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Subject: Ankling, a Pedaling Style
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: November 9, 2000

Ankling, a topic of much discussion, has been claimed to improve performance in bicycling, although not by racers and coaches. It has been touted as one of the techniques for excellence that appeals to bicyclists mainly because it requires no additional effort. That there are different ankle motions while pedaling is apparent, although most of these are not by choice, nor do they effect efficiency. Because so much attention was given the subject in the 1960's, it prompted a study in Italy, in which some leading racers noted for their abilities as well as a distinct pedaling style were fit with instrumentation to numerically capture the stroke. Among them was Jacques Anquetil, who had a noticeably different ankle motion.

The study determined that there was no consistency among those tested and that ankling, much like people's walking gait, is caused by physical individuality rather than any advantage. Typically, some walking gaits are so pronounced that a person can be recognized at a distance. Some people raise their heels before stepping off on the next stride while others "peel" the foot from the floor in a continuous motion. To artificially emulate someone's ankle motion or lack thereof, while pedaling, is as useless as emulating a walking gait. The study laid ankling to rest for a while, but because urban legends have a life of their own, rising again at the slightest opportunity, ankling, with its lore, is assured a long life.

Jobst Brandt

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See also Sheldon Brown on Ankling

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More Articles by Jobst Brandt
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