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Royal Mails Wheels Out Better Pedal Power

Royal Mail is wheeling out a new bicycle to replace its 33,000 strong fleet – the largest in Europe.

The new bike, called the Millennium, will be lighter and more comfortable than the existing model, with better road-holding and improved safety features. It was designed after close consultation with postmen and women throughout the UK.

Royal Mail’s Head of Delivery, Garry Phillips, said:

"We have built into the Millennium the features our staff say they want most: better suspension – provided by fatter tyres and alloy wheels instead of steel – a strengthened frame, a stand and a lock, and reflective material for greater visibility.

"For more than 100 years we have taken great care to provide our postmen and women with rugged, serviceable machines. But we now need a new, versatile design using latest technology to replace bikes as they come to the end of the road.

"The Millennium is a first class bike for today’s conditions, but we are continuing our research to find ways to make cycling safer, more comfortable and more efficient for our postmen and woman."

The new bicycles will be made by WR Pashley of Stratford-on-Avon, main supplier to The Post Office since 1977.

Each working day Royal Mail uses trains, planes and 29,00 vans and trucks to distribute 75 million letters, cards and packets (nearly double that at Christmas). But for many of the UK’s 26 million addresses, it is a postman or woman on a bicycle who delivers their mail to the door.


Some Bicycle Facts

  • Post Office trials of early velocipedes (cycles) failed because postmen found them almost impossible to ride.
  • By 1880 some postmen in Coventry were being an extra five shillings a week each to own, maintain and use tricycles.
  • In 1882 an architect designed a mail quincycle, with a large central wheel and baskets suspended over pairs of smaller wheels fore and aft. At first it was affectionately known as the Hen and Chicken but it lost popularity.
  • Various trials led to 67 posts, where mail could be collected by bicycle and tricycle owner-riders for delivery, being established by 1895 throughout the country.
  • The Post Office bought its first 100 bikes in 1896 and from then on maintained a national fleet.
  • Standard bicycles were introduced in 1929 and the designs remained largely unchanged until 1992. Postal cycles had free-wheels; telegraph cycles had a fixed wheel.
  • A new lighter design in 1992 brought all-weather hub brakes, lighter frame, plastic mail containers and mudguards.
  • Royal Mail postmen and women pedal a total of more than a million miles a week – equivalent to 40 times round the world or to the moon and back twice.
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CWN / Business / Newswire / W R Pashley / 30 Dec 98

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