From riding the length of Wales with our Founder, Ben Smith, to family friendly e-biking round an island in Scotland, here our Marketing Manager, Kay Lawrie-Stiven extols the virtues of a little extra leg power.
Not being of quite the same cycling caliber as some members of the Hiplok team, I didn’t expect to be writing about my own recent trip on 2 wheels, a family friendly e-biking trip, but my experience clearly demonstrates that cycling really is for everyone.
Holidaying in Scotland
Holidaying in Scotland can bring with it both the challenges and pleasures of experiencing all 4 seasons within the course of a day, but if you’re willing to take a chance and pack a varied wardrobe, then Scotland really does offer the most incredible outdoor adventures.
Scottish born and bred, but now living south of the border, my family and I are regular returners. Over the years the gear piled high inside and on top of the car has evolved as our children have grown from miniature souls whose bikes once upon a time fitted inside the car, to teens who cycle to school but whose gear these days usually comes with a screen and a cable.
Two of the pre-requisites for our annual spring trip are that it involves both mountains and sea. Ideally staying within easy reach of a number of Munros (a Scottish mountain with an elevation of more than 3,000 feet or 914 metres) as Munro ‘bagging’ is a regular holiday activity (this year The Cobbler, a mere 884 metres). As we weren’t staying under the shadow of any local Munros, there was a need to find alternative activities pulling teens away from exam revision and screens.
Isle of Bute
And so a plan was hatched to visit the Isle of Bute. A small island only 15 miles long and less than 5 miles wide just off the west coast of southern Scotland – definitely small enough to cycle around easily. Bute was a popular holiday destination during Victorian times for the holiday makers flooding down from Glasgow when the River Clyde was booming.
With the Highland Boundary Fault running across it, Bute is divided into highland and lowland areas. Inhabited from prehistoric times, Bute has been colonized by Gaelic peoples, fallen under control of the Vikings, in the 17th century was known for cases of witchcraft, played a major role in World War II due to its significant naval position and in 2003 raised its profile due to the globally renowned fashion designer Stella McCartney choosing to marry in the chapel of Mount Stuart House on the island. Today Bute’s major industries are farming, tourism, fishing and forestry.
Family friendly E-bikes
But I digress from the admirable new enterprise we discovered, namely Bike Bute (https://fynefutures.org.uk/bikebute/), Scotland’s first island-based community e-bike scheme, developed by Fyne Futures, a registered charity and social enterprise committed to environmental sustainability on the Isle of Bute (https://www.fynefutures.org.uk/).
Currently renting 16 Raleigh MOTUS Grand Tour e-bikes in 3 sizes (https://www.raleigh.co.uk/gb/en/motus-grand-tour-derailleur-gear/) , the scheme offers both annual membership as well as half or full day hires for island visitors. Proving popular on Bute the feedback is that Fyne Futures is already in talks with Highland and Islands ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne (https://www.calmac.co.uk/) to help to set up such enterprises elsewhere in the Scottish isles.
Our lightweight bike accessory – the Hiplok Z LOK
Armed with several Hiplok Z LOKs we set off on our 9 e-bikes to circumnavigate the island. My advice is that you should never embark on any trip without these lightweight security ties, suitable for a whole range of uses from camping to water sports and ski-ing, as well as for their original use as a café-stop bike security tie, both for single bikes or to daisy chain together for multiple bikes. (https://hiplok.com/product-category/z-lok/).
Aged from 14 to nearly 80 years riding e-bikes specifically was a new venture for us all. Some of the party enjoyed the novelty of adding an extra boost for the inclines or to catch up with those ahead having stopped to photograph yet another view, for others having a low level of continuous propulsion of extra-e-energy was welcome, whereas there was one at the lower age range who took great pride in never using any level of electric boost whatsoever!
Our Raleighs had integrated locks but for those E-bikes without, Hiplok offer a range of combined lock bundles for both maximum security both at home and while out and about such as our E-DX (https://hiplok.com/product/hiplok-e-dx/).
The verdict on e-bikes
I’m in! A first time convert to e-bikes for a family friendly trip. Undoubtedly heavier to manoeuvre, however the benefits of e-bikes are broad reaching. Increasing in popularity rapidly around the world, both for regular cyclists and new recruits.
Our fleet of Raleigh e-bikes allowed our mixed age family group to undertake the same outing at the same pace, ensuring our 14 to 80 years and 4ft 11 to 6ft 2 spread were all able to ride together despite differing abilities and fitness (https://www.raleigh.co.uk/gb/en/motus-grand-tour-derailleur-gear/). Power assisted and silent the benefits of e-bikes are far reaching from environmental, health and wellbeing, not to mention significant financial savings with the alarming increase in the cost of living in 2022.
Bike Bute was a great discovery and we look forward to finding many more such environmentally sustainable ventures offering similar schemes around the world (https://fynefutures.org.uk/bikebute/).
Here at Hiplok we’ve certainly noticed a huge growth in E-bike riders of all ages, especially since Covid-19. If you’d like to find out more about e-bikes take a look here https://hiplok.com/how-to-lock-an-e-bike/ or watch our founder, John Abrahams explain how to lock an electric bike here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHY2NCIj4S.
Please note, no filters have been used in these photos – Bute genuinely was this beautiful, green and sunny!