ON YOUR BIKE! 5 TOP SAFETY TIPS FOR CYCLISTS THIS AUTUMN
The humble bicycle has seen something of a resurgence since the UK first entered lockdown earlier this year. With more people working from home than ever, and government guidelines advising against the use of public transport, there’s been a sharp spike in second-hand bike sales across the country, and an international shortage of new bicycles too
With many buying bikes to aid with mental or physical health, it’s important not to get complacent about bike safety on your two-wheeled steed as darker nights draw in.
Luckily, with a few simple tips prepared by James Witts, sports journalist, and author of Haynes Publishing’s bestselling The Bike Book, you can ride your way through the next six months smoothly.
1. A CLEAN RIDE
Your pride-and-joy takes a battering during the colder months, so regular cleaning is vital to keep things running smoothly. Wash your bike with a bike-specific cleaner – grime accumulates rapidly on wet, dirty roads – and check your brake blocks for the increased wear and tear of autumn and winter riding. Be sure to keep your chain and cassette nicely lubricated to extend their lifespan too.
2. TAKE GUARD
Some might not think they’re uber-cool, but mudguards are arguably your bike’s best friend this winter. Broadly speaking, there are two types of mudguard: those for frames that feature mudguard eyelets, called ‘fixed mudguards’, and those for frames without, called ‘clip-on mudguards’. They not only keep you cleaner and dryer but, if you have one, your riding companion, too.
3. BEAT DEFLATION
The autumn and winter months often signal brisk Sunday-morning rides, golden leaves and a layer of broken twigs underfoot. These conditions can deflate your chances of an unbroken adventure – and that’s where a set of good winter tyres come in. These usually feature some form of puncture protection beneath the surface and have chunkier sidewalls to deflect sharp objects. If it’s raining, drop the tyre’s pressure to around 80-90psi to increase grip on the ground.
4. LIGHT UP YOUR RIDE
“Get yourself seen. At night, make it white. In the dark, make it light…” That ditty is taken from an 80s campaign for cyclists to make themselves visible. That sentiment is still true today, though we’d plump for fluorescent yellow or pink clothing over white. Lights upfront and outback are essential, and their desired strength is dependent on whether it’s more important to be seen (urban riding) or to see (country riding).
5. NO SUCH THING AS BAD WEATHER
Smart clothing choices are vital to enjoying cooler rides. Layering is preferable to one heavy garment, so start with a base layer to wick away sweat and provide insulation. A short-sleeve polyester top comes next before finishing off with a waterproof or windproof jacket. Wear bib longs or commuting trousers down below. And a quality pair of gloves are essential.
For additional hints and tips on all aspects of bike care and maintenance, The Bike Book (7th edition) can be purchased from Haynes.com and all good book retail outlets at a cost of £18.99.