OFO 3-gear bikes may not manage Sheffield hills, say cyclists

Cycling enthusiasts in the city centre were unsure if OFO’s 3-gear bikes would make the cut due to Sheffield’s topography.

OFO will provide non-docking bike share facilities in Sheffield on 9 January 2018, after piloting the venture in Cambridge earlier this year.

1000 bikes were to be dispersed through the city centre in December, but the launch was postponed to January due to talks with Sheffield City Council.

Andy Hoyland, a Sheffield resident and cyclist, said the bike share schemes, in general, were a great idea.

Dexter Johnstone, Secretary of Cycle Sheffield, also said the organisation was pleased about the scheme’s launch, after having personally used their services in Oxford.

He said: “As long as there are enough bikes around then hopefully it should let people who don’t cycle, currently, make shorter journeys around the city centre- and they’ll realise that it is a viable form of transport.”

He added that it would be easier to get a bike from the scheme to travel from one end of the city centre to another.

He said, however, that people living outside the centre may want to buy their own bikes instead, as the bikes currently have only three gears.

OFO bikes are equipped with Shimano Nexus 3-speed hub gears, which are automatic speed adjustment systems made for bicycles.

Mr Hoyland echoed the sentiment and added: “The number of hills in Sheffield makes this less appealing than the number of cars in Sheffield.

“I know there will be some people who manage around Sheffield with three gears, but I don’t think it would be the average person who we’re trying to encourage to cycle.”

Adam Rose, 34, Operations Manager for OFO in Sheffield, said they were aware the topography of Sheffield was “hillier” than the other cities they have launched in.

He added: “We are looking for ways to remedy this currently. Although gears are probably less of an issue compared to people’s legs.

“Don’t blame the bike.”

Mr Rose said that the scheme would make cycling accessible to all, including those who do not own bikes or have no storage docks for them.

He added: “It encourages people who have never thought about making journeys by bike.”

He said OFO is working with the University of Sheffield and its own bike sharing scheme and will dock OFO bikes on their campus and on their existing hub sites.

Emily Griffiths, a Sheffield cyclist, said: “The routes and signage are not so easy I really don’t know if a newcomer would find it easy (to cycle).”