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a brief history of motion - from the wheel to the car to what comes next tom standage. bloomsbury publishing hardback. 247pp illus. £20

a brief history of motion - tom standage

attending 'an evening with graeme obree' in edinburgh's corn exchange several years ago, the flying scotsman was quoted as saying, "man's two greatest inventions are the bicycle and the duvet". i've yet to find anyone who would disagree with that sentiment, but it seems plain to see that, had man not invented the wheel in the first place, the bicycle would not be what it is today. or perhaps simply, would not be here today.

the invention of the wheel effectively changed, quite literally, the horizons of the human race. almost immediately it was possible to travel a farther in one day than had previously been possible by walking, a means of transport that drastically reduced the effort required to actually get anywhere meaningful. in the opening chapter of tom standage's superb new book, this is underlined in the very first sentence of the very first chapter.

"It all starts with the wheel."

the invention of the wheel allegedly took place in 3500 bce, its emergence long assumed to have been in mesopotamia. pictograms discovered on clay tablets appear to show wheeled wagons; historically, potters' wheels were already in use around this time, so to transform these vertically, doesn't seem to be stretching credibility too far. however, recent advances in radio-carbon dating, would now suggest that the wheel originated in europe. "The earliest known wheeled object is a clay model of a bull, mounted on four wheels, found in the Carpathian Mountains of western Ukraine and carbon-dated to 3950-3650 bce."

but as the author points out in the chapter's opening paragraph, "Only in the past century or two, in a world that runs on wheels, has its usefulness become universally apparent." and oddly enough, even ancient civilisations that had knowledge of the wheel, declined to use it at all (the egyptians built the pyramids during the third millennium bce, without resorting to the wheel at all). as mr standage cleverly points out, the wheel has been both a blessing and a hindrance to humanity, achieving greatness, but frequently at unforeseen cost.

the wheel appears to have signalled its usefulness in the bronze age, when some bright spark hit on the idea of attaching four of them to the base of a wicker basket, thus easing the process of transporting copper from the ore-rich carpathian mountains. this idea gained greater traction (if you'll pardon the pun), when the ability to steer the two front wheels increased the flexibility of this great invention. however, arguably greater usefulness arrived in the shape of the first mobile homes, allowing nomadic peoples to carry food, supplies and other items.

early cities, however, were not impacted by the wheel's invention, with the continuing practice of building without streets; movement between closely adjacent buildings continued to be across the roofs "In Europe and Mesopotamia, the layout of settlements - what we now call urban planning - was entirely driven by the needs of people, not vehicles." that is an important point to be made this early in the book, for as mr standage proceeds through history, it becomes all too obvious that this particular consideration soon gave way to the converse.

by 3000 bce, two-wheeled vehicles or carts had arrived, offering greater manouevrability, a process that eventually led to the chariot. in time, the original solid wheel became the spoked wheel, built by dedicated wheelwrights, and making them lighter and thus faster. but the primary motive force right up until the 19th century was the ubiquitous horse, though slower modes of wheeled travel often featured oxen or cattle. and it was the horse, or rather the effects of horse-drawn transport, that first led to the next stage in transport development. for horses, quite frankly, tend to leave unsavoury deposits on the streets along which they travel, streets which themselves had been improved at the behest of those travelling by horse and cart.

"By the 1890s around 300,000 horses were working on the streets of London, and more than 150,000 in New York City. Each of these horses produced an average of twenty-two pounds (ten kilograms) of manure a day, plus a quart (about a litre) of urine. Collecting and removing thousands of tons of waste from stables and streets proved increasingly difficult."

as the author makes plain, this became possibly the first unforeseen consequence of the invention of the wheel. the invention and development of the steam engine aided and abetted the possibilities of mass transport, such as trains and trams, while development of the bicycle offered greater flexibility of personal transport. there's just a hint of possibility that transport matters would have stabilised, had things remained thus. but the application of the wheel to motorised transport, both electric and petrol-driven, signalled the next level of unintended consequence. for who could have foreseen that divesting the streets of horse manure, would lead to levels of pollution that have now come back to bite us?

the advent, development and exponential growth of the motor car soon impacted on every last corner of human existence (and still does to this day). where once urban planning catered to the needs of the people, it now very notably catered to the demands of the motor car. and as has been shown countless times over the past century and beyond, the increase in numbers of cars on the roads, led, not unsurprisingly, to an increase in deaths from road accidents.

"In a speech in 1906, Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton University, worried that loutish motorists were fanning the flames of resentment toward the rich: (early motor vehicles were pretty much the preserve of the wealthy) 'Nothing has spread socialist feeling in this country more than the use of automobiles."

yet, rather than blame car drivers for the increase in injuries and deaths, it became the hapless pedestrian who took the fall (both literally and metaphorically). these accidents were not the fault of careless driving or reckless speed, but the inattention of the pedestrian. the introduction of penalties for 'jaywalking', signalled the end of streets being prioritised for people, and the beginning of their existence predominantly as the preserve of the motorist.

Tom Standage has produced a volume which ought to be required reading for everyone on two legs, whether they move about by foot, on two wheels or on four. his well-researched and essentially unbiased narrative demonstrates an impassionate perspective that seems all too necessary as we move to the next stage of electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and the desperate need for change brought about by the climate emergency, once again, one unforeseen consequence of our chosen means of transport. motor cars have killed (and continue to do so) more individuals than the coronavirus, yet very little has been done to lessen this state of affairs.

Mr Standage offers no single solution to the transport problem, for in truth, i doubt such a thing exists. a brief history of motion, if nothing else, demonstrates that human beings are every bit as myopic today as they were 5600 years ago, still concentrating on the details, and rarely seeing the big picture. the author ends the book with a plea, prior to a comprehensive bibliography and index:

"...we now have an opportunity to learn from history and choose a way forward in which the world is no longer built around the automobile. As we consider the road ahead, it is worth taking a careful look in the rearview mirror."

a brief history of motion, by tom standage is published by bloomsbury publishing on 19 august.

sunday 15 august 2021

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a welcome return

 cyclone

though it's not something of which i'm proud, my cycling career (such as it is) has lately appeared to consist of more than one or two inconsistencies, perhaps alluded to on previous occasions, but nonetheless rapidly becoming a concrete part of my resolve. i have long bemoaned my inability to gracefully clamber aboard my bicycle in the manner of the professionals, following the signing-on process and prior to the grand départ, but at this point in life, i have to come to terms with the fact that it's probably just not going to happen anytime soon.

however, it would be unrealistic of me to contend that this is one of the aforementioned inconsistencies; they have arisen, seemingly unannounced, at the behest of the weather.

i have joked at length about the length of an hebridean winter, arriving as it does after the second thursday of august (islay show day), and lasting ostensibly until the beginning of july. even then, there's still room for a bit of squirming; why else would we call a bike ride on the first sunday of august, 'the ride of the falling rain'? this year, however, in a summer that has seen record temperatures and wildfires in north america, snow in brazil and peru and flooding in the arabian desert, austria and germany, the climate has been kinder than most to the west coast of scotland. i have a recent history of being able to successfully review waterproofs in what elsewhere would be termed mid-summer, but this year i could be found wearing the lightest, flimsiest, short-sleeve jerseys that i could find in the wardrobe.

the notion of having to save water on islay is one that would generally raise more than just a few eyebrows, but in recent weeks, at least two of the island's distilleries had need of postponing a return to work following the annual summer shutdown due to a lack of water. and those reliant on springs, boreholes and wells for their domestic water supply, have even had to resort to the hiring of water bowsers from scottish water. a work colleague, who owns a holiday cottage on the island's west coast, one which depends on a nearby borehole, has had to notify her customers of a need to conserve water, and refrain from having too many daily showers.

however, such conditions rarely last forever, especially over here, and indeed the scorching summer seems now to have come to an end. temperatures are still quite amenable, but the end of this past week saw a resumption of the galeforce winds for which we are rightly famous, accompanied by both heavy showers and the occasional thunderstorm, the latter of which have been held responsible for at least two localised power cuts. if i have to restart my work computer just one more time...

yet, on friday afternoon, during my fortnightly enforced pandemic paper run, what the soft south would surely classify as winter, i could barely supress an ear-to-ear grin when hitting a 60kph headwind accompanied by a quick interval of torrential rain.

you see, contrary to the laws of physics, when there's no real challenge, such as warm sunny days bereft of wind and rain, i often find myself innocently perambulating, as if cycling had no defined purpose. replace the latter with wind and rain, however, and suddenly, there's life in the old dog after all. having employed the services of my specialized cyclocross bicycle on friday afternoon, i was sufficiently enthused to venture offroad onto the grassy dunes of uiskentuie strand, pedalling for all i was worth into the meteorological crap for three glorious kilometres.

at last, some 'real' weather. life is good.

saturday 14 august 2021

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really?

sram xplr

i cannot deny that, when i inhabited the offroad world in the early 1990s, riding a blue and black muddy fox something or other, the advent of elastomer rock shox suspension forks brought a reduction in my bank balance. the mag 21 hydraulic forks had been around for a while, but the lack of any servicing facility anywhere nearby, kept me away from the liquified springs. elastomers were far more user-friendly, offering elastomer stack options that could be implemented even by suspension klutzes such as yours truly.

thus, the muddy fox dispensed with its slightly curved steel forks, to be replaced with straight-legged metallic grey suspension bearing the all-important and too cool for skool, rock shox logo. this may provide the impression that i was, at the time, an apprentice 'gnarly dude', regularly throwing myself off hillsides and cliff tops with scant concern for my personal safety. if i have given such an impression, i can but apologise, for nothing could be further from the truth.

i had been estranged from any thoughts of gnarly-ness, by a friend of mine who took part in downhilling events on an aluminium orange frameset, replete with a pair of impressive sounding marzocchi forks with carbon fibre legs and a chunky alloy fork crown. almost every monday morning, he would arrive at my front door with the remains of said bicycle and several bandages across his person, imploring me to resurrect the bicycle in order than he might participate in more self-destruction the following weekend. i cannot deny that the point of so doing continually escaped me.

however, it wasn't actually the thought of personal injury that weaned me away from mountain biking, but the drudgery of riding several miles over tarmac, on wide, knobbly rubber, to reach the more interesting off-road routes. why not, i reasoned, switch to the bendy bars and skinny tyres of a road bike and be right where i needed to be on passing the garden gate?

i'm led to believe that, following a lessening of mountain biking's influence on the contemporary cyclist, the tide is beginning to turn, with sales allegedly on the increase, no doubt spurred on by tom pidcock's gold medal in the recent tokyo olympics. it's a genre of velocipedinal activity that seemed to go hand in hand with road cycling, many opting to feature both styles of machinery in the bike shed. the cuckoo in the nest has been that of the gravel bike, a machine that brings with it, none of the heritage beloved of mountain biking; no mt tamalpais, no repack run and little in the way of a development curve that saw the early steel cruisers develop into the full-suspension carbon fibre examples seen in the hands of modern-day cognoscenti.

conversely, the gravel bike appeared pretty much fully constituted, with disc brakes and sets of frame-bags that provided a somewhat spurious reason for its existence in the first place. not content with eating into the cyclocross market, gravel has done its best to exclude the blackburn rack and pannier equipped touring bike and it now almost seems as if it has the mountain bike in its crosshairs.

i rest this latter contention on the release this week of sram's explr range of components, providing the gravellous community with a 10-44 tooth cassette (yes, really), suspension forks and a dropper seatpost. couple this with a clandestine move to equip certain gravel designated bicycles with flat bars, and you effectively have a hardtail mountain bike. with the possible exception of the bona-fide road bike, there are now three differing genres suffering an industry imposed identity crisis. and bearing in mind how few mountain bikes ever caught sight of a mountain, one has to wonder just how much gravel machinery will ever see the loose substrate that gave it its name?

but perhaps those of us who consider ourselves to be confirmed roadies, ought now to be keeping a closer eye on industry happenings, lest the wheels be whipped from beneath us. i mention this purely because of the wording employed in sram's press release, where they announced that the xplr componentry is "Designed to give road riders, mountain bikers, and gravel grinders unlimited╩new ways to get after it." get after what, i'm not entirely sure. i admit to featuring an 11-32 cassette on the rear bora wheel of my ritchey, but sram's claim that "With a 10-44T cassette and matching derailleur, you get big range for gravel climbs and tight jumps for fast riding on road."

this may suggest that sram, along with many cycling correspondents and bike manufacturers, are aiming for the gravel bike to supplant everything else on the planet. instead of having a road bike, mountain bike and cross bike in the shed, there would be need for only one. and that sole inhabitant would be from the gravel section of the website. it would be nice to think that the contemporary bike rider would have become inured to the pushing and prodding from the industry, garnering the ability to think for themselves.

apparently not.

friday 13 august 2021

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big wheels keep on turning

absolute black hollowcage

several years ago, i was sent a pair of rear derailleur jockey wheels featuring ceramic bearings, which, i figured, might make a hairsbreadth of a difference to top professionals outputting considerably more watts than i am personally capable of, but for the likes of you and me, they'd be simply a conceit worth mentioning over coffee and a sticky bun. in my head, i had already written the review; it was surely simply a matter of putting in a few kilometres to confirm what i thought i already knew.

as it transpired, i was well wide of the mark, taking only a few pedal strokes to confirm that i was, in fact, totally wrong. granted, their apparent reduction in friction was scarcely of a value that would have brought me to the attention of sir dave, but nonetheless, my subsequent bike rides spoke of a smoothness that had not been present with the standard jockey wheels in place. however, i would like to point out that i am most certainly not an engineer, and have scarce knowledge that would allow me to rationalise whether any apparent improvement in travel was down to feel or a measurable reduction in friction. i certainly do not have the tools that would allow me to make scientific measurement.

and now, the relatively recent trend for replacing the stock pulley cage with one featuring an outsize bottom pulley wheel, and sometimes a similarly-sized top wheel, has me similarly confused. what, i ask myself, could possibly be the advantage in fitting such a device? for surely, if the projected improvements (whatever they might be) are as beneficial as marketing would have us believe, why then have the original manufacturers not fitted these as standard? shimano, i believe, are not in favour of this particular trend, and i can only assume the same applies to campagnolo and sram, since neither appear to offer their derailleurs replete with these larger diameter jockeys.

as i understand it, the purported benefit of a larger pulley wheel rests on the supposition that by increasing the diameter, there is lowered friction on the chain, since each link experiences less angular movement at the rivet. to a certain extent, this makes some theoretical sense, if not much in the way of financial logic. for instance, a complete sram red rear derailleur is priced at around £250, while a compatible ceramic speed oversized pulley system, features an rrp of £446. for my money, and probably yours too, that's a heck of a lot of coinage to make your rear mech look silly and probably not make you appreciably faster.

the converse theory, and the very one by which i believe shimano set their stall, is that these larger wheels offer greater air resistance. once again, i doubt that such a factor is anything worth mentioning, but it's quite conceivable that any increased drag is the equivalent of the alleged reduction in friction, meaning the addition of this to your own model of derailleur becomes more about aesthetics than engineering. but i also wonder if there's a bit of the art world about all this?

an acquaintance of mine for several years, would regularly submit a painting to the annual watercolour society exhibition in london, and every year, he would collect his unsold work and return home. however, despairing at this regular cycle of events, in what he determined would be his last year of exhibiting, he placed a price on his artwork some three times what he would normally ask. the result: he sold it within two days of the exhibition's opening. the only rationale he could place on such a happenstance, was the likelihood that people figured that, at the asking price, it must be a desirable work of art from an acknowledged master.

so are we now looking at another velocipedinal version of the emperor's new clothes? is it the seemingly exhorbitant prices attached to these aftermarket pulley cages that informs us that there has to be a hitherto untapped advantage? if that's the case, then the unbelievably futuristic offering from absolute black, with its hollow lower jockey wheel, has hit the nail squarely on the head. for a mere £519, you could be the owner of the device shown in the illustration at the top of the page. strangely, though absolute black are happy to quote percentage improvements available for their oval chainrings, there are no such claims for their carbon-ceramic hollowcage (ironically, shimano only) preferring to emphasise its quietness of shifting and allegedly improved aerodynamics over the standard offering.

yet there may well be benefits to be had, or at least some folks apparently think so. currently it's listed as sold out.

absolute black hollowcage

thursday 12 august 2021

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vuelta skelter - riding the remarkable 1941 tour of spain. tim moore. jonathan cape hardback. 325pp illus. £20

vuelta-skelter - tim moore

as a well-rounded luddite, i have no truck with modern-day streaming services, both visual and musical, therefore the programmes appearing on the likes of amazon or netflix are largely unknown to me. programmes such as 'jeremy's farm, in which the renowned mr clarkson, having purchased a farm and lamborghini tractor, subsequently makes a bit of a prat of himself while simultaneously highlighting the difficulties faced by 'real' farmers in today's, post-brexit agricultural world.

there's little doubt, however, that the principal premise behind the programme is one espoused by many before and no doubt, many to come. basically, mr clarkson, comfortably at home when surrounded by any four-wheeled vehicle (a lamborghini tractor, for instance), is completely out of his depth as a farmer. of course, having only inferred various scenarios gleaned from lunchtime office conversations, i may be doing mr clarkson a disservice, but i somehow doubt it. and there seems little doubt that it makes for good tv, as long as he doesn't succeed too much.

there is often great hilarity to be gained from placing mere mortals in superhuman situations, a premise exploited to the full by author and alleged bike rider, tim moore. his first publication entitled 'french revolutions', described his attempt as a non-professional and barely trained rider, to complete the 3,630km parcours of the tour de france route. for those who have yet to add this essential volume to their bookshelves, i doubt that i'm giving away too many secrets by informing you that it's hilarious.

he has also ridden 9,000km behind the iron curtain on a two speed, east german shopping bike, and ridden the route of the 1914 tour of italy on an authentic, wooden-wheeled gearless bicycle. you may already have begun to see a pattern to his authorship. it's been some six years since gironimo was published, but mr moore has scarcely lost his appetite for humorous adventure, though his enjoyably self-deprecating style mostly has us laughing both at him and with him, often at the same time.

vuelta skelter brings tim moore a tad closer to the present day, riding the route of the 1941 tour of spain and a bicycle bearing the name of its original victor on the downtube, julian berrendero. the inspiration for this particular undertaking was pretty much the only english language book dedicated to the spanish grand tour, viva la vuelta written by the inestimable adrian bell and lucy fallon.

Spain's national bike race is comfortably the least grand grand tour" [...] Eddy Merckx only bothered with it once, casually destroying the filed in 1973. [...]
"By page 25 I knew how I would be spending the next few months of mine.

vuelta-skelter - tim moore

if you've grasped mr moore's usual metier when it comes to embarking upon a highly unlikely velocipedinal task, simply acquiring a suitable bicycle and undertaking a high-pressure training schedule, prior to setting off, accompanied by a dedicated support crew is not quite the way it works. vuelta skelter is no different in that respect. but before the magic begins, there's the small matter of enlightening the reader as to the background of the eventual winner, whom mr moore intends to emulate. and alongside his own efforts, he keeps us appraised of happenings in the original race

the 1941 tour was undoubtedly chosen for other reasons, not least the fact that it took place only two years after general franco's overthrow of the spanish republic during spain's civil war, taking over as dictator until 1975. in fact, throughout moore's fraught ridden spanish cycle tour, the chapters take place in front of a background of atrocities carried out on behalf of franco's unhappy regime. but first things first; julian berrendero initially found himself in disfavour with franco's government on his return for having criticised the regime following participation in the 1936 and 1937 tours de france.

subsequent incarceration in his home country was fortunately relieved when the captain of rota prison, a former amateur cyclist, recognised berrendero, eventually procuring his release, following which his racing licence was restored, all in time to participate in the 1941 vuelta. berrendero's opinion of today's grand tour cyclists, as with many of that era, is scarcely complimentary. in his autobiography he moaned...

"I won the King of the Mountains without any gears. Now they have ten gear bikes lighter than the wind, you can get 70kmh out of them..."

and then, of course, there's the not insignificant matter of the bike on which mr moore's 'skelter' would take place. "The machine ... was no careworn, mass-market clunker, but a bespoke, race-ready, mid-Seventies beauty with Campagnolo stamped all over the gleaming bits that made it move and stop." it was a rare find, after considerable searching, a bicycle bearing the name of the book's inspiration from the spanish peloton.

unlike the professionals, tim moore's race preparation consists mostly of programming each day's stage into komoot, a smartphone app that he soon discovered that he barely understood and one that didn't seem to understand him. and instead of being transported to his luxury hotel each evening by a state of the art coach, he pretty much took pot luck as to what budget accommodation he could find each day. it seems a tad unfair, though not unexpected, to point out that, when it came to eating of an evening, mr moore was also woefully uninformed.

vuelta-skelter - tim moore

'Para comer?'
The waiter responded to my request with a look of frank bemusement, as if instead of asking him what there was to eat, I'd just invited him to draw on my face. [...] With much watch-pointing, the waiter explained himself: the kitchen didn't open until 8:30pm, giving me ninety minutes to keep ravening delirium at bay..."

the only 'outside help' on which mr moore relies, is a series of newspaper reports on the '41 tour, though frequently, they appear to have omitted mention of gradients and portions of the route that might have proved helpful. however, midst the humour and cycling, the spain of 1941 scarcely comes across as the ideal holiday destination, and even less so, the sort of place you'd want to live, if you were without general franco posters on your bedroom wall. i doubt that a chapter passes by without the mention of several major atrocities that took place under the general's dictatorship. and it appears that even today, many of these heinous acts remain part of spain's omerta.

tim moore is a very funny man and an excellent writer. his narrative is subtly compulsive, his observations acute and his tenacity most admirable. he's a man with whom it is not hard to identify; there are few who will not imagine themselves in precisely the same sticky situations as befall him. and it would be exceedingly unfair to leave this excellent book without mentioning the superb illustrations by steven appleby that top each chapter heading, and the jacket design that ideally complements the perception of tim moore that will inhabit your thoughts right up until the final page.

one can only imagine what he'll do next.

vuelta skelter by tim moore is published on thursday 12 august.

wednesday 11 august 2021

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spirit level

direct line cycle insurance

though it may sound apocryphal, i can assure you that it's perfectly true. in my early years as the sole cyclist on islay, any enthusiasm displayed by yours truly towards the likes of the tour de france, was eventually met with, not exactly hostility, but i frequently noted that one or two village residents would cross the road as the perfect antidote to my regaling them with tales of velocipedinal derring-do during those three weeks in july. i cannot deny that there was a certain satisfaction to be gained by engaging the great unwashed in conversations concerning athletes of whom they had never heard; like many portions of the uk, soccer reigns supreme over here.

times have changed a great deal since then. though bradley's bubble may have burst several years past, cycling's profile has definitely increased out here in the sticks as a result of his and team gb's performances in subsequent olympics, including those in japan that have just rolled to a close. lunchtime today, in an office full of distinctly non-cycling staff, featured a conversation that not only appreciated jason kenny's dramatic success in the keirin, but another about the whys and wherefores of the madison, prompted, obviously enough, by the dominant win by mrs kenny and katie archibald. i truly never once thought that the madison, an event that often seems inexplicable even to its participants, would be discussed over a take-away paratha and birthday cake.

and then of course, there's the previously mentioned situation that took place durng this year's tour de france, when, having pulled into a passing place in the face of oncoming traffic, while en-route to kilchoman distillery, the motorist slowed, wound the window down and said "well. what about mark cavendish then?" that may be a common enough happenstance in london town, but i can assure you, it's a brief conversation that has not previously seen the light of day in the hebrides.

disappointingly, this passive enthusiasm for cycling, or at least the competitive side of the activity, has not been visibly reflected in a notably local upsurge of participants in even the commuting side of the genre. granted, there appear to be a few more personal e-bikes occasionally on display, and there has been a doubling of hire outlets for the electric facet of cycling, but were you to expect the village roads and bike racks to be close to overflowing with indigenous bicycles, you would find yourselves sorely disappointed.

however, no statistician worth their salt would base any kind of cycling survey on the happenings in the southern hebrides. scrutiny of cycling's current popularity is best confined to urban and inner-city regions of the country, where the pandemic has led to government largesse towards so-called pop-up cycle facilities, designed to encourage participation and help achieve the state of net-zero that our political leaders assure us is top of their agenda. but aside from casual or directed observation, there may be an alternative means of gauging cycling's current popularity, something that has commended it even to those with scarce desire to visit their nearest branch of halfords or evans cycles.

in much the same way that the popularity of windows-based computers has attracted a seemingly limitless number of scams and viruses directed at such an enormous installed user-base, the increase in bicycles on the streets has attracted a noticeable rise in the number of thefts. even several nhs staff, using bicycles to travel to and from their hospital shifts during the peak of the pandemic, returned to discover their bicycles were no longer where they'd left them. there are, of course several specialist companies offering cycle-specific insurance policies, particularly for those whose home insurance would scarcely cover the cost of a pinarello seatpost. until recently this has comprised of companies from which the absence of the big boys was somewhat conspicuous.

however, on monday of this week, direct line insurance, owned by the royal bank of scotland since 2003, announced the launch of specialist cycle insurance aimed at providing comprehensive cover to commuters, leisure seekers and cycling enthusiasts who want to insure themselves, their bicycles (including e-bikes) and cycling kit. that this announcement comes as a result of cycling's increased profile was paid tribute to by direct line's paul stevenson. "With the increased popularity of cycling in the UK over the last 12-months+ since the pandemic hit, we have used our expertise and industry knowledge as one of the UK's leading insurers to bring to market a specialist insurance product that is specifically tailored towards cyclists, their bicycle(including e-bikes) and their cycling kit.
"The policy can also cover insurance for third party costs as well as the cyclist themselves; so giving our customers the protection and peace of mind they need when taking to their bicycle."

as ever, money talks. witness the ownership of pinarello by lvmh and colnago by abu-dhabi based chimera investments, while rapha were purchased by the american investment group rzc, for a reputed £200 million. hopefully cycling's popularity will reward their faith.

direct-line cycle insurance

tuesday 10 august 2021

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