This article is from the Bicycles FAQ, by Mike Iglesias with numerous contributions by others.
From: Jobst Brandt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 09 Nov 2000 14:04:39 PST
Ankling, a topic of much discussion, has been claimed to improved
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 by it
at a distance. Some people raise their heel 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.