Bobbin enters its 10th year in existence and, to celebrate, it has just rolled out a collection in partnership with that bastion of academic excellence — Cambridge University. As well as retro and classic models there's a singlespeed Noodle that, in all honesty, passes with flying colours.
The Noodle comes in single- and eight-speed depending on your riding vice, but with the relatively flat city-centre streets of Bristol – except the Eiger-like Park Street, of course – we went single. That’d set you back £380 with an extra £55 if adorned with Shimano Altus gearing.
As expected for a bike of such frugality, it’s constructed from high-tensile steel, or hi-ten for short. Lovers of steel know that this is the most inexpensive type of steel used in bike frames. That’s down to containing few alloys, which are those additional metals that improve its strength-to-weight ratio. It’s also the heaviest steel used in bike frames, ensuring the Noodle was a weighty beast. That’s no criticism — it’s just fact and what you’d expect at this price point.
The knock-on effect is a Noodle with pretty cumbersome acceleration — away from traffic lights, for instance — but once it’s up and going, it cruises along nicely. In fact, it’s extremely comfortable thanks to the sit-up-and-spin geometry aligned with flatter bars that combine for a rather sporty feel. Well, that’s what the London-based outfit tells us and, in practice, we’d have to agree. Comfort’s heightened further by 700 x 32 wheels, provided by budget Kenda tyres.
A nod to fashion derives from subtleties, like the Duracork grips — positively commented on by many an observer — and Bobbin’s own vinyl saddle. Tektro’s side pull brakes provide stopping duties, via rather aesthetically pleasing cabling that glistens silver. The distinct lipped chainwheel helps protect your clothes, and the kickstand, carrier rack and bottle cage mounts provide other practical touches. It also has a flip-flop hub so you can choose to freewheel or go fixed.
We tested the Charcoal, its simplicity adding a touch of style, but it also comes in an equally elegant Moody Blue and Rifle Green. Our only grievance, and this clearly enters the world of pettiness, but there’s something a bit too CBeebies about its name that distracts from a quality bike. Like I said, petty! Comes in three sizes — 52cm, 56cm and 60cm — so should suit most urban riders.