The Long Bike-to-Work

When I took the job which led to my relocation to Chester, one of the things I noted was the chance to use the bike-to-work scheme through Cyclescheme. After being in the job for a few months, I decided to go for it

The process of getting the voucher was relatively painless, requesting it from the Cyclescheme website through an employer-specific link. After a few weeks the voucher was given to me (I’m not sure why it took so long) and I ordered the bike from The Bike Factory. I could have ordered it before the voucher came through, but this being my first time using Cyclescheme, I didn’t want to take the risk of ordering the bike and being refused a voucher for some reason. When I ordered the bike, the salesperson suggested it would typically take 3-4 weeks to arrive from the manufacturer, but a few days later after the order had been placed I was contacted and told that the bike would take 9 weeks to arrive, being ready to collect on the 17th July.

After this I did not hear from The Bike Factory until a few days before I was due to collect the bike. I had seen another person at Chester station with a bike from The Bike Factory  and it had a rather large sticker on the frame advertising the shop. Naturally I wanted to avoid having a rather excessive piece of branding added to my new bike and so I emailed the shop to request they not fit the sticker. On the 16th I received a reply, and was notified that due to a delay with the manufacturer the bike would not be at the shop for up to three additional weeks.

Naturally I appreciated that the delay was not the fault of The Bike Factory, but I was very unhappy that they had waited until one day before I was expecting the bike to tell me about this significant delay, especially an internet search revealed that other retailers had notified their customers of this same delay at least a week earlier. They did eventually offer to lend me a courtesy bike, but by this point it had gotten quite close to the new delivery date and it didn’t seem to be worth the bother any more.

I have got the bike now, I am very happy with it and I will be writing about my impressions soon. Buying through Cyclescheme was relatively painless, although issuing the voucher took longer than I would have expected. The lead time for the bike was more than I expected and the delay was quite annoying. Whilst this was less than ideal, I was pleased that The Bike Factory tried to make amends in the end by not charging me for the additional options I had specified on the bike which were not covered by the Cyclescheme voucher (including the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain colour scheme).


8 thoughts on “The Long Bike-to-Work

  1. My daughter has been waiting since May for her Brompton. I hear from our bike shop that Brompton have temporarily closed their order books because the potential waiting time was getting so out of hand. Good and bad. Good that a British company is being so successful. Bad because…
    Anyway, enjoy riding the Brommie. I’m sure you will because they are great fun and well as immensely practical.

    • Mine was ordered quite near the beginning of May, so I imagine your daughter’s can’t be far behind (unless it was raw lacquer, which I hear is in particularly strong demand). I have heard something similar about the order book, I think Brompton really need to expand production. Perhaps having an additional factory in a different part of the UK would be a good way to have a large increase in capacity whilst retaining the reputation benefits which come from being based in the UK. There could even be a few minor superficial design differences between the two factories for the enthusiasts.

  2. Brompton already have a large number of parts built up across the UK, and following some very close calls in the early days, involving rapid trips to claim tooling paid for by Brompton before the liquidators moved in, or buying up the UK stock of SA 3 speeds, and shipping them off-site when the factory closed. Now most parts are dual sourced and Brentford mainly delivers the very specialised work required for the frames and the final assembly process. Brompton is already being ‘built’ UK-wide.
    To maintain quality and a full audit trail the curent arrangements do deliver and the upheaval of any change will seriously affect this, and is not a detail to undertaken lightly.

  3. While I wouldn’t blame anyone for taking advantage of the government’s subsidised bike scheme, it seems to be used almost exclusively by middle class professional types who could afford the bikes at full price and often use the scheme to treat themselves to a new bike they would have bought anyway, don’t really need and just fancy adding to their stable of bikes.

    As someone who worked in Manchester city centre for many years, and also worked in central Leeds and Birmingham, I noticed that my workplace bike storage was always underused. However, the people who did use it were almost exclusively from the managerial or professional grades, and tended to live further away from work then other employees.

    It’s always good to see the government giving people incentives to start cycling, but the current scheme does not seem to be encouraging people to do so, but merely making cycling cheaper for relatively affluent people who already do it.

    It’s a poorly targeted use of public money.

    • I agree. For someone in my situation who didn’t already have a bike, the scheme would not have been all that useful, as it would require many weeks worth of paying for alternative means of transport. Generally the scheme is targeted towards those already wealthy enough to own a car or cycle (which can continue to be used during the considerable administration and delivery times involved in procuring a bicycle this way). There is a lot of cycle-sport promotion/conflation involved in the scheme too, with many of the other users of the scheme where I work having bought racing bikes which they use to travel (fairly impressive distances) to work for a few weeks in summer, but generally continue to drive otherwise.

      Typically for the UK, we have a scheme like this in place whilst ignoring the proven methods for increasing cycling rates which have been used by our neighbours in The Netherlands. Sadly we seem to focus all of our (tiny) cycle funding into methods which do not make much difference to cycling rates, such as bike-to-work, cycle promotion & encouragement, education campaigns and cycle training. Having said that, at least the fairly small sum by which the government subsidised my bike by can’t be wasted subsidising driving.

  4. Pingback: Brompton P6R Impressions | Chester Cycling

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  6. Howdy! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading your posts.
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