2007 - 2021

My Free Bike. Comments Welcome.

I got a bike for Christmas. Two grands  worth, but I really think I should give it back. It’s a moral dilemma. Your advice will be welcomed. No seriously. Usually when I have a moral issue I think, now what would Rod  Stewart do in the circumstances? But well he’s not here, and you are. So speak to me.
Let me explain. I’m a sometimes freelance journalist and over the years I have researched and reviewed electric bicycles, both here and in Holland and Japan so when  a pal asked me to advise him on the best sort for buying for his hire business I phoned a bicycle manufacturers and asked them to lend me their latest model for a few days, both  for him and a review in the papers
In a twink they had arranged for one to be sent over from Holland and with it came the message that I could keep it when I had done the review. You get my problem. Do I have the right?
Let me not get too self righteous here. Over the years I have taken many a freebie without guilt. Holidays in the West Indies., The QE2, cameras, life jackets If there is a hell and the good Lord disapproves of freebies I will fry for sure.
Now virtually everyone I have spoken to say, keep it, it’s the system, they get free publicity, you get the bike, shut up and get on your bike.
And I can see their point. I intend riding it across Scotland in mid winter and camping beside it in the snow, thrashing it to death during a month in the city, researching the new battery technology and that’s all  before I spend a day or two writing it up for the Herald and working out how to edit the pictures and send them over. It’s not as if I am at it.
Well maybe not entirely.
Now let me first exonerate the bikes manufacturers. They are based in the States ( Its a Rad Rhino ) and when I phoned  them before Christmas the last thing they needed was trying to sell a second hand well thrashed bicycle in a foreign country, no corruption was intended, in fact they were great, as is the bike.
So what’s my problem?
Well it’s all Donald Trump’s fault. And Boris’s And the Independence debate. And being an old age pensioner and being horrified at whet is happening to the world. Having recently seen Trump at a rally in Mississippi I am genuinely convinced he’s a sociopath and whilst I have yet to fully understand Boris, or indeed why Britain (! – Ed) voted for him the thought of these pair of dangerous clowns running so much of our  lives genuinely frightens me. Particularly post Brexit when they will be getting their heads together and devising plans for a new relationship.
And I don’t write that for effect. It looks highly likely that they will be in power for the next six years.
I fully expect nightmare times ahead and given what’s been happening in Iran has only turned up the volume on my fears. It’s been the first time in my life that I am glad I don’t have kids, and that’s not a comment I make lightly.
Now of course many of you will respond by saying that the way ahead is for an Independent Scotland and I can see and respect that point of view and indeed understand it’s logic, even if I am still not convinced. But this being the New Year lets not have the same old battles, let’s try new tacks, new ideas. We are facing a world crisis. Time for fresh thinking.
Bugger the bike, how should we respond?
Well this being the New Year I think we should look at how we have responded in the past since Boris came to power and evaluate it, and see if we have made much of an impact, or have been wasting our time. Yep the way we have reacted has been to gripe and moan and kick off on line, and campaign and have marches.  And the affect? Pretty much damn all. In the main we would have been as well to have just turned  on the telly and watched Cash in the Attic.
Plus, and here’s where the bike comes in, we have increasingly stopped being Scottish.
Being Scottish? What exactly does that mean and and how have we been drifting from it?
Now I suppose this can all be easily categorised as being an old man  ( I’m sixty seven ) saying “In my day” but its more than that , let me stick to ” In recent days” Scotland’s image abroad, it’s brand if you will, has been of straight talking, total honesty, decency and professional efficiency. We will all remember the old chestnut about the Scot who had visited London and was asked what the English were like and had replied “No idea I only met the heads of departments.” and that silly joke has traction around the world.
No matter which country I visit the reputation of the Scots is still extraordinary. It doesn’t matter if I am in India, or America, or  Japan the generally truth is that if your accountant was a Scot you had an increased hope he wasn’t going to diddle you. Same for your bank manager. Or Ships engineer. Or teacher. Or Doctor. Or the guy who comes round to fix the plumbing.
We are a tiny country that has been punching well above our weight, not just through colonialism, but because we have delivered a good product in terms of decency, reliability  and if you will forgive for a term that has been taking a bit of a battering, Christian values.
Of course all that took a huge hit in 2008 when so many Scots were involved in duplicitous dealings in the financial meltdown. There is little doubt that we should have jailed a few and let the world witness that we weren’t having it.
So what’s all this got to do with my wretched bicycle?
Well my thoughts are that if we are to move forward we must return to punching up those values, re-establishing the brand, defining it, selling it, being it. Or we are lost.
If we sell out to the world of cheap sex, on line gambling, as much corruption as we can get away with without being found out, following the amorality of Trump and Boris then we are no longer Scots and it’s all just a race to get the biggest share of the cake and the devil take the hindmost.
Anyone want a bike?

Comments (34)

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  1. Lordmac says:

    I me lol a bike is the new way of transportation , save the planet dump the car and bus

    1. maxwellmacleod says:

      Dear Lordmac,
      ( My God has he come back as a ghost with an assumed name to tick me off me? The internet gets everywhere these days.. ) Thank you for confronting the moral issues I face with such sophistication. Me lol a bike too. Respect.

  2. James Mills says:

    I thought that the Scottish Government , in its own small way , was attempting to keep some of those quaint Scottish values of looking out for those in need and trying to reduce the dire effects of some of the policies emanating from Westminster .
    I don’t see how you could think that ”the Scots” reputation was tarnished by the events of 2008 – most people I know , here or abroad , blamed ”those f*cking bankers ” , and did not attach any particular nationality to them !

    And …keep the bike , Maxwell , I would if it was me . Happy New Year !

    1. maxwell macleod says:

      I’m interested that you think the Scottish Government behaved without blemish regarding the 2008 meltdown, personally I think it was a fulcrum moment and that it’s inertia endorsed the Greed is Good philosophy, not convinced that it had no power not to influence matters.
      The trouble with taking the moral high ground is that to sustain any credibility I am also going to have give away my beloved bike. Ah me! Mind you I still have to cycle the wretched thing across Scotland.

      1. James Mills says:

        Maxwell , you must be thinking of a different Scottish Government in another universe which can influence the decisions , especially financial ,of the great and good at Westminster !

  3. Jo says:

    Keep the bike, Maxwell. It inspired this article which I then read and it made me smile. And for that alone you deserve it because, God knows, I despair of this year already and we’re only five days in so I’ve not smiled much.

    Safe travels!

    1. Sandy says:

      Scots have been complicit in many crooked and exploitative schemes over centuries and even in recent times, Goodwin being only one recent example that shouldn’t be forgotten.
      The good human being is present in all airts and pairts and at all levels. Unfortunately, so is the bad one.

    2. maxwell macleod says:

      Thanks Jo, I agree. I think we need more plain silliness and aggressive optimism to see us through.

  4. Jim Parkinson says:

    No choice really,auction the bike off and give the proceeds to a food bank/charity /kids/some needy cause.

    1. Anthony Cowie says:

      This is the noble response… Proceeds to charity. Deeds speak loudest… Great read and good for thought…

  5. Ewen says:

    Keep the bike… We’re f***ed anyway. Read the master puppeteers DomCum job adverts for the executive in No 10 and tell me we’re not turning into a dictatorship and, as these jobs advert are publicly known about, nobody actually gives a f*** so we all accept that this is OK. Truly scary times ahead.


    Luckily, we in Scotland, have an escape route with independence. Unfortunately I believe 99.99999% of Scotland either don’t know or don’t give a f*** about DomCum being the real PM, sorry Dictator of the UK. I live in hope our great country will vote Yes next time. May the force be with you.

  6. Ruth Forsythe says:

    Be a generous Scot and give it away. I’d love an electric bike but can’t afford one, so I’d be happy to take it off your hands.

    1. Jo says:


      : )

    2. maxwell macleod says:

      Good try Ruth, hope you get a bike.Speaking objectively if you are broke some of the Halford ones are surprisingly good ( say £650) and I am genuinely impressed with this Rad. though that’s twice the money. If you buy second hand make sure the battery isn’t tired.

  7. squigglypen says:

    Pay for your bike jimmy and vote for the Scots to run their own country….like every other corrupt/perfect country on the planet( like the one south of us)…an keep takin’ the pills ..sounds like ye need them.

  8. DaveL says:

    Ride the bike for as long as you need, then donate it to one of the excellent projects getting people out cycling, like The Bothy in Inverclyde https://www.cyclinguk.org/press-release/inverclyde-bothy-get-hundreds-people-cycling-and-walking.

    Yep, we’ll have to do a lot to make sure we’re not tarnished by association but let’s make sure our reputation is justified by our actions and choices, and not just shiny PR.

  9. Josef Ó Luain says:

    If you can get stabilizers for it, I’ll have it. Thanks.

  10. Muiris says:

    I initially thought that your household was into expensive but poorly researched Christmas presents. Thankfully not.

    The company ‘loan’ you a bike, so that you have an opportunity to say nice things about it, to a public with whom you have credibility. Is this their ‘standard’ bike’? Quite possibly not. What about a company that can’t afford to ‘loan’ you a bike, standard or otherwise?

    Any corruption is in taking a bike, for publicity purposes, and not purchasing one for your research. The value of the now secondhand bike is not an issue (already written off in the marketing dept), unless the ‘gifting’ of it, gives you a warm glow, & makes you write nicer things in your articles.

    1. maxwell macleod says:

      Thanks Muiris. No it’s not their standard bike. They gave me special extras to see if it could be used for E tourism, the notion being to see if it was viable to develop a new type of tourism with folk using e bikes to tour Scotland.

  11. Grouser says:

    Test the bike, write an honest review and either donate it to a bike charity as already suggested or keep it and use it to reduce your car/bus usage. Returning it would be a waste of money and resources.
    The criminals involved in the banking heist were protected by Westminster politicians. In my opinion these politicians were complicit in the whole scandal. The Scottish government had little or no imput into how this was handled.
    One thing I, an elderly and lifelong Independence supporter, cannot understand is why you are still hee-hawing about supporting Independence.

  12. Eric Morrison says:

    Pensioner – and you’re still working? Give the work up, let a youngster have your job instead.
    Slightly dismissive of independence that’s normal for most countries but apparently not Scotland!
    You’re a pensioner with probably one of the lowest State Pensions in the developed world- all as part of this glorious ‘union’
    Give up the electric bike, give it to someone more needy, buy a push bike, keep yourself fit.
    Have a Happy New Year

  13. Isaac says:

    I have a busted knee and have trouble getting from place to place. I live in N.Y. and this bike will surely granted me some upward mobility

    1. Maxwell macleod says:

      Objectively speaking I would recommend the fat tired version for the old and inform. Mind you it’s hard to get your leg over,but what’s new

  14. Wul says:

    I enjoy your writing Maxwell. Thank you for this.

    Scottish people’s good reputation around the world did not result from “..punching up those values, re-establishing the brand, defining it, selling it, being it.” Our good reputation comes from travelling Scots being respectful towards the people they meet, seeing them as their equals and being keen to do an honest day’s work in return for an honest wage. No marketing necessary.

    As someone above noted; the “sell out” risk comes from trying to honestly & objectively review something that is a freebie, a gift, a material gain. If you’d forked out £2k of your own cash for it, I’d trust your review to be more heartfelt, because you’d be comparing it’s value to all the other things you could have done with that money (including eating or heating your home). However, I imagine you have the objectivity, intelligence, integrity and imagination to give an honest account of the machine’s worth.

    The “moral high ground” ( or “being true to your own heart”) is important to retain. Especially as we get older and closer the truth of ourselves. It’s bloody hard and annoying and expensive at times though!

    I’d suggest giving the bike to someone who couldn’t afford it, but whose’s life will be improved by owning it. ( Maybe that’s you!? )

  15. Gordon EfirEbike says:

    Maxwell. I read an article tuther day which stated “if you get owt for nowt then ye be the product”.
    Just saying!

  16. Blair Breton says:

    Raffle it for charity.

    1. maxwell maclerod says:

      Enough already, many thanks for the calls, e mails and postings.
      The decision is that the bike will be made available to Xd2ers ( people who had diabetes type 2 but have put it into remission through Mike Lean/Roy Taylors Direct Diet.)
      For those who asked why I said that the bike cost £2k when it can be bought for 1500 euros, the model I was given had luggage racks and a spare battery ( £500 ) for my cross Scotland camping trip next week.
      I think the bike works well for old farts like me in that the tyres are so fat that it reduces your chance of falling off, most people who are Xd2 are old so the bike will deliver for them. It’s perhaps not so good in the city, but I think its going to work fine in the country/snow.. You might like to look at Rad’s step through version for urban use, the great thing about these e bikes is that it gets the oldies back cycling.

      Many thanks to those who contributed. It stopped me having to find Rod Stewarts phone number.

      1. Stuart says:

        Excellent idea Maxwell. The eventual recipient’s feedback to the manufacturer will probably be of more use to their engineering and marketing departments than any well considered review you may have written.

  17. Juteman says:

    I’ve been ashamed to admit i’m a Scot since 2014, not 2008. Nearly ended up in a couple of bar punch-ups due to chicken impersonations.
    Scotland the brave? Don’t make me fuckin laugh.

    1. Derek Thomson says:

      Hard to argue with that, although it hurts. I posted just after the result, “a more supine, servile, serfish race, it’s hard to imagine.” It hurt then, and it hurts now.

  18. Stuart Swanston says:

    Please note my interest and ask your solicitor to inform mine when a closing date is announced.

  19. Alice Chute says:

    On YOUR bike

  20. Peter Twyman says:

    Rod Stewart has just been arraigned in the US for swinging a punch. Gods have feet of clay and since I’m fairly sure you don’t want to swing a punch here’s my take on the matter. Those nice people in the US might be trying to influence your judgement by giving you such a munificent gift. To my untutored eye the bike looks like a Ford Edsel so they need all the help they can get. They really want you to keep that bike. This is far more sinister than you simply recognising that you may be deriving some illicit pleasure from something that the uncharitable could call freeloading and wondering if such a feeling is in the best traditions of Scottish disinterested straightforward honesty. Nay – nobility. But sinister or not your extrapolation of this circumstance to make it a metaphor for the soul of the Scottish Nation is way off beam. For a start the Scottish Nation doesn’t have a soul. If it ever did it sold it back in 1707 in return for English gold. History has judged the Union kindly but now the English gold is running out maybe it’s time for another change. Let’s just hope it’s not a reversion to pre 1707. I don’t think any inhabitants of Scotland would want to go back there any more than any of the inhabitants of these islands want to go back to the Wars of the Roses. The Walter Scott kind of Scotland is so much more amenable. And the early prototypes of bicycles were unlikely to have reached Scotland by the time of Sir Walter’s death so that particular moral dilemma will not feature in the (Walter) Scottish nirvana.

    1. Maxwell macleod says:

      Ah my dear Peter you truly write well,just marry a sub editor and you could be the new Iain Rankin.
      The issue of whether freebies make you flatter the donor is controversial
      Some of the most critical of restaurant critics became the most saught after.The hacks who just suck up lose credability and are shunned.

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