Is the new London hire bike any good?

Next summer, 6,000 bikes will be distributed around 400 locations in central London as part of the capital's cycle-hire scheme. A great idea, but I'm a bikie so what about the bike? At the London Cycle Show last weekend I took one for a spin.

The polite description would be "robust". The Canadian bikes look built to withstand anything. In a lab, one of them survived the equivalent of 15 years of daily use.

The handling isn't scintillating, but it's not at all bad. The riding position is upright, without being unstable. The saddle is substantial, and as soft as a souffle. You get three gears, bombproof hub brakes, and a basket on the front to which you would happily entrust your shopping, but probably not your dog. If you're a bride running late, there is a generous skirt guard to prevent you from getting reeled into the rear wheel. You even get built-in lights.

However, they come in at about 20kg, which is pretty portly. If London were hillier, I'm sure they'd gently funnel down, user by user, to the lowest docking stations, as similar bikes do in Paris. The other issue is, of course, how many are going to get nicked. If you fail to bring one back, you'll be charged about £150. That seems like pretty good value to me.

Michael Hutchinson is a multiple British cycling champion

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