As you are getting started, you should know a few basic things about how to outfit your bicycle and yourself. Last week we went over the basic necessities for a well-outfitted bike, and today, we are going to talk about how to cloth yourself. According to a fantastic article by the Utah Department of Transportation, safety should be your number one priority, and after that, some specialty clothing can make the commune more enjoyable.
Aproximately 75% of every bicycle-related deaths in the U.S. are because of head injuries. A properly fitted helmet significantly reduces risk of a severe head injury, and could very well save your life. Here are some important pointers on helmet use:
- Helmet should be level. If it tilts back or forward easily, it will not protect you.
- They are designed to withstand only ONE crash. After a crash, even if it doesn’t appear to have structural damage, replace it.
- Reflective tape is available at bike shops and can be applied to helmets for increased visibility to cars at night.
- Wear a helmet EVERY TIME YOU RIDE. Even if it is a short trip!
Making sure you find the correct size, and have the right adjustment for your helmet is extremely important. A helmet is next to useless in a crash if it doesn’t fit properly. Use these 4 steps before you brave the dangers of the road:
1. Sizing. Try on different helmets to find the right size for your head. Make sure the helmet is level. Move your head around, make sure there’s no significant side-to-side or front-to-back motion, because if there is, the helmet it zoo big! Some helmet brands or models are more narrow and others are wider. Take the time to shop around and find the best fit for your head.
2. Adjusting the Junction Buckles. Not the chin buckle, but the straps on either side leading to it. Make sure the buckles are situated just below your earlobes. You may need a mirror to help determine when they are in the proper position.
3. Adjusting the Chin Buckle. Make sure the chin buckle is directly centered under your jawbones. adjust straps accordingly.
4. Final Check. When the chin is bulked in, all straps should be snug against your head. you should be able to slip a finger under the straps, so it won’t strangle you. But when you remove your finger, it should move quickly back in place. Gently, but firmly push your helmet front, back and to the sides.
Highly visible wear is always a safe way to go. fluorescent or light-colored shirts, jerseys, vests, or jackets increase other vehicles’ visibility of you. Especially at night, reflective clothing items are very smart. Even small arm or leg bands, or front and rear reflectors can make a huge difference in your level of conspicuousness to drivers.
Gloves are great for both safety and comfort. They protect your hands if you get into a crash, they have special padding that reduces vibration through the bars, and they improve your grip. Often wind can bite at your fingers, especially in cold, rainy, or windy weather, but with gloves that annoying pain is avoided!
As far as pants and shorts go, you don’t need to get professional biking shorts to be comfortable. If you’re riding to work that can be a hassle to change in and out of. But if you are wearing regular pants, make sure to use a leg band, or tuck your pant leg into your sock, so that you won’t get caught in the chain, and you won’t get greasy.
Footwear should be something comfortable. Stiff-soled, and waterproof is the ideal, but use your own judgment for what gives you the best combination of comfort, efficiency, and convenience.
Be careful with jackets. If you’re warm when you leave the house, you are overdressed. In cold weather, stick to a light weight, water-proof layer. You’re body will generate plenty of heat once you start to ride.
Now that you are properly outfitted, good luck on your commutes! May the biking force be with you!