How to stay safe while cycling
Cycling can be a great form of exercise, an environmentally-friendly method of commuting to work and school or a way to simply enjoy the outdoors on a nice day. To ensure that your cycling trip goes smoothly, you’ll want to follow some simple safety guidelines and invest in the necessary equipment. Whether you’re new to biking or a long-time cyclist, safety is critical.
Cycling safety equipment
Road cycling usually involves sharing the street with other bikers, cars, trucks and pedestrians. It’s essential to wear the right gear and make sure you’re visible to drivers. You’ll also want to have the correct tools to repair your bike if need be and have a comprehensive understanding of the local biking rules and regulations.
We’re taught to wear helmets at a young age. That valuable lesson still rings true even as adults. In case of a fall or accident, a secure fitting helmet can significantly reduce your chances of suffering a severe head injury, which in some cases could be life-threatening. High-end options like the Octal MIPS Helmet from POC offer complete protection and a fully adjustable fit for all head sizes. This Giro helmet has excellent safety ratings and premium ventilation features for a more moderately priced option.
A bike light is designed not only to let you see the road ahead of you but to alert traffic, pedestrians and other bikers of your presence. Having both a headlight and a taillight is crucial for night riding, and many bike light models sport features like strobe effects, high beam settings and more. This bike light set is water-resistant, rechargeable and easy to attach to your handlebars or frame.
Sometimes a verbal signal isn’t enough to alert others that you’re approaching. Bike bells offer loud, consistent warnings, especially when attempting to pass pedestrians or other bikers. You can usually find inexpensive bell options, like this BONMIXC Brass Bell, that can fit all bike styles and are a must-have when riding on busy city streets.
Cycling is a physically demanding activity that requires riders to stay hydrated, especially in hot weather. Dehydration can lead to headaches, stomach cramps, dizziness and other dangerous symptoms. Most road cyclists opt for either a hydration pack or water bottle, usually stored in an attached cage.
Just like mirrors on a car, bike mirrors let you see what’s coming up on your sides and from behind. There are several different mirror options to choose from, with different installation points. These Hafny mirrors are great for attaching to the end of road bike handlebars, while these Bike Peddler mirrors are ideal for riders who wear glasses.
Though a bike lock isn’t technically a piece of personal safety gear, it will help keep your bike secure and safe from theft. You can choose between key locks, combination locks and even electronic bike locks. Some cheaper models can sometimes be cut by experienced bike thieves, though this heavy-duty steel Kryptonite Lock features a solid U-lock design and a strong double-loop cable for added protection.
Low tire pressure can affect the quality of your ride, and an unexpected flat tire can put a damper on your day. Carrying a portable bike pump lets you keep your air pressure at optimal levels even when you’re far from home. Just be sure to choose a pump that fits your specific valve size, as not all pumps are universal.
A flat tire doesn’t mean your ride has to end. Every serious cyclist should be comfortable changing or repairing a flat and making other bike adjustments, whether it be a loose chain, crooked handlebars or improper seat position. The WOTOW multi-tool can be kept in your pocket or bike bag and comes with pry bars for changing a tire. If you don’t want to carry a spare inner tube, a handy patch kit can serve a similar purpose.
Saddle bags, also called seat bags, are great storage options for snacks, keys, wallets, headphones or other essentials that you’ll want along the way. By fitting securely under your seat, saddle bags won’t get in the way of your peddling and are small enough that they won’t weigh you down.
No one wants to be squinting throughout their entire ride. Not only is it bad for your eye health, but bright sunlight and reflective glares can be dangerous, impairing your vision while cycling. When choosing cycling sunglasses, it is best to choose a polarized option, as they cut down on glare and block harmful UV rays.
Models like the Torege Polarized Sport Sunglasses are lightweight, scratch-resistant and affordable so that you can keep your eyes on the road without distractions.
Road cyclists who plan on taking longer rides might want to consider wearing padded bike shorts. These shorts can minimize chafing, reduce pressure points caused by bike seats and make for an overall smoother ride. You can find affordable men’s and women’s options for all body types.
You can never be too careful when riding at dawn, dusk or night. Like these packable men’s and women’s cycling jackets, reflective clothing is a perfect way to add extra visibility to your commute. They are also windproof and waterproof, providing multiple uses with a lightweight design.
If you plan on using GPS on your ride, a handlebar phone mount is probably your safest option. By having your phone in view, you’ll have hands-free access to your maps and other features without having to take your eyes off the road or struggle with retrieving your phone from your pocket. A phone mount is also convenient for listening to music and answering calls.
Matthew Young is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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