It was the day I took my beloved road bike in for its fourth urgent health check in as many months that I felt it was time to make a decision I'd been avoiding for some time - I needed a better set of commuting wheels.
Years ago I used to ride a battered old courier bike to work - a now lost Marin flat bar - and I loved it. But lifting it up the stairs was a mission. It was a heavy old lump. After a bit of searching around and doing a bit of research I went for on of the Eastway range.
Eastway bikes have a lovely history which you can read all about on their site. As they are currently only stocked by smaller retailers in the UK there's a personal touch which is easy to lose with large retailers.
Most importantly they use quality components (SRAM) to provide a ride, in their own words, 'fit for the city. There's currently 13 bikes in the Eastway range and I went for the FB1.0 - a flat bar commuter model.
Here's six reasons why I think that going for this bike transformed my cycling commute to work.
1. Owning a commuter bike saves my road bike for weekends
My road bike is my pride and joy. I clean and maintain it religiously, so having it bashed up by central London potholes just felt like the wrong thing to be doing. It's not built for commuting. The Eastway is built for the daily ride. It feels comfortable hammering along busy roads.
2. Don't feel you need to dress like a pro-cyclist
'When in Rome...' Perched on a flash road by made me feel compelled to wear all the gear, even when riding a few miles to work. Let's be honest, squeezing into lycra is a bore at the best of times, and you can't exactly go out wearing full cycling gear. There's also small details like not having clipless pedals which means I felt more relaxed approaching the numerous red lights in London.
3. You go slower - so it feels safer
Even though the Eastway bikes are light and fast, since riding the flat bar I've had literally no dramatic, heart in the mouth incidents involving me and near death. Generally when on my super speedy road bike I cause these myself by trying out out sprint buses and cars. (Yeah, that's not generally a good idea). When on the Eastway my riding position is higher, I feel more controlled and it changes my riding accordingly. Basically it helped me ride like less of a dick.
4. Disc brakes give you added confidence
One of the biggest selling points of the Eastway was the disc brakes. I've never used these before and to be honest, now I've tried them, I can't imagine going back to little blocks of rubber to help me stop. They respond instantly and on those days when you're a bit tired riding home from work in the rain, the added responsiveness is a huge advantage. Here's what Eastway say about their components.
5. Doesn't look too flash
The Eastway is beautifully designed. Mine was black with yellow branding. I honestly noticed other riders checking out its simple but well formed style. This simplicity has the added benefit of making it look slightly less inviting to half witted bike thieves who may target bright, shiny offerings. But there's more to the frame than just looking good. Eastway know their stuff and explain it all here.
6. You can jump off curbs
Remember when you were a kid and jumping off curbs was an essential part of riding? Well, it's back. Believe it or not, it's probably the little things like not worrying about buckling wheels which has made my time on the Eastway so much fun. I've a load of new shortcuts to work I never knew existed before!