Time to catch up on some correspondence and tie up a few loose ends.
First loose end: I mentioned months ago that I might try Power Grips - thick flat straps to attach your feet to your pedals, supposedly an alternative to toe-clips or cleats. My set finally arrived a couple of weeks ago and, mirabile dictu, they really work.
The straps sit diagonally on the pedals, so that you stick your foot in at an angle; when you straighten your foot, the loop tightens.
Once you've got the strap adjusted - a fiddly process, admittedly - it's comfortable and effective, and gives you pedalling efficiency in your smartest shoes without scuffing.
Make sure you get the right size (standard up to around a size 11 shoe, XL thereafter). I got mine from the US, but there are sources over here. Expect to pay up to £20.
An apology: Carl Jones rebuked me for making "glib" (ouch) remarks about a change that may or may not have taken place in the law with respect to flashing LEDs, and directed me to Statutory Instrument 2005 No 2559, Road Vehicles Lighting (Amendment) Regulations 2005. This document - every bit as racy as it sounds - makes it clear that a change has indeed taken place. It doesn't tell you what the effect of the changes is in the real world.
My uninformed suspicion is that as long as it's reasonably bright and doesn't induce seizures, the police will probably let you alone; but I'm not accepting any liability.
Mention that I was trying out a fixed-gear bike stirred up all sorts of excitement. A couple of people were sceptical of the idea that fixed is more mechanically efficient than freewheel - what, even a single-speed free-wheel set-up, they wondered? Apparently so. The arguments are set out in greater detail at www.fixedgeargallery.com/articles/lee/lee.pdf. My arts-graduate summary goes like this: nearly all cyclists' legs don't move at a constant speed throughout their rotation. When you have a freewheel, the rear wheel can go slightly faster than you are pedalling through a significant portion of each rotation, and you are expending energy that is not being converted into forward motion. Remove the freewheel, and the rear wheel only goes as fast as you pedal, so less energy is wasted and you develop a more even and efficient cadence. Sounds plausible, but then I did philosophy.
By the way, Ian Leslie wrote: "Ideal would be a gear that allowed you to flick from fixed to free at will. We can dream."
A system called the Fix-Free Drive doesexactly that, with a lever mounted on the handlebars. It's no longer on the market, but its inventor, Paul Fletcher, says he would welcome enquiries, especially from anybody interested in exploiting the patent. Call him on 01453 873541.Reuse content