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Everything you need to know about buying bikes & accessories with Cyclescheme Issue #1 Winter 2008

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Featuring

top cycling products

Get road ready! Expert tips for new commuters

Work & play

On test: 3 bikes to turn the daily grind into a daily blast

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Cycling essentials Your guide to...

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we believe

At Trek, we believe in simplicity, and that complex problems can be solved in a simple way. Make a difference and park your car. For whatever you ride, we want the world to be a more bike friendly place. Go by bike. trekbikes.com

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contents Issue #1 Winter 2008

Bikes tested

Features

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14 8

A superb commuting bike and a Cyclescheme favourite, great for weekend rides too

Trek 1.5

Your commute just got a whole lot quicker: Trek’s sub-£700 racer will take some beating

Learning a few simple riding techniques will improve your safety and give you extra confidence out on the roads

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From Elvis to Presley...

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Top products & essential kit

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21 If you’re in the market for a folding bike the D9 is a great ride for the money

Produced, designed and published for Cyclescheme by Farrelly Atkinson www.f-at.co.uk

If it can be asked, we’ve been asked it: find answers to some of the most common questions here

Olympic success is helping to sustain an upsurge in cycling, says William Fotheringham

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Mezzo D9

FAQs

A golden era?

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Welcome to Cyclescheme

A quick introduction to the scheme: how it works, who’s eligible and where you get your bike

David Balfour of Highland Council tells how getting a bike led to more than just a daily commute…

Specialized Sirrus Comp

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12

All about...

Technique

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Stuff

Bringing you the very best cycling gear for your daily commute and beyond…

Helmets

Four of the best lids to make sure your bonce will bounce in a spill

Lights

Front and rear units to shed light on a Winter commute

Locks

You don’t want a crook making off with your new wheels, so get some protection...

Jackets

A good jacket can make all the difference on a Winter’s day

Gloves

Chilly fingers will be a thing of the past with a toasty pair of biking gloves

Prices correct at time of going to press. E&OE. All content © Cyclescheme 2008

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Winter 2008

Welcome to a better way to get a bike! Cyclescheme is the UK’s number one provider of tax-free bikes for the Government’s Cycle to Work initiative. We offer big savings on the best bikes and safety equipment. Dealing with Cyclescheme’s network of over 1,200 local bike shops also gives you the best experience, with the expert personal service, convenience and choice that larger multiple retailers just can’t match.

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he Cycle to Work Initiative is a salary sacrifice scheme which gives you the chance to save on the cost of a new bike as well as security and safety equipment to go with it. The way salary sacrifice schemes work is that you give up part of your salary and receive an equivalent benefit that is exempt from Income Tax and National Insurance. What does this mean in practice? Well, technically it’s your employer that buys the bike. You hire the bike and equipment

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Who’s it for? Want to take part? Great! If you’ve received this mag from your employer then they’re probably already running a scheme, so things should be straightforward. There are some limits to who can take advantage of the tax breaks, though. The most important ones are: The scheme is open to all full, parttime and contract staff whose term of employment is more than the

period of the hire (usually 12 months) You need to be a UK taxpayer via the PAYE system You need to be over 18 years of age to comply with Consumer Credit Act legislation You need to be earning more than the National Minimum Wage after your wages have been reduced

• • •

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Welcome from them, and you pay them back the cost of your bike from your gross salary. Tax and NI aren’t deducted from the payments, so you save money over the hire period. Cyclescheme has partnered with over 1,000 independent bike shops throughout the UK giving you access to a massive amount of choice and expert advice on your equipment selection. Cyclescheme has To locate your local store go to www. partnered with over cyclescheme.co.uk and use the postcode store locator. If you have a 1,000 independent independent store that’s not bike shops throughout favourite partnered with Cyclescheme, just give the UK us a call and a member of our team will contact the shop to see if they would like to become part of our network. You are not limited to any brand of bike or accessory and so you can choose the best for quality and value for money. This results in the best package of bike, accessories and safety equipment. Cyclescheme runs schemes with the Department of Transport, Office of Fair Trading and Department of Health, as well as a whole range of police forces, councils, universities and blue chip companies. Custom hire agreements are written entirely in accordance with government guidelines.

WinT!

£250

a Cyclescheme voucher...

hat’s right: £250 to spend in your local Cyclescheme store! Simply go to the Cyclescheme website and enter your details to be in with a chance of winning. If you sign up to receive our mailings we’ll also let you know when you can download the forthcoming issues of Cycle Commuter, and we’ll keep you up to date with news about Cyclescheme too. To enter, simply point your browser to:

www.cyclescheme.co.uk/compo Terms & Conditions: It is a condition of entry that all rules are accepted as final and that the competitor agrees to abide by these rules. The decision of the judges is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Only one entry per person, online entry only. Entry deadline is 1 April 2009. Incomplete entries will not be accepted. No responsibility can be accepted for lost entries. The winner will be drawn at random from all entries received by the closing date. The winner may be required to participate in publicity. By entering into this competition you agree to have your name released as the winner, should you be drawn as the winner of the prize. We will keep your personal details for a reasonable time so that we can send you any prize that you have won, to verify that these rules have been complied with, and for accounting purposes.

Britons are getting on their bikes

Britain’s cyclists are not just being encouraged with tax incentives for bikes. More money is being spent on improving Britain's cycling facilities and encouraging people on to their bikes than ever before. In the last year numerous town and cities have unveiled ambitious spending plans aimed at boosting cycling in their areas, and in some cases this spending is just the first phase of even bigger schemes aimed at turning Britain into a nation of happy cyclists. Cambridge has unveiled plans to spend £7.2m on cycling over the next three years, this includes money to be spent on new routes, cycle training, traffic calming and a feasibility study into a “supercycleway” through the centre of the city. Colchester will spend £4.2m over three years on a similar exercise with the aim of boosting the number of regular cyclists in the town and surrounding areas by 75 per cent. Other cities spending big on cycling include Bristol, London and Brighton. In Scotland campaigners look likely to succeed in having the proportion of the country's transport budget spend on cycling doubled for 2009/10. Colchester has £4.2m of cycling money burning a hole in its pocket

Pedalling facts

s. The Dutch are currently Europe's champion cyclist car, a drive than d More people ride a bike in Hollan and every Dutch man, woman and child cycles an average of 2.5 km per day every day of their lives. In the Dutch city of Groningen 60 per cent of all journeys are made by bicycle.

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Winter 2008

Stuff Bringing you the very best cycling gear for your daily commute and beyond…

Specialized Tahoe women’s shoe £59.99

These commuting shoes are tough enough for on-road or off. The recessed cleats and generous tread mean these are cycling shoes you can walk in too. www.specialized.com

Respro Hump £32.99

Being safe means being seen, and the Hump rucksack cover will certainly make you stand out on the crowded streets. It doubles as a useful rain cover too. www.respro.com

Finish Line Pro Road lube £4.99

Biking’s a pretty hassle-free way to get about but you’ll need to keep your chain and gears running smoothly, and Pro Road is one of the best lubricants you can get for your moving parts. www.finishlineusa.com

Endura Humvee 3/4 shorts £44.99

A comfortable commute is a happy commute, and bike-specific shorts can make a world of difference. The Humvees have vents at the rear to keep you cool, and a detachable liner with padded insert. They look good off the bike, too. www.endura.co.uk

Specialized Air Tool Dual pump £14.99

This pump fits to your bike with a neat locking bracket and its dual head means it’s set up for any valve without any fiddling with washers and spacers. A good fit and forget option. www.specialized.com

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Stuff

Madison Reflective Slaps £7.99

These fluorescent slaps wrap around your trousers and act as both a trouser clip and extra visibility for a dark ride home. www.ultimatepursuits.co.uk

Shimano MT32L shoes £49.99

If you use clip-in pedals then the MT32L is a great all-round shoe for commuting – comfortable on the bike and with casual styling for round-town wear. www.shimano.com

VDO MC1.0+ computer £79.99

We all like to keep score, and a computer is a great way of logging all those miles! The MC1.0+ will do more than that though: it has 22 functions in all, including an altimeter that’ll tell you how far you’ve climbed and a thermometer too. www.fisheroutdoor.co.uk

Newton 20 function tool £17.99

With Allen keys, a chain tool, screwdrivers and even a bottle opener, there’s few commuting disasters the Newton won’t take in its stride. www.fisheroutdoor.co.uk

Cannondale Metro overtrousers £100

For those really wet and cold days a pair of waterproof overtrousers are just the ticket. The Metros have clever Velcro adjusters at the bottom: tuck in for cycling, let out for walking. www.cannondale.com

Agu Yamaska 475 rack pack £39.99

Bell Volt helmet £129.99

If your bike has a rear rack then a rack pack like the Yamaska is a great way to get your essentials from A to B, and you get a shoulder strap to carry it off the bike. www.agu.be

The beautifully sculpted Bell Volt may be an expensive bit of kit, but it has adorned the heads of Tour de France stage winners, so you know it’s the real deal. 22 vents and anti-microbial pads keep your head cool and clean. www.bellbikehelmets.com

Altura Night Vision Vest £19.99

Okay it’s not the sexiest bit of kit here, but for getting seen on the road the hi-viz fabric and reflective strips mean there’s few things that’ll do more to make you stand out. www.zyro.co.uk

Endura Firefly women’s jersey £34.99

One for the warmer days, or great as a base layer under your warmer gear, the Firefly has a women-specific cut and it’s a great looking top too. www.endura.co.uk

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Winter 2008

in detail...

Bike test

Elastomer inserts in the seatstays are claimed to smooth the ride; it’s certainly comfortable

The Sirrus has good quality Shimano shifters and Avid brake levers

Other rated rides... Cannondale Bad Boy Disc £599

This is an urban mountain bike with attitude. SRAM gearing will get you up anything and Shimano disc brakes stop you in a flash while the strong wheels and chunky tyres will handle whatever you send their way. www.cannondale.com

Ridgeback Flight 03 £649.99

The Ridgeback’s light aluminium frame comes fitted with a carbon fork and Shimano components. The strong disc brakes are less affected by wet weather than rim brakes and don’t wear out the wheels. www.ridgeback.co.uk

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On test...

Specialized Sirrus Comp £649

The top-selling bike of all time on Cyclescheme, the Sirrus Comp is a superb all-round commuter that’s great for the weekend too

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ooking for a do-it-all bike at a bargain price? Specialized’s Sirrus Comp could be the one for you. You get the lightweight agility of a road bike combined with a relaxed, flat-barred ride position of a mountain bike and a load of extra comfort thrown in. This is a bike that’s perfectly suited to commuting through town, scooting along the towpath with the family, or heading out for a big ride in the country at the weekend… Specialized are big on comfort and that’s obvious as soon as you climb aboard the Sirrus Comp. The ride position isn’t so upright that you feel you’re slowing the bike unnecessarily with the wind on your chest but, on the other hand, it’s not so low and stretched that you’re going to get lumbago before the first corner. It’s a sensible compromise that gives you a decent view of everything around you – and that’s good news whether you’re keeping an eye on the traffic or just taking in the scenery. The aluminium alloy frame comes with carbon seatstays and a carbon-legged fork, both of which feature Specialized’s unique Zertz inserts – small, synthetic blocks that are designed to absorb shocks and vibration from the road. Do they work? It’s hard to isolate their influence but the ride quality is impressively smooth whatever the cause,

This is a bike that’s perfectly suited to commuting through town, scooting along the towpath with the family, or heading out for a big ride in the country at the weekend…

Scott Sportster P2 Ladies £699

The Sportster, which is also available in a men’s model, is essentially a mountain bike with lighter wheels fitted to add extra zip on the tarmac. You can lock out the fork and save the suspension for when you head off road. www.scottusa.com

and that’s all that matters. More comfort comes courtesy of Specialized’s own Body Price: £649 Weight: 23.3lb / 10.6kg Geometry Sonoma saddle which Frame: 7005 Alu has a pressure-relieving groove Fork: Carbon with down the centre and just the Zertz inserts Drivetrain: Shimano right amount of flex in the shell. Deore/Truvativ Elita We like it a lot, and the same goes Wheels: Specialized for Specialized’s 28mm Armadillo Other: Specialized Body Geometry saddle tyres which have enough of an and grips air chamber to take the edge off dodgy road surfaces without adding too much weight. The other major plus is that they have a nylon casing underneath the tread that means you’ll probably never find yourself fixing a puncture in the rain. All this comfort doesn’t come at the expense of performance. Far from it; the Sirrus Comp is a lively character that weighs in at just 23.3lb (10.6kg, size M). The wide range of the 27 gears allows you to winch yourself up the most brutal climbs without too much bother and to stay on the power down the other side. Shifting couldn’t be easier thanks to Shimano’s thumb and forefinger controls and braking is surprisingly good too. You get more well-modulated power at your fingertips than you’re ever likely to need on the road. Add in some strong, reliable wheels and eyelets for fitting a rack and The nylon casing on a tyre is a finely mudguards and you’ve woven layer below the rubber which got a top value bike with a stops sharp objects puncturing the load of versatility ideal for tube. Some tyres also use Kevlar for commuting or leisure. more protection www.specialized.com

Tech Specs

Jargon Buster

Trek 7.5 FX £549.99

Trek’s extensive FX range combines comfort and speed in many different guises. The 7.5 comes with a carbon fork, Avid V-brakes and Shimano Deore shifting while in-house brand Bontrager provide a host of high quality components. www.trekbikes.com

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technique Winter 2008

Learning a few simple riding techniques will improve your safety and give you extra confidence out on the roads.

Not that cycling is particularly dangerous: an American study found that it was less hazardous than just generally being alive! But riding in traffic can be intimidating to begin with and anything that helps keep you out of trouble has to be good news. The more experience you get on the bike, the better your riding will become and you’ll soon think nothing of cycling in traffic. To help you reach that point here are the essential techniques you will need to get started…

Turning right

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First check the traffic behind you in plenty of time before you want to turn. Simply look back over your right shoulder to see whether the road is clear.

2

Give a clear arm signal and, when it’s safe to do so, move towards the centre of the road. If there’s nothing coming in the opposite direction, you can carry on across the junction and complete your turn.

3

If the opposite carriageway isn’t clear, wait in the centre of the road, just left of the white line if there is one, until there’s a safe gap in the oncoming traffic. Then have another look around before completing your turn.

For more info... The Highway Code

The good old Highway Code is the official road safety manual for Great Britain and it has a whole section devoted to us cyclists. A copy will set you back £2.50 from any bookshop or you can check out the online version at www.direct.gov.uk

Cyclecraft

John Franklin’s book will tell you exactly how to ride safely and confidently in traffic – and much else bike-related besides. Endorsed by all the major cycle trainers and published by the Stationery Office, it’ll cost you £12.50. Go to www.cyclecraft. co.uk for all the details.

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e

Technique

Filtering through traffic

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Don’t cycle down the inside of long vehicles like lorries and buses. The drivers can find it difficult to spot you in their wing mirrors and if they pull over or start to turn left you’ve got nowhere to go. Go round long vehicles on the right hand side. But even here, beware of drivers pulling over from your left as you pass them and be prepared to take evasive action if necessary.

2

Some junctions have an advanced stop line that allows you to position yourself ahead of the rest of the traffic. Many have a bikeonly filter lane that takes you up to it – but still beware of other traffic eating into your space.

Road position

1

Position yourself at least 50cm from the side of the road to avoid drains and debris. If you feel safer further out, you're entitled to ride there. You should allow faster traffic to pass if you feel that it’s safe to do so.

Avoiding obstacles

CTC

CTC – the Cyclists’ Touring Club – has a website that covers all things cycling including advice for beginners, technique skills and tips and information on various publications that’ll help you get the most out of your bike. Visit www.ctc.org.uk for all the info.

2

Ride in the centre of your lane when that’s the safest option – it can give you more space to react, increase your visibility and stop other people overtaking when it’s not safe. But check properly before you move out.

3

Move further out in your lane when you’re riding past parked cars just in case someone opens a door in front of you. It can happen, and you’ll come out of it worst. Again, check behind before you move out.

1

2

Look well ahead so you have time to steer around obstacles like drain covers, potholes and diesel spills. If you can’t avoid something, it’s best to ride across it without braking, with your bike as straight and upright as possible. Swerving or braking at the last second could make you lose control.

Beware of anything that could be slippery like train tracks, cattle grids or raised manhole covers – especially if it’s wet. You can always get off and walk if you’re not confident. If you do decide to ride an obstacle, tackle it at right angles to reduce the chances of slipping, and don’t try to steer when you’re riding over it.

Lifecycle

Life Cycle UK aims to equip people with the skills, the knowledge and the confidence to make cycling part of their everyday lives. They run training and maintenance courses across the South West. www.lifecycleuk.org.uk

Everyday Cycling

British Cycling’s non-competitive sister site has plenty of information on routes and events, as well as news and features and a thriving online community. www.everydaycycling.com

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Winter 2008

in detail...

Bike test

Bontrager’s SSR wheels and Select tyres are a really good package for this kind of money

There’s a clever sensor hole so you can fit Trek’s wireless computer

Other rated rides... Bianchi Via Nirone 7 Xenon £699.99

Unlike most of the competition at this price, this aluminium bike from classic brand Bianchi comes with 10-speed components from Italian compatriots Campagnolo. All that heritage will bring out the racer in you. www.bianchi.com

Giant Defy 3 £549

Giant were the first of the big bike manufacturers to adopt the compact frame design with its sloping top tube. This one’s aluminium with a carbon-bladed fork and 27 gears courtesy of Shimano’s entry-level Sora groupset. Great value. www.giant-bicycle.com

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On test...

Trek 1.5 £674.99

If you’re looking for something a bit faster, Trek’s great value mid-range racer will give your commute a competitive edge

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rek is one of the biggest brands in cycling, making everything from kids’ bikes to cuttingedge race machines like those Lance Armstrong powered to seven consecutive Tour de France victories. The Texan racer will be aboard Trek again for his 2009 comeback. The 1 series of all-purpose road machines provide arguably the best value in the entire range with the 1.5 in particular offering a whole lot of bike for your money… The Trek has a real urgency from the off and spins up to speed surprisingly fast. Our 58cm model hit the scales at 21.5lb (9.8kg) which is highly respectable for a bike of this price, and that’s largely down to the impressive aluminium frame. The tubes have been elaborately shaped to shave off the grams while maintaining strength and stiffness while carbon-bladed forks provide a similarly reliable lightweight performance up front. Shimano’s Tiagra and Sora components take care of shifting as you accelerate, providing effortless fingertip control and changes that are as fast and accurate as you get with much more expensive options. The Bontrager SSR wheels are good quality too. Extra lard here can really blunt a bike’s responses but these combine a reasonable weight with a lack of flex when you put the power in. They stayed perfectly true throughout testing while good weather

The 1.5 is an energetic climber, giving you the feeling that it’s working with you as the gradient increases rather than fighting against you

sealing keeps the hubs running smooth without the need for much attention. Price: £674.99 Weight: 21.5lb / 9.8kg You’ll notice the lack of weight Frame: 7005 Alu most on the hills. The 1.5 is an Fork: Carbon energetic climber whether you’re Drivetrain: Shimano Tiagra/Sora with seated or standing up on the Bontrager chainset pedals, giving you the feeling Wheels: Bontrager SSR that it’s working with you as the Other: Bontrager saddle, Bontrager Carbon gradient increases rather than seatpost fighting against you. Our model came with a triple chainset rather than the usual double which, when matched up to the 9-speed cassette, gives you 27 gears including a whole range that are lower than normal. Shift to the small chainring and you can crank up pretty much anything short of vertical without blowing a blood vessel, even at the end of a hard ride. The double chainset version (£649.99) comes as a compact (the chainrings are smaller than traditional) so although you drop to 18 gears, you still get plenty of climbing options. Head downhill and the 1.5 is solid enough to hold its line without making you feel jumpy, even when the road surface is uneven. And when it’s time to scrub off speed, the Sora levers work with the no-name brake callipers to oblige just fine – no worries at all on that front. A few other little details set the 1.5 apart from the crowd. The carbon Bontrager seat post is a top quality touch that’s simple to adjust; the fork comes with a port for fitting a bike computer sensor if you want to get sporty; and eyelets on the frame and fork mean fitting mudguards for commuting couldn’t be easier. Like we said, you get a whole lot of bike for your money. www.trekbikes.com

Tech Specs

Specialized Allez Sport

Kona Honky Tonk

Specialized’s distinctive frame teams up with a carbon-legged fork to provide one of the most comfortable rides going, while Shimano Tiagra components deliver dependable shifting and braking in a lightweight package. www.specialized.com

With a butted steel frame and gear shifters on the down tube rather than integrated with the brake levers, the Honky Tonk is a real step back in time for lovers of retro chic. www.konaworld.com

£749.99

£649.99

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Winter 2008

From Elvis to Pre s David Balfour of Highland Council tells us how getting a bike through Cyclescheme led to more than just a daily commute…

U

ntil my late forties, I largely avoided bicycles. I had the usual childhood dalliances (orange Chopper etc.) and even completed a long distance ride as part of a biathlon. I still have the medal. My other leisure time was consumed by über-safe pastimes like rugby and ice climbing. There does, however come a time when creaking infirmity forces a stop to such activities but just as that point was reached lady luck decided that my employer should simultaneously introduce a cycle-to-work scheme and I got a nice cyclo-cross bike at a very reasonable price. A quick hop on and spin and I discovered the disadvantages of new technology:

riding a bike can be a life changing experience in wonderful ways and weird ones too…

It wasn’t heavy, the gear shifts were smooth and predictable and it sped along at a pleasing rate of knots. The damned thing just encouraged you to ride. It was addictive and I succumbed. When you get hooked on cycling there's no room for other addictions. I used to be a smoker, but when you're out on your bike you need all your lung capacity to be in full working order so the ciggies got binned in short order which obviously had some extra benefits for my all-round health. Oh, and my bank balance too. As a rule when you get into cycle commuting the only bit of you that gets fatter is your wallet. Yes, riding a bike can be a life changing experience in wonderful ways: better health, more money; and Bike bagged ready for the flight to Orkney

weird ones too… So it was that I found myself, Lycra clad in the tailspin of an August tropical storm that had a name, 30 years to the day after Elvis Presley died. I had wallowed to Shetland all night on a ferry from Aberdeen (which might be in the same country but is bloody miles away!) and disgorged on to another wee ferry to Bressay. Bike and walk, I found myself there, looking out over a deserted and desolate bay. It was called Elvis. Elvis Voe, to be precise (HU507449, Landranger 4). As a hill-walker, I had read a satirical rag called The Angry Corrie renowned for its “quirky” challenges such as Elvis to Presley. The TAC guys walked and it took them ages, I would cycle and do it in 24 hours – well, that was the intention anyway. We both did it for charity. So, punch the stopwatch and off, managing a gentle trot across the bog to the bike feeling like a proper athlete, back to the ferry and right down the spine of Shetland by the only road to Sumburgh and the aeropuerto. This place is bleak, even for the kind of post apocalyptic landscape that Shetland does so well. The sheep looked hard as nails and even the road does no fluffing about – it just goes straight across the runway to get there as soon as possible. Bike in a plastic bag, on to a plane about the size of a transit van

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Cycling changed my life

e sley... and after thirty minutes of water I was deposited in the second archipelago of the day – Orkney. It sometimes seems that the roads are the only things in Orkney that aren’t 5000 years old. The place is splattered with history. You should go there! It’s also not that big, so Kirkwall to the next ferry at St. Margaret’s Hope was achieved at an energy saving pace, over the prettiest back roads in Scotland. The ferry got across the Pentland Firth in as smooth a manner as was possible on that water, given the worsening weather and the fact that a lot of the North Sea empties into the Atlantic at that point. Unlike some, I wasn’t revisited by supper. When my “support crew” met me at John O’ Groats it was 9.45pm, raining, the wind was picking up and I had 135 miles Sunset over the Pentland Firth

to go. Loose plans were made to meet up in Wick. We did at midnight, much delayed after a puncture. Then onwards. The 12% gradient at Berridale came and went, the Ord of Caithness undulated infuriatingly and 5am saw us in Brora. Our last stop as a team was outside Dingwall at 9am. By this time, you could use any word describing “knackered” – in fact; you could have used them all. Finally at 183.5 miles on the outskirts of Inverness, I failed utterly. That's the thing about challenges, you can't win them all, but you can at least finish. The next day after a kip, I got back on the bike and did the rest. No publicity, no welcoming committee, no support. Just me and Presley (it’s a farm near Forres). Done. And the thing is, I never did like Elvis...

On a big ride you need to stop for refreshment now and again...

The harbour at Kirkwall

Do I look tired? Dingwall, 9am

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Winter 2008

in detail...

Bike test

The stem arrangement looks odd but the ride is very stable

Castors on the rear rack mean you can pull the Mezzo around like a trolley when it’s folded

Other rated rides... Brompton M3L £607

A design classic, the Brompton is one of the most compact machines available and superquick to fold and unfold, making it great for taking on the train or bus. There’s a wealth of custom options too: Brompton hand-assemble each bike. www.brompton.co.uk

Giant Escape Mini Zero £849

Not a folder but a compact road bike for those who don’t have space for a standard machine, the Escape features 20-inch wheels and a cruciform frame design which makes it easy to hop on and off. www.giant-bicycle.com

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On test...

Mezzo D9 £645

If integrated transport is your thing, or there’s just nowhere to park at the office, Mezzo’s D9 is a great folding option

F

olding bikes are the ideal solution if part of your beam really does seem to get your commute involves trains or buses. They are also pedal power to the back wheel ideal urban bikes, tough and nippy over short as directly as possible for a quick Price: £645 Weight: 26lb / 11.8kg distances and because they fold up you can getaway from the lights. Frame: 7005 Alu bring them with you into the office instead of having to Gearing comes courtesy of a Fork: Aluminium lock them up outside. There are loads of folding bikes out 52 tooth Truvativ front chainring Drivetrain: Shimano Tiagra/Truvativ there, some that concentrate on the folding part of the job teamed up with SRAM’s 11-26 Wheels: Mezzo 20” and others that put the emphasis on the ride. The Mezzo PG-950 cassette at the rear . A Other: Integral rack with falls somewhere in the middle of that range. It folds small – Shimano Tiagra rear mech and a trolley wheels, front and rear mudguards although it isn’t the smallest – and it’s very enjoyable to ride. SRAM Attack shifter deliver crisp Mezzos don’t fold in the middle. Instead the frame is shifting – all this gives you a range made up of a one-piece that should fly on the flat and get you up even the biggest central beam that the hills. The ProMax calliper brakes hooked up to four finger rest of the bike folds levers put some oomph into stopping and there’s plenty around and under – of modulation on offer when you need to slow rather than that sets them apart stop on a sixpence. from the rest of the Once you get the hang of it the fold is fast and simple. folding crowd. Unfolding is faster still. At 11.8kg you won’t want to be According to Mezzo carrying a folded Mezzo far, but it has castors – so trolleying this has two big advantages: the it along is an option. beam makes for a stiff frame that efficiently transfers your All Mezzos come with a tough anodized finish – folders pedalling power to the back wheel; and it gives the Mezzo a have to be tough. Mudguards are part of the frame, and the decent length wheelbase for a more stable ride – although D9 has a rack with a range of dedicated bags and panniers at 1045mm a Brompton’s wheelbase is longer than the to go with it. Mezzo’s 987mm. The latest D9 boasts a new colour option, Graphite, The D9 doesn’t fold quite as small as and the introduction of a Montague a Brompton (690x685x360mm to the Click quick release system for the front Brompton’s 550x580x280mm) but it wheel. As the name suggests the wheel The wheelbase of a bike is simply does score on the ride. Handling is crisp clicks into place first then you do up the the distance between the contact and predictable. Some small-wheeled quick release lever. This seems a sensible points of the two wheels on the bikes can be twitchy, but not the Mezzo. upgrade for a bike that relies on releasing ground. Generally speaking, longer Acceleration is good too - you’d expect the front wheel as part of the fold. bikes are more stable. that from a smaller wheel, but that stiff www.mezzobikes.com

Tech Specs

You can bring a folding bike with you into the office instead of having to lock it up outside

Jargon Buster

Dahon Vitesse D7 £379

The Aluminium-framed Vitesse range is a good budget solution. Fold size isn’t as compact as some of the other bikes here but the 20-inch wheels give a good ride, and the D7 features a 7-speed drivetrain to get you up the hills. www.dahon.co.uk

Dawes King Pin £349

The Dawes King Pin features a lightweight aluminium frame, practical rack and mudguards and simple to use 7 speed derailleur gears plus reliable mountain bike style V-brakes. It’s another good budget choice for town riding. www.dawescycles.com

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essentials Winter 2008

It’s not all about the bike: choosing the right kit will make all the difference to your ride. Here’s the lowdown on what you can’t do without.

Helmets

Y

ou don’t legally have to wear a bike helmet… but if the worst happens and a car pulls out in front of you or you slip on a wet road, wouldn’t you rather have one on? Modern bike helmets are lightweight and incredibly comfortable to wear. They won’t overheat your head either because they’re designed with air channels to bring in a constant stream of cool air as you cycle –

you’ll barely know you’ve got one on. Plus, there’s no VAT on bike helmets these days, so they’re pretty cheap too. By law, all bike helmets sold in the UK have to meet European safety standards, so as long as you buy from a recognized cycle shop you’ll have no worries on that front. But do spend some time making sure you get the right size – no helmet will help if it doesn’t fit properly. If in doubt, get the shop to help you choose.

Jargon Buster

Retention systems sit below the back of the helmet and allow easy adjustment to keep the helmet snug.

Giro Saros £79.99

Giro is one of the most respected bike helmet brands around and the Saros shows exactly why. Masses of well-placed vents funnel air inside so you stay cool and sweat-free while the soft rubber RocLoc 4 stabilizing system reaches right around to cradle the back of your head meaning that you don’t need to overtighten the chin strap to keep it firmly in place. Low profile and lightweight, this is a helmet that’s so comfortable you barely know you’re wearing it, and the highquality build standards mean it’ll prove durable too. It’s available from February. www.giro.com

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s Specialized Chamonix £29.99

Met Diamante £39.99

The Chamonix is our favourite helmet in its price range by miles. A penny less than 30 quid gets you a tough, safe lid that’s as lightweight and unobtrusive as many high-end options costing over twice as much. Specialized’s flexible Form Fit retention system works with the easily adjusted straps and foam padding

to provide a secure and comfortable fit while the distinctive cooling system, complete with its big Mega Mouthport at the front, provides a generous amount of airflow. The visor is handy for keeping the sun and rain out of your eyes, although it’s easily removed if you’d rather ride without one. www.specialized.com

The Diamante is a mid-range women’s helmet with a high-end performance and subtle looks. You get loads of ventilation via huge ports that channel cool air in through the front and sides and take hot and humid air out the back. It’s simple to fine-tune the Safe-T Lite retention system. You just put the helmet on and move the double-slide adjusters at the rear to get things stable – it takes seconds. Light and compact as well, this is one of the most comfortable helmets out there. www.met-helmets.com

Bell Array £59.99

Bell Pioneered the in-moulding system that most good quality helmets now use. The external plastic shell is bonded to the head-saving EPS foam inside during moulding, saving weight and making the lid stronger. The mid-range Array helmet has a wealth of vents which channel air through

ventilation channels inside the helmet to stop you overheating. Like most modern lids the Array has a retention system at the back to adjust the fit to your head, but the TAG system that Bell use also allows side-to-side adjustment to customise the fit even more. It’s available in five colours. www.bellbikehelmets.com

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Winter 2008

Essential kit:

Lights

R

ide your bike in the dark and you have to use lights or the boys in blue will be after you. The law says you must have a white front light and a red rear light, and they can be either steady or flashing. If they’re capable of giving out steady light, though, they have to conform to British Standards. That’s the legal angle but, apart from that, fitting good

lights makes a whole lot of sense for your own safety. It’s not the sort of area where you want to be skimping. The good news is that there are plenty of impressive lights to choose from these days. They’re smaller yet more powerful than ever, batteries last for ages and, if you go down the rechargeable route, they’re as simple to juice up as your mobile phone.

Cateye EL010 Opticube Uno £24.99 Electron Backupz £16.99 Despite its diminutive size, the Opticube packs a mighty punch. It is under 10cm long and weighs just 80g with the single AA battery included – that’s less than a Kingsize Mars Bar. The LED produces a dazzling, focused beam that’s bright enough to see by on urban streets and you get 15 hours of constant light, or 60 hours in flashing mode. The simple attachment system makes it easy to mount on your bars. www.cateye.com

Jargon Buster

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. They run quite cool, don’t have a filament to burn out and don’t use much power, so they’re ideal as bike lights.

You wouldn’t want to use these tiny LEDs as your main set of lights, but they’re ideal for carrying as an emergency measure in case your batteries run out. They weigh just a few grams each and take up virtually no space, so you can just keep them in your bag or saddle pack. A piece of elastic holds them in place on your handlebars or seatpost and they give out an amazing amount of light to make sure you get you seen on the road. You can choose between flashing and constant modes and they’re fully waterproof too. www.ultimatepursuits.co.uk

Light & Motion Stella 120 £99

The best of the rest

Designed primarily for mountain bike use, the Stella’s 120 Lumen LED beam gives you the confidence to ride as fast as you like even on unlit roads. You can take it as read then that it’s bright enough to get you seen by other road users. The simple rubber clamp makes fixing the light to your bars a breeze, and you get up to two hours of burn time. The battery is small enough to fit underneath your bike’s stem so it doesn’t get in the way, and the button flashes to warn you when it needs recharging from the mains. www.lightandmotion.com

Knog Skink £15.99

These clever little LED lights (available as front or rear) are ideal for urban riding at night and put out a surprisingly large amount of light. The handy rubber casing keeps the weather out and acts as its own fastening system so you don’t need a mount. Ideal for switching between bikes or taking with you when you park up. www.knog.com.au

Smart LAM317R £15.99

Featuring three LEDs, this is among the brightest rear lights we’ve ever used – it really is stunning. You’ll get about 60 hours of use in flashing mode before you have to change the batteries. www.smart-bike.com

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Essential Kit Abus Granit X-Plus £59.99

Essential kit:

Locks B

uy a high quality lock. Seriously. If you’ve just spent a big wedge on a brand spanking new bike, don’t try to protect it with something that costs a tenner. It’ll end in tears. Cheap locks might sometimes look the part and, granted, that might be enough to discourage a would-be thief, but it’s not worth taking the chance. Even the stupidest villain will get through a poor quality bike lock – and there are some terrible ones out there – in seconds. Spend a bit more cash, make life more difficult for him, and chances are he’ll soon

This is the most costly U-lock in the extensive Abus range but it’s worth the money. Although light enough to carry around without too much bother, it’s incredibly resistant to attack, whether

give up. When choosing your lock, don’t get too hung up on weight. Okay, there’s a limit to how much you want to carry around with you but, in general, heft is good. And look out for Sold Secure awards: these are independently assessed safety ratings that come in Gold, Silver and Bronze. Finally, lock your bike up carefully. Make the lock as inaccessible as possible and, though it might sound obvious, ensure that whatever you’re locking it to is strong. Attach your bike to a rusty old railing and you’re asking for trouble.

Squire Urban Protector £41.99 The Urban Protector U-lock is surprisingly sturdy for its reasonable price. Its hardened steel body and 13mm hardened steel shackle can withstand the bike thief’s most frequent forms of assault and the double locking mechanism is a high quality feature. It’s moderately lightweight too and comes with a simpleto-use bracket so you can stash it on your bike frame when you’re riding. You don’t

get the same level of protection as you get from its big brother in the Squire range, the Urban Paramount (£49.99), but it has gained a Sold Secure Silver rating and only the most dogged crook with plenty of time available will get through this one. www.squirelocks.co.uk

Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit chain and padlock £114.99 Yes, it’s expensive, but for heavyduty bike security this is hard to beat. You get 1m of heat-treated steel chain and an ultra-sturdy lock although it’s weight means it’s best for home use or very short journeys. Rated as Sold Secure Gold. www.kryptonitelock.com

that’s by means of brute force or an attempt to pick the lock. The beefy shackle stands up to saw blades, bolt cutters and all manner of other weaponry and it’s double bolted into the cross bar for added security. On top of that, the lock mechanism is protected with hardened steel. Chances are, any thief confronted with this lock will soon give up trying. Comes with a Sold Secure Gold award. www.abus.com

Kryptonite New York M18 £89.99 Kryptonite’s New York locks have built up an enviable reputation over the years for being among the safest out there and this is the top-rated U-lock in the range. It features a chunky 18mm hardened steel shackle, a hardened steel sleeve over the crossbar too, and it uses a double deadbolt locking mechanism that’s resistant to

drilling and picking. In plain English, that means any thief who fancies taking it on had better be prepared for a fight because this is one of the toughest locks you can buy. Admittedly, the M18 isn’t cheap… but then, neither is your bike. www.kryptonitelock.com

Abus Granit 1000/100 £64.99

Another Sold Secure Gold lock this flexible cable lock is much stronger than most others of its type because it’s protected by thick, overlapping hardened steel shells and the lock housing is just as resilient. www.abus.com

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Winter 2008

Essential kit:

Jackets T

Jargon Buster

Seams need to be sealed against the elements - if they’re just sewn then water gets in through the holes. Check that they’re taped or bonded on the inside.

Endura Luminite £69.99 Here’s a commuting jacket that lets you be seen, be safe and be stylish at the same time. Not only that: it’s waterproof, windproof and breathable too. A handy array of pockets gives plenty of options for stowing essentials while cinched in collar and cuffs and sealed seams add

even more weather protection. Well thought out luminous panels make the jacket visible from all angles, but the real sting is in the tail where a red Luminite LED gives you 50 hours of flashing light where you need it most. Also available in black or yellow. www.endura.co.uk

reat yourself to a bikespecific jacket and your cycling instantly becomes a whole lot more comfortable – and when you’re comfy, you enjoy yourself more. Chances are that you’re going to need something that can keep the rain out, at least long enough for you to get home. In general, the more you spend on a waterproof, the more breathable it is – meaning that your sweat vapour can escape outwards through tiny pores in the fabric which don’t let water droplets in. But features like adjustable cuffs and underarm vents are even more valuable for keeping you sweat-free. Good insulation can be useful too but be careful… a heavyweight waterproof might be too warm for summer use. It often makes more sense to buy a lightweight waterproof shell and to layer up underneath for extra warmth. Look for a dedicated cycling cut. That means plenty of length in the back and sleeves to keep you covered while in your biking position, a high, close-fitting collar to prevent draughts, and not too much spare fabric to flap about in the wind. And anything that gets you seen just has to be good news. High visibility colour options can really help while reflective piping, logos and print really shine out at night.

Other top accessories... Endura Shark glasses £29.99

Specs can keep the glare out in the summer, protect your eyes in the rain and cold, and help to increase contrast in low light. The Shark has a lens for all of these, and a padded case to keep them in. www.endura.co.uk

Blackburn EX1+ rack £29.99

A rack makes real sense if you’ve got a lot of gear to lug about, and you can get some excellent wet weather bags to put your stuff in for Winter. The EX1+ is a solid and dependable platform to hang your panniers from. www.blackburndesign.com

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Essential Kit Altura Nevis £49.99

s

This is the UK’s best-selling cycling jacket and it does a great job of keeping the wind and rain out. The Altek fabric is breathable, so you don’t get clammy when things heat up, while a full-length front zip, underarm pit zips and back vents add more air condition-

ing. You get pockets in the back and on the chest and all the zips are waterproof. The fleece-lined collar is comfortable on your neck and reflective trim helps get you seen. Available in high visibility yellow/black and blue/black and in both male and female cuts. www.zyro.co.uk

Gore Phantom £99.99 Cannondale Metro £140

Top dollar buys you this top quality offering from Cannondale. 3 layer waterproof fabric with taped seams will keep out even the worst weather, and the dropped rear can be folded up and secured with Velcro for off-the-bike days. The Metro also features a hood that’s big enough to fit over your helmet, so it’s a great choice for when the weather’s really dreadful. There’s lots of vents and reflectives too. www.cannondale.com

The slim-fit Phantom is a wind-stopping soft shell that keeps the cold air out and the warm air in. You’ll need a waterproof on top in heavy rain, but the fabric can keep out showers and has the advantage of being really breathable. You can zip the arms off to reveal shorter Lycra sleeves for when the weather warms up so, though costly, this jacket is very versatile. The elasticated cuffs and hem keep draughts at bay and the reflective trim really shines out in car headlights. It comes in a variety of different colours in both men’s and women’s versions. www.gorebikewear.com

Polaris Merino socks £9.99

Ortlieb Mudracer seatpack £29.99

Seatpacks hang under your saddle and are a great place to stash a few bits and bobs - tools, a spare tube and a couple of quid in case you need some emergency rations... The Mudracer is waterproof and has a built-in LED light too. www.ortlieb.de

Good socks can make all the difference between toasty toes and frozen feet. These thick Polaris socks are great for winter, and because they’re made from Merino wool they fight off foot whiffs too. www.polaris-apparel.co.uk

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Winter 2008

Essential kit:

Gloves G

ood gloves are one of the essentials of your cycling wardrobe. For a start, even in decent weather your hands can get cold when you’re riding fast because of the windchill. And aside from the discomfort it’s pretty hard to control a bicycle with two blocks of ice on the end of your arms. So, on frosty winter mornings you need some heavy-duty insulation. But cycling gloves aren’t just about warmth. When you are

riding your hands support a lot of your body weight and pressure on your nerves can lead to numbness and discomfort. Padding on the palms distributes that pressure to keep your hands ache-free. And finally, should you ever be unfortunate enough to come off your bike, chances are that your hands will be the first thing to hit the deck. You’re better off scuffing up a pair of gloves than scuffing up your hands so do yourself a favour and keep them covered.

Specialized BG Ridge D4W £19.99 Lots of people suffer from numb hands while cycling because of the pressure on crucial nerves as they lean forward onto the handlebars. These lightweight gloves are designed to avoid that with a gel pad in the heel of the hand – and they really work. On top of that, the thin synthetic leather palms offer plenty of breathability and

they’re reinforced in the crucial area at the base of the fingers. The stretchy mesh back provides more comfort while the soft and absorbent micro suede wiping panel on the back of the thumb always comes in useful. www.specialized.com

Chiba Drystar II £29.99

Wet hands soon become cold hands and then you’re looking at a miserable ride, so it pays to be prepared for the rain. These top value gloves feature a liner that’s 100% waterproof so it doesn’t matter what the weather does, your hands stay dry inside and they provide good insulation too. The palm is reinforced with Kevlar for extra durability and you get a gel pad that’s well placed on the heel of the hand to prevent numbness. The cuffs extend above your wrists to keep you well covered while reflective strips helps get you noticed at night. www.chibagloves.com

Altura Night Vision £29.99

These are ideal Winter commuting gloves. As the name implies the Night Visions have masses of reflective trim that really shines out in car headlights, making them hard to miss at night. The good news doesn’t end there: they’re waterproof too and Thinsulate low bulk insulation means they’re warm enough for the coldest weather. They are comfortable too thanks to a reinforced silicon pad on the base of the palm to cushion your ulnar nerve. Add in further reinforcement down the inside of the thumb and you’ve got plenty of protection against vibrations and road shocks. www.zyro.co.uk

Jargon Buster What do you wipe on your wiping panel? Your nose of course! It can get runny on those cold mornings...

The best of the rest Pearl Izumi Pittards Elite £33.99

The exposed back sections of these gloves are made from waterproof and windproof fabrics to keep the worst of the winter weather out, while the extended cuffs come with adjustable Velcro closures for extra draught proofing around your wrists. www.pearlizumi.com

Gore Bike Wear Tool £34.99 These winter gloves are made from Windstopper fabric to stop the cold air getting in and the fleece inner traps plenty of warmth inside. The silicon-coated palms and fingertips don’t slip on wet controls. www.gorebikewear.com

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FAQ...

Common questions about the scheme answered by our Cyclescheme experts...

Q A

How often does the bike have to be used for work? There is no requirement for you to cycle to work for a specified number of days throughout the year and there is no special requirement for you to record your trips. You can also use the bike for leisure at weekends and on holiday, although a bike purchased under Cyclescheme should be ridden for at least 50% of time during trips to work. The Inland Revenue does not expect you to keep a record of mileage.

Q A

What happens at the end of the hire period? It’s your employers choice at the end of the hire period whether they opt to sell you the bike, typically employers will choose to sell the bike back to you at cost of 5% plus VAT, this charge is deemed to be the fair market value based on the original voucher value. Please note that such practices and expectations are merely indications based on historical factors and cannot be guaranteed.

Q A

Does my employer require a Standard Consumer Credit Licence? The Government has issued a blanket consumer credit licence to all participating employers buying bike packages up to £1000 including VAT. When you sign the Hire Agreement, the resulting relationship is defined under the terms and conditions of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. If your employer wishes to supply bikes over £1000 then they will need to buy a consumer credit licence from the OFT, which takes around six weeks to come through and lasts for five years.

Q A

Can my employer pass on VAT savings? For employers who are VAT registered it may be possible for savings to be passed on to employees. Organisations such as financial institutions, charities and NHS trusts are usually unable to take advantage of VAT savings.

Q

I’d like to get some of the stuff in this mag, but my local bike shop doesn’t stock it. What should I do? Each product has contact details for the manufacturer or distributor, so you could ask the bike shop if they can get hold of it. Alternatively, they should be able to recommend something similar that they do have in stock. Take the mag along if you’re unsure.

A

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Pedalling facts

Cycle for a total of three hours at a moderate level every week and you will burn off around half a pound of fat, up the amount to five hours of vigorous cycling and you will burn off a pound. Or, if you don’t want to get thinner you can eat more cake without putting a strain on your waistband.

Riding the internet

Ever wondered why it is that the bicycle always tops polls of the best inventions ever and such like? Apart from the fact that it is, of course. One reason is that cyclists as a group are very net savvy, and there are loads of cycling websites and forums dedicated to every aspect of riding a bike. That's great news if you're a beginner just getting into cycling because there is a world of advice and support out their on the internet. Here's some worth checking out:

www.cyclescheme.co.uk Well we would say that! All you need to know about getting a bike through the scheme.

www.ctc.org.uk The Cycling equivalent of the AA. Campaigning membership organisation, and much more

www.britishcycling.org.uk Governing body for competitive cycling.

www.road.cc Covering all aspects of road riding in the UK with bike and equipment reviews, videos and forums.

www.bikeroutetoaster.com Want to find a bike route, or share one? Then this is the place to go.

www.lcc.org.uk London Cycling Campaign’s vision is to make London a world-class cycling city

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Winter 2008

Is this the start of

Cycling’s golden era? Britain’s amazing success at the Olympics is helping to fuel an upsurge in cycling, and the signs, says William Fotheringham, are that things can only get better…

O

n one television documentary about fishermen in the North Sea, each bulging net of cod and prawns is greeted with the same exclamations in Peterhead brogue: “Great haul. Now that’s a grand haul. A haul worth going out for.” That’s pretty much how it felt coming back from Beijing this summer, after one British medal had followed another in relentless, exhilarating succession. The question back then was whether this crushing of the rest of the world on the Laoshan velodrome would result in a sea-change in cycling in this country. The same question had been asked after a number of possible breakthrough points in the last 20 years: Chris Boardman’s gold medal in Barcelona in 1992, the first visit of the Tour de France in 1994, 2000 and 2004’s successful Olympic Games. Would Britain’s previously unsung cycling heroes become national names, and would that be reflected in a surge in the sport’s popularity nationwide? You rarely see a tipping point as it happens, but the omens are good after this summer, as far as the profile of the sport is concerned. It’s the little events that offer the clues: Victoria Pendleton being invited to London fashion week; Dave Brailsford appearing on the

platform at the Labour Party conference to tell the government of the day about the benefits of a united team; Jamie Staff turning on Christmas lights in Ashford and Rochester; Chris Hoy being the match-ball carrier when Scotland play the AllBlacks. The message is clear: cycling is no long just something funny people do in lycra on Sunday mornings, it’s what the great and the good of the nation aspire to. Lower down the food chain, the omens are good. Go-Ride sessions for youngsters this October half-term were massively over-subscribed as parents brought their kids along in the hope that they might turn out to be the next Chris Hoy. Getting onto a track accreditation session at the Manchester and Newport velodromes is easier said than done as slightly older cyclists try to emulate the gold medallists. Preciously brilliant junior cyclists are coming out of the woodwork at a rate that would make Italian and French talent scouts weep. Tickets for major events such as the World Cup and the Revolution series have sold out weeks in advance. The Tour of Britain surfed a wave of popular support in such unlikely strongholds of cycling as leafy Buckinghamshire and rainy, population-sparse mid-Devon. And next year, perhaps most important of all, a wave of highprofile evening ‘nocturne’ circuit races, run by two different organisers, will take over the centres of a dozen British towns. The chances are, 10 years down the line, cyclists will all look back to the spell between Beijing and London – because we all measure time in Olympiads now, don’t we? – and reflect: we never had it so good. Unless, of course, Brailsford gets his British pro team in the Tour de France, and it gets even better… William Fotheringham is one of Britain’s most successful cycling authors and writers. His books include: Put me back on my bike – In search of Tom Simpson, Roule Brittania, Fotheringham’s Sporting Pastimes, and Cycle Racing How to Train, Race and Win.

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Take control of your commute

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for a list of marin dealers visit: www.marin.Co.UK

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Cyclescheme Cycle Commuter Issue 1  

Everything for UK commuters from Cyclescheme, the leading supplier of bikes for work. Bike tests, products, skills, stories and more...

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