Sunday, 15 May 2011

She's at it again! Helen Pidd on the Apollo Haze Women's Hybrid

Helen Pidd's article in the 14 May edition of the Guardian's Weekend.
I really like it when the Guardian's Weekend magazine invites journalist and writer Helen Pidd to contribute something on cycling. In this week's issue she's road testing the Apollo Haze Women's Hybrid – and isn't very complimentary about it.

In three words, she describes it as 'cheap and nasty' and goes on to recommend the Specialized Sirrus, which costs an additional £200 and, of course, bolsters the theory that in this world, you get what you pay for.

Helen lives in Berlin, as we learned from her previous review of the Velorbis Victoria Balloon, which was given the thumbs up. The Apollo, however, was on a loser from the word go. For a start, it cost only £139.99, not that Pidd had ruled it out of court because of price. She was road testing the bike in London and decided to take it up Swains Lane in Highgate, only to discover that the lowest of the bike's 18 gears wasn't working. This she put down to the way it had been assembled by Halfords staff.

"The Apollo is usually sold flatpacked, ready for customers to assemble at home (a disaster waiting to happen). Mine was allegedly set up by a professional," wrote Pidd, explaining how most independent bike shops will tell you that 'it's impossible to make a decent bike for under £300', adding that the Apollo proves the point.

Pidd describes the Apollo as 'ugly' and wonders 'how many grown women would really choose a metallic lilac number with tacky flowers transferred on to the frame?' She's right, of course, but claims that when she took the Apollo off-road, it coped well, adding that not all the components are rubbish ('the rear mech is Shimano') and there was a women-specific gel saddle.

Neither the gears nor the saddle, however, were enough to make up for the bike's malfunctioning gear and 'hideous appearance'.

Pidd recommends that if you can't afford a brand new bike for around £300, opt for a secondhand one. Now that is sensible advice. There are a load of very cheap bikes around, but the 'get what you pay for philosophy' is all too real. Best to buy secondhand. In fact, only a month or two ago, I found a Specialized Hardrock mountain bike in one of those new-fangled pawnshops (this one in Croydon) for a mere £90!

When I consider that my son has a Hardrock that needs more than £90 worth of work, he'd be better off buying another one if its only £90!

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