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To ride your bicycle safely and efficiently, it is important to have equipment operating smoothly and properly.

 

 

Types of bikes
Mountain bikes and hybrids are well suited for city riding thanks to their upright sitting position, accessible gear shifters and brakes, rugged construction and manoeuvrability. Their only disadvantage is that they are somewhat slower and less efficient for longer distance road riding than road bikes with drop handlebars.

Size and fit
Make sure your bike is the right size and adjusted to fit you properly. The right size bicycle is easier to control and more comfortable, causing less fatigue. Your local bike shop can help you choose, adjust and equip the right bicycle for your needs.

Brakes
Your brakes must be powerful enough so you can easily bring your bike to a quick stop. You should be able to quickly and easily reach the brake levers from where you normally position your hands. Replace your brake pads before they wear close to the metal holders. Since cables stretch, you may have to adjust them regularly. For small adjustments you can use the threaded adjustment screws on the brakes or brake levers.

All traditional bicycle brakes work less efficiently when they are wet. Aluminum rims have much better braking performance than steel rims in wet conditions.

It is dangerous to have only one brake in working order. Make sure both front and rear brakes work properly and have regular maintenance performed by a bicycle mechanic. Coaster brakes are located in the rear hub and are applied by pedalling backwards. They are much less effective than hand brakes.

 

 

All traditional bicycle brakes work less efficiently when they are wet. Aluminum rims have much better braking performance than steel rims in wet conditions.

 


 

Studies have shown that in the event of a crash, a helmet will greatly reduce your chances of a serious head injury.

 

 

 

To be effective, the bicycle helmet must fit correctly and be worn properly. When in doubt, check with a bike shop for the proper adjustment of your approved cycling helmet.

Helmets
In BC, all cyclists are required by law to wear an approved helmet*. Studies have shown that in the event of a crash, a helmet will greatly reduce your chances of a serious brain injury. Your helmet should have CSA, ANSI, ASTM, or SNELL standards approval clearly designated on it. Hockey or other types of sports helmets are not legal for cycling since they are designed and tested for other types of impacts.
*By law, pedicabs may be operated without a helmet.

Lights and reflectors
After dark, all cyclists are required by law to have a front white headlight visible for a minimum of 150 metres, a rear red light which should be visible for a minimum of 100 metres, and a rear red reflector visible for 100 metres when directly illuminated by a car headlight. Many rear red bicycle lights sold currently are also designed to function as a reflector and are legally acceptable. Flashing red rear lights are also acceptable. Lights and reflective devices come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, colours, and costs and should be mounted directly on the bicycle. Check with your local bike shop for advice on the most appropriate setup for your needs and to ensure that the lights you intend to purchase meet or exceed these requirements. This is discussed further in the chapter on visibility.

 

 

After dark, all cyclists are required by law to have a front white headlight visible for a minimum of 150 metres, a rear red light which should be visible for a minimum of 100 metres, and a red rear reflector visible for a minimum of 100 metres.

 

 


Narrow tires (left) inflated to higher pressure privide less rolling resistance, and therefore easier peddling, on hard surfaces, while fat tires (right) provide more comfort and better traction, especially if riding off-road. Ask your bike shop what type of tire would be best suited to your riding needs.

Tires
Use good tires inflated to their recommended pressure, which is stated on the sidewall of the tire. Under-inflated tires reduce your efficiency, and increase your chances of flat tires and uneven road wear. For off-road use, tire pressure can be reduced to absorb greater impact and provide better traction.

Fenders
Fenders keep you dry and clean. They also prevent lights, reflectors, and your bike, from getting dirty in wet weather.

Panniers (saddle bags)
Panniers allow you to comfortably and safely carry a load while keeping your hands on the handlebars and, by keeping your centre of gravity low, they increase stability. These bicycle-mounted packs also keep the weight off your bottom, reducing 'saddle sores' and back pain. DO NOT hang grocery bags or carry loose loads on your handlebars as they can upset the control of your bicycle and prevent you from properly turning your front wheel to avoid a crash.

Tool Kit/Pump
A tool kit and a pump are a necessity for longer road trips and useful around town to prevent a potentially long walk for minor repairs. A basic tool kit includes: tire levers, spare tube, patch kit, pump, screwdriver, and multi-purpose tools or wrenches suitable for adjusting a variety of nuts and bolts. Be sure that the tube and tools fit your bike, since there are many types and sizes. If you are unsure, consult your bike shop.

Bell
A bell is useful as a warning and as a courtesy to alert pedestrians or other road and trail users of your approach. A bell is legally required by bylaw in some jurisdictions. Check with your local police or municipality for information. Remember that a bell will probably not be heard by motor vehicle operators.

 

 

DO NOT hang grocery bags or carry loose loads on your handlebars as they can upset the control of your bicycle.

 


 

A bell is useful as a warning and as a courtesy to alert pedestrians or other road and trail users of your approach. A bell is legally required in some jurisdictions.

 

 

Mirror
A mirror is a great safety device to use while riding, to see traffic coming up behind you, and to keep an eye on a riding partner without turning around. They are available in models that can be mounted on your handlebars or on your helmet or glasses.

Regular maintenance and inspection
Perform maintenance and safety checks yourself, or take your bicycle to a qualified bicycle mechanic regularly. It is particularly important to frequently check the brakes and tires, and to clean, inspect and lubricate the drivetrain (the gears, chain and derailleur). By doing this, you will ensure the efficient performance of the bicycle, ensure that your bicycle will perfom properly in an emergency situation, and minimize the risk of a mechanical breakdown far from home or assistance.

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