Be aware of how your bike feels and be prepared to continue making alterations.
  • finally, if it’s a good fit, you shouldn’t be aware of it. Keep trying until you stop noticing!