In many cases, a correct fit is vital to the effectiveness of a commodity. A set of D batteries won’t power your car, Dijonmustard has no place in a yogurt smoothie, and a veteran hockey player may not be the best choice to star a tooth paste commercial. No matter how high-quality an item may be, if it doesn’t harmonize well in a whole, it won’t fulfill its potential or your purposes in the long run.
Nowhere is this truer than when you are shopping for a bicycle. It is common for parents to buy bicycles that are too large for their children, knowing that they are growing at the speed of sound and would probably fit them eventually, anyway. Another bicyclist might find a terrific deal on a bicycle that wasn’t made for someone with their body type, thinking they can adjust with minimal effort for the price offered. This logic works for things like bargain books and argyle socks, but it doesn’t do to compromise when your safety hangs in the balance. An improperly-fitted bicycle can make it difficult to brake, turn and otherwise maneuver quickly. Since so many bicycle hazards are bypassed only by quick action, the way a bicycle conforms to your body could make the difference between injury and a clean getaway.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, and other agencies have posted guidelines on the things to look for when choosing a bicycle of the right size and dimension. Their recommendations are summed up below:
- Pay attention to the pedaling range.
A bicycle on which you bend your knees more to pedal is going to afford you a wider range of motion than one that requires you to extend your legs farther. This is because a flexed muscle exerts more force than an outstretched one. You want to be sure that the crank length facilitates a natural, fluid motion so that you can worry about the road and not the possibility of your feet coming off the pedals.
- Check the height of the bicycle seat.
Your bicycle seat should not obligate you to shift from the normal seated position while riding. A seat that is too low will necessitate scooting forward; and one that is too high will induce the rider to proportion their weight in less-than optimal ways to avoid pinching and squeezing. A bicycle seat should not necessitate constant squirming, but easy movement.
- Make sure the seat is well-positioned laterally.
The shape of the body during bicycling should be a lopsided Z like those left on trees by a certain Spanish masked bandit: the back and knees should be bent forward to compensate for a different center of balance at the posterior. This new position maximizes the efficiency of hamstrings and gluteal muscles. The ability of these muscles to work quickly and effectively can drastically influence your ability to remove yourself from dangerous situations.
- Look at handlebar placement/width.
There is no one optimal position for a bicycle’s handlebars—it depends largely on personal style and the activities being pursued. Lower handlebars allow for more speed; while higher ones facilitate an upright position. While most people prefer that their hands be slightly farther apart than their shoulders, the question is a matter of individual comfort (and it will probably depend greatly on the other factors).
- Don’t neglect to wear a well-fitting helmet!
A helmet may not technically be part of a bicycle, but equating the two may not be a bad idea.
The first thing to remember when acquiring a helmet is this: NEVER buy one used. Helmets lose some of their efficacy in even those impacts that don’t leave visible cracks.
That being said, you should think of your helmet as an exoskeleton. When worn, it should fit snugly enough that it moves only as much as your interior skull when you are rattled. The front of the helmet should be no farther from the top of your brow than two finger widths. Likewise, you should only be able to fit one or two fingers into the chin strap when it is fastened. The V of the side straps should be just below the ear.
Even the most experienced bicyclist stands to gain from a suitable bicycle. Likewise, the very best bicycle does not guarantee that its rider will be able to evade all threats. Beyond those posed by traffic, itself, there is the risk that insurance does not cover recovery costs or that the responsible party balks at demands for repayment. For these hazards, there are bicycle accident lawyers.
A bicycle accident lawyer is not, unfortunately, like a bicycle helmet against disaster. However, legal guidance and representation can help soften the blow of an accident. The better your bicycle accident lawyer, the more quickly you will be able to receive more compensation—and the more quickly you are compensated, the sooner you can move on with your life.
If you have been injured in a serious accident and suspect you might have need of a Utah bicycle accident lawyer, Christensen and Hymas is there. For a free consultation with nationally-recognized attorneys, call 801-506-0800. Or, to request a booklet on bicycle accidents, call 1-800-LAW BOOK.