We've all gone cycling mad since the pandemic hit - getting about using your own steam seems like the sensible option right now. But a global bike shortage has led to long waiting lists stretching well into 2021 for some suppliers.
After a quicker way to get your hands on a new pair of wheels in the city? A bike subscription could be your answer. We tapped out for a month and road tested Buzzbike, which markets itself as the “Netflix for bikes."
For £29.99 a month (or from £17 a month on the Buzzbike to Work scheme), you get a nifty bike, worth between £600 and £700, that’s designed for city cycling, complete with protection against theft and on-demand maintenance (including puncture fixing) - two big ticks when it comes to peddling around London. If your bike gets nicked, Buzzbike will deliver one to your door within a day or so. Members aren’t roped into long-term contracts and can cancel the subscription any time.
Once you’ve signed up online and selected the size of your bike, it’s delivered to your home or work (if you live in zones 1-3).
Look and feel
There are two size frames: 52cm and 57cm, and the company recommends the smaller one for anybody under 6 foot tall. The light-weight steel frame comes in a slick matte grey hue with a magenta front fork and features include puncture-proof tyres, three speeds, mudguards and powerful V-brakes. I wasn’t sold on the pink detailing of the Buzzbike, I would have preferred a neon yellow, but it’s good to have some colour to the frame for riding in the dark.
Users are encouraged to download the Buzzbike app which tracks things like miles spent in the saddle, calories burnt, money saved on public transport by cycling and carbon offset, all designed to spur you on your cycling journey -and you’re rewarded in beer and coffee the more you cycle. Ride every day Monday to Friday and you get a £5 Costa Coffee voucher, for example or cycle 500 miles and you get a £10 Beer Hawk voucher. If you’re a total newbie and need to kit yourself out, you’ll also get discount on equipment like helmets and lights form certain brands.
The bike has a really comfortable seat and the lightweight frame makes it an agile ride around London town, being nimble enough to weave in and out of traffic, unlike other clunky bikes for hire in the city. The lock which was conveniently fitted to the frame, was easy to use and felt sturdy, and knowing that I was protected against theft was definitely reassuring . My only gripe? I would have liked to have raised the handlebars slightly, like you can the saddle (which they provide an Allen key for), but struggled to.
When it comes to value for money, at just a quid a day this was the perfect way for me to test out if I was ready to become a serious commuter and invest in a proper bike for riding around central London - turns out I’m not, but if I were, I would definitely use the pretty much seamless service again while I find the right one.
This is a perfect starter bike for someone wanting to build their confidence riding in the city, or as a stop gap while you save funds to make a big investment into cycling.