Bicycle Safety – some Tips to Stay Safe on the Road
We all start our cycling journey as different stages in our lives.
Even though I’ve been cycling since I was a small boy, there are still lots to learn for myself.
There are many unwritten do’s and don’ts that many of us (unfortunately) learned the hard way or through hundreds of hours of cycling.
So, let’s dive right in…
Side note: Feel free to share these tips with your friends, family, club members and other cyclists if you find them useful.
Part 1 : A Roadworthy Bike
1. Ride the Right Bike Size
You should be riding a bike that is of the right size for your height. Riding a bike which is either too big or too small will hamper your bike handling and control.
Most (if not all) bike manufacturers publish a sizing chart consisting of a lot numbers to indicate the various measurements of the bike.
That can be complicated for most people.
As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to stand flat footed over your bike’s top tube and there should still be around 3 to 5cm of space left between your groin and the top tube.
A better option is to consult an experienced bike salesperson to ensure you have the right bike frame size.
2. Check for Loose Nuts and Bolts
Most of us aren’t professional cyclists who have a dedicated full-time mechanic working on our bikes. Unless there’s a huge or complicated task ahead, most will stick to DIY instead.
You might also want to consider investing in a set of quality bike tools to begin with.
Here are a few things to check for on a weekly basis.
- Check all the nuts and bolts of your handlebar, stem, seatpost, pedals and wheels’ quick release before heading out.
- Press your front brake and push the bike back and forth to check if the headset is loose.
- Tighten anything that comes loose and ensure there is no rattling.
3. Check and Pump Up Tires
Your road bike tires should be correctly inflated to within the recommended air pressure range which is usually printed on the tires’ sidewalls. Most cyclists have a floor pump at home.
Never exceed the tire pressure as indicated on the sidewall, or you might risk a tire blowout, especially on very hot days. When it’s hot, the air inside the tire expands and pushes the inner tube outwards.
Also, remember to check if your tires are worn, or if there are any deep cuts or debris sticking on it.
Clean or change them if needed.
4. Check for Loose or Bent Spokes
You probably won’t need to do this often unless you hit a pothole hard during your rides.
Ideally you want to have a quick glance of your wheels weekly. Check if any of the spokes are loose or bent.
Spin the wheels and observe if they’re spinning true and not wobbling around.
5. Ensure the Brakes are Working
Check if your brake pads are rubbing against your wheels or the disc rotor. Adjust them if needed.
Spin the wheels, then press the brakes to check that the cables are working as expected and there brake pads are biting the wheels or disc rotor effectively.
Repeat 2-3 times.
Most brake parts are consumed which most rider rare to check such as brake pads, Brake rotor and cables which you can have them from HERE
6. Use A Headlight, Day and Night
The front lights serve 2 purposes; for you to see when it’s dark and for you to be seen during the day. Newer models have a feature called Daytime Run Lights in which the light beams are altered to make you visible to drivers, especially around urban areas where there can be many distractions.
Take into consideration the brightness, weight, mounting type and battery run times before buying the front lights.
I recommend setting your bike lights to flash/strobe mode during the day as it attracts more attention from other drivers.
7. Use A Tail Light
Tail lights are important both during the day and night to help you be seen.
Set your lights on flashing mode to attract the attention of drivers behind you.
Always, make sure your batteries are fully charged. You don’t want to run out of batteries mid-ride especially in the dark.
If you’re looking for the brightest bike tail light that ensures you’re visible, look for one that has at least 70 lumens and above.
8. Use A Bike Bell
In some countries, bike bells are required by law. One such example is Queensland in Australia. There are also many places that the local laws don’t require you to use a bike bell.
However, I’d recommend having a bell as bikes are usually very quiet (unless your riding one that creaks so loudly or having a very dry chain). The last thing you want to be doing every time you pass someone is to scream.
So a bike bell will be handy and a polite way of saying, I’m coming, move away!