25 years of the best advice from the pages of Cycling Plus

We’ve been offering you the best road possible cycling advice since 1992, and a look back through the Cycling Plus magazine archives reveals the top tips that have stood the test of time

Riding in traffic from issue 3

Statistics don’t tell the whole story as we’re pretty darned sure there are more cyclists on the road than in the early 1990s, but according to Government figures the number of cycling trips made per person every year since then has actually remained pretty constant. We are cycling further, though – up 26 per cent since 1995. And that means we’re mingling for longer with the increased number of vehicles on the roads – the mileage driven has increased by almost 20 per cent in the last 20 years. So, how does 1992 road sense stack up?

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That’s so 1992…

Never be intimidated, you’ve got as much right to be on the road as a BMW, so don’t let them dictate how and where you ride. Don’t ride in the gutter – the more room you have the safer you’ll be and it’s better for cars to go around you than risk catching your pedal on the kerb. Watch out for large vehicles taking corners at the same time as you – what looks like a large gap between a bus and the kerb soon disappears. Don’t overtake large vehicles on corners or stop between a vehicle and the kerb, especially at left turns.

Timeless advice?

One road death, regardless of transport mode, is one death too many, but the most up-to-date Government figures for cycling casualties do actually show that the number of cyclists killed on our roads – 100 in 2015 – is the lowest ever, so it could be argued that we’re safer than in 1992. However, Cycling UK issues a note of caution – the number of serious injuries to cyclists has increased: “The KSI (killed or seriously injured) rate per billion miles has grown significantly over the last 10 years. In 2005, it stood at 875 cyclists per billion miles, but in 2015 rose to 1025.” So, our 1992 safety tips are as timeless as our stereotyping of drivers of Bavarian executive motors!

Aero dressing from issue three

Type “Aero 1992” into W3Catalog (go on, Google it…) and the image search returns lots of pictures of Saabs, but now defunct Swedish car makers weren’t the only ones trying to overcome drag pre-Ask Jeeves. Elite cyclists like Chris Boardman and Graeme Obree were doing their utmost to cheat the wind and so, it seems, were Cycling Plus readers. 

That’s so 1992…

Exposed hair and ears will increase drag and don’t set up airflow over your head as well as a helmet – a helmet is also safer. If your helmet has slots then cover them to improve airflow. A non-stretch loose jersey with pockets can slow you down by up to one minute during a 25-mile time trial. A cotton undervest will absorb and retain perspiration, leaving you damp and clammy. A skinsuit isn’t good at getting perspiration out on its own so wear a wicking thermal layer underneath.

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Timeless advice?

Of course not, we all know aerodynamics is nonsense right… Oh okay, getting aero is bigger than ever. Brands like Specialized, Ridley and, soon, Boardman Bikes have built their own wind tunnels to develop products, while pro athletes and serious amateurs spend time (and money) perfecting their aerodynamics with the use of big fans…

Aerodynamic bikes, wheels, helmets (which are no longer optional if you want to be aero) and clothing – including skinsuits that do wick sweat – are the norm and available for every budget. And those wind tunnels provide excellent information. For instance, in 2014 Specialized told us that the aero advantages of shaving legs could be on average 70 seconds over 25 miles, and that having a beard makes no difference at all. God bless science!

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