Choosing A New Bike

After realising that my weight and fitness were in a bad way again I turned my attention to researching bicycles.

I have had a varied history of bike ownership. Some I have loved. Some I have disliked. Some I have wanted to love but they were uncomfortable because they were too big. One I should have hated but loved anyway.

The main mistake I have previously made was in buying bikes which were too large for me and which then ended up being uncomfortable and less fun to ride than they could and should have been.

In addition to having a frame which fits me I also wanted a step-through bike. During 2020 I have had some issues with my knees so removing the need to swing my leg over the crossbar and instead being able to step through the frame easily was a big attraction.

In amongst the sometimes random YouTube recommendations I get, one was for a video by the Fully Charged Show where they visited the Fully Charged (not relation to them) bike shop in London. In the video they talk about some of the makes of bikes they stock and one of them really intrigued me: the Tern GSD (the section starts at 7m 40s in the video).

When I was researching the GSD I discovered that Tern make a slightly smaller model called the HSD which has several benefits such as a more recent motor, a belt drive and being slightly lighter.

I was still wavering over whether it was going to be the right bike for me (I didn’t necessarily need the cargo carrying capacity) when I decided to go and have a test ride at a local bike shop, Avon Valley Cyclery (AVC) in Bath. I immediately fell in love with it.

The bike is very comfortable and because it has a one-size-fits-all design it means that I didn’t have to worry about the frame size. You adjust things until it fits and feels right for you. It is solid yet it feels nimble and fun. It has character and personality and has been designed to be practical too. How many other bikes can stand on end to help people with limited space store them?

Tern also seems to be a company with a good ethos. They engage with their customers on social media, they encourage their customers to go and buy from local bike shops rather than buying directly and I also read stories about people being able to swap bikes which weren’t working for them for different models.

Speaking of local bike shops, AVC is a great one. As well as offering me good advice whilst I was thinking about what to buy they pushed me to try a couple of other bikes and even went as far as checking that an HSD would fit into the back of a Ford Fiesta (which remarkably it does). Luke and the team there are very friendly and engaging and the intimidation which often comes from visiting bike shops when you are not a serious rider was non-existent.

And so my new bike is a Tern HSD and I love it. I’ve cycled more and further in the last ten days than I have in the previous nine months and I hope that not only will I continue to cycle but that I will also fulfil my plan of replacing the car with it for some shopping trips.

My Tern HSD S+

Additional Notes

Research

The above is obviously just my views on one particular bike which I picked based on my own specific requirements. However I did do a fair amount of research and most was via YouTube. There are some great channels and video reviews of bikes which help enormously and I would strongly recommend watching some if you are thinking about getting a new bike.

The Propel Electric Bikes channel is incredibly useful but a few specific videos I liked are:

The Alternatives

During my research there were two other serious candidates which tempted me.

The Riese & Müller Tinker is a lovely bike (although in a September 2020 refresh they dropped the lovely yellow/orange colour option) and I’d be interested in having a test ride on one at some point but it is also more limited in terms of cargo carrying capabilities and might be more of a town bike (the HSD probably is one in most people’s minds but its size and styling make it feel more of a workhorse and it feels completely at home on country lanes too).

Just before I bought my HSD Tern announced updates to the GSD which added some great options and the top-of-the-line model now has a belt drive and, more interestingly for me being in a hilly area, a Rohloff internal hub. The bike’s specification is very impressive but it is also very expensive (around £8,000) and won’t be available for another four or five months at the earliest. And because it is slightly longer than the existing GSD which in turn is slightly longer than the HSD it wouldn’t fit into my car which is one of those things that makes life that little bit more complicated.