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URBAN BIKES FROM GENESIS & CUBE

GREAT RIDES TOURING IDE AS FOR 2017

TOURING ON THE ROOF OF THE WORLD PANNIERS GROUPTEST NEW FOREST RANDONÉE

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ACROSS FINLAND ON A SHOPPER FOUR PANNIERS COM PARED URBAN BIKES FROM CUBE & GENESIS A BIG RIDE IN THE NEW FOREST


D E C E M B E R / J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 6 / 1 7 | CYCLE

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Clockwise from far left: Neil Wheadon, Ed Shoote, Dan Joyce

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FROM THE E DITOR ALMOST THREE decades separates the first and most recent cycle tours I began aboard a North Sea ferry. Both are memorable because, like any tour, they had none of the distractions of the everyday. I was free to watch the sun set on the ship’s wake, to feel the thrum of its engines in the dark, to anticipate the next morning’s ride in a foreign country. Between the 1980s and the 2010s, some things had changed. The limiting factor for the earlier trip was money; for the latter, time. It was nice, nursing middle-aged aches and pains, to spend the night in a cabin rather than on a couchette. It was a relief not to feel forced to camp in sub-zero conditions or live off baked beans as a way to eke out cash – although I don’t recall either even registering on the earlier trip. It was rewarding to be travelling with one of my sons, who was the about the same age I was on the earlier trip when I toured alone. Other things hadn’t changed. My bike, locked to a rail on the car deck, was still a rigid, steel mountain bike, albeit a different one. And setting off on both trips felt the same. Each time there was that sense of freedom, of domestic and professional cares receding into the distance. However you do it, getting away by bike offers a rare gift: mindfulness. It’s why touring holidays are unforgettable.

Contents

Get five years’ membership for the price of four. Phone 01483 238301

EVERY ISSUE

THIS ISSUE

04 B I G P I C T U R E

34 T H E R O O F O F T H E W O R L D

The Big Bike Revival reaches Scotland

09 C Y C L E S H O R T S

Cycling UK’s take on news & events

16 S H O P W I N D O W

Christmas suggestions for cyclists

18 G E A R

Components and books reviewed

27 L E T T E R S

Your feedback on Cycle and cycling

30 M Y C Y C L I N G

Former stand-up comedian John Dowie

32 M Y B I K E

Ian Hennessey’s fixed-wheel titanium audax bike

60 Q & A

Your technical, health and legal questions

High-altitude touring in the Pamir mountains

40 A C O L D W A R T O U R

Across Finland on a shopper bike. In winter

46 A U T U M N G O L D

Riding the Gridiron randonée in the New Forest

51 C T C C Y C L I N G H O L I D AY S Let us take you there

55 W I S H Y O U W E R E H E R E ?

The best kept secret in cycling holidays

64 G E N E S I S D AY O N E 1 0

Singlespeed cyclocross-style commuter

67 C U B E H Y D E R A C E

A belt-drive urban hybrid from Germany

71 S M A L L P A N N I E R S

Four front/universal panniers compared

76 Y O U R M E M B E R S H I P The benefits of Cycling UK membership

78 C O N T A C T S

How to get in touch with Cycling UK

81 T R A V E L L E R S ’ T A L E S

ON THE COVER Near Gröbming in the Enns valley, Austria, on a CTC Tour. By Chris Juden

Cycling UK members’ ride reports

Cycling UK, Parklands, Railton Road, Guildford, GU2 9JX E: cycling@cyclinguk.org W: cyclinguk.org T: 0844 736 8450* or 01483 238300

Founded in 1878

DAN JOYCE Cycle editor

Membership

Cycle promotes the work of Cycling UK. Cycle’s circulation is approx. 51,000. Cycling UK is one of the UK’s largest cycling membership organisations, with 67,000 members and affiliates Patron: Her Majesty the Queen President: Jon Snow Cycling UK Council Chair: David Cox Chief Executive: Paul Tuohy. Cyclists’ Touring Club, a Company Limited by Guarantee, registered in England No 25185, registered as a charity in England and Wales Charity No 1147607 and in Scotland No SC042541. Registered office: Parklands, Railton Road, Guildford, GU2 9JX. CYCLE MAGAZINE: Editor: Dan Joyce e: cyclinguk@jppublishing. co.uk Designers: Simon Goddard, Mary Harris Advertising: Anna Vassallo tel: 0203 859 7100 e: annav@jppublishing.co.uk Creative Director: James Houston Publisher: James Pembroke. Cycle is published six times per year on behalf of Cycling UK by James Pembroke Publishing, 90 Walcot Street, Bath, BA1 5BG. Tel: 01225 337777. Cycle is copyright Cycling UK, James Pembroke Publishing and individual contributors. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission from Cycling UK and James Pembroke Publishing is forbidden. Views expressed in the magazine are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or the policies of Cycling UK. Advertising bookings are subject to availability, the terms and conditions of James Pembroke Publishing, and final approval by Cycling UK. Printed by: Precision Colour Printing, Haldane, Halesfield 1, Telford, TF7 4QQ. Tel: 01952 585585 *0844 numbers are ‘basic rate’, costing under 5p/min plus your phone company’s access charge on a BT landline. Other providers may charge more.


PAUL TUOHY

Chief Executive

THE CYCLISTS’ CHAMPION

PAUL TUOHY Chief Executive

Right: Amsterdamized, Flickr Creative Commons

More cyclists and better cycling infrastructure isn’t just good for individuals, it’s good for society. Paul Tuohy’s visit to the Netherlands underscored the need for change here

The Netherlands' probike planning means cycling is for everyone

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YCLING UK CARRIES a strapline that is more relevant than ever: The cyclists’ champion. And boy, do we need one! I was on a trip to the Netherlands in October, and cycling there was like being on another planet. The infrastructure was brilliant. Of the thousands of people I saw getting about by bike, I saw one person wearing a helmet. As I rode around Utrecht and Arnhem, I pondered the insane situation that we’ve got ourselves into in the UK. In the Netherlands, I could descend from my segregated cycle route to a secure cycle parking area under the station, safely leave my bike, and take my train. This cycling nirvana was made a reality because the authorities had a vision and championed it to make it happen. They wanted a cleaner, more vibrant means of

“Places with the highest cycle use have the lowest risk” 9 C Y C L E D EC EMBER/JANUARY 2016/17

transportation, so they set aside the budget and built it. That’s what’s missing from the UK. Successive governments have seen cycling as a sideshow, an irritant to be ignored, rather than a stunningly cheap way to get about quickly and efficiently. It’s a way to cut pollution and improve people’s lives; even those that don’t take part get cleaner air and quieter communities.

SAFETY IN NUMBERS Besides quality infrastructure, another major barrier to making cycling a safe and normal activity is the perception that it is far more dangerous than it really is. That isn’t helped by the determination of some people in public life and the media to make us protect ourselves rather than facing up to the need for better conditions, so that we can all get about in a cleaner, safer, quieter less polluting way. This hampers our ability to maximise the ‘safety in numbers’ effect. There is good evidence that the places with the highest cycle use have the lowest risk from cycling.

No doubt this is partly because safer cycling conditions attract more people to cycle, particularly women, older people, children, and people with disabilities. But it probably works the other way too: more people cycling increases the cycle-awareness of drivers, not least because more of them will themselves also be cyclists who know what it’s like to be on the other side of the windscreen. Championing cycling is something we’ve always done throughout our illustrious history as CTC. That’s why Cycling UK is working to do all we can to encourage people to dust down their bikes and use them again, as part of the Big Bike Revival; there’s an update from Scotland in this issue. You’ll also catch up on the lobbying we’re doing. But improving our towns and cities with better infrastructure is central to our mission to encourage more people to cycle. We are now seeking to work more closely with Sustrans and Living Streets (the charity that promotes walking) to assist local and national governments throughout the UK to plan, invest and build for cycling.

MAKING CYCLING MAINSTREAM As part of our Space for Cycling campaign, we want to make it easy for people to contribute their suggestions and priorities for improving local cycling conditions as easily as you can currently help local authorities get potholes fixed through our Fill That Hole app. This is a really practical way of creating change. More on that next issue. I just wished though, when I was in the Netherlands, that I had our Ministers for Transport, or better still the Prime Minister, cycling with me. They need to experience the simplicity of towns and cities that had cried ‘Enough!’ and made the changes to champion cycling. We may be world beaters at the sport, but my personal ambition is to make the marginal gains needed for cycling to be mainstream in all parts of our society. Time for a letter to the PM: ‘Dear Theresa, I know this great tea-room in Amsterdam. Fancy a cuppa?’


PRODUCT NEWS | SHOP WINDOW

Christmas lights

Product news

FESTIVE GIFT IDEAS

The Lezyne lights below are free with Cycling UK Gift Membership. See the address sheet that came with this magazine or cyclinguk.org/gift

FORGET SOCKS OR SWEETS: HERE’S A SELECTION OF BIKE-RELATED PRESENTS FOR THAT SPECIAL CYCLIST IN YOUR LIFE. DAN JOYCE ELABORATES

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LEZYNE KTV2 DRIVE LIGHTS £34.99

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FESTIVE.CC CLASSIC JERSEY £39.99

Light yourself up like a Christmas tree: these little rechargeables emit up to 70 lumens. They’re great be-seen lights in urban settings or backup lights for any environment. They’re durable, waterproof, and offer sideways visibility too. lezyne.com

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Why choose a festive jumper when you can have a festive cycling top? Perfect for mince pie rides. Men’s & women’s sizes XS-XXXL. festive.cc

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DAN JOYCE Cycle editor

£149.99

Balance bikes don’t come more finely-tuned for tiny trundlers than the Rothan: at 3.2kg, it’s light and manoeuvrable, and the brake keeps speed in check. islabikes.co.uk

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SANTA ON A CARGO BIKE DECORATION £6.95

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SPLASHMAPS STRETCH MAP £25+

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TIMBER! MOUNTAIN BIKE BELL £22.99

Struggling to get those after-dinner mints across the dining table? Try Santa’s cargo trike. cyclemiles.co.uk

It’s a 1:40,000 scale map that won’t disintegrate when wet and a stretchy snood to keep your neck or head warm. Coverage is currently limited to outdoor hotspots. splash-maps.com

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ISLABIKES ROTHAN

Hark! Is that sleigh bells? No, it’s a mountain biker politely alerting walkers with a hands-free bell that jingles constantly or can be switched to silent. cyclorise.com

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ON YOUR BIKE

£9.99

Using the Flying Fergus cartoon characters from Chris Hoy’s other books, this is an accessible cycling guide for primary-school age readers. piccadillypress.co.uk


REVIEWS | GEAR

CONS - Remote

switch fits poorly

PROS + Powerful and versatile

Magicshine

+ Relatively inexpensive

EAGLE M2 2400 L U M E N S £87.97 magicshine.co.uk

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HIS IS A LOT of off-road light for your money. Not as much, lumen-per-penny, as those 6,000 lumen torches you can find on eBay for about £20. But here you deal with a UK importer if you have problems; the light has a 12-month warranty; and quality control seems good – there were no loose wires and the charger didn’t smell of burning plastic. The figure of 2400 lumens is plausible too: it’s very bright indeed. My usual off-road light is an 850-lumen Gemini Xera. The Eagle M2 throws out significantly more light. It looks more like ‘half again as bright’ than ‘three times as bright’ because there’s a cube or square relationship (experts disagree) between increases in brightness and what we perceive. But you can certainly see more of the trail, better. The big benefit off-road is the spread of

Above: The quick-release bracket is secure but sits the lamp quite high, so it could be vulnerable in a fall

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OTHER OPTIONS light. There are six high-power LEDs in the lamp, in two rows of three. The bottom row shines through a diffuser in the lens, giving a flood effect, while the top three are unfiltered and provide a strong central spot. Available lighting modes are: top row only, bottom row only, or both rows. I wanted depth and width off-road so used both rows all the time. That drains the 7.4V 4.4Ah battery (four 18650 Lithium Ions in a sealed case) fastest; you get about two hours like this. The other modes will give you nearly four hours. If you need to eke out power or ride on the road and not dazzle drivers, you can toggle down the intensity to 75%, 50%, 25% or 10%. I used a 10% ‘spot’ on road. A wireless remote switch with big buttons makes it easy to switch between modes and intensities, even in gloves, although it took five or six presses to switch between my off-road and road settings. The switch doesn’t fit a handlebar very securely; a better mount would help. I’ve no complaints about the bracket for the lamp or the rubberised straps that hold the battery case to the top tube; both are secure. A helmet mount was included but I didn’t use it as the battery cable wasn’t long enough to reach my jersey pocket. (A 1m extension cable is £6.95 plus £2.95 p&p.) There are more suitable road lights than this (e.g. Magicshine’s £60 Eagle 600, which has high and ‘dipped’ beams) but for off-road night riding, this is among the best sub-£100 lights available. It worked fine in the rain too, being IPX5 rated. It weighs 470g complete, the lamp and bracket accounting for 144g. Dan Joyce

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GEMINI XERA LIGHT SET 950L (2 CELL) £119.99

‘Only’ 950 lumens but good build quality, reliable, weatherproof, and tiny; the lamp is 55g. A four-year-old Xera is my go-to helmet light off-road. i-ride.co.uk

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EXPOSURE TORO MK8

£279.95 Up to 2400 lumens from a cable-free light that weighs only 236g. User-friendly, excellent build quality, and made in the UK, but not cheap. exposurelights.com


D E TA I L S WHERE: Central Asia START/FINISH: Osh, Kyrgyzstan DISTANCE: 1,400km PICTURES: Ed Shoote


PA M I R M O U N TA I N S | G R E AT R I D E S

Great rides

THE ROOF OF THE WORLD Roads over 4,000 metres above sea level wind through the Pamir Mountains. In the past they carried silk; more recently, cyclists Ed Shoote and wife Marion Do it yourself

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e were riding into the middle of nowhere, a stone-skimming distance across the river from Afghanistan. Shadows were lengthening; it was time to camp. As we cycled, a cloud of dust approached on the Afghan side: horsemen. Why were they riding out here, miles from any civilisation? This valley is one of the most notorious drug trafficking routes in the world, and our tired minds immediately thought the worst. All of a sudden, it felt ridiculous to be riding a bike here. We camped discreetly out of sight of the track and the river, warming up with hot pasta as the last golden rays of sunlight disappeared across the arid landscape of the Wakhan mountains. Then we turned in. ‘Shh!’ Marion whispered. We sat bolt upright in our sleeping bags. The noise of hooves and splashing water had woken us. Was it those horsemen ambushing us in the night? Maybe Taliban fleeing across the border? We peered nervously out from the tent door, making out five odd lurching shapes in the moonlight. As they made their way across the floodplain, we realised those scary

INTO ASIA silhouettes were merely a group of Bactrian camels out for a night-time stroll.

OSH-WARDS AND ONWARDS A huge crash announced our bike boxes arriving onto the floor at Osh International Airport. Luckily they were carefully wrapped, because next they were shoved into a taxi, a small Hyundai estate. It was 3.30am and our driver stank of booze. Myself and Marion were squeezed onto the front seat, with a leg slap at each gear change, while in the back a French woman contorted herself around the bike boxes. At least 30cm of box was sticking out of the boot and the tailgate crashed down at each bump in the road. However, by 4am we were camping in a hostel garden in Osh, the ancient Silk Road city that’s older than Rome and more Soviet than Moscow. This trip was an unknown. We were heading on cyclocross-style bikes to an area of the world most governments advise against, an area currently cut off to vehicles due to flooding and landslides. Our back-up route was to detour and follow the heavilyguarded Afghanistan border for days. Taking that detour, we both had a twinge of nerves as we rode out from Osh the next day.

Getting to Kyrgyzstan with a bike is easiest with Turkish Airlines who fly into Osh and Bishkek via Istanbul. The other option is S7 or Aeroflot via Moscow, which is longer. For Bishkek, you have the option of Turkish budget airline Pegasus. Kyrgyzstan is visa free for British passport holders and easy for travel. Tourism to the country is growing and facilities are improving. Tajikistan is more of a challenge; you need a visa in advance. The autonomous GBAO/Pamir area requires a special permit, which is most easily obtained in London. The FCO currently advises against all but essential travel to the GBAO region. This makes 99% of travel insurance invalid; we used British Mountaineering Council cover.

BY 4AM WE WERE CAMPING IN A HOSTEL GARDEN IN OSH, THE ANCIENT SILK ROAD CITY THAT’S MORE SOVIET THAN MOSCOW CYCL I N G U K . OR G CYCL E 3 5


D E TA I L S WHERE: The New Forest START/FINISH: Lymington DISTANCE: 108.8km PICTURES: Julie Rand, Roland Seber & Mike Walsh

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AUTUMN GOLD | GRE AT RIDES

Great rides

AUTUMN GOLD Every October, there’s a 100km randonée along the lanes of the New Forest: the Gridiron. Cycling UK’s Julie Rand rode it with her husband Roland Do it yourself

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Traffic-calming in the New Forest comes in an unusual form: not speed humps or chicanes but horses, ponies and other animals ambling across the road. There are no roadside barriers so they can wander where they want within the forest; they’re constrained only by the cattle grids that mark its boundaries. It’s these numerous grids that gave rise to the name of CTC Wessex Cycling’s Gridiron 100km ride, which takes place in October every year just as the forest is at its most beautiful. The Gridiron is the largest one-day event organised by a Cycling UK Member Group. Billed as an ‘on-road cycle randonée’ – randonée being French for ‘excursion’ – it differs from a sportive in that, although riders are aiming to complete the route within a specified time limit, it’s a touring event intended as a leisurely and sociable day out on the bike. It’s a test of navigation skills as much as fitness. Participants are expected to be self-sufficient: there’s no sag wagon if you have a mechanical, no chipped timing, no signed route, and no goody bag. But free tea and biscuits and a route card are included in the bargain £6 entry fee, and snacks are available to buy at the start and finish.

INTO WINTER On a crisp and cloudless autumn day, my husband Roland Seber and I roll up at the event HQ in Lymington on the dot of 10.00am, well after the majority of the 1,000 entrants have departed. We collect our route sheet and yellow brevet cards, which we will get stamped at the two controls at 31.5km and 73.1km, and then at the final control back in Lymington. The figure-of-eight route around the forest is actually 108.8km.

A LAZY START Despite being among the last to sign on, we can’t resist a leisurely second breakfast of bacon rolls and coffee at the HQ before finally setting off at 10.30am. Thoughts of riding the route in a massive group of riders, all jostling for position, are quickly dispelled as we cruise down the empty lanes. The wide choice of start times from 8.30am onwards means that riders are well spread out. The early mists soon burn off and it’s not long before we discard a couple of layers and enjoy a little warmth on our faces and arms from the brilliant sunshine. Heading east out of Lymington towards the historic hamlet of Buckler’s Hard, we glimpse the sparkling Solent and the Isle of Wight beyond through

The Gridiron is over for another year but there are other opportunities to embrace the off-season, plenty of Cycling UK events to bring a glow to your cheeks and an appetite for all that hearty winter food, and audax events even in the depths of December and January. See Cycling UK’s events guide cyclinguk. org/event or visit aukweb. net/events. Early entry is advisable as these popular events often fill up early. If you fancy something shorter, find out what your local group has on offer at cyclinguk. org/local-groups. Most of them have regular rides throughout the year, whatever the weather!

WE GLIMPSE THE SPARKLING SOLENT AND THE ISLE OF WIGHT BEYOND THROUGH THE HEDGEROWS. IT’S A LOVELY DAY CYCL I N G U K . OR G CYCL E 4 7


Feature

WISH YOU WE RE HERE? CTC CYCLING HOLIDAYS ARE AMONG THE BEST KEPT SECRETS IN CYCLING. TOUR PARTICIPANT TURNED LEADER GARY CUMMINS EXPLAINS WHY

CAMBODIA: just one of the many destinations visited in 2016

CYCL I N G U K . OR G CYCL E 5 5


FE ATURE | WISH YOU WERE HERE? Previous page: January 2016: Martin and Diane exit the gate to Angkor Wat in Cambodia on Neil Wheadon’s tour

Right: The road to Sihanoukville (Cambodia) on the same tour

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hey were the pages I probably gazed at most in the magazine, eyes absorbing a list of destinations, dates, prices and possibilities. Eight days cycle touring around southern England for under £150. Ten days in northern France for £250. Fifteen days in Czechoslovakia for £350. Twenty-three days cycling around New England for ‘over £900’. All those touring holidays, along with 70 others, appeared in the December 1991 issue of CT&C (Cycle Touring & Campaigning), as this magazine was then. I was a new member of CTC, a London cycle commuter and activist who had rediscovered cycling as a convenient way of getting to work. The cycling holidays that the club offered intrigued me. What sort of people went on them? What sort of bikes did they ride? How

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fit were they? I pondered this every December for another six years.

138 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE Touring holidays have been part of Cycling UK from the beginning. They were discussed soon after the Bicycle Touring Club was founded in 1878. Later, operating as a department within the club’s London office, the reassuringly official-sounding Touring Bureau offered members travel advice, prepared documentation, and routes for self-guided tours abroad. The first modern tours programme arguably took place in 1949, when 20 members (out of 300 applicants!) embarked with a leader on what must then have been an ambitious trip to Sweden. From then on, CTC’s cycle holiday business became a core part of the club’s activities, with staff engaged at national office to administer what was to become a

worldwide programme of trips. Changes to travel legislation required changes to the way the holiday business operated. By the late 1990s, CTC’s holiday company had evolved into pretty much what we have now: a fully-bonded tour operator offering a unique travel experience exclusively to members, run and led by other members. By this time, CT&C had become Cycle and after eight years of membership, I’d rashly booked a place on a tour of Cuba. I could write a long indulgent article about that tour, but I won’t… much.

CUBAN WHEELS We boarded an air-conditioned coach on a warm January day in Havana, leaving our bikes with the professional mechanic in the mobile workshop. A specialist sports masseur was part of our entourage. It was fantastic but perhaps not, as my roommate Tony told me, a typical CTC tour. The leaders were Maurice and Anthea, who had met each other on a previous CTC tour and now led their own tours, specialising in trips to Italy. That’s often how it works: leaders have their own individual style and favoured destinations. Also on that tour were a group of North Americans: Bob, a Canadian who was a CTC tours regular; an American couple in late middle age, who had fantastic outlook on life; and their friend John who, like them, was a member of the Los Angeles Bike Coalition. The Americans were great fun to be with. They drew attention to the Cuban motorists’ skills in coaxing life from 1950s’ American cars.


Q&A | EXPERT ADVICE

Expert advice

MEET THE EXPERTS

YOUR TECHNICAL, LEGAL, HEALTH, AND POLICY QUESTIONS ANSWERED. THIS ISSUE: EASY-MOUNT BIKES, INNER EAR PROBLEMS, CHAINS, AND MORE

D R M AT T B R O O K S Cycling GP {Health}

?

Question of the month

RICHARD HALLETT Cycle’s Technical Editor {Technical}

The Dawes Galaxy Cromo Ladies isn’t just for women

Technical

MOUNTING & DISMOUNTING

Q  

At the age of 84, I can cycle well enough but I’m having trouble getting on and off my bike easily. I’ve considered a step-through Dutch roadster but they generally have a limited range of gears. I’ve lowered my carrier and my saddle to get more clearance. Maybe there’s a simple solution that I’ve overlooked? Maurice George

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The obvious solution is a well-equipped step-through. You could build a new bike around a step-through frame – either off-the-peg such as the Thorn Sherpa or custom-built – using components that give you the required gearing range. Or you could buy a “ladies’” touring bike such as the Dawes Galaxy Cromo Ladies. The editor suggests trying a dropper seatpost, as used in mountain biking. A dropper seatpost descends rather like a variable-height office chair, then returns to its original height at the push of a button. It’s used for riding downhill on a mountain

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bike but for you could move the saddle out of the way until you are aboard and riding. Richard Hallett

Technical

DIF FE RE NT WIDTH T YRE S

Q  

My alloy/carbon road bike has 23mm tyres. I’d like to fit something wider, having switched from 23mm to 28mm on another bike, with noticeable improvements to comfort and rolling. But although I have room for 25mm on the front, there is very little clearance under the seat stay bridge. Would there be any advantage in having a 25mm on the front? I suspect it would be better the other way round but that won’t work. Would there be any disadvantage in having odd tyre sizes? Edward Holt

A

T he obvious place to put a fatter tyre, if using two different sizes, would indeed be at the back, since bicycle weight distribution is heavily biased to the

PAUL KITSON Par tner from Slater + Gordon Lawyers {Legal}

rear. That said, the advantages to running a fatter front tyre, in terms of grip and comfort, are not negated by having a narrower rear and it can be argued that, if more of either is needed, it is more useful at the front end. After all, hardtail mountain bikes with a suspension fork are a commonplace, unlike the alternative arrangement. Richard Hallett


SMALL PANNIERS | G RO U P TE S T

Group test

SMALL PANNIERS For touring or commuting, two compact bags might be the answer. Dan Joyce reviews four pairs

DAN JOYCE Cycle Editor

D U R A B I L IT Y Tough fabrics such as Cordura and cotton duck resist wear and tear better and justify higher prices. Most bags are stiffened internally to retain their shape on the rack, and many are reinforced externally to prevent the rack or the ground wearing out the fabric.

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MALL PANNIERS ARE often called front panniers as they’ll fit to a low-rider front rack, providing extra luggage space for cycle-campers, tandemists and long-haul tourers. They’ll also fit to a rear rack, as the alternative term ‘universal’ acknowledges, for use as your main luggage. Two small panniers on a rear rack work well for tours of a week or three where you’re staying in B&Bs, hostels, or hotels, as it dissuades you from overpacking; a bar bag (see cyclinguk.org/barbagsreview) is nevertheless a useful addition. For commuting, two small panniers offer better bike handling than one big one and enable you to easily separate work and bike gear. Unlike large rear panniers, which require longer chainstays, small ones will fit almost any bike that will take a rear rack – many road bikes, cyclocross bikes and children’s bikes, for example. All small panniers are left/right interchangeable.

Your thoughts? WRITE TO US: Cycle Letters, PO Box 313, Scarborough, YO12 6WZ EMAIL US: editor@cyclinguk.org DISCUSS ONLINE: forum.cyclinguk.org

CA PACIT Y H O O KS Two top hooks and a lower anti-sway catch are standard. The more adjustable these are, the more racks the bag will fit well. A retractable security catch for the top rail is critical to stop bags jumping off. Some hooks fit rails up to 12mm, others up to 16mm. Reducer inserts give a rattle-free fit on narrow rails.

10-15 litres per bag is standard. For large items, bag shape and closure is a factor: lids, buckles and straps allow ‘outsize’ items; zips and rolltops don’t. For small items, internal and external pockets provide easier access.

F E AT U R E S

W E ATH E R R E S I S TA N CE

Every pannier has a carry handle for transportation off the bike; some have a shoulder strap too, which is particularly useful if you have more than two bags on your bike. Reflective patches and logos add nighttime conspicuity.

It will rain. When it does, it’s more convenient if the bag itself is waterproof. Waterproof fabric doesn’t guarantee a waterproof bag. Heavy rain can soak through zips or stitched seams, or get in through openings. Welded seams and either rolltop closures or deep lids are the best defence. CYCL I N G U K . OR G CYCL E 7 1


BIKETEST | URBAN SINGLESPEED

Bike test

GENESIS DAY ONE 10

DAN JOYCE Cycle editor

Editor Dan Joyce tests a cyclocross-inspired singlespeed commuter with disc brakes and 35mm-wide tyres

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AUNCHED AS the Day One Cross eight years or so ago, the 2017 version reflects the fact that purchasers wanted this singlespeed more for city streets than muddy fields. It remains a simple and durable drop-bar bike with abundant frame fittings and tyres wide enough to shrug off potholes. On paper, it’s exactly the kind of urban bike I like.

FRAME & FORK The chrome-moly steel frame and fork are shared with the Genesis Day One 20, which has a Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub. The rear dropouts are 135mm over-locknuts to accommodate not only the Day One 20’s hub gear but either model’s rear disc brake; I’m not aware of any 120mm disc hubs. As a consequence of the wider rear hub, the bottom bracket axle is longer (127.5mm) to ensure the chain lines up. That means a wider pedal tread. It’s not as ergonomic when you’re pedalling very rapidly, as you sometimes do on a singlespeed (and often do on fixed). A narrower axle and pedal tread would be possible with a cassette hub and spacers as the single cog could then sit further inboard. The fork offset is a bit longer than most road bikes, as is the front-centres distance.

Above: The axle is unusually wide for a singlespeed road bike in order to make the chainline work with the 135mm threaded hub. That means a wider pedal tread, which some won’t like and others won’t mind

So despite the larger tyres and mudguards, I didn’t suffer toe overlap. It’s nice not to have to think about that when you’re on an urban bike, moving slowly in or around traffic. As well as eyelets for mudguards, there are separate ones for racks front and rear. How much you’d want to weigh down a singlespeed is moot, but it’s refreshing to have the option.

COMPONENTS The test bike’s rear hub required immediate attention as the cones were loose, making

the disc brake rub and chirrup. This hub is threaded for a freewheel only; you can’t fit a lockring. If you wanted to make this a fixedwheel bike, and I did, you could either keep the rear brake and run a fixed cog without a lockring (I wouldn’t) or sacrifice the rear brake. You can get fixed cogs – from, for example, velosolo.co.uk – that fit to six-bolt disc rotor mounts. These won’t unscrew with backpressure on the pedals. Fitting a six-bolt cog doesn’t give you a fixed/free flip-flop hub, however. You’d have to ride fixed all the time as the freewheel option would remove one of your legally-required brakes. Any gear for a singlespeed is a compromise. The Day One 10’s 68in gear (42/17) is a good one, albeit a shade high for hilly Scarborough. I’d fit an 18t freewheel or fixed cog instead. Many singlespeeds aimed at urban riders are faux track bikes with skinny tyres and little scope to fit bigger ones. In comparison, these 35mm-wide tyres are huge. The bigger air pocket and lower pressure (75psi maximum) make them much better at soaking up vibration from bad roads. They’re also more surefooted off-road, on tracks and towpaths. I’ve not used CST Sensamo Speed tyres before and wouldn’t again; they felt stodgy and slow on tarmac. I’d swap them for 35mm Schwalbe Kojaks, as

OTHER OPTIONS

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Pinnacle Dolomite Singlespeed £525

Aluminium frame and fork keep the weight down to just over 10kg, despite disc brakes (Tektro Spyre) – but don’t forget to factor in mudguards. Chain tensioning is via an eccentric bottom bracket. evanscycles.com

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Genesis Flyer

£649.99 The Day One’s stablemate is a kilo lighter thanks to sidepull brakes and a carbon fork. It also has narrower axle (113mm) and a narrower rear end but still takes 28mm tyres and mudguards. genesisbikes.co.uk


B I K E T E S T | B E LT- D R I V E H Y B R I D

ACCESSORIES ARE EXTRA Mudguards and racks can be fitted but aren’t supplied

RICHARD HALLETT Cycle’s Technical Editor

Bike test

CUBE HYDE RACE Technical Editor Richard Hallett reviews a German city hybrid with belt drive and an Alfine hub but no mudguards

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UBE CALLS the Hyde Race a city bike. Does that mean cruising along the car-free boulevards of some imagined mainland-European cycling paradise, or the rather different experience of the British urban commuter, enduring foul weather, indifferent drivers, and intermittent infrastructure? Either way, the ‘Race’ part of the Cube’s moniker is misapplied. While

Above: No oily marks on your trousers and it won’t rust. Rings come in 46t, 50t or 55t. This one is 46t

it might have the edge on a Boris Bike, it wouldn’t be the choice of even mildly competitive city cyclists; it isn’t very fast.

FRAME AND FORK Instead, it’s a sturdy machine built around a seemingly bomb-proof aluminium frame and fork with meaty but regular welds. It’s a handsome beast, its satin black paint accented with vivid green highlights. While it’s unusually spartan for a European hybrid, it does have mounts for mudguards and racks front and rear so can be equipped for duties ranging from laden touring to light commuting. The frame is built using double-butted ‘Superlight Urban’ aluminium tubing. It’s stiff enough both torsionally and laterally to satisfy most urban cyclists. Indeed, there’s not much frame flex in any plane, and Cube’s engineers clearly did a fine job of accommodating the split in the drive-side rear triangle needed to take an nonseparable drive belt. Cube calls it Split and Slide. There’s a sliding dropout on both sides to allow for belt tension adjustment; the non-drive side slider doubles as the mount for the rear disc brake

calliper, while an extra bolt securing the drive side slider also clamps together the ends of the seatstays and chainstays to create a rigid single structure. It’s a neat arrangement, if a little industrial. Less neat is the front brake cable, zip-tied to the back of the fork leg.

COMPONENTS Stopping comes courtesy of Shimano hydraulic discs front and rear. With opposed pistons and effective pad return springs, the BR-315 callipers offer crisp, drag-free performance. Brake feel is a little wooden and lacking in initial bite, but as may be expected there’s enough power when they are squeezed hard. Unlikely to need much maintenance beyond pad replacement for a couple of seasons, they certainly fit the Cube’s design brief. The same might be said for the Alfine rear hub. It’s a marvel of robust, cost-effective engineering that’s perhaps slightly wasted on urban riding, where the entirety of the gear range (over 300%) is rarely likely to be needed. The hub shifts without appreciable resistance both at a standstill and under power. The gearing range, from 30in to 92in, is well-chosen

CYCL I N G U K . OR G CYCL E

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Travellers’ tales

Watchtowers on the Iron Curtain trail recall the past

The Czech Greenways HEATHER CLARKE RODE FROM PRAGUE TO VIENNA ON QUIET ROADS AND TRACKS

TOAD ON THE TOWPATH Richard Shortridge spent a day riding beside the Kennet and Avon canal

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anals are an underrated offroad riding resource. While not technically challenging or wild, they are superb at taking you away from roads and between places of interest. They’re also easy to navigate! I followed the Kennet and Avon, an 87-mile waterway connecting London to the Bristol Channel. Constructed in 1810, it was used until the 1960s when its decline meant sections had to be closed to boats. In the 1990s, its fortunes revived through hard work by the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust. I joined the canal at Kintbury in Berkshire and cycled to Bristol, where I live: 66 miles, off-road. Most of this was towpath, although at the end I joined

the Bristol and Bath railway path. My Toad custom steel ‘gravel bike’ was fine on the different surfaces. The towpath on the first leg to Pewsey was narrow and grassy. The River Kennet ran alongside here and was splendid. Dragonflies and damselflies darted across the crystal clear, shallow water. On long rides like this, it is always nice to get into a rhythm. However, the many gates on this section required cyclocross-style dismounts. The section from Pewsey to Devizes was overgrown. Sometimes the grass was a metre high. It caught in the chain and cassette and meant sketchy shifting. But the dense undergrowth was perfect cover for a young fox who nipped out across my path. Just outside Devizes, the path improved vastly and became a fast gravel track. I stopped at the Caen Hill Locks café, where I chatted with a bloke on a fat bike. There are 29 locks, which some narrowboat owners told me took two-to-three hours to pass through. I arrived home happy, despite the drizzle, and gave my bike the wash it deserved.

y husband Tim and I spent 10 days cycling the Czech Greenways route from Prague to Vienna, and then along the Danube to Bratislava. With us were my sister Liz, who lives in Prague, and her Czech friend, Eva. It was a great holiday. The wellmarked route follows quiet roads and tracks between small towns. We rode along part of the Iron Curtain cycle trail and learned that during its 45 years, more guards died (mostly by suicide) than people trying to escape. It was moving to visit a preserved section of the fencing with a watchtower at Cižov; Eva explained that when she was growing up, it was the western boundary of her world. We saw bunkers built by the Czechoslovak government in 1938 in a doomed attempt to keep Hitler out. The next day, by complete contrast, we spent an afternoon in Slavonice admiring the Renaissance façades of the houses. We went through the Podyji National Park, a beautiful area of woodland with wild cyclamen flowering beside the trail. From the Austrian border, we went due south to Vienna and then along the Danube to Bratislava, from where we got the train back to Prague. Details: pragueviennagreenways.org

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For more towpath ride ideas, visit canalrivertrust.org.uk CYCL I N G U K . OR G CYCL E 8 1


Cycle Magazine Taster December 2016 / January 2017