The New Cycling Trousers

1 Apr

I’ve had the not so pleasurable pleasure of meeting a cycling snob recently and the journalist inside me, unable to control the habit of asking questions, asked involuntarily.  The question: what is something you find funny or interesting about other cyclists?

What I got was an earful of distaste of a quite comedic fashion statement I must admit.   “As a cycling snob there’s an assumption that cycling is your top priority. If that is the case then why on earth would you go around cycling in skinny jeans?? You can barely move.”   The cycling connoisseur chose to remain anonymous.  

Courtesy of

My experiences proving that the range of motion granted to a skinny jeans wearer doesn’t surpass standing still and not for too long either, I was actually intrigued by this comment.  It seemed quite practical in fact and not the least bit snooty.  So how do they do it,  these skinny jeans cyclists?  The responses were astounding!

 “I just hold in my breath the whole time and hope for the best. ” (Max Rutten, 22)

“I never really noticed it much.. I always manage. I can cycle wearing anything. ” (Nelson Aguillard, 24)

“Well these are stretch skinnies so quite comfy. Yeah so I don’t have a problem with them at all. ” ( Kelly Wurtz, 28)

 ” There’s a little technique I use but it’s strictly confidential” ( Lance Netherton, 30) Lance would not devulge his technique despite my pleadings.

And my personal favorite  ” Oh you caught me, all my trousers are in the wash, had no choice but to put these on today.” ( Mathew Sommerfield, 25)

There you have it. The verdict is in for all you out there with a deep attachment to your skinny jeans.  You don’t have to ditch the trousers to call yourself a cyclist.

Guest post: Eric Bostrom

1 Apr

Eric Bostrom is a busy guy. The four-time American Motorcyclist Association road race champion is also a well-known rock climber, surfer, entrepreneur, and mountain biker. Bostrom is swapping back and forth between pedal power and his 200mph superbike for the summer of 2011. He takes time out to write for Cycling in London. And don’t forget to follow him on Twitter, @bozbros.

Low in maintenance, fast, efficient, and ever versatile. This is my description of a bike. Despite this explanation, many folks are inquisitive about my profession and what drives me to so. Generally, people look at motorcycle road racing much the same way as they might look at a person with tattoos on their face. Contradicting the speed and aggression of my sport, the relaxed Californian in me explains in my soft spoken voice that two wheels is my passion. That when on the bike I am free, I am living in the moment and that moment is everything I desire. That life can not be measured in quantity, only in quality. For this reason I am on two wheels nearly every day of the year, and in my own opinion my “life lived” meter runs on full.

Yesterday I rode with professional cyclist Tim Johnson and discussed his 500 mile peddle in freezing temperatures as he led a group to the capital on their “Ride on Washington” campaign promoting bicycle awareness and legislation. The day before that I went over the bars on the decent in a mountain bike race. The weekend before I was at Daytona International Speedway going 200 miles an hour on my bike. This is my diversity.

Two wheels gets me there. I find that to ring true in every sense imaginable you can twist those words. For this reason I am rich. I own a lot of bikes. Off road, road, BMX, single speed, moto, super moto, road racer, etc. The simple fact is I could easily narrow it down to one. Amazingly, it wouldn’t matter which one. No different than when I was a kid, that one bike got me everywhere, and it didn’t matter that it had no gears. Cycling represents a fountain of youth. My fear is that the person I am speaking to may never understand my message because if they truly understood two wheeled freedom they would have never had to ask in the first place.

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Inside Internal Gears

31 Mar

Hub-gear systems, speed ratios, derrailleurs, gear inches…  What’s this mechanical confusion  all about?  Moe Saleh  from  Uptown bikes, a Chicago bike building group,  took me through the mechanics and I finally made sense of this madness.   

 Much as with beta and VHS there was a great battle waged in the cycling world at one point.  On one side you have derailleurs, we all know about derailleurs right?   They have their virtues but most of the time you just end up cursing at them.  On the other side there is the long forgotten internal geared hub.   Unfortunately for the internal geared hub, the derailleur won out during the bike boom of the 1970’s.   The parts were easier to manufacture and mass produce, which translates to good for business, bad for us! 

 At this point I’d like to pause and make sure everyone is keeping up with the me.   Most bicycles today have some sort of gearing mechanism.  This comes in the form of cogs on the hub of a bicycle’s rear wheel and chain rings on the cranks (cranks are the pieces your pedals attach to).   Now of course we all know there’s a chain involved somewhere in the middle of all this.  With this type of system the chain is acted upon by a mechanism called a derailleur.  

 The derailleur, using cable and spring tension, is responsible for moving the chain from one set of gears to the other.  It also controls chain tension and alignment.   Why are these gears important I asked Moe?   Much in the same way a car’s transmission uses a system of gears to translate power from the engine to rotation of the wheels, the gears on a bike take the power of your pedaling and distribute that in a particular way to the wheels.   Therefore lower gear ratios require less force to be exerted by the rider but do not yield a high top speed, thus making them ideal for hill climbing.   Higher ratios require considerably more force but yield a higher top speed and once achieved make it easier to maintain that speed, thus making them ideal for flat open terrain.   So far so good!

  Internal geared hubs and cranks, however, achieve the same results but with a smaller range of gear inches.  That range is the bikes ability to go from a vertical climb to a dead sprint on a straight away.   Many would vouch for the derailleur pronouncing it to be a marvelous invention  and that it certainly has its place in the bike world.   Uphill climbs on a mountain bike would be hell without them and racers would never be able to go as fast as they do.  But lets say your just a run of the mill commuter, like myself.   What the internal geared hub offers is a clean hassle free system that accomplishes everything one would need for say a 20 – 30 even 40 km daily commutes with less hassle and maintenance.  

 The internal hub doesn’t lose cable tension, it doesn’t get caked with grease or filth from the street, it doesn’t get bent or STOP WORKING COMPLETELY if you happen to fall over.   In short it’s got your back, it’s truly a good friend.  SO let’s be a friend to it.   Spend your money wisely.   With what’s available for internal geared systems today you could potentially have a set up that’s completely comparable to anything using derailleurs, with the only major difference  being money.

Should you drink and ride?

31 Mar

As the weather turns from cold and dreary to mild, or some would say warm, and sunny, more and more are dusting off their bikes and enjoying the weather. What’s more fun than enjoying the weather on a bicycle with friends? Maybe enjoying the weather on a bicycle with friends after having a few pints?

Section 30 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 says: “It is an offence for a person to ride a cycle on a road or other public place when unfit to ride through drink or drugs – that is to say – is under the influence of a drink or a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the cycle.” So, in a technical world, you’re just as guilty cycling after two pints as you are driving after two pints.

Or you could refer to the Licensing Act 1872, which states that it is an offence to be drunk in charge of a bicycle, or any other vehicle, on a highway or in a public place. However, this act also sets out that being drunk in public is also illegal. So you’re probably safe in having to worry about defending yourself against the Licensing Act of 1872 if you’re going to drink and ride.

Even if you’re stopped and the bobby can’t be bothered to determine if you’ve had more than your fair share, you could still be deemed to be riding dangerously. The penalty for riding dangerously? Up to £2,500.

So in legal speak, there are plenty of ways to get in trouble on your bike if you’ve had a few. And that’s before factoring in any sort of physical dangers.

A study of cyclist fatalities in New York City released in 2009 said that 21 percent of victims had alcohol in their systems. So it’s not exactly the laughing matter many believe.

Do you ride home from the pub? How many is too many to ride? Is there a too drunk to ride?

How many bikes are being stolen in London?

31 Mar

Cyclists commuting into London boroughs of Islington and Westminster seem to be more likely to have their bikes stolen. According to data released by the Metropolitan Police, those were the boroughs where a largest number of bicycle thefts were reported during February.

On the following map, each borough was painted with a colour representing the amount of bicycle thefts that were reported to the police during that period:

Bike thefts reported in February (Adapted from: Jolly Janner)

Bike thefts reported in February (Adapted from: Jolly Janner)

1) City of London; 2) City of Westminster; 3) Kensington and Chelsea; 4) Hammersmith and Fulham; 5) Wandsworth; 6) Lambeth; 7) Southwark; 8 ) Tower Hamlets; 9) Hackney; 10) Islington; 11) Camden; 12) Brent; 13) Ealing; 14) Hounslow; 15) Richmond; 16) Kingston upon Thames; 17) Merton; 18) Sutton; 19) Croydon; 20) Bromley; 21) Lewisham; 22) Greenwich; 23) Bexley; 24) Havering; 25) Barking and Dagenham; 26) Redbridge; 27) Newham; 28) Waltham Forest; 29) Haringey; 30) Enfield; 31) Barnet; 32) Harrow; 33) Hillingdon.

The raw data used on this map are available on this Google Spreadsheet. You might also get access to further data on the Metropolitan Police’s web-site.

There are some simple tips you might follow to protect your bike from potential thieves. Check what we published before on this subject:

Why should I register my bike?
How can I properly lock my bike?


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