When it comes to biking on the road, safety is one of the most important things to think about. This article will highlight the best tips to staying seen, and riding safely.
The most important things to remember when riding is to always have a helmet, high-visibility clothing, and a blinking red light in the back.
1. How to fit a helmet?
When it comes to buying a helmet, it’s important to find one that fits perfectly. The recommended lifespan of a helmet is 3-4 years, so make sure that yours is up to date!
The best way to fit a helmet is to make sure that it is snug on your head, but not too snug that it causes a headache or pushes on pressure points. Nobody wants that. While it’s resting on your head, find the tightener on the back and turn it to a tightness where you could shake your head up and down and side to side without your helmet coming off. Congrats, you just passed the shake test! Be sure to tighten the straps so that the two “V”s on the sides sit right below your ears, and there is a two finger gap between the strap and your chin. Lastly, the helmet will be perfectly positioned on your head if you can look up and see the top of the helmet on your forehead. Your personality is in the front of your brain… we’ve got to protect the most important part!
I ride in the Specialized Align MIPS helmet and absolutely love it for how it fits on my head, the high-vis yellow color, the ventilation, custom fit, and I feel very supported by the MIPS technology. MIPS is designed with advanced technology to disperse the impact to reduce the damage to your head if you were to hit your head in a crash. Check out our selection of MIPS helmets here.
2. What type of clothing should I wear while biking?
Synthetic clothing is always best depending on your adventure, because it wicks moisture and keeps you cool and dry. An important thing especially as the summer days are heating up!
Visibility is key when it comes to riding safely on the road. The brighter the better. Bright colors like a high-vis yellow, orange, or pink or any colors that you feel will be easily visible to drivers or other cyclists out there with you. If you are commuting in pants- make sure that the drivetrain side is rolled up so that you don’t get all tangled up. Check out our selection of high-viz jackets and vests.
Bike shorts are another thing that I swear by. Who wouldn’t want extra comfort and support in the rear? If you’re feeling any butt pains while riding, I would highly recommend investing in a pair of bike shorts and or possibly looking at a new saddle. The main difference between “Bibs'' and regular shorts, is that bibs are designed to hold your shorts up and offer equal compression around your upper body. For females, Specialized makes a great bib that has a snap in the back so that you don’t have to take your jersey off to use the bathroom. Thank you, @specialized! However, when it comes to finding the perfect pair of shorts to support you it’s important to look at all of your options and see what works best for you and your ride. Check out our bike shorts here
3. What types of lights are important for biking?
Whether I’m commuting or on an adventure, I always ride with a reflector and a blinking red-light on the back of my bike and / or helmet. This is to catch the attention of any biker or driver on the road, and to ensure that you’re well seen. Dawn, dusk, night, and even cloudy or rainy days are imperative times that you have your blinking red light on. If you are riding at night, a handlebar flash-light is an important accessory as well. Click here for some great bike light options.
4. Can I wear my regular shoes?
If you feel comfortable biking in them, you definitely can. A way to increase your power and efficiency while riding is to wear a stiff soled shoe, or biking specific shoes that are compatible with clipless pedals. Shoes are unique to everybody, and would recommend coming into our shop to get sized and fit for a pair of shoes.
5. What are some objects that I should be aware of when biking?
It’s important to stay aware and vigilant when biking on the road. Be sure to be watching out for potholes, sand, gravel, broken glass, broken roads, dogs, parked cars, and car doors. A good tip for cars is to be keeping your eyes on their tail lights to see if they are backing up or getting ready to leave, as well as trying to make eye contact with the driver to ensure that they see you coming by. Scroll to the bottom to watch "How to Handle Debris in the Road while Biking".
Here are some additional biking tips when riding on the road:
- Always ride single file on main or narrow roads.
- Be sure to leave multiple bikes length distance between you and other riders.
- Even when there is a shoulder, ride far on the right side to leave space between you, cars, and other riders.
- Cars should give you 3-5 feet of space, but be cognizant of wild or distracted drivers and obstacles in the road.
- Ride on the right side of the shoulder, but know you can take the lane when needed.
- If you find yourself going off of the shoulder and into some gravel, slow down, and do not try to pop back on up to the road as you can catch the lip of the road, or some loose gravel and quickly fall over.
- When communicating with hand signals check both directions and be sure to make eye contact with pedestrians and drivers when making a turn to make sure that they see you.
- Always verbalize when safely passing on the left.
- Dogs can be an unknown obstacle on the road. If a dog is coming close, dismount your bike and put it between you and the dog. If a dog is quickly approaching, lower your voice to the deepest octave that you can and shout, “NO!”. Hopefully this will get their attention. When in doubt, you can always do the harmless approach of squirting water.
- When it comes to breaking, remember that your left break controls 80% of your breaking power. Plan on using it in combination with your right break. If you hit your left break solo, you will most likely go OTB (over the bars)!
- Smile and have fun!
I hope to see you out there sometime soon!
Emily Hoffman, former Skirack Bike Expert