Robert Hanks: The Cycling Column

Get on your bike? If only it were as simple as that...
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Indy Lifestyle Online

The first two weeks of this column generated more response than I've had in my previous 18 years in journalism. Top of the list? Toe-clips versus cleats. Do you stick with friendly clips that scuff your shoes to buggery, or opt for the modern, cleated soles and put on cycle shoes every time you hop on your bike?

Philip Stewart from Oxford said his worst accident happened when toe-clips kept him attached to his bike. Two years later, without clips, he was thrown clear, "landing on all fours like a cat". Nobody else had reservations about fixing their feet to their pedals, with clippers and cleaters evenly split.

Chris Allies sent a photo of some chunky plastic toe-clips embossed with the word "Elite", that could be Elite Eclipse toe-clips. Craig Hynds in Canada put in a hearty testimonial for Power Grips, the broad straps that are supposedly more secure but easier to slip out of than clips. They're made by Eko Sport. But at nearly £30, they're fearfully expensive for an experiment.

Lighting: a gratifying groundswell of support for dynamos, but I was taken aback by the consensus that hub dynamos are the way forward. This is a relatively recent development. Leafing through a 1990 edition of Richard's Bicycle Book, I notice that the Blessed Ballantine didn't mention hubs, offering a choice between the bottle dynamo that fits against your wheel rim, and the sort that sits underneath your bottom-bracket.

Even more striking was the feeling that when it comes to hub dynamos, Schmidt sets the pace. Two problems: price, and you have to build the wheel around them.

Charlie Watson of Bristol came in with a well-argued case for the superiority of hub gears over derailleurs for most situations. Hub gears are virtually indestructible, and you can change gear while waiting at lights. But when something does go wrong, hub gears are a thoroughgoing nuisance; and you don't get the same spread of ratios.

The latter problem may have been conquered by the Rohloff 14-speed hub. If anybody out there can afford one, please let us know what it's like.

Robert Davies and Melanie Dyson offered stories of accidents in which helmets had saved their lives, and we'll return to this subject. On the matter of a compulsory cycling test, Richard Evans suggests making one part of the driving test.

Finally, suggestions that the Motoring should change its name to Transport. Hilary Thornburn argued that we should take over the section and leave a small column for cars. Shush, Hilary. They mustn't suspect anything.

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