Size matters – have you seen the size of cars these days? http://www.zeroto60times.com/2013/03/cars-bigger/
So when you buy your new bicycle its important from a safety perspective to get the biggest you can manage.
This doesn’t mean heaviest but maybe steel rather than aluminum and in this windy weather I have found having a good solid bicycle is really helpful – yes, it can take more pushing but this is about ‘slow and steady gets me to work looking good and feeling good’ not ‘look out here comes Miss Sweaty Pants 2017’.
Failed to look properly was the most frequently reported contributory factor in crashes – known as the SMIDSY excuse (Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You) – and was reported in 42 per cent of all incidents reported to the police in 2013. http://www.racfoundation.org/motoring-faqs/safety#a5
Road Justice is the road safety campaign run by CTC to tackle this problem of casual acceptance of bad driving.
So how big is big enough? Here is a handy sizing chart.
If you ride like a Brit then you probably want to be able to touch the ground whilst sitting on your saddle but sadly this is neither necessary nor efficient. When in the saddle and pedalling to get the most out of your push, your legs should extend almost fully – not over extend like the racers or under extend like those poor people you see who haven’t got their saddle adjusted to the correct height so they almost knock themselves on the chin with their knees when they pedal or seem to be pedalling like mad and getting nowhere fast – so you should stand when stationery and sit in the saddle when riding i.e. mount -dismount. Riding is easy and you can practice with your saddle low enough for you to touch the ground for starters and raise it as you improve your skill. You’ll be surprised how easy it is and wonder why everyone doesn’t do it.
Get noticed the happy way – bicycle style and accessories for your bicycle.
It’s not just size that matters, it’s style too. To make sure you are seen on a bicycle. The upright riding style obviously gives you better visibility, so you can look out for bad driving and ride in the anticipator style. It also gives the drivers more to see from front and back. http://momentummag.com/upright-bikes-sit-up-and-enjoy-the-ride/ So give them something extra to notice – there are the lovely floral garlands for your handlebars, you can make or buy online.
and glorious panniers, like Tracy bought, that give your bicycle width – helping you claim the space on the road to which you are rightly entitled.
To keep as safer on the roads – in so far as you can given that 60% of incidents are due to driver error- you could read John Franklin Cyclecraft. He describes what’s known as ‘vehicular cycling’ – sounds fun hey? – and is good on road position (but not infrastructure, sadly). You might want to get some training from a good qualified instructor. And just take a look at all the local roads and discover how many that are 20 mph or quiet residential roads – you don’t have to ride exclusively on cycle paths (that abruptly end or take you via Norway) to get to your local shops, work or school. https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/media/7321888/hereford_travel_schemes_map.pdf
Can’t get enough of these 20 mph zones? Then why not ask for more – these lovely people will help you. http://www.20splenty.org/
A good bicycle is just like a new pair of shoes, so try for size and comfort before you buy and don’t buy if they don’t let you try out in store or the park. Some bicycle shops say they can’t build every bike they stock so trying out isn’t an option. Imagine if shoe retailers said that. Ok, so bicycles take up more room but if you haven’t got a big enough shop for your stock, what are you doing in business? Would you buy from this guy? – and yes, they are almost exclusively men who tell you what you want and sell you what they want. So shop around and make some calls to bicycle retailers and browse online too. You wouldn’t limit yourself to buying local for a car so why do it for a bicycle? Buy what’s best for you, not what’s best for the retailer.
Here is a list of features you might want to get the bike just right for you.
1. Full sprung saddle not sprung seat post. If the saddle looks skinny don’t even sit on it. Look for a good wide backside holder with 2 good solid springs and don’t be conned into spending a fortune on leather that takes years to break in, it is literally a pain in the backside and is still like sitting on a beer crate. It should look like something like this http://www.dutchbikebits.com/saddles and you can get all sorts of covers for around £10 http://www.begbicycles.com/ride/beg-basil-bloom-saddle-cover
2. Pannier rack – avoid sweaty backpack syndrome and delight in bag buying for your bicycle. http://www.basil.nl/gb/assortment/
3. Integral locking – otherwise known as an immobiliser – standard on Dutch bicycles because really the only chain you want is fine and gold. Whatever you do, don’t save up and buy a beautiful bicycle and then get it nicked because you didn’t invest in a good quality lock. Well worth at least £30.
4. Skirt guard – do you want your bike to dictate what you wear?
5. Full chain guard – not only saves you from the ‘nerd with bicycle clips’ look but helps keep your chain free from grotty road crap, so it turns smoothly and you just glide!
6. Kick Stand – stand for nothing less. When you park your bicycle it should stand by and locked to a frame but not against it. If you care about your paintwork, don’t just dump your bicycle, park it.
7. Built in lights – particularly important to remember when buying in the summer, which lots of people obviously do. Nobody should have to remember to carry batteries or face the prospect of walking their bicycle home because some helpful soul nicked the lights, so get a proper bicycle with lights built in. It’s great for the environment because they are pedal powered, so no more batteries – you may find rear LED lights that require small AAA’s but they last for years.
http://www.cycle-heaven.co.uk/bikes/type/town-bikes/ This says it all really.
And finally budget? Obviously how much you can afford is a big factor. What sort of a shopper are you? Do you buy cheap (and regret at leisure) or buy cheap knowing that you will sell on in a couple of years. Its funny how people think about buying a bicycle. Yes, they can and do last for years – I’ve got a 27 year old Raleigh Cameo in the garage – but maybe you’d like something different after awhile just like you do with your car – only cheaper and healthier and much more fun! Even the government appreciate what you are keeping yourself fit and cut carbon so they set up a scheme to help you buy a bike to travel to work on http://www.cycle-heaven.co.uk.preview.sqgd.net/finance/cyclescheme/ Ask your employer to help you – lots are doing it locally and Herefordshire Council was the leader which is why there are about 30 bikes regularly parked at Plough Lane.
Here are some quality providers just so you can see what’s on offer out there: –
and then you could consider the VP range too
And don’t forget to ask Shirley – all the ladies in the group have experience of different bicycle types and may even be happy to let you try theirs before you buy.
Have fun and don’t forget to post the photo of you and your new companion soon.