Nothing portrays an image of the UK better than a British Bobby on a bicycle. Road safety is all about visibility, and believe me the police officers you see in the picture above were extremely visable.
It used to be a requirement in the British police that applicants be at least six feet tall; add the tall helmet to that and they would appear to be nearer seven feet. Then sit them on the good old British “Sit up and beg” roadster bike, that the average person would need a step ladder to mount, and they would stand out in traffic like a Willie Nelson tour bus.
Many was the time in the 1950s when I’d be out training at night with the local chain gang, and one of the group would be sure to have a dead battery in his tail light, the local Bobby would chase us down on his big old Raliegh "All-Steel" bike with a Sturmey-Archer three-speed hub gear.
You can imagine my dismay when I recently came across this image (Left.) of a modern British police officer on a bike.
My first reaction was, “WTF do you look like?” Everything I loved about my homeland is slowly disintegrating. The British Bobby has become “Euro-Fred.”
Gone is the authority figure; he looks like a Mall Food Court Janitor, or a Parking Lot Attendant on his way home from work. And where did they get the helmet? Wal-Mart or Halfords?
This is the British Police for Cris’sakes, couldn’t they design something purpose built that offers protection and a little dignity.
These images came with a story in the British, Sun Newspaper, about a young police officer, killed while on duty on his bike, when he was stuck by a lorry. (Heavy flat bed truck or box van.)
I do not want to make light of this tragic incident, but the reaction by the Manchester, UK police department, was to ban police officers from riding bikes, until they can receive more training. That pisses me off; how about banning drivers who don’t know how to overtake cyclists without running them over.
Britain is apparently spending millions of taxpayer’s money on promoting cycling in big cities to ease congestion and to fight obesity, both of which will cost taxpayers even more in the long run.
By banning police officers from riding, the Manchester Police are sending out a message that cycling is dangerous. If a police officer is not safe on a bike, what hope for the rest of us, is what most people must be thinking.
I just hope they don’t have a terrorist attack or an armed robbery in Manchester, because the police there might just say, “Hey, that’s too dangerous, we can’t handle that.”
I must agree with the Sun Newspaper, the police authorities are wrong on this one. There has been a tragic loss of a young life, one of their own, and they are not facing the real problem. A few sloppy, selfish, drivers who have a complete disregard for human life.
They should be using this tragic waste of a young life to arouse public outrage and awareness of bicycles on the road, and push for harsher penalties for reckless and inattentive drivers who kill cyclists. Like revoking their license and forcing them to ride a bike.
Nothing portrays an image of the UK better than a British Bobby on a bicycle. Road safety is all about visibility, and believe me the police officers you see in the picture above were extremely visable.
Running requires the same amount of energy to run one mile at any speed; you burn 110 calories per mile. It doesn’t matter if you are a super fit athlete, or an out of shape beginner you will still burn the same number of calories per mile.
However, bike riding is affected by wind resistance so the faster you ride, the more energy you use, and the more calories you burn. You have to compare running and cycling at different cycling speeds.
This is according to fitness expert Dr. Edward Coyle of The University of Texas in Austin, who has worked with Lance Armstrong and other top athletes. He determined average values of oxygen consumption by cyclists to develop a table to estimate the approximate caloric equivalence between running and cycling.
He found that if you ride at 15 mph, you burn 31 calories per mile. This means if you ride 20 miles you burn 20 x 31 = 620 calories. Take the 620 calories and divide by 110 calories per mile for running and you get 5.63 miles of running to burn the same number of calories. Therefore, riding a bicycle 20 miles at an average 15 miles per hour is equal to running 5.6 miles at any speed.
Dr. Coyle’s conversion figures are for an average-size adult (approximately 155 pounds). A larger cyclist would divide by a slightly higher number, a smaller cyclist, by a slightly lower one. Wind and hills are not accounted for in the table; nor is drafting behind another rider, which can reduce your energy expenditure by up to one-third.
The number of miles ridden divided by the conversion factor for the speed of riding equals the number of miles running to use the same amount of energy and calories burned. Here is the conversion table:
Riding 20 miles at 10 miles per hour, divide 20 miles by the conversion factor of 4.2 to get 4.8 miles equivalent running. For riding at 20 miles at 20 miles per hour, divide 20 miles distance by 2.9 conversion factor to get 6.9 miles running.
Running will give you a more intense workout in less time. However, a person would need to be at a reasonable fitness level to run 4.8 miles without causing themselves distress. Whereas, it would be easier to ride 20 miles on a bicycle, at 10 mph, to burn the same amount of calories. There would also be far less stress on the body’s joints.
During the 1990s I was in pretty good shape and I could run 10 miles quite easily. My weight stayed steady. Ten years later, I could no longer manage that distance due to hip problems and had to cut back to 5 or 6 miles; the result was I gained weight, even with exercise. Eventually I had to give up running, and went back to cycling.
Now with the same level of fitness, it took me to run 5 or 6 miles, I can easily ride 50 miles at an average speed of 15 mph which equals 1,550 calories burned. I would have to run 14 miles to burn the same number of calories.
I am starting to loose weight again, and as my fitness level increases, my average speed increases, therefore, my calorie burning level increases. If I were still running, it would not matter what fitness level I attained, I would still only burn 110 calories per mile.
It seems to me that cycling is the best bet for anyone trying to burn calories and loose weight. There is far less stress on knee and hip joints, and the harder you push yourself the greater the reward in calories burned.
A person overweight by a considerable amount, who initially can only manage a few miles at say 10 mph, can also take heart that the extra weight they are carrying is in itself causing more calories to be burned.
Addendum June 16, 2008. Comments are closed.
This post gets more hits from searches than any other post on this blog. (Around 150 per day.) Many have found this to be a useful guide, but that is all it is, a guide. Take it for what it is, free advice.
I took figures by Dr. Edward Coyle, he is the expert not me. Walking is never mentioned in the piece, it has been established in the comments that a heavier runner would burn more calories than a lighter runner would. The 110 calories per mile is for an average 155 lb runner.
It is also quite possible that a very fit athlete running at top speed may burn more calories. Again, it is only a guide. Comments have been closed on this particular post as it becomes difficult to monitor comments on an older post.
A new updated article has been posted on April 30th 2015. Here is the link.
Russell Denny is my ex-apprentice who took over my framebuilding business when I left in 1993.
He still runs the business today in the little desert town of Hemet, in Southern California.
Russ came to work for me in my San Marcos, California frameshop in 1985. He was 18 years old and fresh out of high school; he had been recommended to me by a friend of a friend. Russ is of Native American origin and is proud of his heritage.
What I liked about Russ was that he knew nothing about bikes or framebuilding, but at the same time he had scored well in woodshop at school and had made furniture. In other words he had the makings of a craftsman, but had no pre-conceived ideas about framebuilding or what it entailed.
I had had some bad experiences prior to this with young people who had contacted me, begged me to take them on as an apprentice. They always agreed to start at the bottom, but without exception after a very short time grew tired of filing dropouts and wanted to plunge right in and start building a complete frame.
In the case of Russ Denny, here was a young man who was not only prepared to spend the first few years doing menial tasks like slotting chainstays and seatstays and mitering tubes, he really enjoyed it.
(Left, is a picture from the 1980s of a very young Russ Denny tapping the bottom bracket thread in Fuso frames.)
I had him totally master one task before he moved on to the next. His first attempts at brazing were brazing dropouts into chainstays and adding certain braze-ons to a frame. Five years later Russ had mastered every aspect of the craft of framebuilding.
It was the 1990s and the business was changing rapidly. The demand for road bikes was falling as the Mountain Bike grew in popularity. We tried to switch production but in the first place my heart was not really into building mountain bikes, and there were other established builders of MTBs who had their own following.
I was ready to close up shop, liquidate all the tools and equipment and move on, but I had Russ to think of. He had worked for me for over five years and framebuilding was the only skill he had. I could no longer afford to pay him but he stayed on and managed to get a few orders for his own custom mountain bikes, and he also built frames for Quintana-Roo for the Triathlon market.
This improved his skill as a frame builder and after eight years he could do anything that I could do. In fact in one aspect, namely fillet brazing, he was better than me, because of all the oversize tube MTB frames he had built.
By 1993 it got to the stage where I could no longer keep the business going. My whole business was reliant on a nationwide dealer network, and dealers no longer sold road bikes. Russell seemed to think he could survive on his own, and he did so by giving up his apartment and sleeping in the frameshop. I left the business and took other employment.
Today, Russ Denny has to be one of the most qualified and experienced framebuilders around. As I mentioned when I left in 1993 his skill level was equal to my own, and since then he has added another 14 years experience to this; a total of 22 years.
Russ survived by cutting back on expenses, and starving a little. He also took the business to the next level and started building in new materials as the market demanded. I probably would not have done this because I am too rooted in the past, in tradition. However, Russ was able to move forward and take these ‘old skool’ values in craftsmanship, and design, and apply it to the new.
(Above, a Russ Denny carbon fiber tube bike with aluminum lugs.)
He has gone on to build frames in aluminum, and aluminum and carbon fiber mix, and can still build a frame in steel, both lugged and filet brazed. He offers the best of both worlds. He still incorporates my design philosophies regarding fit and is one of the few people around who can build you a custom CF frame.
Russ has recently put up a new website with contact information and more pictures and details of his frames.
My Techno-geek post last Monday was intended to be a tongue in cheek humorous piece; I didn’t mean to cause friction, or a shift in attitude.
However, it did draw a surprising number of comments, both for and against. Many of them raising some interesting and valid points.
Some brought up the safety issue. You can argue after the fact that having the gear levers on the handlebars is safer, but that is not why this type of shifting was developed. It came about because the MTB market brought people into cycling who did not know how to operate a friction shift.
A mountain bike is one that anyone can jump on and ride, but a road bike, even with all the modern amenities still requires a degree of skill to ride. If for no other reason than it goes faster, and handles quicker.
One comment asked if I had noticed how many new cyclists are on the road; I will agree this is a good thing. However, this also means there is a lot of inexperienced riders out there, and it is inexperience that causes riders to touch wheels and fall, not that they are riding one handed.
When I started cycling in the early 1950s, we reached down between our legs to operate the front derailleur. I never heard of anyone falling while doing this, it was no more difficult than reaching down for a water bottle. Yet these type of derailleurs are now known as suicide shifters.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating we should go back to this type of equipment. However it seems we now live in an age where half the cycling population is hooked on single speed, fixed gear, and the other half swears by 10 speed, index shifting.
Surely, there is room in this mix for a few people like me, who have ridden with down-tube, friction shifting all our lives, and six gears is enough. When the supply of the old stuff runs out, I will have no choice but to switch, and I will do so before giving up riding. (I may even find I like it.)
The computer age has meant that products go from the design stage to actual product on the shelf in a far shorter time; robotics take over manufacture. There becomes less and less human involvement, and something is lost.
Frames were once built by craftsmen like myself and others, and there is a part of me in every frame I built. I also rode bikes and raced on them and learned a great deal along the way, a slow gathering of knowledge over many years.
Today with large corporations building bikes, there is not the same gathering of knowledge. Equipment is developed, and almost immediately becomes obsolete. Knowledge gathered is forgotten as they move on. Engineers who are not necessarily riders design bikes, and design is for the benefit of the manufacturer, not the consumer.
Richard Sachs said it best when he stated, “The threadless steerer was an answer to a problem that didn’t exist.”
The old style quill stem (Left.) worked fine, it was elegant and easy to adjust up and down. Now it is obsolete, not because it didn’t work, but because forks with threadless steering columns are easier to mass produce.
The quill stem was replaced with something ugly, in my opinion, and far from easy to adjust for height; sometimes you need to buy a whole new fork.
When I said, “Techno-geeks, keep your hands off my bike,” I was not putting down progress, but saying don’t discard everything good that has gone before.
When I said a mountain bike is easier to ride than a road bike I meant easier to ride on the road. I keep forgetting there are people who actually ride them off road; my apologies.
When it comes to bike fit everyone is looking for a magic formula. There isn’t one, because there are so many variables in the human body.
This doesn’t mean that formulas are of no use. As long as we accept their limitations, they can often be a good place to start.
An extensive study on bicycle design was done at Loughborough University (Pronounced Luff-boro.) in England in the mid 1970s. Part of their report stated that saddle height, measured from the pedal surface to the top of the saddle, was equal to 109% of a rider’s inside leg measurement.
The way they arrived at this 109% was by measuring the inside leg of a large number cyclists, and at the same time measured the height of their saddles. 109% was the average; in reality, most of the cyclists measured would have been above or below this percentage. This is the nature of averages.
The 109% is a place to start; the saddle height for most people is going to be slightly up or down from this. I like the idea of a percentage because the longer a rider’s legs, their saddle is going proportionately higher. This means a greater distance from the saddle to the handlebars, (Drop.) which is what the larger rider needs.
Inside leg measurement is something that causes confusion; in America, (Always trying to abbreviate the English language.) it is referred to as “inseam.” People become confused with pant size which is not surprising because pants have a seam, legs do not.
I have also heard talk of “Pubic bone height.” (PBH) The pubic bone is part of the skeleton and I don’t see how you can measure its height without x-rays. I always measured inside leg from the perineum to the floor, without shoes.
The perineum in simple non medical terms is the fleshy part that is in contact with the saddle. I usually say, “Crotch to floor without shoes,” but I am trying to eliminate all confusion here.
The way I would measure someone was first have the customer pull their pants up tight into their crotch to get an accurate measurement. Place the end of a steel tape measure firmly against the perineum, and measure down the inside of one leg to the floor.
If you are not sure of your inside leg measurement, the most accurate way is to have someone measure you in the way I have just described.
Let’s use for example an inside leg of 33 inches. If you don’t have a metric tape measure, it is 33 x 2.54 = 84 cm. (Rounded to the nearest centimeter.)
84 x 109% = 91.5 cm. Remember this is the measurement from the pedal surface in its lowest position to the top of the saddle.
Deduct the crank length so you can measure from the center of the bottom bracket, which is easier. 175 cranks are in mm. so deduct 17.5 cm. from 91.5 = 74 cm. (See picture, left.)
I realize the distance to the pedal face is less than the crank length, but remember this is only a starting place. The saddle height will still need adjustment by actual riding experimentation.
The reason everyone with a 33 inch inside leg will not have the same saddle height is partly because of different shoe sizes. (Foot length.) A rider’s toe is pointing downwards at the bottom of a pedal stroke, a person with a longer foot needs the saddle higher, and vice versa for small feet.
Other factors effecting saddle height are the width of the rider’s pelvic bones, the width of the saddle, and whether the saddle is firm or soft.
Take a test ride, and if you can’t tell if the saddle is too high, or too low, raise it ¼ inch (6 mm.) and try again. It is easier to tell if a saddle is too high, rather than if it is too low. It is best to start on the high side and work down.
If the saddle is too high you will feel like you are stretching at the bottom of the pedal stroke, in extreme cases you will be rocking from side to side on the saddle. Come down a ¼ inch.
To pedal efficiently, legs need to move straight up and down like two pistons. The hip joint, like all joints, has a limit to its upper movement. To demonstrate this to yourself, stand in a doorway and support yourself, while lifting one knee as high as you can and hold it there with the other hand.
This is the upper limit to your hip movement. The only way you can make you knee go higher is to swing your upper leg outward, and your knee will then go another inch or so higher.
When pedaling, you do not want your legs splaying outwards at the top of each stroke; this is not an efficient way to pedal. If this is happening, your saddle is too low, too far back, or a combination of the two.
Leaning forward restricts your hip movement still further. Sit on the bike, leaning against a wall or a vehicle for support. In your lowest tuck position, see if you can lift your foot above the pedal when it is at the top of its stroke. In other words, you do not want to be at the absolute limit of your hip joint’s movement at the top of each pedal stroke.
Once you have your saddle set right, ride it for at least two weeks to become used to it. Then you can experiment by raising it small amounts 1/8 inch. (3 mm.) at a time. Ask yourself, “Does this feel better, or worse?”
Often raising the saddle slightly will immediately make you feel more powerful in your pedal stroke, and stronger while climbing. As the season progresses, you gain fitness, you loose fat from your backside, and muscles stretch, the saddle may need to go up again.