Discover cycling culture


News | Spin | OLD TRUMAN BREWERY | 20-22 MAY | Discover cycling culture

What’s wrong with ‘Bike Porn’?

The symptoms are similar; increased heart rate, intense eye contact with a screen, in some instances, even a flushed face when discovered. It’s not the act that’s the issue here, nor the desire.

Staring longingly at beautiful bikes is of course, absolutely fine. In fact, better than that, encouraged, a valuable way to spend time. Have a look at some of these, they’re about as beautiful as a bike can be:

The issue is it’s now normal to refer to these images as pornographic, which just isn’t true. Aside from the similar symptoms listed earlier, likening bicycles to an industry that isn’t exactly well known for being all that fair to both genders, perpetuates the stereotype that the cycling industry isn’t wholly fair to both genders either.

Unfortunately you don’t have to look far to find mainstream cycling brands and events making unbelievable marketing calls. Here’s a quick run-through of some of the more shocking ones.

This isn’t an argument based on being politically correct or overly sensitive. It’s just about being a bit aware that just because a bike is nice to look at, it doesn’t make it pornography. *

Things are still a bit off kilter in the cycling industry and small improvements will make a big difference. Or in the opposite sense, the more normal it becomes to refer to nice bikes as ‘porn’ the closer we edge to a permanent attitude of accepting cycling is for leery men.

On a slightly less important footing, beautiful bikes are better than being labelled as ‘porn’, in some cases they’re masterpieces, worthy of admiration and desire. They deserve real appreciation, not a vulgar comparison.

If the gender divide in cycling were equal, would bike porn be the best light-hearted way to refer to beautiful bikes? Do you think there’s an issue or is it just a light-hearted term inoffensive?

*Unless you honestly look at bikes for sexual gratification, then ‘bike porn’(SFW) is a fitting term so long as it’s consensual and no carbon is hurt in the making of the videos.

Six Days of Ghent

This year’s Ghent Six Day had world news looking at it. Not for exciting results or unusual headlines, like last year’s cat on the track, but for taking place thirty minutes away from a city in complete lock down. Football matches and concerts had been cancelled all over Europe, restaurants and bars closed for business in case there would be a repeat of the Paris attacks. Brussels Midi train station had six heavily armed Belgian police officers and soldiers for every rail passenger. The Six Day race went ahead though, the threat of an attack barely impacted the race with only a slightly more noticeable police presence compared to last year.

It came down to the final race this year, with three teams in contention for the win
It came down to the final race this year, with three teams in contention for the win

Ghent-born Iljo Keisse made up for last year’s disappointing second place with Mark Cavendish, by winning this year with Michael Morkov. The races were fast, furious and varied. Derny races, Super-Sprints, Flying Laps and epic hour long Madisons. A Women’s Omnium and Under-23 events run in between the Men’s Elite races. Plenty of beer, Belgian fast food and euro-techno created a great party atmosphere. Races reached 70kph (44mph), with every point scored and lap gained deserving huge cheers from the crowd.

One of the best bits from the weekend was visiting Iljo Keisse’s dad’s bar, Café de Karper, ten minutes away from the velodrome. Open until the morning and full of Keisse memorabilia, there’s a wide beer selection, and also the chance of ‘winning’ a Café de Karper cap. To win one you have to drink an unspecified amount of beer. I tried fairly hard two nights in a row but wasn’t victorious. There was a man wearing three. He looked like a winner.

Riders relaxed during the nights of Six Day races while spectators slept at home
Riders relaxed during the nights of Six Day races while spectators slept at home

Six Day racing is one of cycling’s greatest oddities. Originally set up in London, individual riders raced over six days, with small periods of sleep the races were a real test of endurance. Competitors aimed for 1,000 miles.

Six Day racing became popular in the United States in the late 19th / early 20th century and the creation of the Madison discipline changed the races to a two-man team event. Races continued for the whole 144 hours. A rider from each team had to be on track at all times, sleep was sparse and exhaustion became part of the spectacle. A New York Times journalist commented that Six Day racing was, in 1897, “An athletic contest in which participants ‘go queer’ in their heads, and strain their powers until their faces become hideous with the tortures that rack them, is not sport. It is brutality.”

The races declined in popularity in the States after The Great Depression and two World Wars, but thankfully the format was adopted and adapted back in Europe. Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Paris, Ghent, Grenoble and Zurich became the biggest hosts for Six Day races, with a few continuing to hold events.

Mark Cavendish & Iljo Keisse finished 2nd in 2014 in Ghent
Mark Cavendish & Iljo Keisse finished 2nd in 2014 in Ghent

Ghent is now the most successful and best-attended Six Day race in Europe. Despite the Flemish commentary, it’s easy to understand what’s going on and thoroughly enjoyable for general sport fans, as well as die hard cycling buffs. Six Day track races are the perfect two wheeled spectator event, unlike other types of bike races that can feel like a bit of an anti-climax, every race, every part of the show is engineered for spectators.

Ghent velodrome is 166 metres long, making for fast, frantic laps
Ghent velodrome is 166 metres long, making for fast, frantic laps

This all takes place in a beautiful city, it’s easy to get to, tickets are relatively cheap, the beer is great and the Belgians know how to have a party. The only issue is you’ll have to wait a year for the next one.

Ghent native, Iljo Keisse celebrating his sixth win on Sunday
Ghent native, Iljo Keisse celebrating his sixth win on Sunday

Kickstart Swifty Scooters

Public transport is becoming busier and busier, especially with the recent turn of weather. Commuting can be a suffocating experience, regardless of whether you get the bus, the tube, run or cycle, there are some mornings when it feels like something has to give.

Swift Scooters, established in 2010, is a Salford based scooter manufacturer, producing premium two-wheeled masterpieces that might be the answer to your commuting or school run woes. Taking inspiration from bicycles and skateboards, Swifty Scooters is a great blend of two-wheeled freedom.

We were so impressed by their new model that we wanted to share their kick-starter campaign with you.

Swifty Scooters is just over a week away from the end of a Kickstarter campaign. You have the chance to grab the best kick scooter on the market, for 25% off current retail value!

The scooters are highly engineered, meticulously designed to last for years to come as well as looking incredibly stylish. They’re also a joy to ride.

Check out swiftyscooters.com for more information.

Black Friday Cometh

Black Friday is almost upon us. Arguments between strangers, screaming matches over TVs and eventual melees in carparks are now the norm during the Friday after Thanksgiving. Why should we care?

It's coming...
It's coming...

There was a time, a few short years ago when the quaintly named ‘January Sales’ were enough to sate the British appetite for consumer goods. An obvious duration in which shops reduced prices hoping to drive up sales and profits for as long as possible after the busiest time of year. But from across the Atlantic, a new tradition arrived. One whose name portrays something closer to the end of the world rather than a day where ‘stuff’ is cheaper.

...Prepare yourselves.
...Prepare yourselves.

The benefits of the bizarrity filter down to every consumer group. Even cyclists. Fortunately though, the majority of Black Friday cycling sales are online so you won’t need to take your helmet with you to the shops on Friday. And you can talk about Black Friday with a touch of mis-understanding and a shimmer of disdain. Meanwhile secretly buying those new race wheels you’ve had your eye on without anyone the wiser.

Whilst beating someone over the head with a flatscreen TV is not an attractive way to spend next Friday, grabbing a bargain is.

Here are Spin’s top Black Friday deals:

Chain Reaction Cycles

Chain Reaction has a four week run up to Black Friday with separate deals running each week. This week two deals that caught our eye are the Raleigh Revenio 1 road bike at a staggering £274.99 & the Fizik Tundra 2 saddle at only £24.99.


Halfords has an excellent step-by-step guide to Black Friday as well as some bargains in the run up. Get your winter training off to a flying start with this great Elite magnetic turbo trainer kit, for only £99.99! Boardman bikes are renowned for their excellent build quality at fantastic prices, and now the Boardman Road Sport has £100 off.

Wheelbase & Genesis

As far as do it all bikes go, you can’t get better than the Genesis Croix De Fer, now available at Wheelbase with £400 off in a chic white colour-way.

The Art Hub

It’s no secret that cycling inspires. At Spin, the best cycling art is collected, curated and displayed.  Workshops, Q&As and installations give a fresh breath in to the world of cycling with a progressive perspective exploring the activity and lifestyle that so many adore.

Here are a few artists who will display their work at Spin – The Cycling Festival in London this coming Spring.

Eliza Southwood

Cycling’s mythic, truly legendary moments are only witnessed first hand by a few. Pictures capture some of the magic, but Eliza Southwood’s art reproduces these moments and gives them a beauty and a distinction that are universally valuable. Eliza juxta-poses the iconic moments of cycling with the beauty of bikes and cycling themselves, and the wide array of commission’s Eliza’s had, have given her the chance to show her huge talent.

Massif Central

Using the data from cycling’s most prolific races, achievements and distances, Massif Central combine this with a creativity that delivers unique prints that give a raw display of the distance and elevation involved with cycling. The man behind Massif Central, James, has created a few astounding artworks recently, a collection of the 2015 Classics as well as the history of the Hour Record with participants’ distances plotted throughout history. James can also provide bespoke pieces for your personal achievements.


Two very different cartoonists form Beach-o-matic, creating both traditional cartoons and Victorian inspired illustrations. Their work shows the funny side of cycling, with works like ‘Pimlico Peloton’ as well as works for professional peloton aficionados, with a centenary celebration print of every Tour de France winner’s jersey.

Loopie Route

The sheer amount of GPS data created by cyclists everyday is a two-dimensional take on where people ride. Elevation, distance, speed are all condensed down in to comprehensible numbers. Loopie Route rewrite what data can be used for, creating personalised artwork used to commemorate any one specific ride in a beautiful, revealing way, ribboning out your ride over the terrain you crossed.

Check out their work & many more inspiring illustrators at Spin – The Cycling Festival next May. Stay tuned for more detail on some incredible workshops and drop in demonstrations and talks on all thinks bike art!