Checks to Make Before You Go on a Ride
- Ensure tires are inflated – squeeze the sides to feel the pressure inside.
- Check the wheels are not loose between the forks – lift them off the ground one by one and shake them gently.
- Test the brakes by applying them and pushing the bike backwards and forwards.
- Look at the brakes pads when the brakes are applied – they should be pressing evenly on the tyre.
- Examine the brake cables for fraying or damage.
- Move the levers and grips on the handlebars to ensure they aren’t loose.
- Shake the seat side to side and up and down to ensure it is still tight.
- Holding the bike off the ground (ask a friend or prop it up) turn the pedals with your hand. Change gears and watch the chain is moving correctly and does not jam or fall off. Also look for loose movement in the cogs or bearings.
Make sure that:
- you choose the right size of cycle for comfort and safety
- lights and reflectors are kept clean and in good working order
- tires are in good condition and inflated to the pressure shown on the tyre
- gears are working correctly
- the chain is properly adjusted and oiled
- the saddle and handlebars are adjusted to the correct height.
- ensure your brakes are efficient
- at night, use lit front and rear lights and have an efficient red rear reflector.
Choosing a Bicycle for a Child
Choose a bike to suit your child’s height and build now, not one they will grow into. If it is too small they will quickly become tired but if it is too big they will not be able to dismount correctly and risk falling or crashing.
Younger children don’t need gears but many manufacturers fit them anyway. Look for a bike that is simple to operate making it easy to jump and ride. Introduce children to geared bikes from around the age of six or seven.
The bike should be small enough so the child’s feet touch the ground when sitting on the saddle. This gives kids confidence and is opposite to the advice given for adult cycles. Unlike adult bikes, children’s bikes normally come in wheel sizes, not frame sizes.
Look out for cheap brakes and brake levers. Plastic levers for example are fitted to reduce costs and often fail.
Choosing a Bicycle for an Adult
The bicycle you choose will depend on it’s purpose and your budget. From mountain crossing to just plain fun there are a huge variety of bikes available including multi-purpose for simply going to work but also going out at the weekend. Ask in your local bike shop for advice.
Sizing a bicycle for an adult is the opposite to choosing one for a child – both your feet should not reach the ground when sat in the saddle. You must not feel stretched or hunched over to reach the handlebars either.
Legs must be slightly bent when pedaling to get the most power but if you can touch the ground with both feet when you’re sat in the saddle, the bike is too small for you or the saddle needs to be raised higher up.
Adult bikes are normally sized by frame. Don’t be afraid to try out a bicycle in your local shop, they should happily let you sit on it and try it out.
How to Wear a Helmet Correctly
- The helmet should fit snugly around your head without gaps at the side.
- The straps should fasten firmly and be fitted to allow two fingers between the strap and your chin, if you cannot slide two fingers under the strap, loosen it until you can. If you can fit more than two fingers under the strap it needs tightened.
- When buying a helmet go to an established bike shop with staff who can help you fit it correctly. If shopping for a child take them with you and try it on. If they can choose a helmet they like they will also be more willing to wear it while out riding.
- Look for a recognized Safety Standard
- With your helmet fitted squarely on your head ensure you can see and hear clearly. The helmet should not obstruct your vision or move when you turn your head.
Being Seen by Other Road Users
Guidelines for Being Seen:
- Ride clear of the curb (where other road users can clearly see you on the road)
- Wear bright fluorescent clothing and/or reflective materials such as arm bands, strips, waist coats or stickers
- A brightly colored helmet will make you stand out to other traffic.
- Avoid loose clothing which hangs – it may cover your lights or reflectors or even catch in the workings of your bicycle.
- Add a front white reflector and wheel reflectors to your bike.
- A bell or horn on your bike allows you to warn other road users of your presence.
- Switch on your light during the day as well as night, especially in poor weather.
A Basic Tool Kit You Can Carry
- Puncture repair kit with glue and patches.
- Small wrench.
- Hex wrench set (allen keys).
- Small flat head screw driver.
- Tire levers.
- Small box or bag for tools.